U2L9 Quantitative determinatives(數量性定詞)

Introduction

In this Cantonese grammar lesson, quantitative determinatives(數量性定詞)will be introduced.  Quantitative determinatives are used to represent a vague estimation or an unspecific number, instead of an exact number.  Similar with other determinatives, you have to attach them to other words in order to use them in a sentence, and these determinatives are mostly added to counters(量詞)by following the structure of subordination(偏正式).

Structure
Modifiers + Head
Quantitative determinatives Noun

 

Quantitative determinatives

[sing4/ seng4] [jat1]
[cyun4] [bun3]
滿[mun5] [gei2]
[leng1/leng2/leng4] 好多[hou2 do1]
好多[hou2 siu2]

Throughout the whole period or all over the place(成)

If 成[sing4/seng4] is used with a time word(時間詞), it means “throughout that whole period”; if it is used with a word that related with location, it means “all over the place/ the whole”.

Ngo5 sing4 jat6 dou1 mou5 ceot1 gwo3 gaai1

我成日都冇出過街。

I did not go out whole day.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Noun; adverb Verb Clause
Words in sentence 成日; 都 出過街

 

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 /

 

Adverbial of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

sing4 nin4 keoi5 dou1 mou5 wan2 gung1

成年佢都冇搵工。

He/She did not find a job whole year.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Sentence
Words in sentence 成年 佢都冇搵工

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Predicate 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 搵工

 

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 /

 

Keoi5 dei6 sik6 zo2 sing4 go3 daan6 gou1

佢哋食咗成個蛋糕。

They ate the whole cake.

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 佢哋 成個蛋糕

 

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

 

Aa3 baa4 cing1 git3 zo2 sing4 gaan1 fong4

阿爸清潔咗成間房。

My dad tidy up the whole room.

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 阿爸 清潔 成間房

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Throughout the whole period or over the whole place(全)

The meaning of 全[cyun4] is identical with 成[sing4/seng4] and they are mostly interchangeable.

cyun4 sai3 gaai3 ge3 jan4 dou1 zung1 ji3 daa2 gei1

界嘅人都中意打機。

All human beings like playing games.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 界嘅人 中意 打機

 

Subject 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 Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence /

 

cyun4 baan1 dou1 caam1 gaa1 zo2 go2 go3 bei2 coi3

全班都參加咗嗰個比賽。

The whole class participated in the competition.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 全班 參加 嗰個比賽

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰個
Head 比賽

 

cyun4 hoeng1 gong2 dou1 sik1 ni1 go3 neoi5 ming4 sing1

全香港都識呢個女明星。

Everyone in Hong Kong knows this female actress.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 香港 呢個女明星

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 香港

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head 女明星

To be in a state of full(滿)

When 滿[mun5] is used as an adjective, its meaning is “full”.  When 滿 is used as a quantitative determinative, that meaning is carried over and it means “all over the place”, which again is overlapped with 成.  Nevertheless, 滿 cannot be used to modify noun related with time like 成.

keoi5 gaan1 uk1 mun5 uk1 laap6 saap3

佢間屋滿屋垃圾。(佢間屋成屋垃圾。)

His/Her house is full of rubbish.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Noun Noun
Words in sentence 佢間屋 滿屋 垃圾

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 佢間
Head

 

Adverbial of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 滿
Head

 

ngo5 mun5 san1 nai4

我滿身泥。(我滿身泥。)

I’m covered in mud.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Noun Noun
Words in sentence 滿身

 

Adverbial of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 滿
Head

All over the place(一)

Although 一[jat1] means one, when it is used as a quantitative determinative, its meaning is overlapped with 成 and means “all over the place”.  Similar with 滿, 一 cannot be used to modify noun related with time like 成.

Do not confuse this quantitative determinative 一 with the number 一, in spite of their identical placement before a counter.  Other than relying on context, you can try replacing that 一 with other numbers. If the sentence does not make sense after the replacement, that 一 is a quantitative determinative.

keoi5 gaan1 fong4 jat1 dei6 laap6 saap3

間房一地垃圾。(佢間房成地垃圾)

His/Her room is full of garbage strewn on the floor.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Noun Noun
Words in sentence 間房 一地 垃圾

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 佢間
Head

 

Adverbial of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

keoi5 jat1 san1 cau3 hon6

佢一身臭汗。(佢成身臭汗。)

He/She smelled of sweat.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Noun Noun
Words in sentence 一身 臭汗

 

Adverbial of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

Half(半)

半[bun3] is a quantitative determinative that simply means half.

Ngo5 jam2 zo2 bun3 bui1 seoi2

我飲咗半杯水。

I drank half glass of water.

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 半杯水

 

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

 

aa3 mui2 sik6 zo2 bun3 go3 ping4 gwo2

阿妹食咗半個蘋果。

My sister ate half of the apple.

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 半個蘋果

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 半個
Head 蘋果

 

Ngo5 zou6 zo2 bun3 fan6 gung1 fo3

我做咗半份功課。

I finished half of my homework.

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 半份功課

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 半份
Head 功課

Many(好多)

好多[hou2 do1] is a quantitative determinative that simply means many.

go2 gaan1 hok6 haau6 jau5 hou2 do1 hok6 saang1

嗰間學校有好多學生。

There are many students in that school.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 嗰間學校 好多學生

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰間
Head 學校

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 好多
Head 學生

 

keoi5 nguk1 kei5 hou2 do1 can4

屋企好多塵。

There is a lot of dust in his home.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Noun
Words in sentence 屋企 好多

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 屋企

 

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

Very little/ very few(好少)

好少[hou2 siu2] is a quantitative determinative that means very little or very few.  When 好少 is used to modify a noun that functions as the object in a sentence and you want to use 有 as the verb, 得[dak1] has to be used to replace 有 as the verb of the sentence.

hou2 siu2 jan4 sik1 keoi5

好少人識佢。

Very few people know about him.

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

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 好少
Head

 

ngo5 dak1 hou2 siu2 cin2

我得好少錢。

I only have a very little amount of money.

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

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 好少
Head

Several(幾)

As a quantitative determinative, 幾[gei2] can mean several or it can form an interrogative pronoun by modifying the words.  The usage for forming interrogative pronoun will not be discussed here.

keoi5 dei6 sik1 zo2 gei2 nin4

佢哋識咗幾年。

They have known each other for several years.

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 佢哋 幾年

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

To represent an estimated amount(幾/ 零)

In spite of above meanings, 幾[gei2] can also be used to represent an estimated amount if it is put between number and counter.  For this usage, 幾 can be replaced with 零[leng1/leng2/leng4] without change meaning of the sentence.

ngo5 go2 baan1 jau5 ji6 sap6 leng1 go3 tung4 hok6

我嗰班有二十零個同學。

There are about twenty students in my class.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 我嗰班 二十零個同學

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 二十零個
Head 同學

 

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

 

keoi5 maai5 zo2 sap6 gei2 bou6 daan1 ce1

佢買咗十幾部單車。

He/She has bought about 10 bikes.

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 十幾部單車

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 十幾部
Head 單車

 

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 332-337。

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