Dialogue - Vietnamese

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Vocabulary

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tinh thần trách nhiệm sense of responsibility
nhiệt tình enthusiastic
khả năng ability
điểm mạnh strength
trôi chảy fluent, smooth
nhân viên lễ tân receptionist
bản thân self (yourself, myself etc)
ngắn gọn brief
em “I” or “me” when used as a pronoun to talk with a slightly older person, and “you” when used as a pronoun to talk with a slightly younger person
giới thiệu to introduce

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus Of This Lesson Is Expressing Ability Using có thể ("can").
Em có thể nói tiếng Anh không?

"Can you speak English?"

 


 

 

Using có thể to Talk About Abilities


 

Main structure: Subject + có thể + main verb + object + (adverb)

Có thể is a verb which means "can/ to be able to." It is followed by a main verb indicating the action/activity that the subject is able to do.

This structure applies to all types of subjects (singular or plural, first person or third person), which means the verb có thể and the main verb stays the same (without any change in their form) regardless of the subjects. The adverb is optional and can be put before or after the object.

Sample sentences from the dialogue:

  1.     Em có thể nói tiếng Anh trôi chảy.
    "I can speak English fluently."
  2.    Em có thể làm vào các buổi chiều thứ hai, thứ tư và thứ bảy.
    "I can work on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons."

More examples:

  1.     Anh ấy có thể ăn hết 5 bát mì trong vòng 10 phút.
    "He can eat five bowls of noodles in ten minutes."
  2.     Tôi có thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm.
    "I can play games all day and night."
  3.     Cô ấy có thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
    "She can play the piano and guitar."

 

Negative form of có thể

To express something that one cannot do, we replace có thể with không thể ("cannot/not be able to"), the other parts remain the same.

Main structure: Subject + không thể + main verb + object + (adverb)

For example:

  1.     Em không thể nói tiếng Anh trôi chảy.
    "I can't speak English fluently."
  2.     Tôi không thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm.
    "I can't play games all day and night."
  3.     Cô ấy không thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
    "She can't play the piano or guitar."

 

Question form of có thể

To ask if someone can do something or not, simply add không to the end of the affirmative sentence có thể, the other parts remain the same. If the subject of the affirmative sentence is the first person pronoun, change that pronoun into the second person pronoun in the question (tôi → bạn/ anh/ chị etc)

Main structure: Subject + có thể + main verb + object + (adverb) + không?

The answer to this question is:

+ Có/ Có thể: Yes.

+ Không/ Không thể: No

Sample sentences from the dialogue:

  1.     Em có thể nói tiếng Anh không?
    "Can you speak English?"

More examples:

  1.     Anh ấy có thể ăn hết 5 bát mì trong vòng 10 phút không? - Có, anh ấy có thể.
      "Can he eat five bowls of noodles in ten minutes?" - "Yes, he can."
  2.     Bạn có thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm không? - Không, tôi không thể.
      "Can you play games all day and night?" - "No, I can't."

 

Ask WHAT one can do

Main structure: Subject + có thể + làm gì? (làm gì means "do what")

For example:

  1.     Anh ấy có thể làm gì? - Anh ấy có thể ăn hết 5 bát mì trong vòng 10 phút.
    "What can he do?" - "He can eat five bowls of noodles in ten minutes."
  2.     Cô ấy có thể làm gì? - Cô ấy có thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
    "What can she do?" - "She can play the piano and guitar."

 

Listing Several Nouns in a Sentence


 

When there are two nouns, connect them with the conjunction ("and"). When there are more than two nouns, connect the nouns before the last noun with commas, and add ("and") before the last noun.

Sample sentences from the dialogue:

  1.     Điểm mạnh của em là khả năng tiếng Anh tốt, nhiệt tình và tinh thần trách nhiệm cao ạ.
    "My strengths
    are my good English ability, enthusiasm, and a strong sense of responsibility."
  2.     Em có thể làm vào các buổi chiều thứ hai, thứ tư và thứ bảy.
    "I can work on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons."

 

More examples:

  1.     Tôi và anh ấy là đồng nghiệp.
    "He and I are colleagues."
  2.     Trong phòng có bàn, ghế, giá sách và đồng hồ.
    "There is a table, a chair, a bookshelf, and a clock in the room.""
  3.     Cô ấy đã đi Pháp, Anh và Mỹ.
    "She has been to France, England and America."

