Lesson 2: Subject and Predicate in Vietnamese sentences

Introduction
At lesson 1, we already had a look at the very basic sentence structure in Vietnamese which is in detail as below:
Subject + V + Object
In this lesson, we will focus on the broader form of the above structure as follows:
Subject + Predicate
That can help us know how to make a correct and meaningful Vietnamese simple sentence.

1. Subject
a. Pronoun
Like in English, pronouns such as I, we, he, she, they act as a subject in a Vietnamese sentence.
However, these kinds of pronouns are divided into smaller categories depend on the conversation context and purpose and relation between people as follow:

I:  Tôi, Mình, Tao, Em, Cháu
We: Chúng tôi, Chúng mình, Chúng tao Chúng em, Chúng cháu
He: Cậu ấy, Thằng ấy, Nó, Anh ấy, Bác ấy, Chú ấy
She: Cô ấy, Con ấy, Nó, Chị ấy, Cô ấy, Bác ấy
They:  Họ, Các chị ấy, Các anh ấy, Các cô ấy, Các bác ấy

For example:

  • Tôi đến từ Mỹ (I come from America)
  • Tao đang đợi mày đấy (I am waiting for you)
  • Họ rất tốt bụng (They are very kind)

b. Noun phrase
In Vietnamese, a subject is a noun phrase as well.
Example:

  • Quyển sách này cũ rồi (This book is old)
  • Con mèo của tôi rất đáng yêu (My cat is so cute)

2. Predicate
a. “To be” Verb: “Là” or “Thì”
– In a sentence where “là” is the main verb; it is followed by a noun phrase which forms the predicate of a sentence:
Structure:
S + là + noun phrase
Example:

  • Cậu ấy là một sinh viên giỏi (He is a good student)
  • Bác ấy là một người giám đốc đáng kính (He is a respectful director)

– Meanwhile, when “thì” appears as the main verb of a sentence, it is followed by an adjective phrase which forms the predicate of a sentence:
Structure:
S + thì+ adjective
Example:

  • Bông hoa này thì đẹp (This flower is beautiful)
  • Quyển sách đó thì mới (That book is new)

However, using “thì” is in Vietnamese daily conversations is optional; without its presence, the sentence still sounds grammatically correct, meaningful and more natural.
Example:

  • Bông hoa này đẹp (This flower is beautiful)
  • Quyển sách đó mới (That book is new)

Notes: linking verbs like “cảm thấy/feel”, “trông/look, “nghe/sound”, “trở lên/become” and so forth which have the same function as “thì”, are also followed by an adjective phrase in a sentence as well.
Example:

  • Câu chuyện nghe khá thú vị (The story sounds interesting)
  • Cô ấy trông rất hạnh phúc (She looks so happy)

b. Normal Verb
When the main verb of a sentence is a normal verb, the predicate includes either noun phrase or adverb phrase.
– V + noun:
Structure:
S + V + noun phrase
Example:

  • Anh ấy học ngành công nghệ thông tin (He studies the Information Technology)
  • Tôi yêu Việt Nam (I love Vietnam)

– V + adverb phrase
Structure:
S + V + adverb phrase
Example:

  • Bọn họ chạy rất nhanh (They run very quickly)
  • Cô ấy nấu ăn giỏi (She cooks well)

– V + noun phrase + adverb phrase

Structure:

S + V + noun phrase + adverb phrase

Example:

  • Bác ấy nấu phở rất ngon (She cooks pho very well)
  • Chị ấy chơi đàn rất hay (She plays piano very well)

Exercise:
Rearrange given words to make correct sentences
1. Là/Việt Nam/xinh đẹp/một đất nước
2. Đến từ/nước Úc/Anh ấy
3. Đang/bác ấy/bóng đá/chơi
4. Vừa/một chiếc xe mới/mua/tôi
5. Chiếc laptop này/chị ấy/sử dụng/đang
6. Rất buồn/bác ấy/trông
7. Chiếc áo này/đẹp/thì

 

Key to Exercise:
1. Việt Nam là một đất nước xinh đẹp
Vietnam is a beautiful country
2. Anh ấy đến từ nước Úc
He comes from Australia
3. Bác ấy đang chơi đá bóng
He is playing football
4. Tôi vừa muc một chiếc xe mới
I have bought a new car
5. Chị ấy đang sử dụng chiếc laptop này
She is using this laptop
6. Bác ấy trông rất buồn
She looks so sad
7. Chiếc áo này thì đẹp
This shirt is nice

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