U6L7 Adverb 先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3] and 就[zau6]

 

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, the difference between adverb(副詞)先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3] and 就[zau6]will be introduced.  Both adverb 就[zau6] and 先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3] are used to indicate the consequence or the following action of a condition; you should use these two adverbs whenever you are making a clause of condition(條件句)in the structure of complex sentence(偏正句).  Nevertheless, these two types of adverbs are different by nature and you should try to understand their fundamental difference in order to use them naturally.

 

就[zau6]

就[zau6] is an adverb(副詞)and it emphasizes that something would happen immediately once a condition has been met.

jyu4 gwo2 ting1 jat6 m4 lok6 jyu5,ngo5 zau6 wui5 heoi3 gung1 jyun2 waan2

如果聽日唔落雨,我就會去公園玩。

If there is no rain tomorrow, I will go to play in the park immediately.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 如果聽日唔落雨 我就會去公園玩

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Conjunction Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Conjunction Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 如果 聽日

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 去公園玩

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Cognate object 1 Predicate 2
Part of speech / Verb Noun Verb
Words in sentence / 公園

 

go2 go3 naam4 jan2 hang2 mui5 go3 jyut6 bei2 cin2 ngo5,ngo5 zau6 zou6 keoi5 tiu4 neoi5

嗰個男人肯每個月畀錢我,我就做佢條女。

If that man is willing to give me some money every month, I will be his girlfriend at once.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 嗰個男人肯每個月畀錢我 我就做佢條女

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary Verb Clause
Words in sentence 嗰個男人 每個月畀錢我

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰個
Head 男人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Indirect Object
Part of speech / Adverb Verb Noun Noun
Words in sentence / 每個月

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 佢條女

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 佢條
Head

 

keoi5 hang2 jing6 co3 ngo5 zau6 jyun4 loeng6 keoi5

佢肯認錯我就原諒佢。

I will forgive him once he has admitted his mistake.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 佢肯認錯 我就原諒佢

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary Verb Clause
Words in sentence 認錯

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 原諒

 

nei5 zou6 saai3 di1 je5 zau6 ho2 ji5 fong3 gung1

你做晒啲嘢就可以放工。

You can leave once you have finished all the work.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 你做晒啲嘢 就可以放工

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 啲嘢

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech / Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence / 可以 放工

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

 

先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3]

先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3] is an adverb(副詞)that emphasizes the consequence and the following action would happen only if a relevant condition mentioned has been met.  至 is created by omitting 先 from 先至.

nei5 jat1 ding6 jiu3 caat3 zo2 ngaa4 sin1 ho2 ji5 fan3 gaau3

你一定要刷咗牙先可以瞓覺。

You have to brush your teeth first before going to sleep. (You may give me a massage, you may do tomorrow homework in advance, you may do all the chores for me…But still, you have to brush your teeth before going to sleep.)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 你一定要刷咗牙 先可以瞓覺

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 一定 刷咗牙

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech / Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence /

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech / Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence / 可以 瞓覺

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

jan4 jan4 dou1 jiu3 paai4 deoi2 sin1 ho2 ji5 soeng5 ce1

人人都要排隊先可以上車。

Everyone has to queue up first before boarding the vehicle. (No matter the vehicle has arrived or not, they can board the vehicle only if they have queued up)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 人人都要排隊 先可以上車

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 人人 排隊

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech / Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence / 可以 上車

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

nei5 zou6 saai3 di1 gung1 fo3,ngo5 sin1 zi3 wui5 bei2 nei5 faan1 uk1 kei2

你做晒啲功課,我先至會俾你返屋企。

I will let you go home only if you have finished all your homework.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 你做晒啲功課 我先至會俾你返屋企

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 啲功課

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 先至 俾你返屋企

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 屋企

 

keoi5 dei6 tung4 ngo5 dou6 zo2 hip3,ngo5 sin1 wui5 hang2 jyun4 loeng6 keoi5 dei6

佢哋同我道咗歉,我先會肯原諒佢哋。

I will forgive them only if they have apologized with me.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 佢哋同我道咗歉 我先會肯原諒佢哋

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Predicative suffix 2 Object 2
Part of speech Noun Preposition Noun Verb Predicative suffix 2 Noun
Words in sentence 佢哋

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 肯原諒佢哋

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Auxiliary verb Noun
Words in sentence / 原諒佢哋

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 原諒 佢哋

 

nei5 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2,jan4 dei6 sin1 wui5 gok3 dak1 nei5 hai6 hoeng1 gong2 jan4

你識講廣東話,人哋先會覺得你係香港人。

People think you are a Hongkonger only if you know how to speak Cantonese.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 你識講廣東話 人哋先會覺得你係香港人

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 講廣東話

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 廣東話

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 人哋 覺得你係香港人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Sentence
Words in sentence / 覺得 你係香港人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 香港人

 

ngo5 dei6 jiu3 zyun1 cung4 jan4,jan4 dei6 sin1 wui5 zyun1 cung4 ngo5 dei6

我哋要尊重人,人哋先會尊重我哋。

Others will respect us only if we respect them.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value Unknown True
Words in sentence 我哋要尊重人 人哋先會尊重我哋

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 我哋 尊重人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 尊重

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 人哋 尊重我哋

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 尊重 我哋

Using 先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3] and 就[zau6] interchangeably

Although both 先[sin1]/ 先至[sin1 zi3]/ 至[zi3] and 就[zau6] has a different focus and nuance on denoting a condition, they may be interchangeable in a sentence, as long as it is not contradictory with the meaning.  As a rule of thumb, 先/ 先至/ 至 can always replace 就, as you can always set a condition as the most critical and important one.

keoi5 dei6 tung4 ngo5 dou6 zo2 hip3,ngo5 sin1 wui5 hang2 jyun4 loeng6 keoi5 dei6

佢哋同我道咗歉,我先會肯原諒佢哋。(Correct)

I will forgive them only if they had apologized.

keoi5 dei6 tung4 ngo5 dou6 zo2 hip3,ngo5 zau6 wui5 hang2 jyun4 loeng6 keoi5 dei6

佢哋同我道咗歉,我就會肯原諒佢哋。(Correct)

I will forgive them once they apologize.

 

Meanwhile, you can only use 就 to replace 先/ 先至/ 至 if the consequence or the result can be realized immediately after the condition has been met.

jan4 jan4 dou1 jiu3 paai4 deoi2 sin1 ho2 ji5 soeng5 ce1

人人都要排隊先可以上車。(Correct)

Everyone has to queue up first before boarding the vehicle. (You can say this at any timepoint)

jan4 jan4 dou1 jiu3 paai4 deoi2 zau6 ho2 ji5 soeng5 ce1

人人都要排隊就可以上車。(Depending on the context)

You can board the vehicle once you have queued up. (The vehicle won’t come immediately after you have queued up; it is illogical for you to board the vehicle immediately.  You can only say this if the vehicle has arrived already)

Nevertheless, due to their different nuance, only 就 can be used with predicative suffix(謂詞詞尾)親[can1], 一[jat6] and 吓[haa5], which are used to indicate a habitual outcome.

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 229-230
  2. 黃詠文(2015)。粵語虛詞的多重框式結構。

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