 

Using dạ to reply to an older person

We have learned and vâng, which mean "yes" to reply to another person. Dạ is another way to say "yes" but it is used to talk to an older person and/or someone we respect. Dạ is the same as vâng and they can be used interchangeably. In the north of Vietnam, some people use both of them together to make dạ vâng.

Sample sentences from the dialogue:

  1.     Dạ, em đã có một năm kinh nghiệm ạ.
    "Yes, I have one year of experience."
  2.     Dạ có ạ, Em có thể nói tiếng Anh trôi chảy.
    "Yes, I can speak English fluently." (Dạ có ạ in this sentence is to emphasize "Yes, I can.")

More examples:

  1.    A: Em làm xong báo cáo chưa? -B: Dạ, em làm xong rồi ạ.
    A: "Have you finished the report?" -B: "Yes, I've already finished it."
  2.     A: Tối nay nhớ về sớm nhé. -B: Dạ.
                A: "Remember to return home early tonight." -B: "Yes."

 

Examples from the dialogue:

  1. Dạ có ạ, Em có thể nói tiếng Anh trôi chảy.
    "I can speak English fluently."
  2. Em có thể làm vào các buổi chiều thứ hai, thứ tư và thứ bảy ạ.
    "I can work on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons."

 

Sample Sentences


 

  1. Anh ấy có thể ăn hết 5 bát mì trong vòng 10 phút.
    "He can eat five bowls of noodles in ten minutes."
  2. Tôi có thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm.
    "I can play games all day and night."
  3. Cô ấy có thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
    "She can play the piano and guitar."

 

Cultural Insights

Vietnamese People's English Ability


 

 

Most Vietnamese people can't speak English. Though English is taught as early as elementary school, not many young people can communicate well in English. According to a Switzerland-based international education company called Education First, Vietnam ranks among the lowest levels of English proficiency in the world (ranked 33/63 of countries and territories around the globe and 9/14 in Asia in 2014). English education is mainly based on text books, with a heavy focus on grammar and writing, and a lack of an environment for communication practice is believed to be the main cause.

English proficiency is an important factor for a good career in Vietnam. A survey by Jobstreet revealed that 95% of employers believe that English proficiency has an effect on work performance and efficiency. Those who are good at English can work for foreign companies and organizations in Vietnam with a salary 3-5 times higher than those who don't know English.

 

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Eric: Hi everyone, and welcome to VietnamesePod101.com. This is Intermediate Season 1 Lesson 1 - Interviewing for a Job in Vietnam. Eric here.
Hoang Anh: Chào. I'm Hoang Anh.
Eric: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to talk about ability in Vietnamese. The conversation takes place at a backpacker hostel.
Hoang Anh: It's between Trang and the hostel owner.
Eric: The speakers are strangers, so they’ll use formal Vietnamese. Okay, let's listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

