U9L1 Pivotal construction(兼語式)

 

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, pivotal construction(兼語式)will be introduced.  Basically, pivotal construction is created by connecting a sentence in predicative-object(謂賓式)with a sentence in subject-predicative(主謂式)or in predicative-object again.  The noun that serves as the object of the first predicate and the subject of the second predicate is called pivot(兼語).

Combination patterns of pivotal construction

Pattern 1

Pattern 2

Predicative-object(謂賓式)+ Subject-predicative(主謂式)

 

Predicative-object(謂賓式)+ Predicative-object(謂賓式)

 

The following are the usages of pivotal construction.

Usages of pivotal construction

Usage 1 To express that the second predicate is the result or the possible result of the first predicate.
Usage 2 To express that the second predicate is the reason for the action of the first predicate to happen.
Usage 3 To emphasize a noun as the actor of an action by using 係[hai6]
Usage 4 To insert indefinite reference on a noun by using 有[jau5]

Usage 1

Pivotal construction can be used to express that the second predicate is the result or the possible result of the first predicate.

lou5 baan2 pai1 zeon2 ngo5 fong3 gaa3

老闆批准我放假。

My boss grants my leave.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Verb
Words in sentence 老闆 批准 放假

 

soeng6 si1 bik1 ngo5 ci4 zik1

上司逼我辭職。

My supervisor forces me to quit.

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

 

ngo5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 fan1 fu3 ngo5 maai5 sau2 seon3

我女朋友吩咐我買手信。

My girlfriend asks me to buy souvenirs.

 

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 我女朋友 吩咐 手信

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 女朋友

 

aa3 maa1 giu3 gung1 jan4 zyu2 faan6

阿媽叫工人煮飯。

My mum asks the helper to cook the meal.

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

 

aa3 maa1 sai2 aa3 baa4 gaau3 ngo5 zou6 gung1 fo3

阿媽使阿爸教我做功課。

My mum makes my dad teach me to do homework.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Pivotal Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Verb Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 阿媽 使 阿爸 功課

 

baan1 zyu2 jam6 hyun3 ngo5 nou5 lik6 duk6 syu1

班主任勸我努力讀書。

My class teacher persuades me to study hard.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 班主任 努力

Usage 2

Pivotal construction can be used to indicate that the second predicate is the reason for the action of the first predicate to happen.

keoi5 dei6 haa1 ngo5 hai6 ai2 zai2

佢哋蝦我係矮仔。

They bully me as I am short.

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

 

ngo5 zaan3 keoi5 zou6 je5 hou2 kan4 lik6

我讚佢做嘢好勤力。

I applaud him as he is hard-working.

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

 

ngo5 lou5 baan2 naau6 ngo5 seng4 jat6 se4 wong4

我老闆鬧我成日蛇王。

My boss scolded me for always working sloppily.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Noun Verb
Words in sentence 我老闆 成日 蛇王

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 老闆

 

ngo5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 jan1 soeng2 ngo5 jau5 soeng6 zeon3 sam1

我女朋友欣賞我有上進心。

My girlfriend appreciates that I am ambitious.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 我女朋友 欣賞 上進心

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 女朋友

Usage 3: Using 係[hai6] to emphasize the actor of an action

Other than being a linking verb(繫詞)that indicates the subject equal to the object, the verb 係[hai6] can also be used in pivotal construction(兼語式)to emphasize the pivot(兼語)as the actor of an action.

hai6 keoi5 sik6 zo2 go3 daan6 gou1

係佢食咗個蛋糕。

He is the one who has eaten the cake.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence / 個蛋糕

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 蛋糕

 

hai6 aa3 maa1 jung6 saai3 nei5 di1 cin2

係阿媽用晒你啲錢。

Mum is the one who has completely spent your money.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence / 阿媽 你啲錢

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 你啲
Head

 

hai6 keoi5 gong2 zo2 daai6 waa6

係佢講咗大話。

He is the one who has told a lie.

