Lesson 1
Phan B - Part B
Chu thch - Notes on Patterns
B 1 - Note on terms of Address and Reference

Except for the term toi "I", Vietnamese has few pronouns.  Even the term " toi " at one time meant 'your servant', a polite way of referring to oneself.  First, second, and third person distinctions are minimal in the language.  In the context of most of the sentences in this text, term such as: 


(my) older brother
ch (my) older sister
em (my) young sibling
co Miss (literally, 'my aunt'); female teacher
ong Sir (literally, 'my grandther')
ba Madam (literally, 'my grandmother')
thay male teacher
are used to address the person being spoken to and can all be translated into English as 'you' or 'your'.  Later on you will learn that these same terms can mean 'he' or 'she' and , in particular contexts, even 'I', but in general they refer to the person being spoken to: 'you'.  As might be expected, the last three and sometimes the fourth of these terms are more formal than the first four or three.  More details in kinship terms and their use are in Lesson 8.  It is more polite to use terms of address with 'Excuse me' than to use this expression by itself; that is

Xin loi co, ten co la g? is more polite than Xin loi, ten co la g?

Chao by itself is not used at all. Also, when you use somebody's name, whether given or family name, it is usually better to procede the name with an appropriate term of address.  However, do not do so when you give your own given name; that is, say

Ten toi la Mai not Ten toi la co Mai.

Given names rather than family names are customarily used, even with Mr. and Mrs. More kinship terms see lesson 8.  (In the labels for the sentences diagrams in these lessons, FULL CAPS designate a category in the sentence, small letters indicate the English meaning.  Items in parentheses are optional in the context given.)

/beg pardon

Chao ong.
Xin loi ba.
" co Tam.
" anh Huy.
" ch.
" thay.

B 2- Word Order in Sentences
In the phrases 'your name' and 'my name', notice that the word order in Vietnamese is different from that in English:
ten toi my name: name of me, name of mine
ten ba your name: name of you (Mrs.)
ten anh


your name: name of you (Mr., older brother)


Notice also that the word order in questions that have question "wh" (g 'what' and ai 'who') is the same order as in the answer to that question.  That is, the question word comes in the same place as the word or phrase that answers the question, as you can see in B2.1.  Compare B2.2 and B2.3, both of which have ai.

B 2.1
Hear the Whole Drill

Name Person is What / Name
Ten ong la g?
Ten ba la g?
Ten anh la g?
Ten ch la g?
Ten co la g?
Da ten toi la Nam
Da ten toi la Ha
Da ten toi la Pierre
Da ten toi la Hoa
Da ten toi la Lan

B 2.2
Hear the Whole Drill

Here / There is Who / Person
ay la ai?
Kia la ai?
ay la ong Harris
Kia la ba Mai
ay la thay Linh
Kia la ch Cuc




co Barbara


Who is this? This is Mr. Harris
Who is that? That is Mrs. Mai 

Hear the Whole Drill

Who is Nationality/name
Ai la ngi Viet?
Ai la ngi My?
Ai la Linh?




ong Giang?


(Yes) Person is Nationality/name
Da ch Hong la ngi Viet
Da toi la ngi My
Da kia la Linh






ong Giang


Who is Vietnamese? Hong is Vietnamese.
Who (which one) is Lan? That (one over there) is Lan.

B 3
Hear the Whole Drill

Person is Person Country
Toi la ngi Uc
Toi la ngi Viet
Toi la ngi Ca-na-da








Person is Name
Toi la Kim
Toi la Hng
Toi la Brian







T vng Vocabulary
Ca-na-a Canada (Canadian)
Remember: Do not say: Toi la anh Kim. But: Toi la Kim.

B 4
Hear the Whole Drill

Person is Person Country Not so
Ba (ay) la ngi Uc, phai khong?
Anh la ngi Nhat, phai khong?
Thay la ngi Ca-na-da, phai khong?
Co (ay)








phai khong?


Yes Person is Person Country
Vang, toi la ngi Uc.
Phai, ba ay la ngi Uc.










No Person Not so is Person Country
Khong, toi khong phai la ngi Ca-na-a.


co ay


khong phai








T vng Vocabulary
Nhat Japan (Japanese)
Phap France (French)
Ba la ngi Uc, phai khong? You (Mrs.) are Australian, aren't you?
Ba ay la ngi Uc, phai khong? She (that woman) is Australian, isn't she?

B 5

Name Person is Name Not so
Ten anh la Robert phai khong?
Ten ch la Sue phai khong?
Ten anh ay la Nam phai khong?
Ten ch ay la Lan phai khong?


ba ay






phai khong?


Answer: yes/no
Vang, ten toi la name.
Khong, ten anh ay la name.
Questions: Answers:
Anh la ngi nc nao? Toi la ngi Viet (Nam)
Co ay la ngi mien nao? Co ay la ngi Bac.

B 7
Note that
cung is always before the verb.

Co ay cung la ngi Viet.
Toi cung la ngi Bac.

B 8

The word con at the beginning of a sentence implies a contrast with what has been said before.   In the conversations in this lesson it means 'and as for you...'or' and on the other hand..'


Toi ten la Ha.
Con ong, ong ten g?
Toi la ngi Anh.
Con ba, ba la ngi nc nao?
Anh ay la ngi Viet.
Con anh, anh la ngi Nhat, phai khong?
ay la ch Anh.
Con kia la ch Anh.


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