- 1 Introduction
- 2 Video lesson
- 3 Vocabulary list
- 4 Cantonese modals…what are they?
- 4.1 Cantonese modal #1: 會 wui5
- 4.2 Cantonese modal #2: 可以 ho2 ji5
- 4.3 Cantonese modal #3: 識
- 4.4 Cantonese modal #4: 能夠
- 4.5 Cantonese modal #5: 應該 (it was supposed to, should)
- 4.6 Cantonese modal #6: 想、想要
- 4.7 Cantonese modal #7: 要、需要、必須、必需
- 4.8 Cantonese modal #8: 需要、唔使、唔需要
- 4.9 Cantonese modal #9: 希望
- 4.10 Cantonese modal #10: 准、唔准
- 4.11 Cantonese modal #11: 肯、唔肯、制、唔制
- 4.12 Cantonese modal #12: 願意
- 4.13 Cantonese modal #13: 敢
- 4.14 Cantonese modal #14: 寧願
- 4.15 Cantonese modal #15: 得、唔得
- 4.16 Cantonese modal #16: 到
- 5 Negating Cantonese modals
- 6 Comparison of can’s in Cantonese
- 7 Cantonese modal adverbs
- 7.1 Cantonese modal adverb #1: 可能 (might)
- 7.2 Cantonese modal adverb #2: 或者 (might)
- 7.3 Cantonese modal adverb #3: 都唔定 (could)
- 7.4 Cantonese modal adverb #4: 多數 (for the most part)
- 7.5 Cantonese modal adverb #5: 實會 (definitely)
- 7.6 Cantonese modal adverb #6: 一定要 (must)
- 7.7 Cantonese modal adverb #7: 一定係、肯定係 (must be)
- 7.8 Cantonese modal adverb #8: 絕對 (definitely)
- 7.9 Cantonese modal adverb #9: 未必 (not necessarily)
- 8 Conclusion
Hey guys, welcome back to another lesson at Cantolounge! You’ll notice that in the previous lesson, where we talked about Cantonese comparisons, these lessons to learn Cantonese are starting to feel a lot less like grammar, and more like vocabulary lessons. As I’ve said right form the very start, unfortunately (or fortunately), the distinction between “grammar” and “vocabulary” starts to blur once you understand how Cantonese works (even at a basic level), because all Chinese languages neither conjugate nor decline. And in today’s lesson, we’ll have a look at another category of important words: Cantonese modals.
I apologize for the video guys, as it has been pointed out to me, I made an error when editing the video, so I’ve moved the last few minutes of the video to the front. The real start of the video is at the 4:26 mark.
|比著係我||bei2 zoek6 hai6 ngo5||if it were me||S|
|外判||ngoi6 pun3||to outsource||B|
|承包商||sing4 baau1 soeng1||contractor||B|
|根本上||gan1 bun2 soeng5||fundamentally||B|
|熟悉||suk6 sik1||familiar with||B|
|表達||biu2 daat6||to express||B|
|基本上||gei1 bun2 soeng6||basically||B|
|𠺘口||long2 hau2||to rinse one’s mouth||S|
|牙線||ngaa4 sin3||dental floss||B|
|清潔||cing1 git3||to clean||B|
|牙縫||ngaa4 fung4||crevices between teeth||B|
|刷牙||caat3 ngaa4||to brush one’s teeth||B|
|貼||tip3||to stick on||B|
|潔白牙貼||git3 baak6 ngaa4 tip3||whitening strips||B|
|打麻雀||daa2 maa4 zoek2||to play mahjong||B|
|筆刨||pat1 paau2||pencil sharpener||B|
|新開||san1 hoi1||newly opened||B|
|麻辣火鍋||maa4 laat6 fo2 wo1||Sichuan spicy hotpot||B|
|留學||lau4 hok6||study abroad||B|
|基於||gei1 jyu1||based on||B|
|選擇||syun2 zaak6||to choose||B|
|竭盡全力||git3 zeon6 cyun4 lik6||spare no effort||B|
|填補||tin4 bou2||to fill in||B|
|士多卑利醬||si6 do1 be1 lei2 zoeng3||strawberry sauce||S|
|體恤||tai2 seot1||to empathize||B|
|當官||dong1 gun1||to be a civil servant (in the government)||B|
|具備||geoi6 bei6||to have||B|
|喪失||song3 sat1||to lose||B|
|親人||can1 jan4||loved ones||B|
|訴苦||sou3 fu2||to grieve||B|
|發洩||faat3 sit3||to vent||B|
|隨時隨刻||ceoi4 si4 ceoi4 haak1||any time of||B|
|支持||zi1 ci4||to stand by||B|
|雞扒||gai1 paa2||cooked chicken (could be grilled, deep fried, etc.)||B|
|生粉||saang1 fan2||corn flour||B|
|愛人如己||ngoi3 jan4 jyu4 gei2||love others as thyself||B|
|顆||fo2||classifier for heart||B|
|憐憫||lin4 man5||merciful, compassionate||B|
|對待||deoi3 doi6||to treat other people||B|
|杳無音信||miu5 mou4 jam1 seon3||no news||B|
|激死我||gik1 sei2 ngo5||infuriating||S|
|擺埋一邊||baai2 maai4 jat1 bin1||to put something aside||S|
|德文||dak1 man2||German (the language)||B|
|實用性||sat6 jung6 sing3||practicality||B|
|兼職||gim1 zik1||part time||B|
|打工||daa1 gung1||to work a job||B|
|儲錢||cou5 cin2||to save money||S|
|時裝設計||si4 zong1 cit3 gai3||fashion design||B|
|由細到大||jau4 sai3 dou3 daai6||from a young age||S|
|水分||seoi2 fan1||moisture; hydration||B|
|失靈||sat1 ling4||out of order||B|
|復返你||fuk1 faan1 nei5||confirm an order (with a customer)||S|
|吉列豬扒||gat1 lit6 zyu1 paa2||tonkatsu (deep fried pork chop)||B|
|套餐||tou3 caan1||set meal||B|
|蒲燒鰻魚飯||pou4 siu1 maan6 jyu4||kabayaki eel rice||B|
|分店||fan1 dim3||branch (of a shop)||B|
|款||fun2||a style (wallet, shoes, etc.)||B|
|冇貨||mou5 fo3||out of stock||S|
|廁紙||ci3 zi2||tissue paper||B|
|長住||coeng4 zyu6||live for a long time in a place||B|
|按照||on3 ziu3||according to||B|
|兩文三語||loeng5 man4 saam1 jyu5||biliteracy, trilingualism||B|
|掌握||zoeng2 aak1||to grasp||B|
|周圍走||zau1 wai4 zau2||to walk around||B|
|心領||sam1 ling5||to appreciate someone’s kindness||B|
|旁觀者||pong4 gun1 ze2||bystander||B|
|得到||dak1 dou2||to obtain||B|
|身邊人||san1 bin1 jan4||people close to us||B|
|支持||zi1 ci4||to stand by||B|
|天下||tin1 haa6||the world||B|
|手提電腦||sau2 tai4 din6 nou5||laptop||B|
|收緊||sau1 gan2||to tighten up||B|
|公共場所||gung1 gung6 coeng4 so2||public places||B|
|公眾物品||gung1 zung3 mat6 ban2||public goods||B|
