- 1 Introduction
- 2 Video lesson
- 3 Vocabulary list
- 4 Cantonese adverbs to express the future
- 4.1 到時 dou3 si4 then (at that time)
- 4.2 陣間 zan6 gaan1 later
- 4.3 聽日 ting1 jat6 tomorrow
- 4.4 後日 hau6 jat6 the day after tomorrow
- 4.5 下個禮拜 haa6 go3 lai5 baai3 next week
- 4.6 下個月 haa6 go3 jyut6 next month
- 4.7 出年 ceot1 nin2 next year
- 4.8 跟住 gan1 zyu6 and then
- 4.9 由而家開始 jau4 ji4 gaa1 hoi1 ci2 from now on
- 4.10 先至 sin1 zi3 until
- 4.11 之後 zi1 hau6 after
- 5 Expressing the future with 會
- 6 Why “I will = Cantonese future tense” is wrong
- 7 The Cantonese future tense – English to Cantonese
- 7.1 1. Something that’s planned or likely to happen in the future
- 7.2 2. Predicting something
- 7.3 3. I bet, expect, hope, imagine, reckon, think, wonder, am sure
- 7.4 4. If + consequence
- 7.5 5. Informal and less routine arrangements
- 7.6 6. Be careful of how conjunctions are translated
- 7.7 7. Some just don’t map very well to Cantonese
- 7.8 8. On the verge / brink / point of
- 8 Conclusion
Hey guys, welcome back to another lesson at Cantolounge. 🙂 Following our previous discussion of the “present tense” in Cantonese, and the “Cantonese past tense” (remember “tenses” don’t exist in Cantonese, we use this for convenience!), I thought it would be nice to finish this three part series on tenses by wrapping this up with today’s lesson – the Cantonese future tense.
Interestingly, unlike its present and past counterparts, the future tense in Cantonese is surprisingly simple. And as usual, we’ll make use of examples to supplement our understanding of expressing the future.
As I’ve previously mentioned here in this post on how to learn a language, grammar rules are fairly simple to understand, but difficult to apply – we need time and exposure to feel how they’re used in action.
Alright, let’s dive right in!
|到時||dou3 si4||then (at that time)||B|
|繼續||gai3 zuk6||to continue||B|
|解釋||gaai2 sik1||to explain||B|
|後日||hau6 jat6||the day after tomorrow||B|
|選舉日||syun2 geoi2 jat6||election day||B|
|投票||tau4 piu3||to vote||B|
|下個禮拜||haa6 go3 lai5 baai3||next week||B|
|暫時||zaam6 si4||for now||B|
|下個月||haa6 go3 jyut6||next month||B|
|請人||ceng2 jan4||to hire people||B|
|缺人手||kyut3 jan4 sau2||to lack manpower||B|
|出年||ceot1 nin2||next year||S|
|八十大壽||baat3 sap6 daai6 sau6||eightieth birthday||B|
|跟住||gan1 zyu6||and then||S|
|坐下||co5 haa5||to lounge around (sb’s house)||B|
|由而家開始||jau4 ji4 gaa1 hoi1 ci2||from now on||S|
|下定決心||haa6 ding6 kyut3 sam1||to make a decision to do sth.||B|
|思路||si1 lou6||train of thought||B|
|化妝||faa3 zong1||to put on makeup||B|
|三藩市||saam1 faan4 si5||San Francisco||B|
|探親戚||taam3 can1 cik1||to visit relatives||B|
|億萬富翁||jik1 maan6 fu3 jung1||multimillionaire||B|
|睬||coi2||to pay attention to sb.||S|
|寵物店||cung2 mat6 dim3||pet shop||B|
|沖涼||cung1 loeng4||to take a shower||S|
|實地考察||sat6 dei6 hau2 caat3||to go on a field trip||B|
|社交場所||se5 gaau1 coeng4 so2||social gatherings||B|
|跑步||paau2 bou6||to run||B|
|補充水分||bou2 cung1 seoi2 fan6||to hydrate||B|
|殘曬||caan4 saai3||to be worn out||S|
|濕糧||sap1 loeng4||wet food (for pets)||B|
|由頭到尾||jau4 tau4 dou3 mei5||from head to toe||S|
|做清潔||zou6 cing1 git3||to clean||S|
|結婚||git3 fan1||to get married||B|
|三十週年||saam1 sap6 zau1 nin4||thirtieth anniversary||B|
|紀念日||gei3 nim6 jat6||commemoration day||B|
|科學家||fo1 hok6 gaa1||scientist||B|
|人體||jan4 tai2||human body||B|
|基因定位||gei1 jan1 ding6 wai2||gene mapping||B|
|獲得突破||wok6 dak1 dat6 po3||to reach a breakthrough||B|
|將會||zoeng1 wui5||to be on the verge of||B|
|落堂||lok6 tong4||class is finished||S|
Cantonese adverbs to express the future
As I’ve mentioned in the Cantonese learning guide, you’ll find that because Chinese words don’t conjugate like French, or change forms like Japanese, Cantonese relies quite heavily on adverbs to help indicate time.
