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Lesson Transcript

Jason: Hi, everyone, and welcome to VietnamesePod101.com's All About series! This is All About Lesson 3, Painless Vietnamese Grammar. I’m Jason.
Giang: And I’m Giang. In this lesson, you’ll learn the basics of Vietnamese Grammar.
Jason: That’s right, but we’ll just be giving a basic overview. So let’s jump right in.

Lesson focus

Giang: First, let’s talk about words in Vietnamese.
Jason: Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language, so you’ll see that most words consist of only one syllable. But it doesn’t mean there are only single words in Vietnamese, right Giang?
Giang: No, we use a lot of compound words, too.
Jason: What about the syntax? Is it similar to English?
Giang: Yes, it is basically similar to English, with a subject followed by a verb and an object.
Jason: But here’s the thing - Vietnamese verbs don’t conjugate! Vietnamese verbs have no tenses, no infinitive forms or base form. They won’t change whether the subject is singular or plural. Much easier than English, right?
Giang: That’s right.
Jason: So you might be wondering how you express the differences in time in Vietnamese. The answer is - auxiliary verbs and time phrases. Auxiliary verbs are also called helping verbs because they add more information to the main verb. In Vietnamese, the auxiliary verbs to determine the past, the present and the future are different
Giang Yes, for example, “đã” denotes the past, “đang” denotes the present and “sẽ” denotes the future.
Jason: Just add them before the verb then add the time phrases at the beginning or the end of the sentence. That’s it. Let’s look at an example.
Giang: Let’s say, “Yesterday I studied”. In Vietnamese, it is “Hôm qua tôi đã học”. “Hôm qua” means yesterday, “tôi” means “I”, “đã” is the auxiliary verb for the past, meaning “already”, and “học” means “to study”. “Hôm qua tôi đã học”. “Yesterday I studied.” What do you think the present form of this sentence is?
Jason: We just change the auxiliary verb and time phrase, right?
Giang: Yes. Replace “đã” with “đang”, which is the present auxiliary verb. The whole sentence is “Tôi đang học”. “I’m studying.”
Jason: Great! That’s not bad, right listeners? Now let’s continue with one of the slightly complicated parts of Vietnamese - personal pronouns.
Giang: There are a LOT of them in Vietnamese.
Jason: That’s right, and which one to use depends on age, gender and the closeness of the relationship between the speakers. So basically, it means the word for “I” when you are talking with your mother is different from the one you use when talking with your friend, right?
Giang: Exactly. However, not only the word for “I”, but also the word for “you” differs.
Jason: Could you give us some examples?
Giang: Sure. When you are talking with your mother, you call yourself “con” then call her “mẹ”.
Jason: What about with your friend?
Giang: You will call yourself “tớ” and call your friend “bạn”. They are the equivalents of “I” and “you” used among friends or people of the same age.
Jason: So I can see the relationship matters here. What about an example of the age and gender differences?
Giang: If you are talking with your older brother, or a young man who is slightly older, you call yourself “em” and call him “anh”. The words will also be different if the speaker is a woman.
Jason: So just know that in Vietnamese, personal pronouns will change depending on the relationship and age and gender differences between the speakers.
Giang That’s right!


Jason: Okay, that’s going to do it for this lesson!
Giang: Thanks for listening!
Jason: Until next time!


Please to leave a comment.
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VietnamesePod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 12:00 PM
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Hi everyone!

How do you feel about Vietnamese grammar?

Monday at 01:20 PM
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Hi Suhasini,

Thank you for your comment. To answer your question, "anh" is for you to address to any males who is older than you (similar to your older brother). That male could be in a romantic relationship with you, or could be in any social relationships with you (friends, colleagues, neighbors etc).

While "em" is used to address yourself while speaking with any person who is older than you and whom in similar age to your older sister or older brother, or while speaking to your teacher, "cháu" is used to address yourself while speaking with any person who is older than you and whom in similar age to your aunt, uncle, or grandparents.

Hope this helps and let us know if you have any further questions!

Happy studying!


Team VietnamesePod101.com

Friday at 08:33 PM
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When you say anh is used for a man in a romantic relationship, do you mean that one would refer to their boyfriend as "anh" instead of Bạn?

Friday at 08:23 PM
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How do you differentiate when to use Em or Cháu?

Wednesday at 05:32 AM
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For us/ we, I learned to say "chung ta".. not listed here.

Wednesday at 05:12 AM
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Hi just started my lessons, I have tried different programs and methods and definitely benefiting from this website! ?.. the sentence examples that are given (under TIME, sentence 1-3) states studying Japanese. Just an idea to modify to studying Vietnamese (this would be helpful to use it this way). I had to cross it out on my paper to make it applicable to me. ?

VietnamesePod101.com Verified
Saturday at 01:48 AM
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Hi Ken,

Thank you for your question.

Grammatically, we should say the full sentence as: "Hôm qua tôi đã đi học" and "Ngày mai tôi sẽ đi học." But in daily conversation, Vietnamese people (both in the north and south) tend to drop all the helping verbs and only use time phrases to distinguish past present and future actions.

So in speaking, you can sometimes drop the helping verbs, but in writing, you should add them in the full sentences.



Team VietnamesePod101.com

Thursday at 02:20 PM
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I really believe I can learn a lot from these lessons. But I noticed that the Vietnamese in the South here usually drop the helping verbs in their conversations. I hear: "Hôm qua tôi đi học," dropping the word đã. Or Ngày mai tôi đi học, dropping sẽ.

Is that just a Southern thing or is that also found in the North?

VietnamesePod101.com Verified
Thursday at 04:32 PM
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Hi Pludor!

Thank you for posting!

Oh really? That's great! :smile: :thumbsup:

If you have any questions, please let us know!


Team VietnamesePod101.com

Saturday at 10:20 PM
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I'm from Hong Kong. It seems that the grammar of Vietnamese is similar to Chinese/Cantonese. Hopefully I can pick it up easily :)



VietnamesePod101.com Verified
Thursday at 04:17 PM
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Hi Wes,

Thank you very much for your feedback.

We are very happy to know that this lesson is helpful to you.

Good luck with your Vietnamese study and we hope to receive more feedback from you in other lessons too.



Team VietnamesePod101.com