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

 

hai6 go2 go3 ging1 gei2 bong1 ngo5 maai5 bou2 him2

係嗰個經紀幫我買保險。

That broker is the one who helps me buy insurance.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Object 2
Part of speech / Verb Noun Preposition Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 嗰個經紀 保險

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰個
Head 經紀

 

hai6 ni1 go3 siu1 fong4 jun4 gau3 zo2 ngo5 dei6

係呢個消防員救咗我哋。

This firefighter is the one who saves us.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence / 呢個消防員 我哋

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head 消防員

Emphasize negation

You can also emphasize the pivot is not the actor of an action by negating with adverb(副詞)唔[m4].

m4 hai6 ngo5 tau1 nei5 go3 ngan4 baau1 。

唔係我偷你個銀包。(我冇偷你個銀包)

I am not the one who has stolen your wallet.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Pivot Predicate Object
Part of speech / Adverb Verb Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 你個銀包

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 你個
Head 銀包

 

m4 hai6 ngo5 daa2 keoi5

唔係我打佢。

I am not the one who has punched him.

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

Usage 4: using 有[jau5] to indicate an indirect reference

In Unit 2 Lesson 13, you have learnt the difference between definite reference(確定指稱)and indefinite reference(不定指稱)and several ways to indicate the reference(指稱)of a noun.  In addition to using counter or subject and object to indicate the reference of a noun, you can also use the verb(動詞)有[jau5] in pivotal construction to indicate the pivot(兼語)possesses an indefinite reference(不定指稱).

jau5 di1 jan4 hou2 zung1 ji3 sik6 lau4 lin4

有啲人好中意食榴槤。

There are some people who like eating Durian.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence / 啲人 中意 食榴槤

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

jau5 zek3 maau1 sei2 zo2

有隻貓死咗。

A cat has died.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Predicative suffix
Part of speech / Verb Noun Adjective Predicative suffix
Words in sentence / 隻貓

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

jau5 si4 hau6 hoeng1 gong2 wui5 lok6 bou6 jyu5

有時候香港會落暴雨。

Sometimes Hong Kong will have heavy rain.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate
Part of speech / Verb Noun Sentence
Words in sentence / 時候 香港會落暴雨

 

Predicate 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 香港 落暴雨

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

jau5 jat1 jat6,ngo5 hai2 gaai1 dou6 zong6 gin3 keoi5

有一日,我喺街度撞見佢。

On a random day, I bumped into him on the street.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate
Part of speech / Verb Noun Sentence
Words in sentence / 一日 我喺街度撞見佢

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Object 2
Part of speech Noun Preposition Noun Clause Noun
Words in sentence 街度 撞見

 

Predicate 2 of that sentence

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

 

Object 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

jau5 go3 hoeng1 gong2 jan4 hai2 mei5 gwok3 bei2 jan4 laai1 zo2

有個香港人喺美國畀人拉咗。

A Hong Konger has been arrested in United States.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Object 2 Predicate 3 Predicative suffix 3
Part of speech / Verb Noun Preposition Noun Preposition Noun Verb Predicative suffix
Words in sentence / 個香港人 美國

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 香港人

 

jau5 tiu4 jau2 tau1 zo2 keoi5 bou6 din6 waa2

有條友偷咗佢部電話。

Someone has stolen his phone.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence / 條友 佢部電話

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 佢部
Head 電話

 

jau5 go3 jan2 soeng2 gin3 nei5

有個人想見你。

Someone wants to see you.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Auxiliary Verb Clause
Words in sentence / 個人 見你

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

jau5 baan1 jan4 soeng2 lo2 nei5 meng6

有班人想攞你命。

Some group of people want to kill you.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun Auxiliary Verb Clause
Words in sentence / 班人 攞你命

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

jau5 jat1 paai2 ngo5 hou2 m4 hoi1 sam1

有一排我好唔開心。

I was very upset for a while.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate
Part of speech / Verb Noun Sentence
Words in sentence / 一排 我好唔開心

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Adverb Adjective
Words in sentence 好; 唔 開心

 

jau5 jat1 ci3 bei2 coi3 ngo5 lo2 zo2 gun3 gwan1

有一次比賽我攞咗冠軍。

I have got the champion in a competition.

Type of sentence structure Pivotal construction
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Pivot Predicate
Part of speech / Verb Noun Sentence
Words in sentence / 一次比賽 我攞咗冠軍

 

Pivot of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 一次
Head 比賽

 

Predicate 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 冠軍

 

 

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 242-245, 248。

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