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Cantonese Grammar

Because the languages are so similar, Cantonese grammar is as easy to learn as Chinese grammar. To be sure, it has its fair share of rules to remember, but those rules aren’t overwhelming by any means. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. The rules of Cantonese when it comes to grammatical construction are quite a bit less complicated than those in many other languages. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that learning Cantonese is going to be any easier than learning any other language. In fact, it’s one of the hardest. It’s just that the primary difficulties lie within writing and pronunciation, rather than within the grammar itself.

Right off the bat, one example of the simplicity of Cantonese grammar we can give you is that there is no need for the use of verb tense. That is, verbs always take the same form, and tense is communicated via additional words. For example:

• Instead of saying, “I am going fishing,” you’d say, “I go fishing today.”
• Instead of saying, “I will go fishing,” you’d say, “I go fishing tomorrow.”
• Instead of saying, “I went fishing,” you’d say “I go fishing yesterday.”

As you can see, this eliminates the needs for verb conjugation, which is one of the most difficult aspects of learning grammar for most students of a new language.
Another way in which both Chinese and Cantonese grammar are similar to English grammar is that all of these make use of the same types of pronoun forms. For example, there are both singular and plural pronouns utilized. In addition, pronouns can be in first, second, or third person in all of these languages. It is important to understand, however, that in both Cantonese and Chinese, nouns don’t usually change form when they are plural. Instead, the context of a sentence is used to determine whether or not a noun is singular or plural in these languages.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re learning Cantonese grammar is that though this language is similar to Chinese, there are enough differences between these languages to trip you up if you aren’t careful. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to focus on those differences if you are already familiar with Chinese. Another thing to keep in mind is that because China is so massive geographically, there are a number of dialects of both of these languages. Also, you have a very large variation of accents to contend with. As always, practice makes perfect.