Chủ khách sạn giá rẻ : Em hãy giới thiệu ngắn gọn về bản thân.
Trang: Vâng, em tên là Trần Thu Trang. Em đang là sinh viên.
Chủ khách sạn giá rẻ : Em đã có kinh nghiệm làm nhân viên lễ tân chưa?
Trang: Dạ, em đã có một (1) năm kinh nghiệm ạ.
Chủ khách sạn giá rẻ : Em có thể nói tiếng Anh không?
Trang: Dạ có ạ, Em có thể nói tiếng Anh trôi chảy.
Chủ khách sạn giá rẻ : Em nghĩ điểm mạnh của mình là gì?
Trang: Điểm mạnh của em là khả năng tiếng Anh tốt, nhiệt tình và tinh thần trách nhiệm cao ạ.
Chủ khách sạn giá rẻ : Em có thể làm việc được mấy ngày trong tuần?
Trang: Em có thể làm vào các buổi chiều thứ hai, thứ tư và thứ bảy ạ.
Eric: Listen to the conversation with the English translation.
Backpacker hostel owner: Can you introduce yourself briefly?
Trang: Yes, my name is Tran Thu Trang. I'm a student.
Backpacker hostel owner: Do you have any experience working as a receptionist?
Trang: Yes, I have one year of experience.
Backpacker hostel owner: Can you speak English?
Trang: Yes, I can. I can speak English fluently.
Backpacker hostel owner: What do you think your strengths are?
Trang: My strengths are my good English ability, enthusiasm, and a strong sense of responsibility.
Backpacker hostel owner: How many days a week can you work?
Trang: I can work on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Eric: Hoang Anh, can most Vietnamese people speak English?
Hoang Anh: I think most Vietnamese people can't speak English, even though English is taught as early as in elementary school. According to a Switzerland-based international education company called Education First, Vietnam has one of the lowest levels of English proficiency in the world.
Eric: Why do you think that is?
Hoang Anh: I think it’s because English education is mainly based on textbooks, with a heavy focus on grammar and writing and not many chances for communication practice.
Eric: Is English proficiency an important factor for a good career in Vietnam?
Hoang Anh: Definitely. A recent survey showed that 95% of employers believe that English proficiency has an effect on work performance and efficiency. People who are good at English can work for foreign companies and organizations in Vietnam, and their salary will be three to five times higher than for those who don't know English.
Eric: That’s interesting! Okay, now onto the vocab.
VOCAB LIST
Eric: Let’s take a look at the vocabulary from this lesson. The first word is..
Hoang Anh: em [natural native speed]
Eric: This means “I” or “me” when used as a pronoun to talk with a slightly older person, and “you” when used as a pronoun to talk with a slightly younger person.
Hoang Anh: em[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: em [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: giới thiệu [natural native speed]
Eric: to introduce
Hoang Anh: giới thiệu [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: giới thiệu [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: ngắn gọn [natural native speed]
Eric: brief
Hoang Anh: ngắn gọn [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: ngắn gọn [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: bản thân [natural native speed]
Eric: self (yourself, myself etc)
Hoang Anh: bản thân [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: bản thân [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: nhân viên lễ tân [natural native speed]
Eric: receptionist
Hoang Anh: nhân viên lễ tân [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: nhân viên lễ tân [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: trôi chảy [natural native speed]
Eric: fluent, smooth
Hoang Anh: trôi chảy [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: trôi chảy [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: điểm mạnh [natural native speed]
Eric: strength
Hoang Anh: điểm mạnh [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: điểm mạnh [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: khả năng [natural native speed]
Eric: ability
Hoang Anh: khả năng [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: khả năng [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Hoang Anh: nhiệt tình [natural native speed]
Eric: enthusiastic
Hoang Anh: nhiệt tình [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: nhiệt tình [natural native speed]
Eric: And last..
Hoang Anh: tinh thần trách nhiệm [natural native speed]
Eric: sense of responsibility
Hoang Anh: tinh thần trách nhiệm[slowly - broken down by syllable]
Hoang Anh: tinh thần trách nhiệm [natural native speed]
KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES
Eric: Let's have a closer look at some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first word is..
Hoang Anh: em
Eric: which means “I,” “me.” You use this to talk with a slightly older person.
Hoang Anh: em originally meant “younger brother” or “younger sister.”
Eric: But you can also use it as pronoun meaning “you” to address a speaker a few years younger than you, or as “I,” or “me” if the other speaker is a few years older.
Hoang Anh: You can use em in both formal and informal situations.
Eric: Hoang Anh, sometimes it’s hard to tell if the other speaker is younger or older just by looking at them. What should you do in that case?
Hoang Anh: You should pay attention to the other speaker's attitude and way of speaking to see if he or she is strict or relaxed. If the speaker seems to be a strict person, it is better to use the word tôi to say “I” or “me”
Eric: And how should we address this person?
Hoang Anh: You can use the words bạn, anh, or chị, which all mean “you,” instead of em. But I think that the safest way is to politely ask the other speaker how you should address him or her if you aren’t sure.
Eric: Ok, can you give us an example using this word?
Hoang Anh: Sure. For example, you can say.. Chào em, anh là Nam, giám đốc công ty Sony. Rất vui được gặp em.
Eric: ...which means “Hi, I'm Nam, director of Sony. Nice to meet you.”
Hoang Anh: In this case, Nam is saying hello to a younger woman in a business situation.
Eric: Okay, what's the next word?
Hoang Anh: bản thân
Eric: which means “self” as in “yourself,” “myself,” and so on.
Hoang Anh: bản thân means “oneself” or “one's own.” You can use it as a noun and as an adjective.
Eric: Just put it before a pronoun or noun.
Hoang Anh: bản thân also means “itself” if the mentioned subject is a thing, not a person.
Eric: As an adjective, it means “my,” “our,” “his” or “her.. own,” or “personal.” Can you give us an example using this word?
Hoang Anh: Sure. For example, you can say.. Bản thân tôi không đồng ý với ý kiến này.
Eric: .. which means “I myself don't agree with this idea.”
Hoang Anh: Another example is...Anh ta chỉ lo cho bản thân anh ta thôi.
Eric: “He does nothing but take care of himself.”
Hoang Anh: One more example is..Bản thân sự việc này rất phức tạp.
Eric: “This matter itself is very complicated.” Okay, what's the last word?
Hoang Anh: khả năng
Eric: which means “ability.”
Hoang Anh: You can use it as a fixed phrase... có khả năng plus verb.
Eric: This means “to be able to do something.”
Hoang Anh: The phrase có khả năng itself, when used alone without a verb, means “to be capable,” “to be talented,” or “to have the potential for something.” You can use Khả năng with a noun.
Eric: In this case it means “the ability to do something” and is often followed by a verb or noun that refers to professional competence.
Hoang Anh: For example..khả năng dịch thuật
Eric: “translation ability”
Hoang Anh: khả năng làm việc nhóm
Eric: “teamwork ability”
Hoang Anh: khả năng ngoại ngữ
Eric: “foreign language ability”
Hoang Anh: Listeners, please note that khả năng is hardly ever followed by a verb or noun that refers to daily activities such as “to eat, drink, sleep” and so on.
Eric: Can you give us an example using this word?
Hoang Anh: For example, you can say.. Tôi có khả năng làm việc độc lập.
Eric: .. which means “I have the ability to” or “I am able to work independently.”
Hoang Anh: Khả năng ngoại ngữ của cô ấy rất tốt.
Eric: “Her foreign language skill is very good.” Okay, now onto the lesson focus.

