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Tenses & Verb Conjugations in Vietnamese Language Posted by on Aug 9, 2021 in Grammar, Vocabulary

Image taken and used with permission from Kandle Dart

Văn phạm tiếng Viêt (Vietnamese grammar) is pretty simple. When it comes to verb tenses and conjugations, it’s like a piece of cake. Guess what? There are NO VERB CONJUGATIONS (Không chia động từ) in the verb, no matter of what tenses! No such thing like regular or irregular verbs that you have to worry about. Singular or plural, first person, second person, or third person, affirmative or negative, the động từ (verb) doesn’t change its form whatsoever. No sweat. It’s so easy, right?

Now you may wonder if there are no conjugations, then how to indicate different tenses? Easy peasy, all you need to do is adding an indicator word in front of the động từ (verb) . Here is the general basic structure:

Subject (S) + [Tense indicator word] + Verb (V) + Object (O)

Major tenses that you see in the Vietnamese sentence structure are the simple present, the continuous present, the simple past, and the future tense. Again, whatever tense it is, the verb itself doesn’t change. The trick is to find the right tense indicator word and add it in front of the verb or adding another adverb in the sentence to further clarify the tense.

PRESENT TENSE

1.  Simple present tense: It is the easiest one because you don’t have to add any tense indicators. Follow this structure:

S + V + O

  • Example: Tôi (S) là (V) giáo viên (O) (I am a teacher)

Adverbs (A) like thường (often), mỗi (each), hằng (every) often use in the simple present tense to indicate the habitual or routine. In that case, the structure is

S+ A + V + O

Examples:

  • Chúng tôi (S) thường (A) gặp (V) ngày chủ nhật (O) (We often meet on Sunday)

2. Present continuous tense: All you need to do is adding the word đang in front of the verb.

S + đang + V + O

  • Example: Tôi (S) đang đi  (V) bộ  (O) (I am walking)

3. Present perfect & present perfect continuous: Ether treat it as the simple present, or simple past tense by adding the word đã in front of the verb.

S + [đã]+ V + O

Examples

  • Present perfect: Chị ấy (S) [đã] sống (V) ở đây hơn ba năm rồi (O) (She has lived here more than three years already).
  • Present perfect continuous: Chúng nó (S) [đã] đi (V) bộ hơn 3 tiếng (O) (They have been walking for more than 3 hours).

Note that you could omit adding the word đã here.

PAST TENSE

1. Simple past tense, add the indicator word đã in front of the verb.

S + đã + V + O

2. Past continuous, past perfect, and past perfect continuous: Treat as simple past tense.

Examples:

  • Past continuous: Anh ấy (S) đã ngồi (V) ở cái ghế này (O) (He was sitting in this chair)
  • Past perfect: Anh ấy (S) đã ở (V) đây hơn 2 tiếng (O) (He had been here for more than 2 hours)
  • Past perfect continuous: Anh ấy (S) đã đứng (V) đây lâu lắm rồi (O) (He had been standing here for a long time)

FUTURE TENSES

1. Simple Future: Add the indicator word sẽ in front of the verb.

S+ sẽ + V+ O

2. Future continuous, future perfect, and future perfect continuous: Treat as simple future tense.

Examples:

  • Future continuous: Anh ấy (S) sẽ ngồi (V) ở cái ghế này (O) (He will be sitting in this chair)
  • Future perfect: Anh ấy (S) sẽ ăn (V) món này (O) (He will have eaten this dish)
  • Future perfect continuous: Anh ấy (S) sẽ đứng (V) tại đây (O) (He will have been standing right here)

SUMMARY

In general, the verb itself is never change, just do nothing for the present tense, add the word đang for continuous tense, đã for past tense, and sẽ for future tense in front of the verb.

Image taken and used with permission from Kandle Dart

Tell me in the comments section below whether it’s easy or complicated to you. Hope you find this blog is helpful.

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