Tenses 時態

Some people say that there is no concept of tenses in the language of Chinese/Cantonese.  I think it depends on how you define the term of “tenses”.  If you insist the writing way (spelling) and pronunciation of a verb should be changed in different tenses like English, there is really no such thing in the language of Chinese/Cantonese.

Tenses - sandglass 沙漏

Time is slipping away like a sandglass. 

Actually we have another way to express an action in the present, past and future by adding some single character adverbs before or after the verb, for example,  緊 (used in a continuous action), 會 (used to express an future action) and 咗 (used to describe a past action).  Also we can further add other time adverbs “ago, before, finally, last night, tomorrow …..” to enrich the expression.

食緊 – be eating

會食 – will eat

食咗 – ate

In the following three videos (about 30 mins) you can find everything you need for how to express present, past and future actions in Cantonese.


Present 現在

Future 將來

Past 過去


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