Similar to the past, we’ll introduce an aspect marker (yes, just one!) to help indicate the future. But in a similar vein, you can choose to add or omit the aspect marker if an adverb of time is also used.
Here’s a list of commonly used Cantonese adverbs that point to the future, along with exapmles.
到時 dou3 si4 then (at that time)
dou3 si4 sin1 zoi3 gong2 laa1 ！
Let’s talk about it then!
陣間 zan6 gaan1 later
zan6 gaan1 gai3 zuk6 tung4 nei5 gaai2 sik1 ！
I’ll continue explaining this to you later!
聽日 ting1 jat6 tomorrow
ngo5 dei6 ting1 jat6 ho2 nang4 wui5 heoi3 gei1 coeng4 zip3 go3 pang4 jau5 。
We might head to the airport to pick up a friend tomorrow.
後日 hau6 jat6 the day after tomorrow
hau6 jat6 zau6 hai6 syun2 geoi2 jat6 laa3 ，daai6 gaa1 faai3 di1 zeon2 bei6 tau4 piu3 laa1 ！
It’s election day the day after tomorrow – get ready to vote!
下個禮拜 haa6 go3 lai5 baai3 next week
hok6 haau6 haa6 go3 lai5 baai3 jiu3 haau2 si3 ，so2 ji5 zaam6 si4 m4 ho2 ji5 ceot1 heoi3 waan2 。
We have exams at school next week, so I can’t go out for now.
下個月 haa6 go3 jyut6 next month
ngo5 dei6 haa6 go3 jyut6 ho2 nang4 wui5 hoi1 ci2 ceng2 jan4 ，ji4 gaa1 zan1 hai6 hou2 kyut3 jan4 sau2 。
We might just start hiring folks next month – we’re really lacking manpower now.
出年 ceot1 nin2 next year
ceot1 nin2 co1 saam1 hai6 maa4 maa4 ge3 baat3 sap6 daai6 sau6 ，gei3 dak1 faan1 lei4 jat1 cai4 sik6 faan6 aa3 ！
It’ll be grandma’s eightieth next year during New Year, don’t forget to join us at the feast!
跟住 gan1 zyu6 and then
ngo5 sik6 jyun4 faan6 gan1 zyu6 heoi3 aa3 Macy go2 dou6 co2 haa5 。
After dinner, I‘m going to Macy’s for a bit.
由而家開始 jau4 ji4 gaa1 hoi1 ci2 from now on
zi1 cin4 co3 zo2 m4 gan2 jiu3 ，jau4 ji4 gaa1 hoi1 ci2 haa6 ding6 kyut3 sam1 m4 hou2 zoi3 co3 zau6 dak1 ge3 laa3 。
It’s okay to be wrong before, just promise to never commit the same mistakes again.
先至 sin1 zi3 until
li1 pin1 man4 zoeng1 jiu3 tai2 gei2 ci3 sin1 zi3 wui5 ming4 baak3 go3 zok3 ze2 ge3 si1 lou6 gaa3。
You have to read this article a few times before you understand the author’s train of thought.
之後 zi1 hau6 after
faa3 jyun4 zong1 zi1 hau6 zaa1 hou2 di1 dou6 geoi6 ！
After you’re done with makeup, grab your props!
Expressing the future with 會
The Cantonese aspect marker we’re going to introduce today is 會 (wui5). To indicate the future, this is the most commonly used way. The construct is very simply
會 + verb
Simple enough, right?
Remember that 會 comes before, while 咗 and 過 for the past comes after!
Let’s have a look at a few examples:
我會食飯 ngo5 wui5 sik6 faan6 I’ll eat
佢會買嘢 keoi5 wui5 sik6 je5 She’ll shop
隻貓會訓覺 zek3 maau1 wui5 fan3 gaau3 The cat will sleep
Why “I will = Cantonese future tense” is wrong
I feel like there are many recurring themes between this lesson and the previous on the Cantonese past tense. But because they’re so important, I feel compelled to repeat them.
Some people like to think of 會 as “I will = 我會”. Again, the majority of cases, you can get away with that. But just know that this isn’t always the case, and if you forget that 會 has multiple uses, you might get a few surprises.
To be fair, 會 doesn’t have that many uses. As a matter of fact, we’ve covered one of them in the previous lesson already. But it’s still important to keep this in mind.
Use #1: To express the future
I’m probably going to San Francisco around the 25th next month to visit family and friends.
ngo5 haa6 go3 jyut6 daai6 koi3 jaa6 m5 hou6 zo2 jau2 wui5 heoi3 saam1 faan4 si5 taam3 di1 can1 cik1 tung4 maai4 pang4 jau5.
Use #2: To express the conditional
Even if he were a multimillionaire, I won’t pay him any attention.
zau6 syun3 keoi5 hai6 jik1 maan6 fu3 jung1 ，ngo5 dou1 m4 wui5 coi2 keoi5 lo1.
Use #3: To express a habitual action
Every Sunday, I go to the pet shop to have my cat showered.
ngo5 mui5 go3 lai5 baai3 jat6 dou1 wui5 heoi3 cung2 mat6 dim3 tung4 maau1 maau1 cung1 loeng4.
