In a conversation, the first-person refers to the speaker(s), while the second-person refers to the listener(s).
When making a conversation, you have to know how to address yourself (I) and the other person (You) using the appropriate pronouns. Which pronouns to use, oftentimes, depending on your and the person's age (generation) and gender.
Here are some of the most common pronouns used in the Vietnamese language: ông, bà, cô, chú, anh, chị, em, con. These pronouns
|When talking to someone who is ...||Address the person as|
|Old enough to be your grandparent||ông||bà|
|Old enough to be your parent||chú||cô|
|Old enough to be your older sibling||anh||chị|
|Young enough to be your younger sibling||em|
|Young enough to be your child / niece /nephew / grandchild||con|
a. For instance, when you are talking to a female elder (old enough to be your grandma), you would address her as bà, and address yourself as con (young enough to be her grandchild). She would in turn, still address herself as bà and address you as con, since the roles stay the same.
John: Chào bà. Con là John (= Hello. I'm John)
Granny: Chào con. Bà là Mary (= Hello. I'm Mary)
b. When speaking to a stranger who is around your generation, if their age is unclear, always address the person as if they are older than you (use anh or chị) to show politeness.
John: Chào anh (= Hello)
Taxi driver: Chào anh (= Hello)
c. When talking to someone who is the same age, you can address yourself as mình (I) and address the other person as bạn (You). In this case, the person would address himself or herself as mình (I) and address you as bạn (You).
John: Chào bạn. Mình là John (= Hello. I'm John)
Jane: Chào bạn. Mình là Jane (= Hello. I'm Jane)
d. In formal situations, use tôi to address yourself (I) and use anh or chị to address the other person (You).
John: Chào chị. Tôi là John (= Hello. I'm John)
Jane: Chào anh. Tôi là Jane (= Hello. I'm Jane)
In a conversation, the third-person indicates a third individual who is being referred to by the first & second person.
It uses the subject pronouns he/she/it/they in English.
In Vietnamese, there are 2 ways that you can use to address a third singular person (he/she/it). There is a general way and a Southern dialect way.
They can be pretty much used interchangeably but you will hear most Southern Vietnamese people use "the Southern dialect way" in speaking.
a. For the general way, which is more often used in written Vietnamese, formal settings, and monologues, we place the word ấy after the 2nd person pronoun.
For example: anh ấy, chị ấy, em ấy, ....
b. For the Southern dialect, most of the tones on the 2nd person pronouns change to the question tone (dấu hỏi), except for "chú" and "con".
For example: ảnh, chỉ, ẻm, ...
This rule, however, does not apply to some second-person pronouns. You will instead need to use the general way [2nd person + ấy].
The table below summarizes how to address a third person in Vietnamese.
|2nd person||3rd person (Southern)||3rd person (general)||[ENG]|
|bạn||bản||bạn ấy||he or she, same-age friend|
|anh||ảnh||anh ấy||he, like an older brother|
|chị||chỉ||chị ấy||she, like an older sister|
|em||ẻm||em ấy||he or she, like a younger sibling|
|chú||chú ấy||chú ấy||he, like an uncle|
|cô||cổ||cô ấy||she, like an aunt|
|ông||ổng||ông ấy||he, like a grandpa|
|bà||bả||bà ấy||she, like a granny|
(1) Cổ can also be used to address a young woman. So "cổ" can mean "that auntie" or "that woman".
(2) Nó can be used to address a third person who is:
Nó also means "it" to refer to an animal or an object.
(3) You can address someone's name directly, without any pronoun, only if they are younger than you.
(4) To refer to a specific person that you know, you can refer to that person using his or her name [2nd person + name].
For example: bạn Tuấn, chú Hải, cô Mai, ông Tám.
The word order of a simple Vietnamese sentence is similar to that in English:
Subject + Verb + Object.
|He||likes to eat||phở|
Besides the words order, there are a few things that you may notice from the above examples.
Vietnamese questions words can be placed at the beginning or at the end of the questions. You'll have to learn where to place them in different circumstances.
However, MOST question words such as "what / who / where / which / how" are often placed after the subject of the question which they refer to or at the end of the question sentence.
Subject + Verb + Object + Question Word?
Note: nào is placed after the noun that it refers to, which is the "company".