Lesson focus

Eric: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to talk about ability in Vietnamese. To do this, you can use the following grammar structure...
Hoang Anh: Subject...plus có thể...plus main verb... plus object. Có thể is a verb that means “can” or “to be able to.”
Eric: It’s followed by a main verb indicating the action or activity that the subject is able to do. You can apply this structure to all types of subjects, be they singular or plural, first person or third person. The main verb stays the same without any change in its form regardless of the subjects.
Hoang Anh: You can also add an adverb before or after the object, but it's optional.
Eric: Hoang Anh, can you give us some sample sentences?
Hoang Anh: Sure. For example..Anh ấy có thể ăn hết 5 bát mì trong vòng 10 phút.
Eric: Meaning “He can eat five bowls of noodles in ten minutes.”
Hoang Anh: Another example is Tôi có thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm.
Eric: “I can play games all day and night.”
Hoang Anh: And Cô ấy có thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
Eric: “She can play the piano and guitar.” Great! Hoang Anh, how can we say that we can’t do something in Vietnamese?
Hoang Anh: To express something that someone can’t do, we replace có thể with không thể, which means “can’t” or “not be able to.” The other parts remain the same.
Eric: Can you give us some examples, please?
Hoang Anh: For example, let's take the sentence Tôi có thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm.
Eric: “I can play games all day and night.”
Hoang Anh: To negate this, just replace có thể with không thể. We’ll have Tôi không thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm.
Eric: Meaning “I can’t play games all day and night.”
Hoang Anh: Let's take another example…Cô ấy có thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
Eric: “She can play the piano and guitar.”
Hoang Anh: Again, replace có thể with không thể. Cô ấy không thể chơi đàn piano và ghi ta.
Eric: “She can’t play the piano or guitar.” Ok! How we can ask if someone can do something or not in Vietnamese?
Hoang Anh: To ask if someone can do something or not do something, simply add the word không at the end of the affirmative sentence with có thể, and the other parts stay the same.
Eric: If the subject of the affirmative sentence is the first person pronoun, change that pronoun into the second person pronoun in the question.
Hoang Anh: Right. Change tôi to bạn, anh, chị and so on. For example… Bạn có thể chơi game suốt ngày đêm không?
Eric: “Can you play games all day and night?””
Hoang Anh: Anh ấy có thể ăn hết 5 bát mì trong vòng 10 phút không?
Eric: “Can he eat five bowls of noodles in ten minutes?”
Hoang Anh: The answer to these questions can be Có or Có thể, which means “yes,” or Không or Không thể, which means “no.”
Eric: Listeners, we have more grammar rules in the lesson notes, so please be sure to check them out.

Outro

Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you next time! Bye!
Hoang Anh: Tạm biệt.