Some Cantonese Particles

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Pronunciation Character Explanation Example
aa3
Used in neutral questions.  Also used to soften the tone of affirmative statements so they don’t sound as abrupt. 你去邊處呀?
Where are you going?
我返屋企呀
I’m going home.
ge3
Used in assertions where something is emphasized (usually  hai6 is in front of what is being emphasized).  Pronouncing it as ge2 adds a sense of puzzlement about the situation.  This is equivalent to the Mandarin/written Chinese  dik1. 我係今日返屋企嘅
I’m going home today.  (the “today” is emphasized)
gaa3
Contraction of the combination 嘅呀 ge3 aa3.  Pronouncing it as gaa2 adds a sense of reservation or doubt about the situation. 你係幾時返來㗎?
When are you coming back?  (the “when” is emphasized)
laak3 Indicates a change of situation or a past event that has occured and adds a sense of current relevence to the statement.  This is equivalent to the Mandarin/written Chinese sentence final liu5. 佢返咗屋企嘞
 He went home.
laa3  or  (same as  laak3)
laa1  or  Used in requests and imperatives.  This is one particle where leaving it out could make the sentence sound rude, so learners should attempt to master this particle.  This is equivalent to the Mandarin/written Chinese sentence final  baa6. 返來喇
Come back [please].
mei6
Used in questions asking whether an action has been done yet. 佢返來未?
Has he come back yet?
sin1
Can be used to mean “first” in a sentence.  In questions, it may impart a sense of impatience. 我哋等佢返來先
We’ll wait for him to come back first.
你返唔返來先?
Are you coming back or not?  [Answer me quickly.]
tim1
Can be used to mean “also,” “too,” or “as well” in a sentence (usually occurs with  zung6). 我重要返屋企添
I still have to go home as well.

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