VIETNAMESE SIMPLE GRAMMAR: STRUCTURE OF SENTENCES

The Introduction to the Vietnamese Language has provided you with the most significant features of the entire language. We will learn the most important grammatical characteristics of the Vietnamese language in this very first lesson of the Express Grammar Course, especially when compared with English.

Vietnamese Structure of Sentence

We will learn in this chapter how Vietnamese words are structured to create context. Let ‘s begin with the classical example of this: I love you. In Vietnamese, how is that expressed? It’s em Anh yêu. The break-downs, let’s see:

EXAMPLE:

VietEnglish
AnhIt means: I, also implying that you’re older or more senior.In Vietnamese, we’ll use different words for I, depending on our relationship with the listener (whether we are older or more senior). The specific word choice also varies with different regions of Vietnam.
YêuThis means: love.
EmThe word means: you. This word implies that you are younger, less senior

Please do not recall all the above stuff, it’s only for the purpose of reading. However, what needs to be noted is this:

Vietnamese Grammar Rule 1
Vietnamese Language has the same sentence structure as English:
Subject + Verb + Object (or SVO for short).

Have you seen this? Anh (“I: “Subject) + yêu (“love”: Verb) + em(“you: “Object). + yêu (“love”: Verb) + em(“you: “Object). This is one of the most basic principles of Vietnamese grammar, for that matter, or of any language. Next time you learn a new language, it is good to inquire from the very beginning: what is this language ‘s basic phrase structure? (Japanese is a strong instance for a language with a different sentence structure).

Vietnamese Adverbs’ Place

Now, let’s try to add to this sentence some more romance. How about a couple of I love you? Tôi yêu em nhiều is the Vietnamese version. The first part remains the same, and for many, the added part is nhiều: a lot <-> nhiều. And this gives us a general rule (e.g. always, easily, beautifully) about the role of adverbs:

Vietnamese Grammar Rule 2
In Vietnamese, as in English, adverbs are positioned after the verbs they modify.

Some adverbs, such as rather, are placed before the verb in English as in this sentence: I like it rather. This is also the case in Vietnamese, and indeed: Anh(I) khá (rather) thích (like) nó (it) is the translation of that sentence.

The other rule is that adverbs are then placed after the objects if verbs need objects, as in English. In English, because we don’t say I love you so much, we don’t say Anh yêu nhiều em (*). Anh yêu em nhiều is the correct Vietnamese version. Then, the form of the sentence we have learned so far is: subject + verb (+ object) + adverbs.

EXAMPLE:

In factyouareverybeautiful
Quả thậtemNo translation neededrấtđẹp

This is almost direct one-to-one word mapping from English to Vietnamese, aside from the absence of the translation of the verb to be. How close it is to English in Vietnamese! You don’t think so? In the following rule, the lack of translation of the verb to be is explained:

Vietnamese Grammar Rule 3
In Vietnamese, adjectives don’t go with to be.

No adjectives to be with? Yes, but the Vietnamese way of saying she’s gorgeous is absolutely gorgeous!

The astute readers will then ask: Then, how do we change it to a question: as in English, there is no need to be turned to the front of the sentence! That’s a very interesting question and the response is that we’re going to use a question marker to convey questions in Vietnamese, combined with an improvement in intonation. The Chinese and French also share this way of asking questions.

We learned about verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and so on. Now, through the use of nouns via another compliment, we will conclude this summary of Vietnamese Grammar: you have a very beautiful voice. What’s the translation in Vietnamese? Let’s split this English term into its main components first:

You (Subject) + have (Verb) + a very nice (Object) voice. We have learned above that the same Subject + Verb + Object (or SVO) ordering is also shared by Vietnamese. So how does the Vietnamese translation’s sentence structure look? Yes, the same is real!

Mapping translation:

Youhavea very beautiful voice
Emmột giọng nói rất hay.

Let’s take a closer look at the translation of the phrase: giọng nói rất hay, very beautiful voice.

giọng nóirất hay
voicevery beautiful

As you can see, after giọng nói (“voice), “which is different from English, the phrase rất hay (“very beautiful”) is placed. And this gives us another law in general:

Vietnamese Grammar Rule 4
In Vietnamese, adjectives are positioned after the nouns they modify.

Another observation you may have had is that the strength adverb is located before the beautiful adjective: rất (“very”) đẹp (“beautiful”), as in English. This is just a general rule: adverbs are added, just like in English, before adjectives are changed. For instance, it would translate into Cô ta rất thông minh if she is very smart. Note that the adjective thông minh (smart) is followed by rất (very).

Now, by translating this fragment, let ‘s analyze what we’ve heard. You are really beautiful. Let’s go very slowly, even though I know you can do it a lot more quickly, to make sure all is transparent and in order.”You + are(“to be”) + very(adverb) + beautiful(adjective). The very beautiful phrase is an adjectival phrase consisting of a beautiful main adjective and a very intensive adverb. As we have already discussed, the Vietnamese translation of this phrase has the same order: rất(“very) “+ đẹp(“beautiful”). The Vietnamese translation of this phrase.

In Vietnamese, we have also discovered that adjectives are not followed by to be. The Vietnamese version, then, will be very beautiful for you. We get the right translation by bringing it together: Em rất đẹp. If you’ve done it right, congratulations!

For an outline, that is enough. So far, I hope that you have enjoyed reading and learning.

Summary

In this summary, we have quickly gone through the most significant points in Vietnamese grammar. The points for the take-away are:

  • In the general sentence form, Vietnamese is comparable to English, which is: Subject + Verb (+ Object) + Adverbs.
  • In Vietnamese, adverbs are placed after the verbs they modify, as in English.
  • In Vietnamese, to be is not prefixed with adjectives.
  • Adjectives in Vietnamese are placed after the nouns that they modify.

You would probably accept now that the grammar of Vietnamese and English is quite similar. Two of the (few) most important grammatical variations are the last two points about adjectives in the overview list above. For now, anything else can be believed to be the same.