"Công ty nào?" = "Which company?"
Là is an equivalent of the verb ‘to be’ in English. However, unlike English, Vietnamese verbs such as là can be used in the same form regardless of the pronouns and tenses. This means that other 'to be' forms such as -am/is/are/was/were are represented using the same word là.
In Vietnamese, the verb là (to be) is only required when talking about the identity of someone, such as nationality, job, and professions.
|Cổ||là||người Việt Nam|
Là is NOT required when talking about age, relationship status.
which means, "I am 28 years old"
which means, "John is single"
There is one big difference between Vietnamese and English, is that là only precedes nouns or noun phrases, but not adjectives.
which means, "This one is beautiful"
which means, "He is handsome"
In this lesson, we'll learn how to negate verbs and adjectives in Vietnamese.
In order to negate verbs in Vietnamese, simply place the word không in front of the verb, except for là (to be)
|Mình||không thích||sầu riêng|
Không phải là is an equivalent of 'to be not' in English. It is used as a negation of the verb là (to be).
|Mình||không phải là||John|
|Ảnh||không phải là||giáo viên|
|Đó||không phải là||Jane|
When it comes to adjectives, you can also place the word không to negate the adjective.
To sound more natural, instead of không, native speakers use không có before the adjective to form a negative sentence when speaking.
|Cái này||không (có) đẹp|
|This one||not beautiful|
which means, "This one isn't beautiful"
|Cổ||không (có) cao|
which means, "She isn't tall"
In the first few lessons, you may have seen me using the word cái này (this one), where cái refer to a general object, and này acts as a demonstrative.
Demonstratives are words like this, that, these, those. Just like in English, in Vietnamese, we use demonstratives to point to people and things.
As a language learner, it's important to understand the difference between demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives. Let's take a look at these 2 demonstratives.
In Vietnamese, demonstrative adjectives are used to modify a noun or pronoun, and are placed right after the noun/pronoun. For instance:
which means, "This girl"
which means, "That hat"
which means, "That hotel is big"
Demonstrative pronouns are used to introduce someone or something, and are often placed at the beginning of the sentence, e.g. Đây là... this is..., Đó là... that is...
|Đó||không phải là||khách sạn Hilton|
|That||is not||Hilton hotel|
Hả and phải không are question words, the equivalents of the tag questions "isn't he? don't you? weren't they? in English.
They are often placed at the end of a statement to seek confirmation or ask for agreement. They can also be translated as "right?", "agree?" and are often used by native speakers in daily conversation.
Hả is used more often than phải không in spoken Vietnamese.
|Cái đó||là||nước mắm||hả?|
|That one||is||fish sauce||right?|
In Vietnamese, to make a simple Yes-No question we use the structure:
Subject ⎯⎯ (có) ⎯⎯ verb/adjective ⎯⎯ không?
which means, "Do you like phở?"
which means, "Does that one expensive?"
Classifiers are words that are used to specify nouns and to classify them into categories, such as people, objects, and animals.
Vietnamese classifiers are always placed before the noun that they relate to.
For instance, trái is the classifier for fruits. When a classifier is required in the sentence, we placed the classifier before the noun. E.g. trái táo - apple, where táo means apple.
In Vietnamese language, classifiers are used very often. If you skip classifiers, your sentence may sound unnatural to the natives' ears.
Now you roughly understand what is a classifier, let's take a look at when you have to use it the sentence and when you don't have to.
1. Classifiers is often used when referring to something specific
2. Classifiers are often omitted in a general statement
3. Classifiers MUST be used when referring to a specific number of objects
4. Classifier can also be used without a noun when it is clear from the context what it refers to
In the second line, the noun sách is omitted since it is clear from the first line that the same book is being referred to.
In this lesson, we'll learn about Vietnamese plurals.
Plural forms are created in Vietnamese by adding the plural markers, such as mấy, before the classifier and the noun. For example, mấy trái táo - apples.
In the previous lesson on demonstratives, we talked about the singular ones, which are this and that. Let's take a look at the phrase order when using plural demonstratives these and those.
|Mấy cô gái||này|
which means, "These girls"
|Mấy khách sạn||đó||lớn|
which means, "Those hotels are big"
|Đó||là||mấy trái táo|
We have learned the basic sentence structure in Vietnamese is Subject - Verb - Object. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the basic noun phrase structure or order in Vietnamese.
