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Analysis Of Noun Expression In British And Vietnamese Education Essay

Noun phrases as well as other phrases play an important role in understanding any terms. Without noun word, there would have no agencies, no patients, no recipients. Also, no matter how extensive our vocabulary may be, an individual expression is often inadequate in expressing our thought. . A contrastive examination between British and Vietnamese is necessary and interesting for teaching and studying. Nearly every words has noun phrases, however, despite getting the same basic composition, they involve some differences. . This review seeks to explore internal and external structure of English and Vietnamese noun phrases then make a comparison between two kinds of NP as well as suggest some teaching implications. I am hoping through this assignment, both I and the visitors will learn something helpful which can apply to English teaching and learning.

Noun key phrase in English

Definitions :

Le (2002) defined noun saying (NP) as several words you start with a noun and performing appositive. This NP often goes right before or immediately after the noun it expresses.

Ex: A sufferer of war, he hated the vision of military. (A victim of battle = he)

According to L. H. Nguyen (2004), a NP is a group of words with a noun or pronoun as the key part (the head). In his book "Analyzing English", Jackson added even more deal about the head which is "the minimal requirement of the occurrence of an noun phrase". Despite the NP is simple form such as " students" or in complex form such as " the storyplot about the lady who used to live a life there", it must have a noun or pronoun expressing the primary idea.

Structure :

Basically, a noun expression includes 3 main parts : Pre - Adjustment, Mind, Post - Changes. But in some sophisticated NPs, we can easily see that the Pre - Modification may contain other elements. Predicated on the idea of NP in the reserve "Analyzing British" by Howard Jackson, we've a detailed formulation of NP as pursuing :

Pre - Modification


Post - Modification

Pre - determiner








Noun modifier




Relative clauses, non-finite clause, prepositional saying, adjectives, adverbs.


Table 1 : The framework of an NP in English

Now, we will get into information on the structure of your NP.

Pre - Modification

This part quite simply has 5 elements as shown in the above table. The first component is pre-determiners. They are a small band of words which might occur before the identifier in a NP. They also have quantifier reference point (all, both, fifty percent, ); portion numerals (one-third, ).

Next component is identifiers. This component includes articles (a, an, the); demonstrative (this, that, these, those); possessives (my, your, his, ). But there may be one thing we have to pay attention. In any NP, just only one identifier may occur, it means that articles, demonstrative and possessives are mutually exclusive. We can not say "that my house" but if we use "of-phrase" with the possessive pronoun, we can point out that NP in another way "that e book of mine".

In some NPs such as "five cats", "several books", the pre - changes here's numeral (five) or quantifier(several). Also, sometimes, we can easily see the combination of these two elements in some NPs. The repeated sequences are ordinal numeral (especially " first" and "last" ) + indefinite quantifier ( eg "the first few hours"), ordinal + cardinal (eg "the second five days"), indefinite quantifier + cardinal numeral, especially round quantity (eg " several thousand people") (Nguyen, 2004, p. 44).

To amplify the head noun for some reason, the next element, adjectives, come following the identifier and numerals/quantifiers. However, if several adjectives co-occur in a NP, there is a rule for his or her order.








present participle








writing table

Table 2 : The adjective order

The last factor is noun modifiers that can come between the adjectives and the head noun. Once we can see, nouns may function not only as heads of NP but also modifiers in NP. For instance, in NP "a children book", "children" modifies "book" and "a children book" means a book for children.

Beside 5 basic elements mentioned previously, there may be one further kind of pre-modification that is NP in genitive circumstance. This kind is proclaimed by an 's added to the its final word (eg my pal 's bi-cycle).

Head :

The most usual kind of brain of NP is noun, however in some NPs such as "She is my best friend", the head may be considered a pronoun of some sort, usually a personal pronoun (he, she, you). Similarly, Jacobs (1995) stated that lots of NPs in English are single forms consisting perhaps just of any noun or a pronoun. When the top is a pronoun, it doesn't need any changes, especially the pre-modification.

Kinds of pronoun functioning as the head


Personal pronoun

He, she, you, they, we, .

Indefinite pronoun

Someone, something, no one, . . .

Possessive pronoun

His, her, your, their,

Demonstrative pronoun

This, that,

Table 3 : Types of pronoun working as the top of NP


This part is most frequently followed by phrases or clauses. Three kinds of phrasal/clausal post-modification we often see is: comparative clauses, non-finite clauses, and prepositional phrases, sometimes we also see an adjective or an adverb functioning as a post-modifier in NP (Jackson, p. 15).

A comparative clause involves a member of family pronoun (who, whom, which, that, whose, ) as a brain, which mentions back to the top noun of NP. When the comparative pronoun's function is subject in the relative clause, we can omit that relative pronoun.

