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Cantonese Short Lesson 4: ✎ Articles! ✎

Welcome to the fourth lesson of Cantonese! Surprises tomorrow!

In Cantonese, the English article 'the' corresponds to 那個 (naa5 go3). Note that 那個 can also mean 'that', or 'that one'.

As do English sentences, we always put articles in front of objects, for example:

  • The child = 那個孩子 (naa5 go3 haai4 zi2).

However, 'a' (or 'an') can vary enormously in Cantonese. We often think of 一個 (jat1 go3) when 'a' is used, but this is wrong. Some examples first:

  • A computer = 一台電腦 (jat1 toi4 din6 nou5)

  • A table = 一張桌子 (jat1 zoeng1 coek3 zi2)

  • A watermelon = 一個西瓜 (jat1 go3 sai1 gwaa1), and

  • A door = 一扇門 (jat1 sin3 mun4)

As you can see, every single noun following 'a' looks as if it is uncountable, like in English: a bowl of rice, a glass of water etc. You can think of it this way, but remember, all the nouns above are countable!

There is almost an endless amount of these articles, and here are the most common ones you need to know:

一個, 一張, 一條, 一堆, 一本, and 一朵 (with Jyutping jat1 go3 , jat1 zoeng1 , jat1 tiu4 , jat1 deoi1 , jat1 bun2 , jat1 do2 respectively).

Thank you for reading this. And as always, questions are welcome!

January 27, 2017



Are these similar to 量词 in Mandarin?


Yes! But the term 'article' (a, an, the) is more useful to English-native people as they use this. Note that in Cantonese, we treat every single noun as 'uncountable', as we shall say in English.

I have added this.

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