Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: How are sentences structured in Cantonese?
Siuling: And are the rules rigid?
Michael: At CantoneseClass101.com, we hear these questions often.
In the following situation, Ben Lee is a foreign-exchange student and he’s walking through central Hong Kong with his friend, Lilian Leung. Ben sees someone that he thinks is a celebrity and points them out to Lilian, saying "I know him! That's Jackie Chan!"
李龍林: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
Dialogue
李龍林: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
梁樂霖: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
李龍林: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
Michael: "I know him! That's Jackie Chan!"
梁樂霖: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: "I know him too!"

Lesson focus

Michael: Let’s look at the structure of the first sentence that Ben said.
Siuling: 我識佢! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: The sentence starts with the subject,
Siuling: 我 (ngo5)
Michael: which is “I”. Then, the verb follows,
Siuling: 識 (sik1)
Michael: which is “know”. Then comes the object
Siuling: 佢 (keoi5),
Michael: which is “him”. The whole sentence is
Siuling: 我識佢! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: I know him.
Michael: We can see that Cantonese also has an SVO sentence structure just like English. SVO stands for subject-verb-object.
Michael: Now, let’s see what Lilian said.
Siuling: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: Its English translation can be either “I know him too” or “I also know him”. Notice that there is an extra element in this sentence,
Siuling: 都 (dou1)
Michael: which means “too” or “also”. This word is an adverb. Very often in Cantonese, an adverb should be placed before the verb.
Michael: Let’s try another simple example. Let’s say “Today is my birthday”.
Siuling: 今日係我生日。(gam1 jat6 hai6 ngo5 saang1 jat6.)
Michael: Now let’s say “Today is my birthday too.”
Siuling: 今日都係我生日。(gam1 jat6 dou1 hai6 ngo5 saang1 jat6.)
Michael: We just need to place the adverb
Siuling: 都 (dou1)
Michael: before the verb
Siuling: 係 (hai6)
Michael: In spoken Cantonese, the SVO structure can be more flexible. Very often, you would hear people say the object first, so the sentence structure would be object-subject-verb.
Michael: Let’s look at the conversation again. Ben said,
Siuling: 我識佢! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: This is an SVO pattern. Now, we move the object to the front.
Siuling: 佢,我識呀。(keoi5, ngo5 sik1 aa3.)
Michael: The meaning stays the same, but there is more emphasis on the object in the front.
Michael: We can do the same as what Lilian said,
Siuling: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: Let’s move the object to the beginning of the sentence.
Siuling: 佢,我都識呀。(keoi5, ngo5 dou1 sik1 aa3.)
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let’s take a closer look at the dialogue we just heard.
Do you remember how to say "I know him! That's Jackie Chan!"?
(pause 4 seconds)
Siuling: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
[Recall 2]
Michael: Now let’s take a look at our second sentence.
And do you remember how to say "I know him too!"?
(pause 4 seconds)
Siuling: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Practice Section
Michael: Let's review what we’ve learned in this lesson. I will say a prompt in English and I want you to reply, out loud, with the Cantonese translation. Siuling will then model the correct answer. Listen to her carefully and repeat, with particular emphasis on your pronunciation.
The first prompt is, "I know him! That's Jackie Chan!"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
Michael: How did you do? Listen to Siuling again and repeat.
Siuling: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 我識佢!佢係成龍! (ngo5 sik1 keoi5! keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
Michael: Let’s move onto the second prompt. Do you remember how to say, "I know him too!"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Michael: How did you do this time? Again, listen to Siuling and repeat.
Siuling: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 我都識佢! (ngo5 dou1 sik1 keoi5!)
Cultural Insight/Expansion (Optional)
Michael: It’s also useful to know the word order of questions in Cantonese. Unlike English, where a question starts with a question word, in Cantonese, the word order of a question remains the same as a statement.
Michael: Let’s look at a sentence from the conversation.
Siuling: 佢係成龍! (keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
Michael: “He is Jackie Chan!” The statement starts with the subject
Siuling: 佢 (keoi5).
Michael: Then, the verb follows
Siuling: 係 (hai6)
Michael: Then follows the predicative
Siuling: 成龍 (sing4 lung4).
Michael: Now, if we ask “Who is Jackie Chan?”, we are going to use the question word
Siuling: 邊個 (bin1 go3).
Michael: We just need to replace the subject with the question word.
Siuling: 邊個係成龍?(bin1 go3 hai6 sing4 lung4?)
Michael: And the response is
Siuling: 佢係成龍。(keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4.)
Michael: If we ask “Who is he?”, we replace the predicative with the question word.
Siuling: 佢係邊個?(keoi5 hai6 bin1 go3?)
Michael: And the response is
Siuling: 佢係成龍! (keoi5 hai6 sing4 lung4!)
Michael: So you can see that, in Cantonese, a question and its response share the same word order.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Siuling: 拜拜! (baai1 baai3!)
Michael: See you soon!

3 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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What Cantonese language questions do you have?

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 08:06 PM
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Hello robert groulx,


You are very welcome. 😇

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

利凡特

Team CantoneseClass101.com

robert groulx
Thursday at 10:27 PM
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thanks for the lesson


my facvorite is 我識佢!佢係成龍!


robert