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How to Use 過 [gwo3] for Comparisons in Cantonese

Updated: Jun 18

過 [gwo3] is used very often when we make explicit comparisons between two items. It may already be known to some that 過 [gwo3] has another usage as an aspect marker. I've already talked about this in an earlier blog post and video. This blog will briefly brush over 過 [gwo3] as an aspect marker but will mostly focus on using it to make explicit comparisons.

過 [gwo3] as a verbal aspect marker

To refresh your memory, Cantonese verbs are marked for aspect rather than tense, which indicates how or when an event occurred. And we use aspect markers such as 過 [gwo3] to achieve this. 過 [gwo3] is used to mark the experiential aspect. This is used to highlight a task that was finished in the distant past and is no longer relevant to the present moment, expressing the idea that a particular activity was once-upon-a-time completed; the focus is on the fact that it happened previously and is now finished; we are not concerned with the exact moment of the action's completion. This is very similar to the present perfect tense in English. Here’s an example: 

  • 去過英國 [ngo5 heoi3-gwo3 jing1-gwok3] = I’ve been to the UK.

The placement of the particle 過 [gwo3] following a verb in this use is a major indication that it is an aspect marker, providing more information about the verb's completion. 

Check out a Youtube video lesson I did on this topic here:

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