Learn Cantonese Tenses – Past, Present and Future

cantonese tenses

Learn Cantonese Tenses – Past, Present and Future

In this article, I will explain Cantonese Tense for you, because it sometimes confusing when student are try to learn Cantonese, I will explain past tense, present tense, present perfect tense and future tense.

Past tense in Cantonese:

Simple Past tense sentence structure (for questions): Subject + Time + yáuh móuh + Verb + Object

For example:

Did you eat breakfast this morning, we use yáuh móuh ( 有冇 ):

néih gām jīu yáuh móuh sihk jóu chāan a? (你今朝有冇食早餐呀?)

Did you come to the office yesterday?

néih kàhm yaht yáuh móuh làih gūng sī a? (你琴日有冇黎公司呀?)

Did Mr.Lee treat you for dinner?

léih sāang yáuh móuh chéng néih sihk máahn faahn a? (李生有冇请你食晚饭呀?)

For positive answer: Subject + Action + Jo + Object.

I went to his home this afternoon.

ngóh gām yaht aan jau heui jo kéuih ūk kéi. (我今日晏昼去佐佢屋企。)

He ate 3 pieces of cakes today.

kéuih gām yaht sihk jo sāam faai daahn gōu. (佢今日食佐三块蛋糕。)

They drove home last night.

kéuih deih kàhm máahn jā chē fāan ūk kéi. (佢地琴晚揸车返屋企。)

For Negative Answer: Subject + mouh + Verb + Object. 

I didn’t see Miss Chan today.

ngóh gām yaht móuh gin dóu chàhn síu jé (我今日冇见到陈小姐)

We didn’t watch the movie yesterday.

ngóh deih kàhm yaht móuh tái gwó tou hei. (我地琴日冇睇果套戏。)

She didn’t have dinner last night.

kéuih kàhm máahn móuh sihk máahn faahn. (佢琴晚冇食晚饭。)

If you are trying to learn Cantonese, here is a guide for you.

What is Cantonese Language and How to Learn it Effectively – The Complete Guide

Simple Present Tense:

Sentence structure (for questions) : Subject + verb + mh + verb + Object (if asking action)

OR

Subject + haih mh haih + verb + object (if asking other things like time or object)

Do you like singing? (asking action)

néih jūng m̀h jūng yi cheung gō a? (你钟唔钟意唱歌呀?)

Does he like eating Chinese food? (asking action)

kéuih jūng m̀h jūng yi sihk jūng chāan a?(佢钟唔钟意食中餐呀?)

Do you do exercise everyday? (asking time)

néih haih m̀h haih yaht yaht dōu jouh wahn duhng a?(你系唔系日日都做运动呀?)

Simple present tense positive:

I like learning Chinese.

ngóh jūng yi hohk jūng màhn. (我钟意学中文。)

He wants to play piano on Sundays.

kéuih sīng kèih yaht séung tàahn gong kàhm. (佢星期日想弹钢琴。)

They work in this office.

kéuih deih haih nē gāan gūng sī fāan gūng. (佢地系呢间公司返工。)

Simple present tense negative:

I don’t like playing computer games.

He doesn’t want to work in that company.

We don’t often go to the cinema during the weekend.

Present Perfect Tense (I): 

Sentence structure (for questions) : Subject + verb + jo + object + meih a?

Have you had dinner yet?

néih sihk jo máahn faahn meih a? (你食佐晚饭未呀?)

Has she finished her homework yet?

kéuih jouh yùhn jo gūng fo meih a? 佢做完佐功课未呀?

Have you bought that book yet?

néih máaih jo gwó bún syū meih a? 你买佐果本书未呀?

Positive Answer: Subject + Verb + jo + object + la.

For example:

I have eaten lunch.

ngóh sihk jo aan la! (我食佐晏喇!)

Mary has bought the book.

Mary máaih jo bún syū la! (Mary买佐本书喇!)

She has already sold the table.

kéuih yíh gīng maaih jo jēung tói la! (佢已经卖佐张台喇!)

Negative Answer: Subject + meih + action + object + a.

Examples:

I haven’t seen him yet.

ngóh meih gin dóu kéuih a! (我未见到佢呀!)

They haven’t decided yet.

kéuih deih meih kyut dihng a! (佢地未决定呀!)

She hasn’t arrived yet.

kéuih meih dou a! (佢未到呀!)

Present Perfect Tense (II): 

For questions: Subject + Verb + Gwo + Object + Meih a?

1. Have you ever been to the U.S?

néih heui gwo méih gwok meih a? (你去过美国未呀?)

2. Have you ever learned a new language?

néih hohk gwo yāt júng sān yúh yìhn meih a? (你学过一种新语言未呀?)

3. Has he ever taken his mother to travel?

kéuih daai gwo kéuih màh mā heui léuih hàhng meih a? (佢带过佢妈妈去旅行未呀?)

For positive answer: Subject + Verb + Gwo + Object + la.

1. I have been to China twice.

ngóh heui gwo jūng gwok léuhng chi la! (我去过中国两次喇!)

2. We have seen this movie before.

ngóh deih jī chìhn tái gwo nī tou hei la! (我地之前睇过呢套戏喇!)

3. He has taken his mother to dinner many time.

kéuih daai kéuih gei màh mā heui gwo hóu dō chi sihk faahn la! (佢带佢既妈妈去过好多次食饭喇!)

For Negative: Subject + Meih + Verb + Gwo + Object + a!

1. I have never seen this person.

ngóh meih gin gwo nī go yàhn. (我未见过呢个人。)

2. He has never been to the U.K before.

kéuih jī chìhn meih heui gwo yīng gwok. (佢之前未去过英国。)

3. David has never had Indian food before.

David jī chìhn meih sihk gwo yan douh choi. (David之前未食过印度菜。)

Future Tense in Cantonese

Subject + Wuih + Verb + Object  (Future Tense Positive)

Examples: 

1. He will come to school today.

1. kéuih gām yaht wúih lòih hohk haauh. (佢今日会来学校。)

2. They will travel to Europe next year.

2. kéuih deih há nìhn wúih heui āu jāu léuih hàhng. (佢地下年会去欧洲旅行。)

3. We will refurbish our home this year.

3. ngóh deih gām nìhn wúih jōng sāu gāan ūk. (我地今年会装修间屋。)

Future Tense Negative: Subject + Mh Wuih + Verb + Object.

1. We will not see this movie.

1. ngóh deih m̀h wúih tái nī tou hei. (我地唔会睇呢套戏。)

2. She will not study in the U.K.

2. kéuih m̀h wúih heui yīng gwok duhk syū. (佢唔会去英国读书。)

3. They will not buy this house.

3. kéuih deih m̀h wúih máaih nī gāan ūk. (佢地唔会买呢间屋。)

Future Tense Questions: Subject + wuih mh wuih + action + object.

Examples:

1. Will you ask your friend to borrow money?

1. néih wúih m̀h wúih mahn néih pàhng yáuh je chín a? (你会唔会问你朋友借钱呀?)

2. Will Miss Lee be our teacher next year?

2. léih síu jé hah nín wúih m̀h wúih haih ngóh deih gei lóuh sī a? (李小姐下年会唔会系我地既老师呀?)

3. Will you go traveling to France next month?

3. néih hah go yuht wúih m̀h wúih heui faat gwok léuih hàhng a? (你下个月会唔会去法国旅行呀?)

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