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Adverbials in Vietnamese and English A Contrastive Analysis V Nguyn Thy Vy Class 4B.07 HCMC University of Education

Contrastive Analysis Mr. Nguyn Ngc V 12/2010


In linguistic study, adverbials are considered as one of the most interesting parts of languages. Most linguists would state that adverbials have become a popular term in grammar investigations, especially in Vietnamese (Nguyen & Nguyen, 2004). Adverbials in Vietnamese play an important role and they are widely used not only in literature but also in daily conversations. Similarly, adverbials are the most diverse grammatical structure in English. They are regarded as indispensable subordinate parts in sentences. This paper focuses on a contrastive view about adverbials in Vietnamese and Vietnamese through three aspects: forms, functions and positions. I hope that this paper will help language learners to have certain knowledge about adverbials in two language systems as well as avoid some errors when using them. Additionally, some teaching suggestions discussed in this paper can give some ideas for teachers to design suitable tasks about adverbials.


In Vietnamese, adverbials are subordinate parts of sentences. They have defining structures. In other words, any phrases which is related to narration, govern or continuity with or without prepositions following can be functioned as adverbials. Adverbials the parts of sentences have an unstable position in sentences. They can be in front of or behind main clauses, even between subjects and verbs. Adverbials express the time, place, space, purpose, reason, means for state of affairs in sentences. e.g. Khi i vo con hm ti, c y cm thy c ai ang theo sau mnh.

C y cm thy c ai ang theo sau mnh khi i vo con hm ti. C y, khi i vo con hm ti, cm thy c ai ang theo sau mnh. There are many kinds of adverbials in Vietnamese because of various classifications. According to Le (2004), based on the appearance of preceding prepositions in adverbials, there are two main kinds: marked adverbials (adverbials with preceding preposition) and unmarked adverbials (adverbials without preceding preposition). Marked adverbials: Sau khi n vi vi vng vng, c y tt t phng xe cho kp gi lm. L tr ang ng ngon lnh trong phng. Unmarked adverbials: Chn n chn kia, ch li tr v ngi u phn.


Among the unmarked adverbials, there are some oblique cases. Ba tun mt ln, c y vit th gi ra o cho anh.

Ba tun c y vit th gi ra o cho anh mt ln. C y, ba tun vit th gi ra o cho anh mt ln. C y vit th gi ra o cho anh ba tun mt ln.
Based on the meaning of representation, adverbials can be divided into 8 categories: Adverbials of place: express the place or direction where state of affairs happens

or is carried out. e.g. Trn n t p cao by mt hng n. Trn hng n, trm hng ta khi thm. Adverbials of time: point out the moment or period of time when events or actions

are taken place. e.g. T y, h hng nh voi bo nhau phi trnh xa ging kin. Hm nay ta vt bp, mai ta s vo khong bung thc. Adverbials of situation: indicate the circumstances of the events. e.g. Gp loi vt no, voi cng dng i ng gh gm ca mnh hc cht.

Trng thy Chiu Thnh Vng, ngi lnh gi phc xung ly.


Adverbials of manner: show methods or means that are used to help the action(s)

in sentence be performed. e.g. N vn ht vi ci lng tan nt. Bng ci sc mt n ha d di, Ngh Qu nhn vo ch Du. Adverbials of reason: state the reason, cause of state of affairs. V li ch mi nm trng cy.


Thc ra, v n chng l mt hu vng nn h cho chng ng y t sng. Adverbials of purpose: convey purpose of the action or state of affairs. B m cho An mt t tin mua sch v. Chin s Vit Nam hy sinh git mu cui cng gi vng nn c lp. Adverbials of conditions or assumptions: mention the condition for the action in


sentence. e.g. Nu ht nhanh hn th bi ny hay. Gi nu k hn mt cht na th mn ny rt ngon. Adverbials of finiteness: express restriction of state of affairs in sentence Qua cu chuyn ca bc Tm, c Mai thy lng mnh tht li v s tht au

e.g. lng .

Sentences with adverbials are popular in Vietnamese language. There are some reasons to explain for this. Firstly, adverbials can be used in all kinds of sentences and structures. They complement situational information for state of affairs in sentences.