After this lesson, you'll know how to arrange all the components in a noun phrase, which may have a number, adjective, noun, classifier and demonstrative.
Let's take a look at these 2 example sentences.
which means, "These 3 red apples"
which means, "Those old houses"
In the above examples, we can see the general order of a noun phrase is as followed:
amount - classifier - noun - adjective - demonstrative
In this lesson, we'll learn about how to say something or someone belongs to you in Vietnamese or to someone else's.
In Vietnamese, to talk about possession, we use the word của. This word can be translated as "to belonging to" or "of" in English.
Của is always placed after the object and before the object's owner. Let's look at this example:
which means, "John's shirt" or "The shirt belongs to John"
You can see that the order of a Vietnamese possessive sentence follows this simple structure:
Here are some other examples:
which means, "My surname is Smith"
|Đây||là||số điện thoại||của||cổ|
which means, "This is her phone number"
In this lesson, we'll learn 4 most common Vietnamese tenses: past, present, future and present continuous.
As mentioned in the course introduction, Vietnamese verbs are not conjugated. The verb forms stay the same regardless of the pronouns and tenses.
So to indicate the tenses, we simply place the tense markers before the main verb. The 3 common tense markers are: đang - đã - sẽ
|Present||Mình ăn táo||I eat apples|
|Continuous||Mình đang ăn táo||I'm eating apples|
|Past||Mình đã ăn táo||I ate apples|
|Future||Mình sẽ ăn táo||I will eat apples|
Tense markers, except đang, can be omitted when a specific time expression is clearly stated.
Đã can be omitted in the above sentence since it's clear from the context that the action had already happened in the past yesterday.
which means, "Next month I'll go to Canada"
Sẽ can be omitted in the above sentence since it's clear from the context that the action will take place in the future next month.
In the previous lesson, we have learned how to make a simple yes-no question with the ending question word không.
In this lesson, we'll look at the most common Vietnamese questions words and where they are often placed in the sentences.
|gì - what||Đây là gì?||What is this?|
|ai - who||Đây là ai?||Who is this|
|đâu - where||Bạn làm ở đâu?||Where do you work?|
|nào - which||Bạn làm ở công ty nào?||Which company do work at?|
|thế nào - how||Bạn làm thế nào?||How do you do (it)?|
From the above examples, we can see that oftentimes, Vietnamese question words are placed at the end of the questions.
Some question words are to be placed after the main noun or verb that they refer to. For instance, nào is placed after the main noun công ty (company); thế nào is placed after the main verb làm (to do).
Congratulation! You've completed this quick grammar course!
I hope that you've managed to grasp the basic grammar rules of the Vietnamese language. Not so difficult right?
After this course, if you want to dive deeper into some of those grammar points and learn more basic sentence structures, I have a book series recommendation for you.📕📘 Vietnamese Basic Grammar and Sentence Patterns (Book 1 & 2)
They are meant for self-study complete beginners to help you make basic Vietnamese sentences on your own, through essential grammar understanding and sentence pattern practicing.
Alongside those 2 books, find yourself a beginner reading material that is short and easy, best with complimentary audio. It can be in the form of easy dialogues or short stories.
Remember, the right learning material for you is the one just above your level, which you can understand at least 70% of it. So don't go and pick out a 2-hour Vietnamese movie to watch!
If you're serious about learning Vietnamese and can afford classes, your learning can progress much quicker by taking private lessons with a tutor.
There are many online platforms out there that you can have ad-hoc lessons any time you want, such as italki and Verbling.
However, finding a tutor is easy, but finding a tutor with the right learning materials and effective teaching method is not that easy!
Not every student enjoys the same teaching technique, but I'm sure that you would want your lesson to have more listening and speaking time in Vietnamese, not in English.
Give HowToVietnamese class a try to see if it suits your learning style, and get 50% off the first trial lesson. Moreover, we don't try to tie you down with a 40 to 60 hour-course like many other classes. So if you like learning with us, simply stay!👩🏻💻 Learn more about Vietnamese class here
Have fun learning Vietnamese!