So we learned that it has the same Subject + Verb + Object (SVO) sentence structure as English in the summary of Vietnamese grammar. It is strongly recommended that you read it before continuing with this tutorial if you have not gone through that tutorial, since there you will find the big picture of Vietnamese grammar as well as the most noticeable variations from English.

Vietnamese nouns are pure and basic in their morphology. There is no single and plural shape: pen in two pen has the same shape as pen in one pen: no suffix-s applied at all.

Vietnamese Terms of Calculation

In English, we know that countable nouns, such as pens and books, can be counted, and uncountable nouns, such as water and air, are uncountable. We simply use them directly for countable nouns, and with numbers when appropriate, as I have 2 books. On the other hand, we need to use “containers” such as “glass” or “bottle” for water, because uncountable nouns such as water can not be counted.

We’ll use “containers” for uncountable nouns in Vietnamese, as in English. For countable nouns, however, we also need to place a type of words known as measure words or classifiers in front of them. Let’s take a quick sentence to explain this: I’ve got a book. Tôi(“I) “có(“have”) một(“a) “sách(“book”) “is his direct word-by – word Vietnamese translation.”

Native speakers will still fully understand what you say if you used the above direct translation, Tôi có một sách. They will also know, in addition, that you are … still learning Vietnamese grammar! Here, although the book is a countable noun, we still need to use its word of measure, quyển. Therefore, the right translation is: Tôi có một quyển sách.

The reason why a measure word is required for every (countable) noun in Vietnamese is that nouns alone have an abstract meaning without their measure words.

Sách, for instance, arouses a general abstract notion without its metric term quyển, close to what the plural form books do to English speakers. The measure word has the effect of “concretizing” the abstract sense, which is countable, into a particular book instance.

This explains why the Vietnamese translation of books is a very efficient way of learning in reading books, just sách, without its measure word because we’re not talking about any specific book, but just books in general. In English, we usually use plural nouns to refer to such a general notion. This is expressed in Vietnamese by using nouns without their words of measure: giving the read translates into đọc, the term reading books in our example is therefore translated into đọc sách, not đọc quyển sách.

How do you translate two books about counting using numbers, considering that hai is the translation of two? Yeah, they are Tôi có hai quyển sách. From this example, we see that words for measurement should be put closer than numbers to their nouns. There is, indeed, no kind of word that can distinguish a noun and its word for measure!

We saw one word for measure: quyển for sách(“book). In the following list, you can find the most common measurement terms and their brief use.

Popular words to measure:

  • cái, chiếc: for most inanimate objects, “chiếc” is more formal as both are interchangeable
  • con: for children and animals.
  • bài: for songs, sketches, lyrics, essays and the like.
  • câu: for punitive units of verses, lyrics, quotes.
  • cây: for items like sticks, such as umbrellas, sticks.
  • quả/ trái: for round-shape items such as fruits: quả/ trái.
  • quyển/cuốn: for artifacts of a book type: book, magazine.
  • tờ: for paper or newspaper sheets.
  • lá: For smaller paper sheets, such as letters, cards

Further information can be found at [1]. if you are interested in learning more about measuring words.

That’s about the words for measure. There are quite a few of them, so it might take you a while. In addition, when voicing general notions, please take note of the point about the absence of measure terms.

The next section presents the articles (“a”, “an”, “the”) and demonstratives (“this”, “that”, “these”, “those”) commonly used.

Papers and Demonstratives

It is generally known that a / an is one of the concepts (to be more precise, articles) that are frequently used in English. And the same holds true for the demonstrative determiners this, that, these and those. This is the reason why learning how to translate them into Vietnamese will probably be fine.

The two words a and an are used in English as a quick recap to refer to a singular and indefinite noun, a noun that has not been clearly specified or mentioned previously, as I have a grammar book. The word that refers to definite nouns is just the opposite. It is typically the case in Vietnamese that a or an is translated to một, Which is simply one’s literal translation; and either này or kia is translated, which are the literal translations of this and that in that order, or it is absolutely dropped.

I haveagrammar book.
Tôi cómộtquyển sách ngữ pháp.

In fact, this Vietnamese way of translating a / an to “một” is not too unusual because we could have written the English phrase example using one instead of a: I have one grammar book, although the use of one may result in a minor change of focus.

Let’s turn our attention now to the following example: I just bought a book. The book is about foreign language learning.The second mention of a novel, as you can see, is eligible by its first mention in the previous sentence. In the second sentence, the translation of the book is quyển sách đó.

Let ‘s discuss in more depth this translation snippet:

quyển sáchđó

As seen in the table, đó is a translation of this. There is no direct equivalent of that in Vietnamese, and instead we will use this, that, these or others in order to express the definiteness of an entity. You may also have noted that after the noun sách, which is a general law, đó is placed. As a short exercise, how do you translate the phrase of this book into Vietnamese, provided that this translates to này? Ok, the slow motion translation process goes like this: this book– > book this- > quyển sách này. Feeling fine? Only a little bit more and you’d be a master of Vietnamese nouns.

It’s time to provide an example where there is no need for translation. Take the expression Today, the weather is sunny (and of course, you feel happy :). There’s no doubt in English that we need the weather. However, in Vietnamese, there is no grammatical requirement for an equivalent of the following: the right way is the weather alone. Similarly, just mặt trời (“sun”) is the translation of the sun in the sun rises in the east.

The translation of these and others, last but not least, is slightly less convenient than that of this and that. Remember that this book has been translated into an order book. These books are not merely translated in the order books and there is no one-word path translation of these books. The right translation of these is Những… này, where the position of nouns is the three dots. As such, những (quyển sách) này is translated into these texts.Can you remember where you saw the word này, by the way? When you say that this is a translation of this: well-done!
Những… đó is the translation of those ones. Anything in common do you find? About the word những Yes, in our translations, it’s the term encoding plurality.


We have briefly discussed “subject pronouns” in English, including I, You, He / She, etc .. The only difficulty in using Vietnamese subject pronouns is that there is no single translation of I and the correct one to use, for example, varies with the situation. Fou may be an in-depth conversation on the different ways of using subject pronouns can be found at [2].

Me, you, him, her, etc. include examples of “object pronouns” This is clear in Vietnamese: the same word is used for both I and me! In other words, in Vietnamese, subject and object pronouns are equal.

In English, possessive pronouns refer to such words as mine, your, his, her, etc. Below, the Vietnamese equivalents are provided:

mycủa tôi
yourcủa bạn
hiscủa anh
hercủa cô

The significant difference is that while possessive pronouns are placed in English in front of nouns, they are placed in Vietnamese after nouns. Consider the instance below:


Đâyquyển sáchcủa tôi

I have the literal English version of c’a tôi, so the way to say this is my Vietnamese book is to say this is my book. The only note here is that there are numerous methods of interpreting me, so there are different ways of interpreting me or myself.

For possessive pronouns, that is about it. In this short tutorial, let’s summarize what we have learned:


We’ve gone through the following important aspects in this lesson on Vietnamese nouns:

  • There is no plural form of nouns: for both singular and plural significations, just one form.
  • Nouns require the use of measured terms in front of them, whether countable or not. Measuring words are not used when used in the abstract sense.
  • After the nouns they modify, they put this and that. These and those, respectively, are translated into Những… + này / kia.
  • The Book of Me is the way to communicate my book in Vietnamese.

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