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Lesson Transcript

Becky: Hi everyone. I’m Becky. Welcome back to VietnamesePod101.com This is the Absolute Beginner series, Season 1, Lesson 4 - Talking About Ages in Vietnamese
Huyen: Xin chào! I’m Huyen. In this lesson, you'll learn how to ask about ages in Vietnamese.
Becky: This conversation takes place at an English club, and it’s between Lan and Mary who are strangers and meet each other for the first time.
Huyen: Therefore, they’ll be speaking formal Vietnamese.
Becky: Let’s listen to the conversation.
Lan: Bạn bao nhiêu tuổi?
Mary: Tôi hai mươi tuổi. Còn bạn?
Lan: Tôi hai mươi ba tuổi.
Mary: Bạn sinh năm nào?
Lan: Tôi sinh năm tám chín.
Mary: Ồ, vậy hơn tuổi tôi rồi. Tôi phải gọi bạn là "chị" nhỉ?
Lan: Đúng rồi.
Lan: How old are you?
Mary: I'm twenty. And you?
Lan: I'm twenty-three.
Mary:What year were you born?
Lan: I was born in '89 (or 1989.)
Mary: Oh, so you're older than me. I need to call you "older sister," right?
Lan: That's right.
Becky: Huyen, is it common to ask about ages in Vietnam?
Huyen: Yes, it is. Vietnamese people often ask each other how old they are.
Becky: Even at the first meeting? Isn’t that too personal?
Huyen: No, not at all. Don’t think that they are being nosy. In fact, it is because of the complicated system of pronouns.
Becky: Ah, I see. In order to choose the right pronoun to call yourself and address the other person properly, you need to know the person’s age. There are no general equivalents of “I” and “you” that can be applied in all situations.
Huyen: Exactly. Knowing the other speaker’s age, you can choose appropriate pronouns for your conversation.
Becky: So listeners, don’t feel uncomfortable if a Vietnamese asks how old you are when you first meet. You can feel free to ask him or her as well. Okay, now let’s take a look at the vocab
Becky: Let’s take a closer look at some of the words and phrases from this lesson. First we have....
Huyen: ...Hơn.
Becky: “More”. This adverb is usually added after an adjective or adverb to make the comparative form. For example...
Huyen: Đắt hơn
Becky: “More expensive”
Huyen: Giàu hơn
Becky: “Richer”
Huyen: Tốt hơn
Becky: “Better”. But when saying that someone is older, we don’t usually add this word to the adjective...
Huyen: “già”
Becky: ...which means “old”. Instead, we say…
Huyen: ...hơn tuổi...
Becky: ...which literally means “more years”. This way of speaking is more polite and more commonly used. Let’s hear an example.
Huyen: Chị ấy hơn tuổi tôi.
Becky: “She’s older than me.” Okay, what’s the next word?
Huyen: Phải
Becky: This is a modal verb, added before a main verb to express necessity or obligation. This is exactly the same as “must” in English. Let’s hear some examples.
Huyen: Tôi phải dậy sớm đi học.
Becky: “I must get up early to go to school.”
Huyen: Tôi phải học chăm chỉ hơn.
Becky: “I must study harder.”
Huyen: And the word Vậy has the same meaning as "so" in English. For example, Vậy hẹn gặp lại sau nhé!
Becky: Which means "So, see you later!" The last word is
Huyen: Nhỉ.
Becky: This is a sentence-ending particle. It’s added at the end of a sentence to confirm an agreement with what the speaker is saying. It’s similar to a tag question in English.
Huyen: For example, Tranh này đẹp nhỉ means...
Becky: “This painting is beautiful, isn’t it?” Okay, now onto the grammar.
Becky: In this lesson you’ll learn how to ask about ages in Vietnamese.
Huyen: In Vietnamese, you can ask, Bạn bao nhiêu tuổi?
Becky: “How old are you?” The question starts with a pronoun indicating the other person. Here we use the general equivalent of “you”...
Huyen: ...which is “bạn”. Then add the phrase bao nhiêu tuổi...
Becky: ...which literally means “how many years-old?” but here it means “how old”. To answer this question, simply say...
Huyen: ...Tôi and your age and tuổi”.
Becky: In the dialogue we have....
Huyen: Bạn bao nhiêu tuổi? - Tôi hai mươi tuổi.
Becky: “How old are you?” - “I’m twenty.” There’s another way to ask about age in Vietnamese:
Huyen: Bạn sinh năm nào?
Becky: “In which year were you born”? Vietnamese people often use the lunar calendar to calculate their ages, so some people tend to tell their lunar age when being asked, which is one year older than their real age. So besides asking how old a person is, Vietnamese people also ask in which year a person was born to know their exact age.
Huyen: To answer this question, say Tôi sinh năm and the last two numbers of the year you were born.
Becky: In the dialogue we have....
Huyen: Tôi sinh năm tám chín.
Huyen: “I was born in 1989.”


Becky: That’s it for this lesson.
Huyen: I hope you will feel more confident about asking ages in Vietnamese.
Becky: Don’t forget to refer to the accompanying PDF lesson notes for more examples. We’ll see you again in the next lesson.
Huyen: Tạm biệt!