Sunteți pe pagina 1din 7

Ho Chi Minh city University of Education

English Department

Contrastive Linguistics
Course 2016


Full Name: Son Thai Kim phung

Student I.D: K38.701.089
Lecturer: Le Nguyen Nhu Anh

I certify that the attached material is my original work. No other persons work or
ideas have been used without acknowledgement. Except where I have clearly stated
that I have used some of this material elsewhere, I have not presented this for
assessment in another course or unit at this or any other institution. I have retained a
copy of this assignment.

Name/signature Date: January

Phung 23, 2017



English and Vietnamese languages have more differences about using prepositions in a
sentences as well as in daily speech. This research is about doing a contrastive analysis
between English and Vietnamese language in terms of prepositions of location in the
perspective of semantics to find the similarities and differences of them, with the purpose
of offering second language learners a thoroughly understanding about using English and
Vietnamese prepositions correctly as well as translating from English sentences to
Vietnamese and vice versa in an appropriate way. From this we also take out the
discussion which are useful for those who teaching and doing translation prepositions
from English to Vietnamese and from Vietnamese to English.
Prepositions is of extremely important since they make contribution to the completion of
a meaningful sentence. However, not only do many Vietnamese learners usually get
troubles in the process of learning and using English prepositions but teachers also find it
difficult to apply the best method to teach Vietnamese learners to use English
prepositions correctly.
Prepositions in both languages quite complex and as such it will be a challenge to learn
English prepositions as a non-native language learner, and to teach English prepositions
to Vietnamese learners and Vietnamese prepositions to English as well. Moreover, there
are some difficulties when predict prepositions in the perspective of semantic features and
collocation in English and their equivalents in Vietnamese as learners often make more
mistakes of that. For example in English people say: "the birds fly in the sky" but
Vietnamese people say "con chim bay trn tri". Both sentences have the same meaning
but different preposition: preposition "in" + the sky in English equal with "trn" + tri in
Vietnamese ( trn = above, over). This study will attempt to provide the exploration in
predicting and using English and Vietnamese prepositions of location because they have
more differences which learners often make serious mistakes. So the study will be helpful
for Vietnamese learners to avoid common mistakes when learning English prepositions,
particularly locative prepositions, by following the rule of using them in English.

Agoi (2003) defined prepositions as a group of words which is used with a noun or
noun equivalents to show the links between the noun which it governs and another word.
In addition, preposition is also described as a "connecting word showing the relation of a
noun or a noun substitute to some other words in the sentence." ( Prepositions: definition
and usage, n.d).
1. Prepositions in English
a. Feature:
In English language, since preposition is a dependent element, it can not stand alone
but to combine with another element to create a meaningful sentence. The element
followed a preposition is an object. It can be a noun, a pronoun, a gerund or a noun
clause. For instance:
Object is a noun: The teacher gives the books to talent students.
Object is a pronoun: The teacher gives the books to them.
Object is a gerund: The teacher thinks about giving the books to talent students.
Object is a noun clause: The teacher thinks about giving the books to whoever is
(Lougheed, n.d)
b. Form:
In English,there are single-word prepositions consist of in, on, at, above, under and
below, and prepositions with more than one word such as next to,ahead of, in front of, on
behalf of, on the other side of and in terms of.
`Other forms of prepositions are prepositional phrases and marginal prepositions.
Prepositional phrases are simply groups of words beginning with a preposition and
ending with a noun or pronoun. Some examples for prepositional phrases are: by means
of, from now on, out of, etc... Marginal prepositions are verbal forms including
concerning, considering, regarding, etc...
c. Function:
According to Nguyen Hoang Phuong (2006), "prepositions as a means to mark the
roles of meaning of contents that sentences express".
d. Usage:
There are various usages of prepositions to express the relationship, they are time,
location, manner, means, quantity, purpose, and state/ condition. ( Prepositions:
Definition and Usage, n.d).
Lets take a look these following examples:
i. Prepositions of time
IN: I will graduate in summer 2017.
ON: On Saturday morning, we are going to have a meeting.
AT: My favorite soccer match will take place at 6 p.m this Sunday.

FROM: This shop open from 8 a.m to 6 p.m every Sunday.
TO: These swimming pool close from Saturday to Sunday.
BY: I will be back home by 4 o'clock.
FOR: She has been here for 2 years.
ABOUT: They stay there about afternoon.
PAST: The class starts at half past eight.
BEFORE: The train arrive before 12 a.m.
DURING: These animals sleep during winter.
UNTIL/TILL:I will not go home until tomorrow.
AFTER: John will go out with me after finishing work.
ii. Prepositions of location:
IN: He lives in the countryside.
ON: The novel is on the self.
AT: My brother left the keys at home.
FROM: It's far about 5 kilometers from my house.
TO: I am going to the post office.
BY: Who were standing by the door?
AROUND: The Earth goes around the Sun.
INSIDE: You should put the gift inside the box.
OUTSIDE: The children are playing outside the house.
THROUGH: The campaign is spread through many cities in Vietnam.
DOWN: They go down the first floor.
UP: I see him go up the hill.
WITH: Anna has been in close relationship with my family.
iii. Manner: prepositions of manner including in, on, by, like, with. For example:
ON: The company is on the edge of going bankrupt.
iv. Means or agent: the means or agent prepositions consist of in, on, by, from, with...
FROM: The company's achievement results from people's creativities.
WITH: He cuts meat with a knife.
v. Quantity or measurement: they are for and with. Lets see the following sentence:
FOR:We have lived here for 2 years.
vi. Purpose: this category of preposition can be seen in for:

