23 Aug 2013, 10:41pm
Learn Vietnamese

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  • Shuffling words in a sentence

    As you know, Vietnamese is not so difficult if you use it normally by connecting word together, but to understand deep structures of wordplay in Vietnamese is a long journey for leaner. The way to put a “comma” in Vietnamese is very important and so the word mix-up. If you put a comma in a right place, it will completely change the meaning of the sentence.
    For example:
    Đàn bà không có đàn ông sẽ khủng hoảng.

    If you put a comma in the following positions:
    Đàn bà không có đàn ông, sẽ khủng hoảng.

    (If there are no men, women will be in crisis)
    Đàn bà không có, đàn ông sẽ khủng hoảng.

    (Without women, men will be in crisis)

    And just like the ‘comma’, of course,  when mixing up words in a sentence, its meaning will be completely changed or sometimes remain unchanged .
    There is an example below, the person A says to B:
    Mày đến sao không bảo?

    Let’s see the way of mixing up words as follow:

    Mày đến sao không bảo?  (A asks B, why did B come without telling A first?)

    Sao đến mày không bảo? (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Không bảo sao mày đến?  (A asks B, A did not ask B to come, why did B come?)

    Mày không bảo sao đến?  (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Không bảo sao đến mày? (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Mày sao bảo không đến? (A asks B, B said B did not come, but why does B come now?

    Sao bảo mày không đến? (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Bảo mày sao không đến? (A asks B, A asked B to come, but B did not come)

    You see, developing a sentence by mixing up words will provide many new meanings. Vietnamese’s wordplay is very popular and hardly has any rules. What I write here just so you can understand the wordplay of Vietnamese, and know more about Vietnamese. The important thing is that you need to learn much to be able to use it properly. Wish you luck.

    12 Jul 2013, 1:00am
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  • Comma

    commas2 Comma


    The comma is one of the most important punctuation marks in Vietnamese. Here is a story which shows us the importance of the comma. Once upon a time in Vietnam, there was a young couple who had loved each other for many years. Because of a lack of money, the man decided to work abroad to earn enough money to marry his lover. Several months passed by without receiving news from the boyfriend, the girl made up her mind to write him a letter and said that she did not have enough patience to wait until he came back. After receiving the letter, the man hastily wrote in reply to his girlfriend’s letter with only three words: ‘Đừng chờ anh!” (Don’t wait for me!). And thus the girl got married with another man. Coming back to Vietnam six months later, the man accused her of having a change of heart. The girl then took out the old letter, gave it to him. He was too shocked to remain conscious. He had missed a comma in his letter while of unsound mind. Actually, he meant to say, ‘Đừng, chờ anh!’ (Please, wait for me!).

    Missing a comma has changed meaning of the sentence in the letter, which cause the biggest regret of the man’s life in the story. Therefore, it is essential that we have to be careful in our writing, and put a comma in the right place. Putting a comma in a suitable place will make it clear for readers. Here are some simple rules.

    - Firstly, the comma is normally used to divide a sentence into elements, or to separate the main elements of a sentence from each other.

    Ex:      Ba đi làm, mẹ đi mua sắm, còn con đi học.

    Daddy goes to work, mommy goes shopping, and I go to school.

    Nam, Hoa, Lan sắp hoàn thành bài thuyết trình.

    (Nam, Hoa, and Lan are going to finish the presentation.)

    - Commas can be used to separate elements in a series.

    Ex:      Tôi thích nhiều món ăn vặt như hột vịt lộn, bò bía, gỏi cuốn, v.v…

    (I like a lot of snack foods such as half-hatched eggs, bo bia spring rolls, fresh salad rolls, etc.)

    - We can also use a comma to separate the adverbial phrase or clause from the main clause of a sentence.

    Ex:      Ngày mai, tôi đi xem phim. (I will go to the cinema tomorrow.)

