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U10L3 Intensifying complement(強化補語)

 

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, intensifying complement(強化補語)死[sei2] and  透[tau3] will be introduced.  Intensifying complement is used for exaggerating a verb or an adjective; the translation of a sentence using intensifying complement is more or less the same with a sentence that uses adverbial(狀語)to exaggerate.

ngo5 hou2 hoi1 sam1

我好開心。(Adverbial)

I am very happy.

ngo5 hoi1 sam1 sei2

我開心死。(Intensifying complement)

I am very happy.

Therefore, as intensifying complement is used to exaggerate the predicate like adverbial, no adverbial used for exaggerating can be used alongside intensifying complement due to its redundancy.

ngo5 hou2 hoi1 sam1 sei2

我好開心死。(Incorrect)

I am very happy.

Only two adjectives can be used as an intensifying complement; 死[sei2] is much more frequently used than 透[tau3] nowadays.  The original meanings of these two adjectives are irrelevant when they are used as an intensifying complement (i.e. 死[sei2] is not related with “dead” when being used as an intensifying complement); they are merely used for intensifying and exaggerating.

Possible adjectives to be used as an intensifying complement
死[sei2]透[tau3]

 

Using intensifying complement for exaggerating a verb

You can only use verb that describe a state(i.e. feeling) with intensifying complement; you cannot use a verb that represents an action or the linking verb(繫詞)係[hai6] with intensifying complement.

ngo5 zang1 sei2 keoi5

我憎死佢。

I hate him so much.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounClauseNoun
Words in sentence憎死

 

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

ngo5 bei2 nei5 gik1 sei2

我畀你激死。

I became so mad because of you.

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounClause
Words in sentence激死

 

Predicate 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

ngo5 daam1 sam1 sei2 ngo5 neoi5 pang4 jau5

我擔心死我女朋友。

I am very worried about my girlfriend.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounClauseNoun
Words in sentence擔心死我女朋友

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head女朋友

 

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/擔心

 

Using intensifying complement for exaggerating an adjective

keoi5 hai6 jat1 go3 seoi1 tau3 ge3 waai6 hok6 saang1

佢係一個衰透嘅壞學生。

He is a very bad student.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounClauseNoun
Words in sentence一個衰透嘅壞學生

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier一個衰透
Head壞學生

 

ngo5 nau1 sei2 keoi5

我嬲死佢。

I am very mad at him.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounClauseNoun
Words in sentence嬲死

 

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

ngo5 gui6 sei2

我攰死。

I am very tired.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence

 

nei5 aa3 maa1 soeng1 sam1 sei2

你阿媽傷心死。

Your mum is very sad.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence阿媽傷心

 

Reversing the word order

When you are using the intensifying complement with a predicate that does not have an object, it is common to reverse the word order and put the subject to the end.

 

Original word orderReversed word order
Subject + Predicate + ComplementPredicate + Complement + Subject

 

Nevertheless, particle(助詞)is always put at the very end.

 

Original word order (with particle)Reversed word order (with particle)
Subject + Predicate + Complement + ParticlePredicate + Complement + Subject + Particle

 

gui6 sei2 ngo5

攰死我。

I am very tired.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence

 

nau1 sei2 ngo5

嬲死我。

I am very mad.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence

 

hoi1 sam1 sei2 keoi5

開心死佢。

He is very happy.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence開心

 

mun6 sei2 ngo5

悶死我。

I feel very bored.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence

 

ngo6 sei2 ngo5

餓死我。

I am very hungry.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence

 

mong4 sei2 go2 baan1 siu1 fong4 jyun4

忙死嗰班消防員。

Those firefighters are very busy.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounVerbAdjective
Words in sentence嗰班消防員

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier嗰班
Head消防員

 

daam1 sam1 sei2 nei5 aa3 baa4

擔心死你阿爸。

Your dad is very worried.

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounClause
Words in sentence阿爸擔心死

 

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/擔心

 

jit6 sei2 jan4 laa3

熱死人喇。

It is very hot (for everyone).

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speechNounClauseParticle
Words in sentence熱死

 

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/AdjectiveAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

Difference between intensifying complement and resultative complement

Intensifying complement is very similar with resultative complements(結果補語), as the complement being used for intensifying can be interpreted as a result of that action as well.

For their difference, predicative suffix(謂詞詞尾)咗[zo2] cannot be attached to intensifying complements.  If you use 咗 with intensifying complement, it would then be understood as a resultative complement.

ngo5 bei2 go2 tiu4 jau2 gik1 sei2

我畀嗰條友激死。(Intensifying complement)

I became so mad because of that guy.

 

ngo5 bei2 go2 tiu4 jau2 gik1 sei2 zo2

我畀嗰條友激死咗。(Resultative complements)

I was killed by that guy as he made me very angry.

Reference

  1. 張洪年(2007)。香港粤語語法的研究(增訂版)。香港:中文大學出版社,頁 115-116。

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