Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript


Hi, everybody! Olivia here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Cantonese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What are the final particles?
There are lots of final particles in Cantonese. The use of the particles is to modify the attitude of the speaker or the tone of the sentence. The common final particles are 呀(aa3), 㗎(gaa3), 啦(laa3), 咩(me1), 囉(lo1), etc.
Let's get into more details. Do you need to know all the final particles?
The “finale particles” in Cantonese are called 尾音 (mei2 jam1). You do not have to use all of the final particles, unless you fully understand the meaning and usage of them. The sentence may sound extremely strange or rude if you put the wrong tone or final particle at the end of the sentence. However being able to use final particles will make your Cantonese sound more fluent.
Why does it sound more natural when you use final particles?
The use of final particles can soften the tone of statements and add a sense of impatience, surprise, doubt, uncertainty or disapproval to the speaker's attitude. If you can master the correct usage of these final particles, your Cantonese definitely sounds more natural and fluent.
Let's compare a few sentences with and without the final particle. 佢返咗學 (keoi5 faan1 zo2 hok6) is a simple sentence meaning "He went to school". Now, let's add the final particle 啩 (gwaa3) to the sentence: 佢返咗學啩 (keoi5 faan1 zo2 hok6 gwaa3), it becomes "(I guess) he went to school (but I'm not completely sure)".
Another final particle that makes a big difference is 啫 (ze1), for example: 十蚊 means "10 dollars", and 十蚊啫 "(it's only) 10 dollars."
Besides paying attention to the correct usage of the final particle, using a different tone of the same particle will add a different meaning. For example, 得㗎! (dak1 gaa3!) means "OK, it will do!" But 得㗎? (dak1 gaa4?) means "Are you sure?" or "Really?"


How was it? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
"See you next time!", 下次見! (haa6 ci3 gin3!)