Secondly, they are also subordinate parts which help to broaden or deploy the meaning of sentences. However, the appearance of some kinds of adverbials depends on definite conditions to form a right sentence. Adverbials in English Adverbials, in English, are elements of a sentence which provide information about the verb. They can have a number of forms and can be found in various positions within a sentence. For example, if someone says I travelled to America last year., last year is an adverbial because it informs the specific time of the action and it also modifies the verb travelled. According to Martin (2005), adverbial means a word or group of words that say when, where, how, etc. something happens. They may consist of an adverb (e.g. quietly), a prepositional phrase (e.g. through the door), a noun phrase (e.g. last week), or an adverbial clause (e.g. before she flew to Japan). They act like adverbs that is, they modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbials answer such questions as How?, Where?, When?, Why?, How far?, How much?, How often?, How long? The chart below gives some examples.

VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH ADVERBIALS Patricia (1996) pointed out a simple table of adverbials: Adverbial of direction/ place

The men We Bob You I

Auxiliary verb

Main verb
ride carried

Indirect object

Direct object

Adverbial of manner
on the bus

Adverbial of frequency/ time

every day. this morning. last summer.

our books me those shoes

to school from Italy to work

in backpacks

can couldnt

go speak Spanish

by train fluently

on weekdays. until this year.

Based on forms, adverbials in English have these below expression: Adverbials are single words (like adverbs) Vicky visited us yesterday.

e.g. -

Adverbials are noun phrases. Vicky visited us last year.

e.g. -

Adverbials are prepositional phrases. Vicky visited us on Friday.

e.g. -

Adverbials are adverb phrases (a group of words containing a subject and verb

acts as an adverb and modifies the verb of a sentence) e.g. Vicky visited us after she came back to London.

VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH ADVERBIALS Adverbials are infinitives (to V). Vicky visited us to ask for a job.

e.g. -

Adverbials are present participle (V-ing) Wishing to get a good job, Vicky visited us.

e.g. -

Adverbials are past participle (V-ed) If called by our boss, Vicky will get a job.

e.g. -

Adverbials are adverbial clauses Vicky visited us before she flew to Japan.


In general, adverbials are divided into 3 subclasses based on their functions in sentences. They are adjuncts (complement relation adverbials), conjuncts (link relation adverbials) and disjuncts (effect relation adverbials). In grammar, an adjunct is one of the main elements of a clause. Adjuncts are integrated into the sentence or clause where they appear (Quirk et al., 1972, p.421). They usually appear in the predicate and modify some or the entire verb phrase. Adjuncts express time, place, manner, or condition. Adjuncts provide circumstantial information about the action, event or progress in the sentence or clause in which they happen. Adjuncts can give answers for questions such as where, when, how, why. e.g. The bank is next to the gas station.

VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH ADVERBIALS Lynn (1999) divided adjuncts into some main types: -

Intensifying, downtoning and limiting adjuncts: adjunct intensifiers and downtoners

modify nouns, noun phrases, and adjectives while limiting adjuncts focus the hearer on an explicit interpretation of the verb. e.g. I really love the races. This will hurt a bit. I merely spoke to you. [I didnt yell at you.] (intensifying) (downtoning) (limiting)

Locatives (adverbs of place and adverbs of direction) include 2 different types.

Adverbs of place and direction seem close in meaning. However, they happen in different environments. Adverbs of place indicate where an entity is located or where an action takes place, e.g. Your book is on the table. Meanwhile, adverbs of direction show the direction in which someone or something is going, e.g. The rock was thrown through the window. Temporal adverbs: English has at least 4 different types of adverbs related to

time. Adverbs of point or boundary in time present when an event occurs or lasts. Some express a specific time, e.g. David finished his test at 3 p.m., some bound the time frame on one side, e.g. We will talk after dinner. Adverbs of duration, on the other hand, specify how long an event or state endures like in a sentence Mary and John have lived in Canada for twenty years. Meanwhile, adverbs of frequency indicate the frequency of an events occurrence, e.g. My sister has visited Paris many times. Adverbs of manner refer the manner in which a process occurs. They are often

formed by adding the {-ly} suffix to an adjective form like in the following example: They dance gracefully. Adverbs of means indicate by what means or method an action is carried out. In

this type, the by prepositional phrase of a passive is always an adverb of means, since the



agent/causer/instrument of the active always becomes the object of by in the corresponding passive (Lynn, 1999). Also, with prepositional phrases are often used, e.g. Ben was fired by his boss., and She repaired the table with a hammer. Adverbs of reason/purpose point out why the particular action of the verb is taken,