|塗鴉||tou4 aa1||to do graffiti||B|
|年輕人||nin4 heng1 jan4||young people||B|
|表態||biu2 taai3||to express||B|
|政治立場||zing3 zi6 laap6 coeng4||political stance||B|
|付出||fu6 ceot1||to pay||B|
|渡過||dou6 gwo1||to sail through (a difficulty)||B|
|遇難||jyu6 naan6||to run into difficulties (huge difficulties)||B|
|好心有好報||hou2 sam1 jau5 hou2 bou3||as a man sows, so he shall reap||B|
|加入||gaa1 jap6||to join||B|
|歸功於||gwai1 gung1 jyu1||to attribute effort (credit) someone||B|
|山楂餅||saan1 zaa1 beng2||haw flakes||B|
|話梅||waa4 mui2||dried salted plum||B|
|開口||hoi1 hau2||to open one’s mouth and speak||B|
|講錯嘢||gong2 co3 je5||to say something wrong||S|
|唔小心||m4 siu2 sam1||unintentionally||S|
|得罪||dak1 zeoi6||to offend||B|
|對方||deoi3 fong1||the other party||B|
|跳降落傘||tiu3 gong3 lok6 saan3||skydiving||B|
|高危運動||gou1 ngai4 wan6 dung6||high-risk sports||B|
|罰企||fat6 kei5||to stand outside the classroom as a punishment||B|
|道歉||dou6 hip3||to apologize||B|
|𢭃||dau3||to touch; to mess with||S|
|頂唔順||ding2 m4 seon6||to not be able to tolerate||S|
|玻璃樽||bo1 lei1 zeon1||glass bottle||S|
|活躍||wut6 joek3||active; high energy||B|
|湊||cau3||to look after children||S|
|交返畀你||gaau1 faan1 bei2 nei5||to return something to someone||S|
|忍唔住||jan2 m4 zyu6||can’t help but||S|
|分開||fan1 hoi1||to separate||B|
|餸||sung3||food (served during a meal)||B|
|紐約||nau2 joek3||New York||B|
|上市||soeng5 si5||to go public||B|
|各方面||gok3 fong1 min6||various aspects||B|
|豐澤||fung1 zaak6||Fortress (an electronics chain in Hong Kong)||B|
|阿拉伯文||aa3 laai1 baak3 man4||Arabic (the language)||B|
|派…上場||paai1 … soeng5 coeng4||to send someone or something to an occasion||B|
|非母語者||fei1 mou5 jyu5 ze2||
|鳳爪||fung6 zaau2||chicken feet||B|
|睇情況||tai2 cing4 fong3||depends on the situation||S|
|擔心||daam1 sam1||to worry||B|
|油尖旺||jau4 zim1 wong6||shorthand for Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok||B|
|嗰頭||go2 tau4||that area||S|
|蒲||pou4||to hang out||S|
|勸||hyun3||to advise, to urge||B|
|黑人||hak1 jan4||black people||B|
|喵嘴喵舌||miu2 zeoi2 miu2 sit6||to make condescending facial expressions||S|
|白人||baak6 jan4||white people||B|
|高人一等||gou1 jan4 jat1 dang2||superior||B|
|乞人憎||hat1 jan4 zang1||loathsome behaviour||S|
|出門||ceot1 mun4||to head out||B|
|電源||din6 jyun4||power supply||B|
|後悔莫及||hau6 fui3 mok6 kap6||too late to regret something||B|
|國際巨星||gwok3 zai3 geoi6 sing1||international superstar||B|
|容許||jung4 heoi2||to allow||B|
|警告||ging2 gou3||to warn||B|
|無理取鬧||mou4 lei5 ceoi2 naau6||describes someone who’s a pointless troublemaker||B|
|報警||bou3 ging2||to call the cops||B|
|港產||gong2 caan2||Hong Kong produced||B|
|罪魁禍首||zeoi6 fui1 wo6 sau2||the culprit||B|
|定罪||ding6 zeoi6||to convict||B|
|撞||zong6||to bump into||B|
|上心||soeng5 sam1||to take something to heart||B|
Cantonese modals…what are they?
To start off with, let’s have a look at what “modals” are.
To those of you who don’t particularly like grammar jargon, I do apologize for including it almost every time in the title, unfortunately I need something to group a collection of concepts together, and grammar jargon happens to fulfill that role nicely. 🙂
Anyway, “modals” is a fancy way of saying “words that allow us to express different moods and our intentions”. If that sounds a bit vague, don’t worry, that’ll go away with a few examples.
If you have a background in Romance languages, the notion of “modals” can be found in tenses. Any tenses that ring a bell related to moods? (*wink wink*) Yes, the subjunctive is probably one of the more obvious examples.
Es posible que…
This group of words commonly express things like wishes (exiger, insistir), emotions (se sentir, sentir), recommendations (ordonner, ordenar), doubt (douter, dudar).
In English, modals aren’t necessarily talked about as much, because verbs don’t change as they do in French or Spanish, but they exist too.
From Wikipedia, this includes words like may, can, must, ought, will, shall, need, dare, might, could, would, and should.
Pretty straightforward, hmm?
In Cantonese, like English, modals don’t change at all (e.g. you may have, they may have, she may have), so there’s no “rules” you need to remember in applying them. But because this group of words are so important to express pretty much anything, I thought it’d be nice to do a comb through of some of the more common Cantonese modals you’ll come across.
So, like the previous lesson, this will be examples heavy, instead of explanation heavy – I hope these examples will shed some light on how these words are used properly in Cantonese.
Alright, let’s grab a cup of coffee (or whatever you like to drink) and get started!
Cantonese modal #1: 會 wui5
As we talked about in a previous lesson describing the “Cantonese future tense”, 會 was pretty much the star of our lesson. It’s simple – add 會 before a verb, and you’ll get the future tense.
ngo5 zan6 gaan1 wui5 heoi3 tou4 syu1 gun2 wan2 jat1 bun2 syu1.
I’ll go to the library later to find a book.
But there are also two other common usages of 會 that I feel you should know.