On an unrelated side note, this is one of the greatest challenges of learning English for native Chinese speakers. Because time is expressed so simply in Chinese, trying to comb through this cacophony of English tenses is an absolute nightmare.
Aren’t you glad you’re learning a language with straightforward grammar? 🙂
The Cantonese future tense – English to Cantonese
As with our previous presentation, I’d like to go from English to Cantonese as well. While the things we experience are the same, the way we express things could be a bit different between the two languages. Hopefully, with even more examples, you’ll get a better grasp of how to switch between the two languages.
1. Something that’s planned or likely to happen in the future
We’re probably going to go on that field trip next weekend, but it could change based on weather conditions.
ngo5 dei6 jing1 goi1 wui5 haa6 go3 weekend heoi3 sat6 dei6 haau2 caat3 ，daan6 hai6 jau5 ho2 nang4 jan1 tin1 hei3 ji4 bin3 。
2. Predicting something
She probably won’t want to come to the luncheon – she hates these social gatherings.
佢應該唔會想去食晏嘅啦 – 你知佢嘅啦，佢最憎哩啲社交場所嘅。
keoi5 jing1 goi1 m4 wui5 soeng2 heoi3 sik6 ngaan3 ge3 laa3 – nei5 zi1 keoi5 ge3 laa1 ，keoi5 zeoi3 zang1 li1 di1 se5 gaau1 coeng4 so2 ge3 。
3. I bet, expect, hope, imagine, reckon, think, wonder, am sure
I wonder what her reaction will be when she sees my present.
m4 zi1 keoi5 gin3 dou2 ngo5 sung3 bei2 keoi5 go2 fan6 lai5 mat6 go2 zan6 si4 wui5 jau5 me1 faan2 jing3 ne1 ？
4. If + consequence
If you don’t drink tons of water after running, you’ll feel dehydrated.
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 paau2 jyun4 bou6 zi1 hau6 m4 bou2 cung1 faan1 seoi2 fan6 ge3 waa6 ，nei5 wui5 hou2 jung4 ji6 tyut3 seoi2 gaa3 。
5. Informal and less routine arrangements
I’m really beat, I’m probably staying in the rest of the day.
ngo5 sing4 go3 jan4 caan4 saai3 ，ngo5 gam1 jat6 jing1 goi1 dou1 wui5 lau4 hai2 nguk1 kei2 。
6. Be careful of how conjunctions are translated
After I’m done talking on the phone, I’ll go and buy canned dog food.
ngo5 gong2 jyun4 din6 waa2 zi1 hau6 wui5 heoi3 maai5 di1 sap1 loeng4 。
By the time you learn of it from her, it will already have been too late.
nei5 hai2 keoi5 san1 soeng6 zi1 dou3 li1 gin6 si6 go2 zan6 zau6 wui5 taai3 ci4 ge3 laa3 。
By the time you get home, I will have cleaned the house from top to bottom.
nei5 faan1 dou3 nguk1 kei2 go2 zan6 ngo5 ji5 ging1 wui5 jau4 tau4 dou3 mei5 zou6 hou2 saai3 cing1 git3 ge3 laa3 。
7. Some just don’t map very well to Cantonese
By this Saturday, we will have been married for 30 years.
gam1 go3 lai5 baai3 luk6 hai6 ngo5 dei6 git3 fan1 saam1 sap6 zau1 nin4 ge3 gei2 nim6 jat6 。
I suppose you could reword it like this, but the above seems a bit more natural to me.
gam1 go3 lai5 baai3 luk6 go2 zan6 wui5 hai6 ngo5 dei2 git3 zo2 fan1 saam1 sap6 zau1 nin4 ge3 jat6 zi2 。
8. On the verge / brink / point of
Scientists are on the brink of reaching a breakthrough in mapping the genetic code in the human body.
fo1 hok6 gaa1 hai2 jan4 tai2 gei1 jan1 ding6 wai2 ge3 gei6 seot6 soeng6 zoeng1 wui5 wok6 dak1 dat6 po3 。
*Strictly speaking, the term featured here is “將會“ (zoeng1 wui5), “about to”, but since it sort of relates to the future, I thought of throwing it in here.
That’s about it for this time, as well as the series on tenses!
If I had to offer a caveat for coping with tenses, I feel that this might fit the bill: remember the main aspect markers for the present, past and the future – 緊、喺度、住 (Cantonese present); 咗、過、完、曬 (Cantonese past); 會 (Cantonese future), and you’ll be alright 80% of the times.
So what about the remaining 20%?
For the most part, I’ll repeat the advice I shared in the very first post published at Cantolounge (How to come up with a good English to Cantonese translation):
…when trying to express something that doesn’t seem to have a direct translation, rephrase it simply and then translate it.
I’m willing to bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can express.
When it comes to translating colloquial things, it would really seem that less is more!
That’s about it for now, I hope you found this helpful. As usual, comments and questions are very welcome below (I hope there will be some).
If you liked this post, I would really appreciate it if you could spare a minute to share this on Facebook with your friends!
As my master used to say, “好，下次繼續，落堂！”