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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!