We’re going to learn about the use of adjectives in Vietnamese in this class. Since the primary function of adjectives is to modify nouns, before this lesson, it is very necessary that you have finished the noun lesson.

Vietnamese Adjectives’ Location

If you can still remember from the Vietnamese sentence structure class, you have learned that after the nouns they modify, adjectives are added. I bought this interesting book yesterday, for example, and I translated it into an interesting book I purchased yesterday.


Original English sentenceI bought this interesting book yesterday.
Rearanged for translationIboughtbookinterestingthisyesterday
Vietnamese translationTôimuaquyển sáchthú vịnàyhôm qua

We also found in the Nouns lesson that this is placed in Vietnamese after the nouns that it modifies. Now, with the inclusion of adjectives, a noun phrase is formed by the adjective and the noun, and này (‘this’) is then placed after the adjective. So, to summarize this, a small formula is:

  • Position of Adjectives in Vietnamese
  • Measure word + Noun + Adjectives + này(“this”)/ kia(“that”)

Let’s now capitalize on this understanding of adjective positions to translate the term covered by this book. Since the cover translates into bìa, and we already know that the book translates into sách, it translates into này, what’s the word in your translation?

I believe you understand the materials well so far if your translation is sách bìa này or quyển sách bìa này or the likes, even though it’s not the correct answer yet. To explain the translation process, let’s ask a few questions: what’s the main noun in this phrase? In other words, do we say a book or a cover? That’s the cover, huh? Then we need to figure out the word for the calculation of this key noun. This is cái.

The next question: the book works like an adjective in that the main noun cover is changed, doesn’t it? Then, the following translation is given by our formula right above:


Measure word“cover”“book”“this”

So far, is everything clear? … Let’s go on and talk about adjective inflections.

Inflections on Adjectives from Vietnam

One of the most fascinating features of English adjectives is that they can alter their meaning by inflections.

For instance, by adding the prefix un- to form the negative-meaning word unhappy, the adjective happy can be negated; by using the prefix dis- to form dishonest, the meaning of honest can be reverted.

However, this is not possible for adjectives in Vietnamese, and for other kinds of words as well.

But as we can clearly translate it as not happy, there should be no problem translating unhappy into Vietnamese.

As with the noun happiness, which is obtained by applying the suffix -ness to the adjective happy, how about translating adjectives into nouns?

Since Vietnamese words have no inflection whatsoever, we can’t apply a similar transformation. In Vietnamese, the way to make adjectives become nouns is to add suitable “adj-to-noun” transformers such as niềm, nỗi, sự, etc. before them. The word for happiness in our example is niềm, so that happiness is translated into niềm hạnh phúc.

Consider the mapping below to explain the position of these transformers:

niềmhạnh phúc

This table clarifies that there is no definition for transformers such as “niềm”, “nỗi, “cái”, “điều”, “sự”, … on their own. To obey the grammar, they just turn the following word into the correct part-of-speech.

The problem here is that for which types of adjectives, you need to learn the “transformer” is used. The good news (or bad news?) is that several different ‘transformers’ can be accepted by an adjective in most cases: so remembering one of them will do.

How about the suffix-ly that is applied to certain adjectives to make them easily and happily become adverbs?

The answer is short and simple: to make adjectives become adverbs in Vietnamese, no change is required! That is to suggest that both an adjective (“happy”) and an adverb (“happily”) can be used as hạnh phúc(“happy).


In this lesson, we have to grasp the following Vietnamese adjectives:

After the nouns that they modify, adjectives are placed. As a corollary, in reverse order, phrases with different nouns are translated into Vietnamese.Add their necessary “transformers” such as sự, niềm, to make adjectives into nouns. Adjectives also act as adverbs in Vietnamese.

Link Source: https://yourvietnamese.com/