First of all, 會 can also be used to indicate the conditional, i.e. in general, “would” generally translates to 會 as well.
bei2 zeok6 hai6 ngo5 ge3 waa6, ngo5 jat1 ding6 m4 wui5 ngoi6 pun3 bei2 sing4 baau1 soeng1 lo1, jan1 wai6 ngoi6 jan4 gan1 bun2 soeng6 m4 suk6 sik1 ngo5 dei6 ge3 noi6 bou6 wan6 zok3.
If I were me, I would most certainly not have outsourced this to a contractor, because outsiders are completely unfamiliar with our internal operations.
ni1 geoi3 je5 jung6 gwong2 dung1 waa2 ngo5 m4 wui5 gam2 joeng2 biu2 daat6, zoeng1 go3 ci3 zeoi6 saau2 wai4 bin3 jat1 haa5 wui5 seon6 hou2 do1 ge3.
I would probably not express this sentence like this in Cantonese, it will sound a lot smoother if you change the word order slightly.
(Notice how the 會 maps to “would” in the first part of the sentence, and “will” in the second part.)
Second of all, you can also use 會 to discuss things you do on a habitual basis. If memory serves, we’ve mentioned this before in the lesson discussing the Cantonese present tense, but since repetition is good for reinforcement, that’s what we’re going to do here. 🙂
ngo5 gei1 bun2 soeng6 mui5 jat6 dou1 wui5 long2 jyun4 hau2, jung6 ngaa5 sin3 cing1 git3 jyun4 ngaa4 fung4, tip3 jyun4 ngaa4, tip3 jyun4 git3 baak6 ngaa4 tip3 sin1 zi3 wui5 fan3 gaau3.
I basically rinse, floss, brush and put on dental strips before sleeping every night.
can4 taai2 mui5 go3 lai5 baai3 luk6 dou1 wui5 joek3 baan1 pang4 jau5 jam2 caa4 tung4 maai4 daa2 maa4 zoek2, sap6 nin4 dou1 mou5 bin3 gwo3.
Mrs. Chan usually meets up with her friends to go yum cha and play mahjong every Saturday, this has pretty much been unchanged for the last ten years.
Cantonese modal #2: 可以 ho2 ji5
可以 simply means “can”, and you can pretty much use it the same way you’d use it in English, as in “you are allowed to”, “it’s possible for you to”.
wei3, sorry aa3, nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 ze3 go3 bat1 paau2 bei2 ngo5 jung6 haa5 aa3?
Hey, sorry, do you mind lending me your pencil sharpener?
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 ho2 ji5 sik6 laat6 ge3 waa6, bat1 jyu4 ngo5 dei6 zan6 gaan1 jat1 cai4 sii3 haa5 san1 hoi1 go2 gaan1 maa4 laat6 fo2 wo1 aa1!
If you’re up for spicy foods, why don’t we try out the new Sichuan spicy hot pot place!
ngo5 bun2 loi4 ho2 ji5 hai2 faat3 gwok3 lau4 hok6 ge3, daan6 hai6 gei1 jyu1 sat6 jung6 ge3 haau2 leoi6, ngo5 zeoi3 zung1 dou1 syun2 zaak6 m4 heoi3.
I originally could have studied abroad in France, but based on pragmatic considerations, I decided against it in the end.
Cantonese modal #3: 識
Next up, we have 識. 識 translates directly to “to know how to”, or simply “can”. So when you want to say things that you’re capable of doing, especially things that are related to skills (I can swim, I can drive, I can speak Farsi), feel free to plop it in the sentence.
Please also note that 識 also has a second meaning, which means “to know someone” (我識佢). It’s not completed related to what we’re discussing here, but I thought it useful to bring it up.
ngo5 seoi1 jin4 m5 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2, daan6 hai6 ngo5 ji4 gaa1 kit3 zeon6 cyun4 lik6 heoi3 tin4 bou2 zi1 sik1 ge3 kyut3 ham6.
Even though I can’t speak English, I’m doing my best to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.
jyun4 loi4 hok6 je5 gwo3 zo2 jat1 dyun6 si4 gaan3 zau6 wui5 m4 gei3 daak1, pei3 jyu4 waa6 ngo5 jat1 nin4 cin4 hok6 gwo3 zing2 si6 do1 be1 lei2 zoeng3 ge3 gung1 zeoi6, daan6 hai6 jat1 nin4 zi1 hau6 ge3 ngo5 jyun4 cyun4 m4 sik1 zing2!
It appears to be true that we forget stuff we’ve learned after a while, for example, just about a year ago, I remember learning the entire process of making strawberry jam, but the me a year after has no clue how to do it!
Cantonese modal #4: 能夠
能夠 is an interesting modal, because you won’t hear it as often as the other ones on the list. But because it still comes up, I thought it important to include it in the list.
To be more specific, 能夠 means “can” as well, or “to be able to”. However, 能夠 is more written than spoken, so you won’t hear it used in everyday conversations. The times where it might pop up would be when, for example, politicians speak and they want to sound more formal, or you’re talking with someone who speaks Cantonese in a more literary flavour.
a.k.a. 能夠 = used in more serious occasions
nang4 gau3 tai2 seot1 si5 man4 sang1 wut6 soeng6 ge3 man6 tai4 hai6 dong1 gun1 jing1 goi1 geoi6 bei6 zeoi3 gei1 bun2 ge3 sou3 zat1.
The ability to empathize with citizens is a fundamental quality that civil servants should possess.
ngo5 seoi1 jin4 m4 nang4 gau3 ming4 baak3 nei5 song3 sat1 zo2 can1 jan4 ge3 sam1 cing4 , daan6 hai6 jyu4 gwo2 nei5 seoi1 jiu3 wan2 go3 jan4 sou3 fu2, faat3 sit3 jat1 haa5 ge3 waa6 , ngo5 ceoi4 si4 ceoi4 hak1 dou1 wui5 hai2 nei5 san1 bin1 zi1 ci4 nei5 。
I might not be able to understand what it feels like to lose a loved one, but if you ever need someone to grieve with, or just vent, just remember that I’ll always be by your side supporting you.
Cantonese modal #5: 應該 (it was supposed to, should)
應該 takes on two nuances that you need to be familiar with. The first meaning is directly the one you’ll probably find in the dictionary, meaning “should”, or if you’re British and more traditional “ought to”.
jip3 gai1 paa2 ge3 si4 hau6 nei5 m4 jing1 goi1 baai2 taai3 do1 saang1 fan2 , jyu4 gwo2 m4 hai6 go3 hau2 gam2 wui5 hou2 gwaai3 .
When marinating chicken, you ought not to have put in so much corn starch, or else the texture turns weird.
hou2 ci5 je4 sou1 gam2 gong2, ngo5 dei6 jing1 goi1 ngoi3 jan4 jyu4 gei2, ji5 jat1 fo2 lin4 man5 ge3 sam1 deoi3 doi6 kei4 taa1 jan4.
