Remember Hong Kong

Remember the heroic deed of the brave sacrificed themselves in The Battle of Hong Kong.

U8L1 Specified Interrogative sentences(特指問句)

 

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, interrogative sentences(疑問句)and specified interrogative sentences(特指問句)will be introduced.  In Cantonese, there are four types of interrogative sentences(疑問句)and they are created in a different structure.

Types of Interrogative sentence

Specified Interrogative sentences(特指問句)Disjunctive question(選擇問句)

 

Yes-no question(是非問句)

 

Affirmative-negative question(正反問句)

 

Specified interrogative sentences(特指問句)

Specified interrogative sentences are created by inserting interrogative pronoun(疑問代詞)into the sentence.

Interrogative pronounCombination processMeaningPart of speech
點解[dim2 gaai2]/ 做乜[zou6 mat1]N/AWhyAdverb
乜[mat1]N/AWhatNoun
乜嘢[mat1 je5]乜 + 嘢WhatNoun
咩[me1]Contraction of 乜嘢WhatNoun
點[dim2]/ 點樣[dim2 joeng2]N/AHowAdverb/ Adjective/ Verb

 

乜 and 做乜

 Do not mix 乜[mat1] up with 做乜[zou6 mat1].  Their meanings are totally different and 做乜 is not created by attaching a verb before 乜.

 

乜, 咩 and 乜嘢

乜嘢[mat1 je5] was originally created from combining 乜[mat1] with 嘢[je5] according to the structure of subordination(偏正式).  However, it is considered as a single interrogative pronoun now and it is interchangeable with 乜.  As 咩 is the contraction of 乜嘢 and 乜嘢 is interchangeable with 乜, 咩 is interchangeable with 乜 as well.

nei5 dim2 gaai2 m4 sik6 faan6

你點解唔食飯?

Why don’t you eat?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence點解; 唔

 

nei5 zou6 mat1 m4 faan1 hok6

你做乜唔返學?

Why don’t you go to school?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence做乜; 唔

 

ni1 joeng6 hai6 me1

呢樣係咩?

What is this?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounLinking verbNoun
Words in sentence呢樣

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head

 

nei5 zi1 cin4 dim2 joeng2 hok6 gwong2 dung1 waa2

你之前點樣學廣東話?

How did you learn Cantonese previously?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounNoun; adverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence之前; 點樣廣東話

 

Interrogative pronoun created by subordination

Other than those previously mentioned interrogative pronoun, some interrogative pronoun are created by attaching determinatives toward a noun by following the structure of subordination (偏正式).

Determinatives for creating interrogative pronoun

Demonstrative determinative(指示性代詞)

Specifying determinative(特指性代詞)

邊[bin1]

幾[gei2]

 

Interrogative pronounCombination processMeaningPart of speech
邊個[bin1 go3]邊 + 個WhoNoun
邊度[bin1 dou6]/ 邊處[bin1 syu2]邊 + 度/ 邊 + 處WhereNoun
邊[bin1]N/AWhereNoun
幾時[gei2 si4]幾 + 時WhenAdverb
幾多[gei2 do1]N/AHow manyNoun
幾[gei2]N/ATo what extentAdverb/ Noun

 

nei5 dei6 gei2 si4 sik1 deoi3 fong1

你哋幾時識對方?

When did you meet each other?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence你哋幾時對方

nei5 hai2 bin1 dou6 ceot1 sai3

你喺邊度出世?

Where were you born?

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2
Part of speechNounVerbNounVerb
Words in sentence邊度出世

 

ni1 go3 leng3 neoi5 hai6 bin1 go3

呢個靚女係邊個?

Who is this beautiful girl?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounLinking verbNoun
Words in sentence呢個靚女邊個

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢個
Head靚女

幾多 and 幾

幾多[gei2 do1] can be used to modifier a counter or a noun directly according to the structure of subordination(偏正式); when 幾多 is modifying a counter or a noun, it can be contracted to 幾.

ni1 zi1 seoi2 gei2 do1 cin2

呢支水幾多錢?

How much is this bottle of water?

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounNoun
Words in sentence呢支水幾多錢

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢支
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier幾多
Head

 

nei5 jau5 gei2 do1 go3 uk1 kei2 jan4

你有幾多個屋企人?

How many family members do you have? 

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence幾多個屋企人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier幾多個
Head屋企人

 

go2 bun2 syu1 gei2 cin2

嗰本書幾錢?

How much is that book?

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounNoun
Words in sentence嗰本書幾錢

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier嗰本
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head

 

nei5 jau5 gei2 do1 pang4 jau5

你有幾多朋友?

How many friends do you have?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence幾多朋友

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier幾多
Head朋友

 

You can also omit the counter or the noun and directly use 幾多 to ask the question, yet in this case you cannot contract 幾多 to 幾.

go2 go3 haak3 jan4 soeng2 maai5 gei2 do1

嗰個客人想買幾多?

How much does that customer want to buy?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence嗰個客人買幾多

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier嗰個
Head客人

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

For modifying a noun that has been modified by 第[dai6] or related with counting, only 幾 can be used to modify that noun.

ni1 bou6 ce1 hai6 nei5 maai5 ge3 dai6 gei2 bou6 ce1

呢部車係你買嘅第幾部車?

How many cars have you bought before buying this car (No direct translation).

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence呢部車你買嘅第幾部車

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢部
Head

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier第幾部
Head

 

Moreover, 幾 can be used as an adverbial to ask for the extent of an adjective, which 幾多 cannot be used in this manner.

go2 tiu4 kiu4 jau5 gei2 coeng4

嗰條橋有幾長?

How long is that bridge?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence嗰條橋幾長

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

go2 po1 syu6 jau5 gei2 gou1

嗰棵樹有幾高?

How tall is that tree?

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence嗰棵樹幾高

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

邊 and 邊度

Although having the same meaning, 邊[bin1] can only be used to replace 邊度[bin1 dou6] when it is used as the object of a sentence; it cannot be used alone in other situations.

Nei5 hai2 bin1

你喺邊?

Where are you?

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

 

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 305-306。

That’s it for this Cantonese grammar lesson!  If you appreciate our work, sign up now and give us a LikeCoin by clicking the LikeCoin button below 5 times.  It will empower us to create more useful contents for you in the future!

Leave a Reply

  • Newsletters

    Sign up and subscribe our newsletters for lessons and products update, promotional offers and giveaway

  • ×

    Cart

    Sign up and subscribe our newsletters for lessons and products update, promotional offers and giveaway