    Hàng năm, cứ vào cuối thu, lá ngoài đường rụng nhiều. (Every year, in late autumn, leaves fall a lot in the street.)

    In spoken Vietnamese, commas are important for creating pause time. A pause in the right place at the right time gives you: time to breathe, time to consider what it is you’re going to say next, time to receive, and digest the feedback you’re getting from your audience. You should remember that the pause of a comma a bit shorter than a full stop.

    Below are some more interesting examples which will show you that moving the position of a comma could change the meaning of the sentence completely.

    Khi uống bia, không được cho đường. (Drink beer, do not add sugar.)

    Khi uống bia không được, cho đường. (Can’t drink beer, add sugar.)

    Khi uống bia không, được cho đường. (Drink beer without ice, can add sugar.)

    In conclusion, if commas are used properly, they will help the readers to be aware of the writing’s intended meaning. Don’t forget: ‘First think, then put a comma.’

    5 Jul 2013, 1:00am
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  • The word ‘đi’ in Vietnamese

    đi The word ‘đi’ in Vietnamese

    The word ‘đi’ in Vietnamese

    The word ‘đi’ is often appeared in daily life of Vietnamese people. The equivalence of ‘đi’ in English is ‘go’. It’s interesting that there are a lot of similarities between ‘go’ and ‘đi’. However, the word ‘đi’ is a very flexible word in Vietnamese as it has a lot of shades of meaning. Therefore, it depends on the context to find out the exact meaning of ‘đi’ in Vietnamese.

    At first, I would like to analyse the word ‘đi’ as a verb. As you know, the verb ‘đi’ refers to an action of moving or travelling from one place to another. Below are some nuances of meaning of the verb ‘đi’ which can be easily encountered in everyday conversation.

    - Basically, ‘đi’ does simply mean an action of using your legs to travel to another place.

    Ex:      Cô ấy đã đi rồi. (She has gone.)

    Chị Lan đang đi dạo. (Ms. Lan is going for a walk.)

    Anh đang đi đâu đó? (Where are you going?)

    - ‘Đi’ can go with some other verbs or nouns to indicate the target of the movement such as ‘đi học’, ‘đi làm’, ‘đi chơi’, ‘đi chợ’, etc.

    Ex:      Em gái tôi đang đi học. (My younger sister is going to school.)

    Tôi phải đi làm bây giờ. (I have to go to work now.)

    Chị Vân đang đi chơi. (Ms. Van is going out.)

    Sáng hôm qua, mẹ tôi không đi chợ. (Yesterday morning, my mother didn’t go to the market.)

    - ‘Đi’ is placed before a kind of means of transportation to indicate how you move to a place.

    Ex:      Tôi đi xe đạp đến trường. (I go to school by bicycle.)

    Họ đi tắc xi đến bệnh viện. (They go to hospital by taxi.)

    Bạn muốn đi xe buýt đến đó không? (Would you like to go there by bus?)

    - However, the verb ‘đi’ sometimes does not refer to going or travelling in some contexts. It can also mean that you wear or put on something on your body. In this case, ‘đi’ is similar to ‘wear’ or ‘put on’ in English.

    Ex:      Đi vớ của con vào! (Put on your socks!)

    Hôm nay em sẽ đi giày màu gì? (What colour of shoes are you going to wear today?)

    - ‘Đi’ can be used as a euphemism for ‘chết’ (die).

    Ex:      Cô ấy đi bình yên khi đang ngủ. (She went peacefully in her sleep.)


    I have just given some examples to support my analysis of the verb ‘đi’. At this stage, I would like to mention ‘đi’ as a modal particle. The particle ‘đi’ is often placed at the end (or sometimes in the middle) of a sentence to form an imperative sentence in the sense of hurrying somebody to do something or expressing a suggestion in spoken language. In this case, “đi” is usually placed after a verb.


    Anh đọc lại đi. (Read it again, please.)

    Chị nói đi! (Please speak!)

    Anh đi về đi! (Please go home!)