5 Jul 2013, 1:00am
Learn Vietnamese:

leave a comment

  • Sign up

  • 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!)

    21 Jun 2013, 1:00am
    Learn Vietnamese:

    leave a comment

  • Sign up

  • “Buồn cười”

    It is possible that we will not know the meaning of a compound, even though we have already known the meaning of each word in it. How interesting Vietnamese is!

    A short time ago, one of my Chinese friends told me that she found the word ‘buồn cười’ in an article and asked me whether ‘buồn cười’ was the synonym of ‘mắc cười’ or not. Though she guessed that ‘buồn cười’ was ‘mắc cười’ based on the context, she couldn’t understand why this word could be used like that. It was obvious that ‘buồn’ referred to something that is unhappy or sad. Why could the combination of ‘buồn’ and ‘cười’ form the compound ‘buồn cười’, which means ‘can’t help laughing’? How could we laugh if we were sad?

    images2 Buồn cười

    “Buồn cười”

    Actually, it is quite simple to explain this word. ‘Buồn’ is polysemous. It not only refers to unhappy condition, but also expresses the meaning of ‘can’t stop laughing’. That is the reason why ‘buồn cười’ means ‘mắc cười’.

    In addition, ‘buồn’ has another meaning. For instance, Vietnamese people often say ‘buồn ngủ’, or ‘buồn nôn’. The word ‘buồn’ here means: have to do something due to the need of your body.

    Now let’s try to find out the meaning of the following sentence.

    Buồn miệng nên hát vài câu.

    New word:

    miệng = mouth

    nên = should

    hát = sing

    vài = a few

    câu = sentence