As Jesus said, we should “love thy neighbour as thyself”, and treat others with a compassionate heart.
You’ll often hear 應該 used in a slightly different sense as well, translating to “should have + verb-ed” or “it’s supposed to have + verb-ed”. So whenever you want to express these things, plop in the word.
go3 baau1 gwo2 bun2 loi4 jing3 goi1 sap6 jat1 dim2 dou3 , gu2 m4 dou3 dang2 zo2 sing4 jat6 dou1 miu5 mou4 jam1 seon3 , zan1 hai6 gik1 sei2 ngo5 .
The package was supposed to arrive at 11, who knew there wouldn’t even be a single message from the delivery company even after waiting the entire day, infuriating!
di1 siu2 sik6 bun2 loi4 jing1 goi1 zi2 hai6 bei2 di1 gaa1 ban1 jung6 ge3 , bat1 gwo3 di1 jan4 dou1 caa1 m4 do1 zau2 saai3 laak3 , nei5 soeng2 sik6 mat1 zau6 sik6 mat1 laa1 .
The snacks were originally guests-only, but since everyone’s almost gone, you can feel free to eat whatever you want.
Cantonese modal #6: 想、想要
想 is straightforward enough. It simply means “to want”.
我其實買新嘅 iPhone 好耐嘅嘞，但係一直都好忙，所以只好擺埋一邊。
ngo5 kei4 sat6 soeng2 maai5 san1 ge3 iPhone hou2 noi6 ge3 laak3 , daan6 hai6 jat1 zik6 dou1 hou2 mong4 , so2 ji5 zi2 hou2 baai2 maai4 jat1 bin1 .
I’ve actually been wanting to get a new iPhone for a while, but because I’ve been so busy, I’ve been putting it off the whole time.
ngo5 m4 hai6 m4 soeng2 hok6 dak1 man2, daan6 hai6 haau2 leoi6 dou3 ngo5 jan4 sang1 jap6 min6 ge3 sat6 jung6 sing3 zi1 hau6, ngo5 dou1 hai6 kyut3 ding6 ji4 gaa1 m4 hai6 si4 hau6 heoi3 hok6.
It’s not that I don’t want to learn German, but considering the practical value of it in my life, I’ve decided that it’s not the time to learn it.
However, when you say you want something (as in you want to get something), instead of just “you want to + verb something”, then a more natural natural translation is 想要. I’m mentioning this because 想 and 要 are modals that can mean different things, and it’s not unnatural to think, “if you put the two together, what does it mean?” Maybe that’s one of the harder things of learning Chinese, when learning words that are made up of characters that mean different things.
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 soeng2 jiu3 go2 deoi3 bo1 haai4, ngo5 gin3 ji3 nei5 gim1 zik1 daa2 gung1 cou5 cin2 heoi3 maai5.
If you want that pair of sneakers, I suggest you work part time and save up for it.
去巴黎學時裝設計係我由細到大嘅夢想，所以我相信好似法國人話齋，「vouloir, c’est pouvoir」，只要你，你就可以得到。
heoi3 baa1 lai4 hok6 si4 zong1 cit3 gai3 hai6 ngo5 jau4 sai3 dou3 daai6 ge3 mung6 soeng2 ，so2 ji5 ngo5 soeng1 seon3 hao2 ci5 faat3 gwok3 jan4 waa6 zaai1 ，「 vouloir , c ’ est pouvoir 」 ，zi2 jiu3 nei5 soeng2 jiu3 ，nei5 zau6 ho2 ji5 dak1 dou3 。
Studying fashion design in Paris has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, and as the French say, “vouloir, c’est pouvoir”, “to want is to can”.
Cantonese modal #7: 要、需要、必須、必需
Here we have a few words that express obligation. 要, in particular can mean two things. First of all, it can mean “must”, and it’s a shorthand of the word “需要”.
On that note, you might also see the words “必須” and “必需” along the way. Both are pronounced “bit1 seoi1”, so please be careful of the distinction between them. They both mean very similar things, but they’re used differently.
To be more precise, 必須 (聽日你必須做完呢樣嘢) is usually followed by a verb, whereas 必需 (鍋係廚房嘅必需工具) is usually followed by a noun.
Bonus points if you can distinguish between 需 and 須…even natives sometimes get them confused.
Anyway, diving into examples!
gwong2 gou3 dou1 gam2 gong2 laa1, ceot1 heoi3 ngoi6 gwok3 heoi3 leoi5 hang4 go2 zan6 jat1 ding6 jiu3 maai5 cai4 bou2 him2 sin1 zi3 hou2 heoi3.
They even say it in the commercials, when you travel abroad, you gotta buy insurance before going.
haa6 tin1 ge3 si4 hau6 zan1 hai6 jiu3 jam2 do1 di1 seoi2 , jyu4 gwo2 m4 hai6 san1 tai2 wui5 m4 gau3 seoi2 fan6 .
We really need to drink more water during summer, or else our body won’t be sufficiently hydrated.
The second common usage of 要 is “to want”, which I think of as being the short form of 想要. You’ll often hear this when ordering food in restaurants, or when going shopping, interacting with staff on site.
m4 hou2 ji3 si1 aa3, tau4 sin1 go3 hai6 tung2 sat1 ling4, ngo5 soeng2 fuk1 faan1 nei5 jat1 haa5, nei5 hai6 jiu3 gat1 lit6 zyu1 paa2 go3 tou3 caan1 ding6 hai6 pou4 siu1 maan6 jyu4 faan6 ne1?
Excuse me, the system just had a malfunction just now, I would like to confirm your order with you, did you want the fried pork cutlet set or the grilled eel set?
先生，我頭先同其他分店嘅同時 check 過喇，你嗰款銀包暫時冇曬貨，真係唔好意思啊。
sin1 saang1 , ngo5 tau4 sin1 tung4 kei4 taa1 fan1 dim3 ge3 tung4 si4 check gwo3 laak3 , nei5 soeng2 jiu3 go2 fun2 ngan4 baau1 zaam6 si4 mou5 saai3 fo3 , zan1 hai6 m4 hou2 ji3 si1 aa3 .
Sir, I’ve just checked with other branches, the wallet you were looking for is currently out of stock, I apologize for the inconvenience.
Cantonese modal #8: 需要、唔使、唔需要
需要 means “to need to”, but please be aware that there are two commonly used negations: 唔需要 (which should be obvious), and 唔使 (less obvious!). 使 is also a heteronym, it can be pronounced sai2, si2 and si3, but here, the pronunciation is sai2.
pang4 ngo5 zyu6 hai2 soeng6 hoi2 saam1 nin4 ge3 ging1 jim6 , ngo5 ho2 ji5 tung4 nei5 gong2 , jyu4 gwo2 nei5 jiu3 heoi3 zung1 gwok3 ge3 waa6 zau6 seoi1 jiu3 daai3 cai4 saam1 joeng6 je5 ：cin2, sau2 gei1, ci3 zi2 .
