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This page lists the following sentence in Mandarin:

现在 不要 给 我 打 电话

However, in Cantonese it feels like the grammar would be more like:

[now do not]打電話被我

In other words, the "target" part of the sentence -- 被 for Cantonese, 给 for Mandarin -- comes at different parts: after the verb for Cantonese, and before the verb for Mandarin.

Is this a difference in grammar between Cantonese and Mandarin?

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It is 畀我 (give me/ to me) not 被我 (by me)

畀我 is the Cantonese equivalent of 给我 in Mandarin

Is this a difference in grammar between Cantonese and Mandarin?

Most grammar structure are the same in Cantonese and Mandarin

"而家 唔好 打電話 畀我" (Cantonese) = "Don't make phone call to me now"

"现在 不要 打电话 给我" (Mandarin) = "Don't make phone call to me now"

~

"现在 不要 给我 打电话 到警察局" (Mandarin) = " Don't make phone call to the police for me now"

"而家 唔好 同我 打電話 畀警察局" (Cantonese) = " Don't make phone call to the police for me now"

There are some exception:

  • '给我 打电话' in Mandarin can mean 'give me a phone call' or ' make phone call for me'

  • '同我 打電話' in Cantonese can only mean ' make phone call for me'

If you want to say 'give me phone call' in Cantonese, you can either say '打電話 畀我' or ' 同我 通電話' (it is rarely used)

There are some unique Cantonese grammar structure that's not found in Mandarin (mostly involve final particles that do not exist in Mandarin) .

Example:

"而家 唔好 同我 打電話 畀警察局(住)" = " Now, don't make phone call to the police for me (yet)"

Since Mandarin doesn't use the final particle '住' for 'yet' , the same phrase in Mandarin would have to be "现在 (先) 不要 给我 打电话 到警察局"

Edit:

In Cantonese, and are often regarded as variants of each other. However, some people suggest that 俾 means "by (passive voice)" whereas 畀 means "give".

  • No wonder! So there is a difference because in Cantonese 俾我打電話 wouldn't make sense whereas its Mandarin equivalent 给我打電話 does make sense. This disparity was confusing so thanks for the clarification. You're too awesome. – Crashalot Nov 23 '17 at 23:35
  • yes, because 1. '给' in "给我打電話 到警察局" is a preposition 'for' 2. '给' in "打電話给我" is a result complement 'to'; 3. 俾我打電話 in Cantonese would mean " let me make phone call" because unlike '给' in Mandarin, 俾 doesn't function as preposition 'for' – Tang Ho Nov 24 '17 at 0:38
  • 给' in "给我打電話" is the preposition 'for' , the sentence would mean "make phone call for me" – Tang Ho Nov 24 '17 at 0:43

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