Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: Is it common to omit the subject in Cantonese sentences?
Siuling: And why?
Michael: At CantoneseClass101.com, we hear these questions often.
Lynn Lo is in a bookstore with her friend, Sasha Lee. She points to a book and says, "Did [you] read that book?"
盧曉玫: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
Dialogue
盧曉玫: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
李麗莎: 好唔好睇? (hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
盧曉玫: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
Michael: "Did [you] read that book?"
李麗莎: 好唔好睇? (hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?)
Michael: "Is [it] interesting?"

Lesson focus

Michael: Similar to other languages, such as Japanese and Spanish, it’s also very common to omit the subject in Cantonese sentences, provided that the subject is known.
Siuling: When asking questions, we usually omit the subject. For instance, the conversation with the subjects would be 你有冇睇嗰本書? (nei5 jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
Michael: "Did you read that book?"
Siuling: But 你 (nei5), you, is omitted for the sentence to sound natural.
Michael: And in the second sentence, the subject, “that book,” is also omitted because it was known what they were talking about.
Siuling: Right, if we add the subject to the sentence, it would be 嗰本書好唔好睇? (go2 bun2 syu1 hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?). But again, it’s more natural to omit the subject, 嗰本書 (go2 bun2 syu1) because it’s known.
Michael: Can you give us one more example?
Siuling: Sure. Let’s consider a situation with a mother and a son. The mother asks, 做咗功課未?(zou6 zo2 gung1 fo3 mei6?), which literally means “done homework yet?” but it means “Have [you] done the homework?”. It’s very obvious that she is asking his son, and the subject should be 你 (nei5), which is “you”. It shows that a speaker could omit the subject if the subject is known.
Michael: Of course, adding the subject
Siuling: 你 (nei5) “you,”
Michael: for which the sentence will be
Siuling: 你做咗功課未?(nei5 zou6 zo2 gung1 fo3 mei6),
Michael: is also fine. The meaning is totally the same.
Siuling: Yes, but adding the subject may sound redundant sometimes!
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let’s take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Lynn Lo says "Did [you] read that book?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Siuling: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
[Recall 2]
Michael: Now let’s take a look at our second sentence.
Do you remember how Sasha Lee says "Is [it] interesting?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Siuling: 好唔好睇? (hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?)
Practice Section
Michael: Let's review the sentences we’ve heard in this lesson. I’ll say the sentence in English, and then I want you to try and reply in Cantonese. Siuling will then model the correct answer—listen to her carefully and repeat, with emphasis on your pronunciation.
Do you remember how Lynn says "Did [you] read that book?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Siuling: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 有冇睇嗰本書? (jau5 mou5 tai2 go2 bun2 syu1?)
Michael: And do you remember how Sasha says "Is [it] interesting?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 好唔好睇? (hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Siuling: 好唔好睇? (hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 好唔好睇? (hou2 m4 hou2 tai2?)
Cultural Insight/Expansion (Optional)
Michael: In an imperative sentence, like 記得熄燈 (gei3 dak1 sik1 dang1), which means “(You) Don’t forget to turn off the light”, the subject is usually left out. It’s also okay to keep the subject “you”, 你 (nei5), but it sounds strong in this context.
Siuling: So using or removing the subject can make the sentences sound different!

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
Wednesday at 06:30 PM
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What Cantonese language questions do you have?

robert groulx
Saturday at 10:40 PM
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thanks for the lesson


my favorite phrase is 你有冇睇嗰本書?


robert