From my three years of experience living in Shanghai, I can tell you, if you need to go to China, you need to have three things on you at all times: money, a cellphone, and tissue paper.
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 soeng2 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 coeng4 zyu6 ge3 waa6 zau6 seoi1 jiu3 on3 ziu3 bun2 dei6 ge3 loeng5 man4 saam1 jyu5 ge3 zing3 caak3 zoeng2 ngaak1 hou2 gwong2 dung1 waa2, pou2 tung1 waa2 tung4 maai4 jing1 man2.
If you want to live in Hong Kong permanently, you need to develop a good grasp of Cantonese, Mandarin and English as per the local policy of “Biliteracy and Trilingualism”.
其實呢道係有啲 locker 喺出面可以用嘅，你咁辛苦攞住咁重嘅嘢周圍走。
kei4 sat6 ni1 dou6 hai6 jau5 di1 locker hai6 ceot1 min6 ho2 ji5 jung6 ge3, nei5 m4 sai2 gam3 san1 fu2 lo2 zyu6 gam3 cung5 ge3 je5 zau1 wai4 zau2.
There’s actually a set of lockers outside you can use, you don’t have to walk around carrying such heavy things around.
fei1 soeng4 zi1 gam2 ze6 nei5 ge3 hou2 ji3 , ngo5 zan1 hai6 sam1 ling5 laa3 , daan6 hai6 muk6 cin4 wai4 zi2 ngo5 zan1 hai6 m4 seoi1 jiu3 nei5 ge3 bong1 mong4.
Thank you for your good intentions, I really appreciate it, but I really don’t require your assistance at present.
Cantonese modal #9: 希望
希望 can mean “hope” standalone as a noun, or “to hope” as a verb. You can pretty much use it the same way as you do English.
kei4 sat6 cung4 jat1 go3 pong4 gun1 ze2 ge3 gok3 dou6 , jam6 ho4 jan4 dou1 ho2 ji5 tai2 dou2 aa3 bou2 zeoi3 hei1 mong6 dak1 dou2 ge3 zau6 hai6 san1 bin1 jan4 ge3 zi1 ci4 , so2 ji5 gin3 dou2 keoi5 nguk1 kei5 jan4 deoi3 keoi5 gam3 laang5 mok6 zan1 hai6 sam1 taam5.
From the standpoint of a bystander, anyone can see that what 阿寶 wants the most is support from people around him, so it’s quite disheartening to see his family treating him so coldly.
tin1 haa6 so2 jau5 ge3 baa4 baa1 maa4 maa1 dou1 hei1 mong6 bei2 zeoi3 hou2 ge3 zi6 gei2 di1 zai2 neoi2, mou5 jan4 wui5 soeng2 hoi6 zi6 gei2 ge3 sai3 lou6 zai2.
All parents wish to provide the best of everything for their kids, no one wishes to harm their own children.
Cantonese modal #10: 准、唔准
准 is quite an interesting word. It’s commonly used in schools by teachers or by figures of authorities, maybe something like the police, so while you might not hear it everywhere, it’s something that’s important nevertheless.
In a nutshell, it means “to be allowed to”. You can probably imagine why it’s found only in specific circumstances now, hmm? 🙂
Okay, more examples.
gan6 nin4 lei4 hok6 haau6 deoi3 jyu1 jau5 gwaan1 sau2 tai4 din6 nou5 ge3 sai2 jung6 zing3 caak3 sau1 dak1 jyut6 lei4 jyut6 gan2, ji4 gaa1 lin4 daai3 dou1 m4 zeon2 daai3.
In recent years, the school has tightened its policy with regards to laptops, it’s now impermissible to even bring it to school.
jam6 ho4 ge3 gung1 gung6 coeng4 so2 dou1 m4 zeon2 jam6 ho4 jan4 hai2 gung1 zung3 mat6 ban2 soeng5 min6 tou4 aa1 , daan6 hai6 jyut6 lai4 jyut6 do1 nin4 hing1 jan4 dou1 wui5 syun2 zaak6 ji5 tou4 aa1 ge3 fong1 sik1 biu2 taai3 zi6 gei2 ge3 zing3 zi6 lap6 coeng4.
It’s forbidden to make graffiti on public property in public spaces, but more and more youngsters have turned to graffiti as a means to express their political stances.
Cantonese modal #11: 肯、唔肯、制、唔制
肯 means “to be willing to”. It’s one of the most fundamental words to learn in the beginning, yet I feel that it’s not really something that’s thought of as “grammar” in other languages. Here’s a chance to forge a strong association with the concept of “willingness” in Cantonese. 🙂
nei5 jyu4 gwo2 zi6 gei2 m4 hang2 fu6 ceot1 nou5 lik6 ge3 waa6, zau6 syun3 ngo5 hang2 bong1 nei5 dou1 mou5 jung6.
If you yourself are unwilling to put in the effort, even if I help you, it’s a lost cause.
keoi5 hang2 bong1 nei5 dou6 gwo3 naan4 gwaan1 ge3 jyun4 jan1 hai6 jan1 wai6 dong1 keoi5 jyu6 naan4 ge3 si4 hau6 nei5 dou1 cang4 ging1 bong1 gwo3 keoi5 , so2 wai6 「 hou2 sam1 jau5 hou2 bou3 」, sam1 dei2 hou2 ge3 jan4 ge3 zai3 jyu6 m4 wui5 caa1 dak1 heoi3 bin1 ge3.
The reason he’s willing to help you through this crisis is because when he was in a similar crisis, you’ve helped him out as well, it’s really as the saying goes, “as a man sows, so he shall reap”, the fortunes of those who are kind-hearted tend to be more favourable.
制 is also used to express willingness, but its usage is slightly different from 肯. Whereas 肯 is seen followed by another verb (肯做，肯食), 制 is usually seen in short phrases, as in 我唔制 or 我制. It also sounds a lot more colloquial, and while 肯 can be used in both speaking and writing, 制 can only be used when speaking.
jyu4 gwo2 keoi5 gaa1 jap6 ngo5 dei6 ge3 tyun4 deoi2 ge3 waa6, ngo5 zau6 jat1 ding6 m4 zai3.
If he’s going to join our team, I’d be most unwilling to accept it.
ngo5 m4 zai3 aa3! nei5 dim2 ho2 ji5 zoeng3 ngo5 dei2 ge3 gung1 lou4 tung4 fu6 ceot1 gwai1 gung1 jyu1 keoi5 gaa2!