e.g. He did it for love. Disjuncts, another subclass of adverbials, are separated from adjuncts. Disjuncts are so labeled because they dont modify structures within a sentence. Besides, they are not really constituents of the clauses or sentences that they introduce (contrary to adjuncts). They generally stand apart at the beginning or the end of the sentence. In other words, disjuncts are disjoined from the rest of the sentence and the sentence can be complete without it, though some specific meaning of the writer/speaker could be lost in the process. There are four main kinds of disjuncts discussed in English syntax from word to discourse (1999, p.209): attitude disjuncts, style disjuncts , point of view disjuncts and epistemic disjuncts. Firstly, English speakers use attitude disjuncts to express attitude toward the proposition contained in the sentence. For example, in an utterance like Amazingly, Maria married Arnold, the proposition is Maria married Arnold while amazingly is an extra comment made by speaker, i.e., the speaker thinks that Marias decision to marry Arnold was amazing. Second is style disjuncts. When they are exploited, a speaker is indicating in what mode the sentence is being uttered, i.e., s/he is being truthful, honest, frank, serious, etc. In the blog of, the rapper Lil Wayne says Honestly, Im fine, he indicates his discourse style, i.e., he is honest. Generally, style disjuncts dont modify the content of the sentence and can be omitted.



When it comes to point of view disjuncts, sometimes speakers will show that they are speaking from a particular point of view or perspective. For example, in Ethnically, New York is a very diverse city, the adverb ethnically points out that, from the viewpoint of ethnics, New York is a very diverse city. Finally, epistemic disjuncts function like epistemic auxiliaries. They convey the speakers assessment of the possibility or probability that a proposition is true. They are usually sentence initial like in a sentence Maybe Alicia will arrive on time. Last subclass of adverbials in English is conjuncts. Like conjunctions, conjuncts serve to link one clause or sentence to another. Additionally, conjuncts can join elements of an utterance together. They can also be used to emphasize or indicate various types of meaning connection. e.g. You really insulted me yesterday. Furthermore, you insulted my

boyfriend by calling him a fraud. (Lynn, 1999) The word furthermore at the beginning of the second sentence in the examples above emphasizes the connection between the meanings of two sentences. Like furthermore, moreover, in addition, or besides can be used to emphasized the more information is added. English speakers use the conjuncts however, nevertheless and on the other hand to convey the contrast in the meaning of two sentences; consequently and as a result to emphasize that the situation mentioned in one sentence or clause is caused by the situation in the previous sentence/clause; afterward and later to describe one situation happening sometime after the previous situation; and then to express the occurrence of the event in one sentence immediately after the previous one.



Within this paper, I would like to contrast adverbials between Vietnamese and English in three aspects: forms, functions and positions. The first aspect about Vietnamese and English adverbials that we should study is the differences in their forms. Most of adverbials in Vietnamese are not single words. They almost express in phrase forms. In contrast, English adverbials perform in multi forms from single words, phrases (noun phrase, prepositional phrase) to clauses (adverbials clauses). Lets exemplify two sentences below: e.g. H sng trn lu. ( trn lu : phrase) They live upstairs. (upstairs : one word) Another crucial aspect that makes adverbials in Vietnamese different from adverbials in English is their functions. Vietnamese adverbials mostly modify a whole sentences or main parts of sentences, whereas adverbials in English can modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. For example: e.g. Ngay t hi cn b xu, mu tm c mt v tr c bit trong lng ti. Adverbial Main part

Her husband always forgets to take out the trash. adverbial verb

Your newborn baby daughter is very tiny. adverbial adjective

VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH ADVERBIALS He can run extremely quickly. adverbial adverb


The last contrastive view into the positions of adverbials of two languages is necessary. According to Hoang (1962), adverbials in Vietnamese can be in front, mid and end position; however, front position is the most popular. Additionally, adverbials can transform positions, for example: T gi mi n ci hin du khi nghe hn ni (Nam Cao) Khi nghe hn ni, T gi mi n ci hin du. T, khi nghe hn ni, gi mi n ci hin du. Position changes of adverbials are related to their roles in sentence structures. In English, adverbials can go in the same positions as adverbs. Similarly to Vietnamese, there are three main positions for adverbials: end (sentence final), front (sentence initial) and mid position. - In end position, the adverbial can be placed immediately after the verb (if there is no object) or after an object (if there is one) e.g. They played quietly all day.

We considered the problem briefly. When more than one sentence final adverbial occurs, there are unmarked orders that tend to be followed, for example:

VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH ADVERBIALS Direction or goal comes before place: e.g. I saw Phil walking across the street in New York. adverbial of direction Manner occurs before time or frequency: e.g. Ms. Lee spoke very quickly yesterday. adverbial of manner adverbial of time adverbial of place


Purpose or reason comes last after other adverbials: e.g. Janet studied hard to get good marks. adverbial of purpose - Most types of adverbials commonly go in front position in a clause. They are placed before the subject. e.g. Wishing to get a goof job, Vicky visited us.

