Double Verb


Verbs in Cantonese are sometimes in one character, such as “to eat” 食 sik6, or in two characters, such as “to sleep” 瞓覺 fan3 gaau3. It’s not entirely accurate to say that both characters are verbs. Because for example, 游水 jau4 seoi2, 游 jau4 is “to swim” and 水 seoi2 is “water.” The latter part is not a verb, but it has to be used together with the verb in order to form a valid meaning.

Here is a quick list of common verbs with two characters:

  • 瞓覺 fan3 gaau3 – sleep
  • 跑步 paau2 bou6 – run
  • 游水 jau4 seoi2 – swim
  • 打波 daa2 bo1 – play ball games
  • 沖涼 cung1 loeng4 – shower
  • 刷牙 caat3 ngaa4 – brush teeth
  • 做嘢 zou6 je5 – do things
  • 結婚 git3 fan1 – marry
  • 畢業 bat1 jip6 – graduate
  • 執笠 zap1 lap1 – closing down (a business)
  • 升職 sing1 zik1 – job promotion
  • 退休 teoi3 jau1 – retire
  • 移民 ji4 man4 – immigrate

Present Tense

Insert a present tense marker in between the characters.

  • 食飯 sik6 faan6
    • 飯 sik6 gan2 faan6
  • 結婚 git3 fan1
    •   婚 git3 gan2  fan1
  • 跑步 paau2 bou6
    • 步 paau2 gan2 bou6

Past Tense

Insert a past tense marker in between the characters.


  • 食飯 sik6 faan6
    • 飯 sik6 zo2 faan6
  • 結婚 git3 fan1
    • 婚 git3 zo2 fan1
  • 跑步 paau2 bou6
    • 步 paau2 zo2 bou6


Use the negation marker 未 mei6 before the verb, meaning you “haven’t done” the action, implying that you would finish the action in the future.

  • 食飯 sik6 faan6
    • 未 食飯 mei6 sik6 faan6
  • 結婚 git3 fan1
    • 未 結婚  mei6 git3 fan1
  • 跑步 paau2 bou6
    • 未 跑步 mei6 paau2 bou6

Use the negation marker 冇 mou5 before the verb, meaning you “didn’t do” the action, implying that you have no intention of doing it.

  • 食飯 sik6 faan6
    • 冇 食飯 mou5 sik6 faan6
  • 結婚 git3 fan1
    • 冇 結婚 mou5 git3 fan1
  • 跑步 paau2 bou6
    • 冇 跑步 mou5 paau2 bou6