Hell no! How could you just hand over all the credit to him!
Cantonese modal #12: 願意
願意, interestingly enough, also means “to be willing to”.
So what’s the difference?
It turns out that there is a subtle but important difference. 願意 implies that you’re willing to do something completely, happily, from the bottom of your heart, whereas 肯 may (or may not, depends on the situation) imply that you’re accepting an outcome, but maybe a bit begrudingly, perhaps even with a bit of reluctance or when under pressure.
For example, in the first example below, when exchanging vows with your spouse, you would say 我願意 instead of 我肯. 我肯 would imply that you’re okay with getting married, as in, “if I get married, I’d be okay with that”, so there’s acceptance, but also a bit of reluctance as well.
ngo5 jyun6 ji3 gaa3 bei2 nei5!
zek3 joek6 gam3 fu2 , nei5 jau6 mou5 saan1 caa1 beng2 waak6 ze2 waa6 mui2 hai2 dou6 , siu2 pang4 jau5 gang2 hai6 m4 jyun6 ji3 sik6 laa1!
This medicine is really bitter, and you have neither hawthorn flakes nor dried salted plums to go with it, of course your kid isn’t willing to take it!
Cantonese modal #13: 敢
敢 is another important word, meaning “to dare to”. Again, for some reason, it’s not often mentioned, probably because it’s not thought of as “grammar”. But in Cantonese, I feel it’s used very often, so examples here we come!
ngo5 kei4 sat6 hou2 ming4 baak3 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4 ge3 jan4 ge3 sam1 taai3 , hok6 zaap6 ze2 zi1 so2 ji5 m4 gam2 hoi1 hau2 gong2 je5 hai6 jan1 wai6 keoi5 dei6 ho2 nang4 paa3 gong2 co3 je5 , m4 siu2 sam1 dak1 zeoi6 deoi3 fong1.
I can really empathize with those who are learning languages, the reason behind learners’ reluctance to speak up is because of the fear of being wrong, and wronging someone accidentally in the process.
ngo5 m4 hai6 m4 gam2 tiu3 gong3 lok6 saan3, ngo5 hai6 jau5 sam1 zong6 ge3 man6 tai4, so2 ji5 m4 ho2 ji5 zou6 ni1 di1 gou1 ngai4 ge3 wan6 dung6.
It’s not that I’m unwilling to skydive, it’s to do with the fact that I have cardiac problems, so I can’t get involved in such high risk sports.
Cantonese modal #14: 寧願
寧願 is a very important structure, and it’s usually seen in the form 寧願…都唔…, which translates to “I’d rather to A than B”. A very useful structure, no?
Let’s have a look at some examples.
ngo5 ning4 jyun2 fat6 kei5 jat1 go3 hok6 kei4 dou1 m4 jyun6 ji3 hoeng3 keoi5 dou6 hip3!
I’d rather stand outside the classroom for a semester than apologize to him!
ngo5 ning4 jyun2 sei2 dou1 m4 jyun6 ji3 sik6 jat1 tung2 bei6 si2!
I’d rather die than to eat a bucket of boogers!
Cantonese modal #15: 得、唔得
得, if you’ll remember from our previous lesson on Cantonese adverbs, was the star of the lesson, being the instrumental word that allows use to construct adverb phrases (e.g. I did this slowly 我做得好慢).
However, this is where language gets a bit less straightforward.
In the beginning stages, most of the words you learn will stick easily. The reason, as I’ve mentioned before in the Complete Guide to Learn Cantonese, is because the meaning of those words don’t diverge (compare “a piano” with “to come”, a piano is just a piano, but to come – think of these combinations – “come on”, “come out”, “come up with”, “come around”, “come to”, “come near”, “come for”, etc.).
This is one of the main differences learning a language at a beginner’s and an intermediate level.
However, some words are so important that it’s important to grasp not just their most common usages, but also other usages, and 得 is one of those words.
Here, as a Cantonese modal, 得 can mean “to be permitted to”, or “to be able to”, as an alternative to the different “can’s” we’ve presented above.
ni1 bui1 hoeng1 ban1 jam2 dak1, daan6 hai6 baai2 hai2 go3 VIP bou6 fan6 ge3 zau2 zing1 cyun4 bou6 dou1 m4 ho2 ji3 dau3.
This champagne is okay, but the stuff in the VIP section are off limits.
jyu4 gwo2 hou2 ci5 ngo5 gam3 sik6 dak1 laat6 ge3 jan4 dou1 ding2 m4 seon6 ne1 go3 gaa3 lei1 ge3 waa6 ne1 , nei5 zau6 jat1 ding6 m4 sik6 dak1.
If someone who has a high spiciness tolerance like me can’t stand this curry, there’s no way you’d be okay with it.
Last but not least, I’d like to mention that 得 or 唔得 can be used standalone as a response to someone when they ask you if you’re able to do something. For example, if someone asks you if you can come to a dinner party, you can simply respond “得” or “唔得”.
Cantonese modal #16: 到
Tones aren’t really a deal breaker most of the times, but this is one such exception. 到 takes on two functions, but both functions take on different tones. The 到 we’re concerned with today takes on the second tone, dou2, so don’t forget that!
到 in this sense means “to be able to”, yet another possible translation for “can”. Don’t worry, we’ll have a look at the differences later. For now, examples. 🙂
「和平與戰爭」呢本書，你可唔可以幫我 check 下喺邊度呢？
m4 hou2 ji3 si1 aa3, ngo5 tau4 sin1 wan2 zo2 hou2 noi6 dou1 wan2 m4 dou2 “wo4 ping4 jyu5 zin3 zang1” ni1 bun2 syu1, nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 bong1 ngo5 check haa5 hai2 bin1 dou6 ne1?
Excuse me, I’ve been looking for a long time and I still didn’t manage to find the book “Peace and War”, could you help me check?
ngo5 zi1 so2 ji5 man6 keoi5 bong1 ngo5 lo2 go3 bo1 lei1 zeon1 m4 hai6 jan1 wai6 ngo5 laan5, ji4 hai6 jan1 wai6 baai2 dak1 taai3 gou1, ngo5 lo2 m4 dou2.
The reason I asked him to fetch me the glass isn’t because I’m lazy, it’s just because it’s too high, and out of my reach.
Negating Cantonese modals
Next up, I thought I’d bring up an interesting pattern of negation that doesn’t fit into the “唔 + thing to negate” pattern.
More specifically, certain verbs in Cantonese are made up of two or more characters. And there are certain words that require the splitting of the verb into its individual characters and inserting the 唔 between the characters.
I only mention this in the passing, this isn’t the most important thing to know of as a pattern, simply to know that it exists, and to learn it whenever you happen across such an example.