In this sentence initial position, adverbials may function as an element within the sentence or clause and the range of the adverbials are wider over the sentence/clause than it would be in mid or end position. e.g. Slowly, the rising sun appeared.

The rising sun slowly appeared. The rising sun appeared slowly.



- In mid position, the adverbials locate between the subject and verb, immediately after be as a main verb or after the first auxiliary. e.g. She usually comes here by 10.00.

She is usually here by 10.00. She would usually come here by 10.00.



Through contrastive views on adverbials in Vietnamese and English, I would like to discuss some implications for teaching ESL learners or high school students. Firstly, I would like to mention some common misconceptions that students usually make mistakes when using adverbials. Because many adverbs ending with {-ly}, sometimes students think that any words having {-ly} at the end is an adverb or adverbs are only the words ending in {-ly}. Thats why they usually make mistakes with some adjectives ending in {-ly} like friendly. Moreover, students cannot recognize the adverbs which dont possess the forms with {-ly} at the end such as yesterday, never, soon, almost, etc. One more mistake that happens with students in using adverbials is their misconceptions of adverbials functions. They are often told that adverbials are used to modify verbs; therefore, they forget the fact that adverbials also modify adjectives and other adverbs. It is important for teacher to teach or remind students of these misconceptions to help them avoid making mistakes. Secondly, teaching adverbials for students will help them develop their writing. Adverbials are often key elements which are used in adding details for descriptive or narrative writing. For example, in descriptive writing, it is possible to use adverbials as prepositional phrases to establish spatial relationships between objects. In narrative writing, students tend to use time related adverbials (temporal adverbs) more frequently than place related adverbials (locatives). Hence, teaching students how to use place and time adverbials and encouraging them to use more well chosen adverbials, to a certain extent, will help students write compositions in cohesion and coherence. Last but not least, teaching adverbials is certainly an essential part of teaching grammar. Teachers can assign students some suggested tasks of adverbials I mention below to improve their grammar comprehension.



Based on a list of scramble sentences (e.g. sometimes/John/to the beach/goes), students have to rearrange the words to make meaningful and grammatical sentences (each scramble sentence contains more than 2 adverbials). T should remind students of positions of adverbials and may model an example (for low level students) - Complete the sentences: Teacher provides students with a text (or a list of sentences) where the adverbials come at the end of each sentence in parentheses in a scrambled order. The students are asked to rewrite the paragraph (or sentences) by inserting the adverbials in appropriate places: San Francisco is cool (in the summer, usually). The skies are overcast, and the fog rolls off the bay to cover the city (in the morning, almost always, completely, often) - Speaking activity: Teacher asks students to restate a statement (based on their personal experience) that teacher provides by choosing the appropriate adverb of frequency from a list and placing the adverb correctly in the sentence. (Teacher may ask student first to order the adverbs from high to low frequency according to the meaning that they have learnt.) (list of adverbs: always, often, sometimes, seldom, never) Teacher: Julian is late for class. Student 1: Never Student 2: Julian is never late for class.



From the above implications, teachers should keep in mind that adverbials are one of the most interesting ample parts of grammar. Teaching adverbials will not only help students acquire grammatical rules in target language but also develop their ability to apply language creatively in writing passage as well as in learning languages.



In conclusion, each language system has its own features that bring difficulties in language learning and grammar is conceived as a main one discouraging the learners. When it comes to grammar, although adverbials are just a small part, it is inevitable that they play an important role in language acquisition. Therefore, my paper points out a contrastive analysis in Vietnamese and English adverbials with a hope to help high school students in our country or ESL learners overcome language barriers to understand and acquire the whole target language. In addition, some teaching implications are given in this paper might provide teachers or learners some useful methods for language teaching and learning.

VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH ADVERBIALS References Berk, L. M. (1999). English syntax from word to discourse. Oxford University Press. Celce-Murcia, M., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (1999). The Grammar Book. Heinle & Heinle . Hewings, M. (2005). Advanced Grammar in Use. Cambridge University Press. Lc, N. H. (2004). An outline of syntax. Nh xut bn Thnh ph H Ch Minh. Thim, L. Q. (2004). Nghin cu i chiu cc ngn ng. Nh xut bn HQG H Ni.


Thuyt, N. M., & Hip, N. V. (2004). Thnh phn cu Ting Vit. Nh xut bn Gio dc. Tm, B. T. (1997). Gio trnh C s ngn ng hc v Ting Vit. Nh xut bn Gio dc. Werner, P. K. (1996). Mosaic One: A Content-Based Grammar. McGraw-Hill.