FOR: Scientists try to find a new medicine for lung cancer
vii. State or condition: such as on, by, for, at, as..
IN: He is in serious trouble.
2. Prepositions in Vietnamese
In general linguistics, there is argument that Vietnamese also has prepositions but it is
hard to distinguish as they look like conjunctions, and if conjunctions and prepositions
are combined together they have the tendency to be a relational (Phuong, 2006). For
example, Tuc (2003) claimed that "Although the distinction between prepositions and
serial verbs in Vietnamese is not always clear-cut, Vietnamese do exist".
There are 2 main types of prepositions in Vietnamese language:
Prepositions of time: vo (in, on, at), trong sut (during), trong khi (while), t lc
(since), ti khi (until), trc khi (before), sau khi (after)...
Prepositions of location: trong (in, inside), ngoi ( out), trn (on, above, over), di
(below, under), pha sau (behind), pha trc (in front of), bn cnh (next to), i din
The other kind of prepositions is prepositions of manner which is also called
miscellaneous: v (about), cho (for), vi (with), bi (by)... For example:
Phng vit nht k v nhng ngy c y H Ni. ( Phuong wrote the diary about
the days she lived in Ha Noi)
Here we are going to give some specific examples of time and locative prepositions :
Prepositions of time:
Lan thng i lm vo lc 5 gi chiu. ( Lan often goes to work at 5 p.m)
Thng b khc sut m. ( The little boy cries during the nights)
Prepositions of position:
Ti mua n nh sch Vn Lang. (I bought it at Van Lang bookstore)
Nh sch nm k bn nh th. ( The bookstore is next to the church)
Locative prepositions in English and Vietnamese language have in common to some
extent. For instant, Vietnamese people say "ci bn c t gia chic ging v k
sch", English also has the equivalent sentence "the table is place between the bed and the
Prepositions in English is easy to use for native speakers but great challenge for
Vietnamese as non-native speakers, especially locative prepositions because they have
more differences between the two languages. This part will provide major differences
between English and Vietnamese concerning prepositions of place.
Let's look at the following table given by Tran (2010):

English prepositions of location Vietnamese prepositions of location
In, inside trong
Out, outside ngoi
On, upon, above, over, on top of, atop trn
Under, beneath, below, underneath di
Before, in front of, ahead (of), preceding trc
Behind, following, at the back of sau
By, near, next to, close to, beside, bn, cnh, st, gn, k (k), bn tri, bn
alongside, to the left/right, phi,
Within, among, between, in the middle of, gia
in the mid(st) of

Tran (2010) stressed the fact that English use prepositions of location according to the
rule of trajector (TR) and landmark (LM). To be specific, Andrea Tyler and Vyvian Evans
expressed the semantics of behind in English language:
"The proto-scene we propose for behind locates the TR at the back of the LM, that is,
the TR is understood to be located such that the front of the LM is directed away from the
TR. Consider the following by way of illustration:
The student stood behind the teacher
In this sentence, the TR is located with respect to the teacher's back. Hence, the LM
must have front/back orientation, such that the front is directed away from the TR. The
student can be either looking at the teacher's back or turned away, with his or her back
towards the teacher." ( The semantics of English prepositions, p.170)
The trajector - landmark configuration do not exist in Vietnamese, however. For
instant, English distinguish the meaning of under, underneath, beneath,bottom and below,
while Vietnamese just say "di". In addition, when describing the meaning of "trn",
English people have different words with different ways of usage: on, above, over, upon,
atop, on top of...; describing the meaning of "gia", they have mid, amid, middle,
between, center, halfway, among...
On the contrary, Vietnamese's prepositions of direction declare the direction of an
object concerning with the speaker's position whereas English do not.
Here we will give specific examples about English and Vietnamese languages with the
same in meaning but different in using prepositions of direction, showing the differences
in the notion of reference between these languages:
con chim bay trn tri = the birds fly in the sky
Ba ti ang ngoi vn = my father is in the garden
H ang lm ngoi ng = They are working in the field

Loi c sng di nc = Fishes live in the water
1. Discussion on teaching and learning English regarding locative prepositions:
From this essay, people will realize that when learning English prepositions,
Vietnamese learners should pay attention to semantics and the notion of reference when
choose the suitable prepositions as well as translating sentences from English to
Vietnamese and from Vietnamese to English. In addition, learners should be aware of
how prepositions is applied in certain context, particularly must avoid translating each
word too exactly to predict the meaning of the whole sentence.
Through this study, readers will take some important notices that when teaching
English prepositions, teachers can predict the mistakes learners will make. Hence,
teachers find the best ways to explain them clearly based on the major differences
between the two language which this paper have mentioned.
The study will attract more researches on similarities topic, such as prepositions of
time, or a more detail topic such as the differences between trong/ ngoi in Vietnamese
and in/out in English in the perspective of semantics.
2. Conclusion
Although both English and Vietnamese have prepositions, there are differences between
Vietnamese and English languages in terms of locative prepositions. The differences
between them are mainly depicted in two aspects: the meaning of use and the notion of
reference. These differences result in many mistakes when Vietnamese learning English
prepositions.Therefore, it is necessary to apply semantics and the notion of reference into
teaching English language to Vietnamese learners correctly and into translating languages
appropriately. from English to Vietnamese and from Vietnamese to English as well.


Agoi, F. (2003). Towards Effective Use of English: A Grammar of Modern English.

Lagos: FLAG Publications.
Phuong, N. H. (2006). Functions of Vietnamese Preposition
Prepositions: Definition and Usage. Hunter College Reading/Writing Center. March 01
1999. Retrieved Dec.29, 2010 from
Tran, Q. H. (2010). Major differences in the use of English and Vietnamese locative
prepositions describing spacial relations. Retrieved Dec 27, 2010, from
Tuc, H. D. (2003). Vietnamese-English Bilingualism Patterns of Code-Switching.
London & New York: Routledge