Here are four to start you off with.
lo4 saang1 lo4 taai3, zan1 hai6 m4 hou2 ji3 si1, ngo5 zou6 zo2 bou2 mou5 ji6 sap6 nin4 mei6 gin3 gwo3 hou2 ci5 nei5 go3 zai2 gam3 wut6 joek3 ge3 siu2 pang4 jau5, ngo5 zi6 man6 cau3 m4 dim6 nei5 go3 zai2, so2 ji5 ji4 gaa1 zoeng1 keoi5 gaau1 faan1 bei2 nei5.
Mr. and Mrs. Lo, I’m really sorry, but in my twenty years of being a nanny, I’ve never met a kid that’s as active as yours, and since I can honestly say I can’t manage him, I’m going to respectfully hand him back to you.
tai2 jyun4 jat1 go3 gam3 gam2 jan4 ge3 coeng4 min6, ngo5 gin3 dou3 dou1 jan2 m4 zyu6 haam3.
After witnessing such a moving scene, I couldn’t help but cry.
keoi5 dei6 loeng5 hing1 dai6 zan1 hai6 hou2 can1, zou6 mat1 je5 dou1 wui5 paak3 zyu6 soeng5, nei5 fan1 m4 hoi1 keoi5 dei6 ge3.
The two brothers are really close, they practically do everything together, there’s no way you can separate them.
jyu4 gwo2 zan1 hai6 sik6 m4 saai3 mai6 m4 hou2 sik6 lo1, zing6 dai1 di1 sung3 ho2 ji5 lau4 faan1 ting1 jat6 sik6.
If you can’t finish the food, just don’t eat it, we can always eat the leftovers tomorrow.
Comparison of can’s in Cantonese
Okay, moving on to one of the most important parts of the lesson, differentiating between the three types of can’s!
In Cantonese, these three words can simply translate back to English as “can”, but please don’t mix up the specific occasions they’re used for! They’re generally not interchangeable.
Hopefully with these three sentences, the differences will become clear.
The first “can” is 可以, and this “can” implies something to do permission.
ngo5 m4 ho2 ji5 zaa1 ce1.
I’m not allowed to drive.
Here, maybe I can’t drive because I’m underage, or maybe I’m grounded, or maybe my license is suspended. Either way, I don’t have permission to do it.
A positive example with 可以.
ngo5 ho2 ji5 tung4 keoi5 gong2.
I can tell him.
I can tell him could imply here a very generic, “yes, I don’t mind passing the message along to him”, but it can also mean “I have permission from the owner of the message to share this message with him”.
Next up, we have 識.
Out of the three, this should be the easiest to distinguish, because it simply means “to know how to”. For example,
ngo5 m4 sik1 zaa1 ce1.
I don’t know how to drive.
Maybe I don’t know how to drive because because I haven’t learned yet, I don’t plan to learn, I don’t want to learn – in any case, I just can’t (don’t know how to) drive.
Last but not least, we have 到. This should be contrasted with the first “can”, 可以, because this shade of “can” implies you can or can’t do something due to some external set of reasons.
ngo5 zaa1 m4 dou2 ce1.
I can’t drive.
Maybe I can’t drive because I have a foot injury, I just had alcohol (drinking is bad guys!), maybe I just had my license suspended (yes, this can sometimes overlap with 可以!).
Hopefully, that makes the distinction a bit clearer when trying to go from English to Cantonese.
If in doubt, try to be a bit more precise in English before going back to Cantonese. Instead of saying “I can”, choose “I am able to”, “I know how to”, “I am permitted to”, so you can lock on to the specific translation in Cantonese.
Cantonese modal adverbs
Just as important as Cantonese modals are the adverbs that modify them commonly found with these modals.
So last but not least, before we finish this lesson, I would like to introduce a few more Cantonese adverbs that are related to modals that you will see and hear all the time.
This section will be an examples only section, because there’s really nothing more to explain other than to show you how these words are used in real life.
Enjoy the examples!
Cantonese modal adverb #1: 可能 (might)
gung1 si1 ho2 nang4 haa6 nin2 wui5 hai2 nau2 joek3 soeng5 si5, so2 ji5 gan6 paai2 mong4 zyu6 zou6 gok3 fong1 min6 ge3 zeon2 bei6.
The firm might go public in New York next year, so we’ve been busy with all sorts of preparations recently.
soeng6 go3 lai5 baai3 keoi5 waa6 gwo3 gam1 go3 lai5 baai3 ho2 nang4 wui5 heoi3 jat6 bun2 leoi5 hang4, gu2 m4 dou3 keoi5 zan1 hai6 heoi3, gam1 jat6 daai3 zo2 go3 bui3 nong4 zau6 ceot1 mun4 heoi3 gei1 coeng4.
He said that he might go to Japan this week last week, and he really did – today, he packed a knapsack and headed to the airport.
Cantonese modal adverb #2: 或者 (might)
ngo5 dei2 waak6 ze2 wui5 heoi3 fung1 zaak6 tai2 din6 hei3, nei5 jau5 mou5 hing3 ceoi3 jat1 cai4 heoi3?
We might go to Fortress to have a look at electronics later, you interested?
waak6 ze2 keoi5 zan1 hai6 sik1 gong2 aa3 laai1 baak3 man4, daan6 hai6 hai2 gam3 zing3 sik1 ge3 coeng4 hap6 ngo5 m4 hai6 taai3 gam2 paai3 jat1 go3 fei1 mou5 jyu5 ze2 soeng5 coeng4.
Perhaps he can really speak Arabic, but in such a formal occasion, I dare not send a non-native to handle communications.
Cantonese modal adverb #3: 都唔定 (could)
nei5 mei6 si3 gwo3 nei5 jau6 dim2 zi1 fung6 zaau2 m4 hou2 sik6 ne1? waak6 ze2 zan1 hai6 hou2 zi1 mei6 dou1 m4 ding6 ne1.
How would you know if the chicken feet are bad if you haven’t tried them before? Maybe they’re really good.
佢最后一分鐘 join 我哋
keoi5 zeoi3 hau6 jat1 fan1 zung1 join ngo5 dei6 dou1 m4 ding6, tai2 cing4 fong3 laa1, jyu4 gwo2 keoi5 zan1 hai6 m4 dak1 ge3 waa6 mai6 haa6 ci3 lo1.
It’s entirely possible that he’ll join us the last minute, it depends on the situation, and if he really can’t come, we can do it again next time.
Cantonese modal adverb #4: 多數 (for the most part)
ngo5 zau6 gok3 dak1 kei4 gwaai3 laak3, jan1 wai6 keoi5 daai6 do1 sou3 fong3 hok6 dou1 wui5 heoi3 tou4 syu1 gun2 waak6 ze2 faan1 nguk1 kei2, so2 ji5 gam1 jat6 loeng5 bin1 dou1 wan2 m4 dou2 keoi5 ngo5 jau5 siu2 siu2 daam1 sam1.
