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I ran across this 'conversation piece' in a Cantonese study material.

填好地址未?
填好晒。
郵票貼好未?
貼好咗啦。

I found the usage of 晒 strange, because 填好 already indicated the action is done. The same is true with 貼好咗啦. 貼好 already indicates the action has been done, and yet there is an additional 咗. Is this all right? I would just use 啦, just to break the 'awkwardness' of having two characters only.

Please explain.

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晒 as a verb particle here indicate - 'All; completely'

Example: 走晒 (all left); 死晒 (all dead; completely dead); 冇晒 (all gone)

填好 = finished filling it all

The phrase 貼好 (finished sticking on) indicated the verb is completed already

Add aspect marker 咗 after 貼好 and say "貼好(咗)" reinforce the 'completed' aspect. Make it sound more asserting.

You can add the final particle 啦 to 貼好 (finished sticking on), 貼咗 (already stuck on) and 貼好咗 (finished sticking on already)

The final particle (modal particle) 啦 serves to express different emotion depend on the context and tone

Example: 貼好(咗啦)

  • If you stretch the 啦 sound, it implies announcement

  • If you strengthen the 啦 sound, it implies anger

  • If you lower the 啦 sound, it implies annoyance

Notice: 貼好(咗) only indicates it is a 'completed verb'. It doesn't mean it is a 'verb in past tense' because Chinese doesn't use tenses.

In this context, adding the final particle 啦 does suggest the action was in the past. Otherwise, it wouldn't affect your mood

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  1. The verbal aspect markers V+咗 and V+好, and the verb complement V+嗮, are similar but not identical.

    • V+咗 is perfective. The activity is completed but its result still applies to the present situation. (In contrast to V+過, which is experiential.)
    • V+嗮 is for full extent, which may imply there is plurality in the subject. For instance, from 填好嗮地址, the listener may infer that there are multiple addresses to fill in.
    • V+好 is a bit tricky. It is here a perfective aspect marker* that functions like V+咗, but only applies to activities where the result is desirable. 死咗 (died) and 死嗮 (all died) sound fine, but definitely not *死好. The action also requires effort and is now in readiness for something, as in 做好 (have done), 整好 (have made), and 執好 (have packed).
  2. They can be used in conjunction to synergise or reinforce each of their effects. But there are rules: there exist V+好嗮 and V+好咗, maybe ?V+咗嗮 (this is wordy, even may come off as awkward), but not *V+嗮好, *V+咗好, or *V+嗮咗.

    • 你做好嗮功課未? Have you done all the homework?
    • 你做好咗功課未? Have you done the homework?
    • ?你打咗嗮俾佢哋未? Have you phoned all of them?
  3. S+啦 laa3 is a sentence-final particle. In fact, some would argue it should be written as 嘞 laak3 to avoid confusion with 啦 laa1. While the speaker asserts something as complete or final using 嘞 laak3, 啦 laa1 is used in requests or imperatives, as in 俾我貼啦 laa1 ('Let me stick it.'), which is irrelevant to this case.

  4. modifies the sentence, whereas , , and modify the verb. Effect-wise they are similar and can appear adjacently, but also may be separated by other elements in the sentence (e.g. the object 地址 in 填咗地址嘞).

* Tse, Li & Leung (2012:46)

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晒 and 好 are verb complements in the same category as 完,飽,實,斷,乾净,... etc. A verb complement serves to indicate a distinctive notional value of a process P (action or event associated to the verb). For example:

  • 一陣你洗碗,一定要洗乾净啊。(Not just P itself (洗碗) , but a distinctive value of 洗乾净)
  • 你負責寫報告,寫得好有獎,寫唔好要重寫。(Not just P itself (寫報告),but a distinctive value of 寫好)

咗 is an aspect marker in the same category as 過,緊,住,... etc. (Unlike verb complements, aspect markers cannot be modified by 得 or 唔).

An aspect marker serves to indicate in what way the process is located in time. For example, a process can be located in time just as an occurrence of being P:

  • 佢今朝一早彈鋼琴,又唱歌,唔知做乜咁開心。(Aspect marker zero)
  • 我食過法國蝸牛。(Aspect marker 過)
  • 佢結過婚。(Aspect marker 過)

It can also be an occurrence of P with a distinctive value (not just being P):

  • 佢今朝一早彈咗兩個鐘頭鋼琴,又唱咗好多首歌。(Aspect marker 咗 indicates that "2 hours of playing piano" and "quite a number of songs" are distinctive values of P)
  • 我食咗十隻法國蝸牛。(Aspect marker 咗 indicates that "10 escargots" is a distinctive value)
  • 佢結咗婚。(Aspect marker 咗 indicates that "his marital status as a result" is a distinctive value).

When an occurrence of P with a distinctive value indicated by a verb complement is located in time, 咗 may or may not be used:

  • 佢寫好(咗)份報告嘞。
  • 我食飽(咗)嘞。

In fact, most native speakers won't use 咗 in these cases, although they can accept them.

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  • Thank you for pointing out the difference between verb complements and aspect markers. I realise I haven’t made the distinction in my answer.
    – L Parker
    Mar 28 at 4:51
  • I knew 咗 is an aspect marker, but for some reason, I wrote 'final particle' in my answer instead, maybe because I lumped 咗啦 together as a multi-character final particle, similar to '個囉謂', '個噃‘ or '嘅呢'.
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 28 at 8:42
  • @KK_Tse Tse, Li & Leung (2012:46) treats V+好 as an aspect marker (link in my updated answer). I guess it can also be a verb complement, as in 寫得好 (to write well) and 寫唔好 (to write badly), but these are intrinsically different from 寫好 (to finish writing), where there should not be any specification of 'goodness'.
    – L Parker
    Mar 28 at 9:35
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    @L Parker. You have a very good point. Aspect markers in Cantonese are grammatical words (虛詞) with no lexical meanings. However, many of these words can also be used as meaningful words (實詞). For example, 過 (to pass), 緊 (tight), 住 (to live, to stop). Native speakers can "feel" the notional kinship, athough it is difficult to explain. We can say that, for example, the AM 住 is an abstracted form of the word 住 ? Sometimes, the abstraction is not thorough, and some lexical meaning subsists: 佢揸唔住個水煲,條水喉塞住咗, where 住 functions more like a complement. In a case like 我洗好碗嘞, 好
    – KK_Tse
    Mar 28 at 14:37
  • functions more like an AM (rather abstract).
    – KK_Tse
    Mar 28 at 14:48

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