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English in Vietnamese grammar

Crazy proposition for an English that feels more like Vietnamese.

Update 2013/12/24: Thanks @cmptig for some spelling/grammar corrections.

In linguistics, people often speak of the analytic/synthetic distinction, which is a scale that is used to judge how languages incorporate grammatical ideas into words. English and German are considered to be synthetic. That means they synthesize, or meld, grammatical notations into normal words. So to convey the past tense, in most cases, English speakers add the suffix -ed to the verb. To indicate that the subjects or objects being talked about have more than one items, they add -s or -es after the noun.

On the other hand, many linguists consider Vietnamese to be very analytical. That means that Vietnamese words never change their form but in order to acquire new grammatical meaning, we add new words beside the original word. For example, to mean that the action happened in the past, Vietnamese add the word đã before the verb.

The Vietnamese method has the advantage of being much more regular and easier to learn. That’s why I thought if we can somehow alter the grammatical rules of English to be more like Vietnamese, international communication would be much more efficient. So here is a list of common English grammar points adjusted to be more Vietnamese-like, in no particular order:


No countability. Therefore, we can ditch much for many; fewer for less; people for person.

one car, two car, three car

many water

less person


Just write the normal noun, prefixed by nhung (những). Use many if you want to emphasize large numbers.

I love nhung beautiful day when I be a child.

I have many car.


No discrimination between I, you, he, she, it, they, we.

I run, he run, she run, they run, we run.

I be, he be, she be.

Pronouns stay the same despite whether they are subject or object.

Mom did give that present to I.


No transformation, use infinitive forms in all tenses.

I run.

I will run.

I did run.

Add will or plan to for future.

I will go. I plan to go away.

Use did and/or temporal adverbs/adjectives for the past tense. Usually, if the first sentence in a paragraph is in the past, it it implied that the rest are also in the past.

I did eat.

Yesterday, my sister buy me a cake.


For lack of choice, we’ll be “borrowing” the Vietnamese word dang (đang) for progressive form.

I dang run.

Use already and yet with the past tense to show the perfect.

I did eat already.

Use be for passive voice:

I did be run over by a car. After that, I be bite by a dog.

Strong typing

Vietnamese is very flexible with word class. Oftentimes, a verb can be put into where there should have been a noun.

Run be good. It help me be strong.

Adjectives can also be used as adverbs.

I walk very quick.


Use of. Ditch the possessive case completely.

Mom of Jane

BAD: Jane’s mom


No need for the. Use that or this.

Add man, women, or preferably, person after the job. So instead of designer, we have design person or design guy, design girl.


Use more, less even for short adjectives in comparative comparison

I be more tall than you.

Most can be used for all adjectives in superlative comparison

He be most smart in class of he.

I hope that’s enough to cover most common cases. Let’s put it into practice by “translating” the two first paragraphs in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland into our ‘Venglish’.

Here’s the original text:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

And here’s the ‘Venglish’ version:

Alice did begin get very tired of sit by sister of she on that bank, and of have nothing to do: once or twice she did peep into book her sister dang read, but it have no picture or conversation in it, ‘and what be use of a book,’ think Alice ‘without picture or conversation?’

So she did consider in mind (as good as she could, for that hot day did make she feel very sleepy and stupid), whether pleasure of make a daisy-chain will worth trouble of get up and pick that nhung daisy, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eye run close by she.

That surely would take some practice to get used to but in my humble opinion is much simpler and regular than legitimate English.