I thought it was strange, since he usually goes to the library or straight home after school, so when I couldn’t find him in either place today, I got a little worried.
kei4 sat6 ngo5 dei6 ping4 si4 dou1 do1 sou3 wui5 hai2 jau4 zim1 wong6 go2 tau4 pou4, so2 ji5 nei5 haa6 ci3 dak1 haan4 mai6 gwo3 lai4 jat1 cai4 lo1.
We usually hang out in Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui or Mongkok, so if you’re around next time, feel free to join us.
Cantonese modal adverb #5: 實會 (definitely)
keoi5 gong2 hei2 go2 dyun6 wui4 jik1 sat6 wui5 haam3 hei2 lai4, gam2 so2 ji5 ngo5 hyun3 nei5 dou1 hai6 m4 hou2 tai4 go2 gin6 si6.
Everytime she talks about this memory, she’ll cry, so I suggest that you don’t bring it up at all.
keoi5 mui5 ci3 tung4 hak1 jan4 gong2 je5 go2 zan6 sat6 wui5 miu2 zeoi2 miu2 sit6, hou2 ci5 gok3 dak1 zi6 gei2 baak6 jan4 so2 ji5 gou1 jan4 jat1 dang2, zan6 hai6 hat1 jan4 zang1.
Every time he speaks with a black person he’ll appear condescending, as if being white makes him superior to others, quite frankly it’s disgusting.
Cantonese modal adverb #6: 一定要 (must)
nei5 gei3 zyu6 gei3 zyu6 ceot1 mun4 zi1 cin4 jat1 ding6 jiu3 check cing1 co2 nei5 jau5 mou5 saan1 saai3 di1 mui4 hei3 tung4 maai4 kei4 taa1 din6 jyun4, jyu4 gwo2 m4 hai6 ceot1 mun4 go2 zan6 ceot1 zo2 ji3 ngoi6 ge3 waa6 zau6 zan1 hai6 hau6 fui3 mok6 kap6.
Remember to check whether the gas and other power sources are all turned off properly before heading out, you’ll regret it if there are any accidents.
jan4 dei6 sung3 je5 bei2 nei5 jat1 ding6 jiu3 gong2 seng1 「 do1 ze6 」 waak6 ze2 「 thank you 」, ne1 di1 hai6 zou6 jan4 ge3 gei1 bun2 lai5 ji4.
When someone gives you a present, you must say thanks in return, this is basic etiquette as a human being.
Cantonese modal adverb #7: 一定係、肯定係 (must be)
m4 sai2 gong2, jat1 ding6 hai6 keoi5 tau1 zo2 go2 daap6 cin2, m4 gin3 zo2 di1 cin2 go2 dyun6 si4 gaan3 zi2 hai6 dak1 keoi5 m4 zi1 heoi3 zo2 bin1 dou6.
There’s no need to investigate further, it must’ve been him who stole the money, during the period of time when the money was missing, only his whereabouts were unaccounted for.
ngo5 tau4 sin1 gin3 2go2 go3 jan4 baak3 fan1 zi1 baak3 hang2 ding6 hai6 zau1 jeon6 faat3, gu2 m4 dou3 jyun4 loi4 gwok3 zai3 geoi6 sing1 dou1 wui5 daap3 dei6 tit3！
I’m pretty sure the person I just saw was Chow Yuen Fat, so even international superstars travel by metro!
Cantonese modal adverb #8: 絕對 (definitely)
ngo5 zyut6 deoi3 m4 wui5 jung4 heoi2 nei5 gai3 zuk6 fong3 si3 lok6 heoi3, ngo5 zeoi3 hau6 ging2 gou3 nei5 jat1 ci3, jyu4 gwo2 nei5 gai3 zuk6 mou4 lei5 ceoi2 naau6, ngo5 wui5 bou3 ging2.
I won’t tolerate this wantonness anymore, this is my last warning, if you’re going to cause trouble for everyone else, I will call the cops.
ne1 go3 zyut6 deoi3 hai6 gong2 caan2 ge3 jyu4 daan2, go3 hau2 gam2 dak6 bit6 jin1 ngan6 daan6 ngaa4!
This is definitely Hong Kong produced fish balls, the texture is very bouncy and soft!
Cantonese modal adverb #9: 未必 (not necessarily)
keoi5 mei6 bit1 hai6 zeoi6 fui1 wo6 sau2, m4 hou2 gam3 faai3 zoeng1 keoi5 ding6 zeoi6.
He might not be the perpetrator, don’t be so quick to pass judgment on him.
tau4 sin1 go2 go3 jan4 zong6 dou2 nei5 mei6 bit1 hai6 jau5 sam1 ge3, m4 hou2 gam3 soeng5 sam1 laa1!
The person who just bumped into you might not have done so deliberately, don’t let it get to you!
So let’s do a quick recap of what we discussed today. In the first section, we talked about what modals are grammatically (fancy way of “a bunch of really useful words to express different moods”); in the second section, we introduced a bunch of commonly found Cantonese modals with tons of examples to boot (as usual!); we then looked at a special case of negating Cantonese modals, as well as how to differentiate the three “can’s”, and last of all, we finished with a section introducing more Cantonese adverbs commonly seen with modals.
At this point, I hope you’ll go through each sample sentence and see how the key structure / word is used in the sentence. There may be a few things we haven’t covered yet, but I daresay with the help of English translations, you’re smart enough to figure them out. 🙂
To top that off, I really hope you’ll start to write sample sentences on your own. You don’t have to post them, or even write them down if you’re pressed for time (but it’s obviously best if you do that) – using a word reinforces it on a level that glossing over it just can’t match.
Last but not least, as usual, if you have any questions about these patterns, or sentences, I hope you’ll leave a comment in the below section, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
I hope you enjoyed this presentation!
Before we finish, I have an exciting announcement to make.
A few days ago, I’ve finalized the complete curriculum for the Cantonese grammar series here at Cantolounge. The total number of lessons will add up to 25, I believe, so we’re safely halfway through the middle mark!
And yes, it’s entirely possible to introduce all the main grammatical points in just 25 lessons, it’s amazing how simple Chinese grammar is.
As a quick preview, next lesson will be extremely important, so I highly urge you to be on the lookout for it when it comes out. And as a special treat, lesson #25, the final lesson, will be very, very special, and I think this is something that a lot of readers will come to appreciate having because of its practical value.
Feel free to comment on what it could be about…I have a feeling that no one will get it. 😉
In any case, I look forward to completing this journey with you, let’s all give it our best!