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U10L5 Complement of extent(程度補語)

 

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, complement of extent(程度補語)will be introduced.  Complement of extent(程度補語)are used to describe the extent of an action or a state.  Whenever this complement is used, 到[dou3], which does not have any part of speech, has to be attached right after the predicate.  Many crazy and exaggerating metaphors in Cantonese are created according to the structure of complement of extent.

There are 3 possible structures for using complement of extent.  For using an intransitive verb, you need to create the sentence according to structure 1; for using a transitive verb, you need to create the sentence according to structure 2 or 3.

3 different sentence structures of complement of extent
Structure 1Verb + 到 + complement of extent
Structure 2Verb + Object + Verb + 到 + complement of extent
Structure 3Verb +到+ Object + complement of extent

 

Structure 1

Keoi5 tiu3 dou3 hou2 gou1

佢跳到好高。

He jumps high. (Literal meaning: He jumps to the extent of very high)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounVerb; /Clause
Words in sentence跳; 到好高

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speech/AdverbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

Ngo5 baa4 baa1 beng6 dou3 wan4 zo2

我爸爸病到暈咗。

My dad is sick to the extent of falling into a faint.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounVerb; /Clause
Words in sentence我爸爸病; 到暈咗

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head爸爸

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffix
Part of speech/VerbPredicative suffix
Words in sentence/

 

gwong2 dung1 waa2 zan1 hai6 naan4 dou3 haam3

廣東話真係難到喊。

Cantonese is hard to the extent that I would cry.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdverbAdjective; /Verb
Words in sentence廣東話真係難; 到

 

gam1 jat6 haau2 si3 di1 tai4 muk6 ji6 dou3 siu3

今日考試啲題目易到笑。

Questions in today’s examination are easy to the extent that I would smile.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjective; /Verb
Words in sentence今日考試啲題目易; 到

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier今日考試啲
Head題目

 

ni1 go3 neoi5 zai2 zan1 hai6 leng3 dou3 baau3

呢個女仔真係靚到爆。

This girl is pretty to an extent that it will explode. (I cannot find a good translation here.  爆[baau3] can be used as a complement of extent in many different sentences and you should try to memorize and try using it even if you are not clear with its meaning.)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdverbAdjective; /Verb
Words in sentence呢個女仔真係靚; 到

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢個
Head女仔

 

hoeng1 gong2 ge3 haa6 tin1 zan1 hai6 jit6 dou3 tiu3 mou5

香港嘅夏天真係熱到跳舞。

The summer in Hong Kong is hot to the extent that I would dance.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdverbAdjective; /Clause
Words in sentence香港嘅夏天真係熱; 到跳舞

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

bou6 paau2 ce1 faai3 dou3 fei1 hei2

部跑車快到飛起。

This racing car is fast to the extent that it would fly.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjective; /Clause
Words in sentence部跑車快; 到飛起

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head跑車

 

Complement of that sentence

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

 

wong6 gok3 do1 jan4 dou3 au2

旺角多人到嘔。

Mong Kok is crowed to the extent that I would throw up.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjective; /Verb
Words in sentence旺角多人; 到

Structure 2

Ngo5 sik6 faan6 sik6 dou3 hou2 baau2

我食飯食到好飽。

I have eaten to the extent of being really full.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounClauseClause
Words in sentence食飯食到好飽

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Clause
Words in sentence/食; 到好飽

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speech/AdverbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

Ngo5 wan1 syu1 wan1 dou3 hou2 gui6

我溫書溫到好攰。

I studied to the extent of feeling very tired.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounClauseClause
Words in sentence溫書溫到好攰

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Clause
Words in sentence/溫; 到好攰

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speech/AdverbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

Ngo5 daa2 bo1 daa2 dou3 zek3 sau2 soeng2 saai3

我打波打到隻手傷晒。

I have played tennis to the extent which my hands are completely injuried.

P.S. 打波[daa2 bo1] can be referring to any kind of sports that needs to play with a ball and your hand.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounClauseClause
Words in sentence打波打到隻手傷晒

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Sentence
Words in sentence/打; 到隻手傷晒

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffix
Part of speechNounAdjectivePredicative suffix
Words in sentence隻手

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head

 

Keoi5 faan1 gung1 faan1 dou3 m4 sik6 faan6

佢返工返到唔食飯。

He works to the extent which he does no eat.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounClauseClause
Words in sentence返工返到唔食飯

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Clause
Words in sentence/返; 到唔食飯

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speech/AdverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

Ngo5 wan1 syu1 wan1 dou3 so4 zo2

我溫書溫到傻咗。

I study to the extent that I became dumb.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounClauseClause
Words in sentence溫書溫到傻咗

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Clause
Words in sentence/溫; 到傻咗

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffix
Part of speech/AdjectivePredicative suffix
Words in sentence/

 

ngo5 mun6 dou3 faat3 mou1

我悶到發毛。

I am bored to the extent that I became moldy.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjective; /Clause
Words in sentence悶; 到發毛

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

Structure 3

go2 go3 waai6 hok6 saang1 sing4 jat6 m4 gaau1 gung1 fo3,gik1 dou3 lou5 si1 daan6 hei2

嗰個壞學生成日唔交功課,激到老師彈起。

Because that bad student does not hand in his homework all the time, the teacher is mad to the extent that he would jump up.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentenceCompound sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2
True valueTureTrue
Words in sentence嗰個壞學生成日唔交功課激到老師彈起

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounNoun; adverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence嗰個壞學生成日; 唔功課

 

Adverbial of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier嗰個
Head壞學生

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Sentence
Words in sentence/激; 到老師彈起

 

The 起[hei2] here is a directional complement(方向補語), which will be explained in Unit 10 Lesson 7.

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounVerbVerb
Words in sentence老師

 

di1 laat6 ziu1 laat6 dou3 ngo5 fei1 hei2

啲辣椒辣到我飛起。

Those chili peppers are spicy to the extent which I would fly up.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjective; /Sentence
Words in sentence啲辣椒辣; 到我飛起

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head辣椒

 

Complement of that sentence

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

 

di1 joeng4 cung1 laa2 dou3 aa3 maa1 lau4 ngaan5 leoi6

啲洋蔥揦到阿媽流眼淚。

Those onions are irritative to the extent which my mum has cried.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speechNounAdjective; /Sentence
Words in sentence啲洋蔥揦; 到阿媽流眼淚

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head洋蔥

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence阿媽眼淚

 

Difference between descriptive complement and complement of extent

In previous lesson, you have learnt that you can use descriptive complement(描寫補語)to describe the state or the result of an action.  As both descriptive complement and complement of extent can be used to describe the state of an action, it is possible for them to be confusing to learners.

Keoi5 tiu3 dak1 hou2 gou1

我跳得好高。(Correct)(Descriptive complement)

I jump high.

 

Keoi5 tiu3 dou3 hou2 gou1

我跳到好高。(Correct)(Complement of extent)

I jump to the extent of very high.

 

For their difference, descriptive complement is used to describe an action during its course.  Meanwhile, complement of extent is describing that action after it has be done.  Therefore, no verb can be used in the clause succeeding 得, as no other action can be carried out without suspending the original action.

In the following example, since 轆[luk1] is a verb and it is representing an action, it cannot be used with descriptive complement.

keoi5 siu3 dou3 luk1 dei2

佢笑到轆地。(Correct)(Complement of extent)

He laughs to the extent of rolling on the ground.

 

keoi5 siu3 dak1 luk1 dei2

佢笑得轆地。(Incorrect)(Descriptive complement)

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 135-136。

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