U10L8 Potential complement(能性補語)

 

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, the method of creating potential complement(能性補語)with 得 [dak1] will be introduced.  Potential complement is a complement that indicates something is possible to happen or it is allowed to be done.  Unlike any other complement(補語)that you have learnt previously, potential complement is created by inserting 得 [dak1] in between the predicate(謂語)and the complement(補語)of a sentence.  In other words, potential complement has to be used in the structure of predicative-complement(謂補式)with other complement that you have learnt previously; this 得 [dak1] does not have any part of speech.

In addition, recovery complement(回復補語)is also created in the this manner, and it will be explained in the next lesson.

 

Usage 1

When potential complement is not used in an imperative sentence(祈使句), it conveys a meaning that something is possible to happen.

Creating potential complement from resultative complement(結果補語)

You can revise resultative complement(結果補語)at Unit 10 Lesson 1.

ni1 gin6 si6 gaau2 dak1 dim6

呢件事攪得掂。

This thing can be done well.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech Noun Verb; / Adjective
Words in sentence 呢件事 攪; 得

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢件
Head

 

keoi5 sik6 dak1 baau2

佢食得飽。

He can eat until full.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech Noun Verb; / Adjective
Words in sentence 食; 得

 

ni1 go3 faa1 zeon1 daa2 dak1 laan6

呢個花樽打得爛。

This vase can be broken. (Literal meaning: This vase can be broken by hitting)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech Noun Verb; / Adjective
Words in sentence 呢個花樽 打; 得

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head 花樽

 

 

Creating potential complement from phase complement(狀態補語)

You can revise phase complement(狀態補語)at Unit 10 Lesson 2.

uk1 jap6 min6 di1 dang1 hoi1 dak1 zoek3

屋入面啲燈開得著。

Lights inside the house can be turned on.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Clause
Words in sentence 屋入面啲燈 開得著

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 屋入面啲
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / /
Words in sentence / 開; 得

 

ngo5 zi6 gei2 zuk1 dak1 dou2 zek3 gaak6 zaat2

我自己捉得倒隻曱甴。

I can catch that cockroach on my own.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Clause Noun
Words in sentence 自己 捉得倒 隻曱甴

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 曱甴

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / /
Words in sentence / 捉; 得

 

Creating potential complement from directional complement(方向補語)

You can revise directional complement(方向補語)at Unit 10 Lesson 6 and 7.

ni1 go3 siu2 pang4 jau5 geoi2 dak1 hei2 hou2 cung4 ge3 aa2 ling4

呢個小朋友舉得起好重嘅啞鈴。

This kid can lift a very heavy dumbbell.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Clause Noun
Words in sentence 呢個小朋友 舉得起 好重嘅啞鈴

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / Verb
Words in sentence / 舉; 得

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head 小朋友

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 好重
Head 啞鈴

 

Usage 2

When potential complement is used in an imperative sentence(祈使句), it conveys a meaning that something is allowed to be done.

nei5 dei6 ji1 gaa1 jap6 dak1 heoi3

你哋依家入得去。

You may go in now.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Adverb Clause
Words in sentence 你哋 依家 入得去

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / Verb
Words in sentence / 入; 得

 

nei5 daai3 dak1 nei5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 lai4 ngo5 uk1 kei2.

你帶得你女朋友嚟我屋企。

You may bring your girlfriend to my home.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech Noun Clause Clause
Words in sentence 帶得你女朋友 嚟我屋企

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb; / Noun
Words in sentence / 帶; 得 你女朋友

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 女朋友

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 我屋企

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 屋企

 

Negating

There are serval ways for you to negate a sentence using potential complement, yet in modern Cantonese, method 1 is most commonly used.  Do not confuse with adverb(副詞)唔 [m4], the 唔 [m4] being used to replace 得 [dak1] in method 1 does not have any part of speech.

Methods for negating potential complement

Method 1 Replacing 得 [dak1] with 唔 [m4]
Method 2 Using adverb 唔 [m4] with 得 [dak1]
Method 3 Replacing 得 [dak1] with 唔得 [m4 dak1]

 

keoi5 sik6 m4 baau2

佢食唔飽。

He cannot eat until full.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech Noun Verb; / Adjective
Words in sentence 食; 唔

 

uk1 jap6 min6 di1 dang1 hoi1 m4 zoek3

屋入面啲燈開唔著。

Lights inside the house cannot be turned on.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Clause
Words in sentence 屋入面啲燈 開唔著

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 屋入面啲
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / /
Words in sentence / 開; 唔

 

ngo5 zi6 gei2 zuk1 m4 dou2 zek3 gaak6 zaat2

我自己捉唔倒隻曱甴。

I cannot catch that cockroach on my own.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Clause Noun
Words in sentence 自己 捉唔倒 隻曱甴

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 曱甴

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / Verb
Words in sentence / 捉; 唔

 

ni1 go3 siu2 pang4 jau5 geoi2 m4 hei2 hou2 cung4 ge3 aa2 ling4

呢個小朋友舉唔起好重嘅啞鈴。

This kid cannot lift a very heavy dumbbell.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Clause Noun
Words in sentence 呢個小朋友 舉唔起 好重嘅啞鈴

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb; / Verb
Words in sentence / 舉; 唔

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head 小朋友

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 好重
Head 啞鈴

 

nei5 m4 daai3 dak1 nei5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 lai4 ngo5 uk1 kei2.

你唔帶得你女朋友嚟我屋企。

You cannot bring your girlfriend to my home.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Complement
Part of speech Noun Adverb Clause Clause
Words in sentence 帶得你女朋友 嚟我屋企

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb; / Noun
Words in sentence / 帶; 得 你女朋友

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 女朋友

 

Complement of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 我屋企

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 屋企

 

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 125-129

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