Non-finite clause is clause usually without subject matter introduced by a non-finite form of the verb. That kind of clause include 3 varieties : infinite clause, present participle clause, past participle.

In a NP, prepositional phrase occurs most frequently working as post-modifier.

Some good examples:

All the institutions in town

A B F G (prepositional saying)

The last few days


Dong Bang Shin Ki, my favourite music music group.

F G (appositive NP)

My loud 4-year-old white Siamese cat

B epithet era colour F

This mischievous taxes collector's grabbing hand

NP Genitive D F

The Korea record which includes just been published.

B D F G (comparative clause)

Something important to do

F (indefinite expert) G (adjectives) G (non-finite clause)

The gal behind you

B F G (adverb)

Two horses eating grass.

A F G (non-finite clause : present participle)

A theme melody made up by Lee So Man

B E F G (non-finite clause : earlier participle)

One-third of the population


Noun term in Vietnamese

Definitions :

Mai, Vu and Hoang (2006) defined NP (danh ng»‡) is a key phrase in which the noun function as the main part.

Also, NP in the theory of Doan, Nguyen, Pham (2001) is a "free combination of a noun nucleus and one or more than one subordinate elements " which can be front elements ranking before the nucleus noun or can be end elements position following the nucleus noun.

Structure :

As a term, NP in Vietnamese also has three main parts : Pre-Modification (Front Element), Brain (Nucleus), Post-Modification (End Aspect). More detailed, according to Mai et al. 's theory (pp. 276-280), the structure of NP in Vietnamese serves as a following :

Tt c



con mЁo






Head noun (0)



Table 4 : The structure of the NP in Vietnamese

Front elements

As we can see from the table, the elements in the positioning (-3), (-2) and (-1) are called prominent elements, as the elements standing after the nucleus (1) and (2) are called end elements. Those elements are placed in a well balanced way as shown in the aforementioned table.

In terms of leading elements, we've three types. In the position (-1), quantifiers such as "tt c", "tt thy", "ht thy", "ht c", "c", . are being used. Those words can occur before:

definite numerals : m»t, hai, ba, b»˜n,

Ex : tt c b»˜n m  i sinh viЄn (1)

collective nouns : ˜ n, l, b, b», n‡m, .

Ex: c l con trai

general nouns : qun, o, binh, lnh, xe c», my mc,

Ex: ht thy my mc

Let's pay attention to the quantifiers such as "tt c", "tt thy", "ht thy", "ht c", "c", . Through the illustrations above, we can easily see that such those quantifiers arise before the head noun. Now, taking the first example, could it be right if we say it so "b»˜n m  i sinh viЄn tt c" ? Actually, in conditions of grammar, it is accurate but the interpretation differs. The NP "tt c b»˜n m  i sinh viЄn" means that no students are left, but in " b»˜n m  i sinh viЄn tt c", there are a few students still left. So, we can conclude that "tt c" can stand before and following the head noun depending on the speaker's attention.

Diep Quang Ban (2000) explained that position (-2) is the area taken by expression class as following :

Definite numeral/ cardinal quantity (t» ch» s»˜ l »ng xc ˜»nh/s»˜ t»)

M»t, hai, ba, b»˜n, m »i, trm. .

M »i con mЁo

Estimate quantifier (t» ch» s»˜ ph»ng ˜»nh)

V i, v i ba, dm, m  i,

v i ba khch h ng

Allocating words (t» h m Ѕ phn ph»˜i)

M»-i, m»t, t»ng,

M»-i cґng dn

Articles (qun t»)

Nh»‡ng, cc, m»t, . .

Nh»‡ng bc s

Word "my"

My con g  n y

Table 5: the positioning (-2) in a NP in Vietnamese

However, we ought to pay attention that such elements as "v i, v i ba, dm, " cannot co-exist with the quantifiers such as "tt c", "tt thy", "ht thy", "ht c", "c" in the positioning (-3).

In terms of the positioning (-1), Diep Quang Ban (2000) explained that it is used by the deictic expression "ci" (t» ch» xut) in order to stress things brought up in the top noun. However, sometimes, "ci" is changed by another deictic expression such as "con" in NP "con ng »i y". In Vietnamese NP, "ci" occurs before the head noun and can intervene between a numeral (when there is one) and the classifier or a solution phrase. It may be preceded by other pre-noun modifiers such as quantifiers, numerals, and articles. It should always co-occur with a classifier such as " ba ci cu»n len kia " or "ba ci th№ng n »c n y". Besides, "ci" is sometimes mistaken with the homonymous classifier "ci", but it's different from classifier ci as well as other classifiers in term of syndication and function. When "ci" precedes a matter noun, the utilization of your classifier is obligatory, as shown in (a). However, "ci" can't be used before the homonymous classifier as shown in (b)

ba ci cu»n len (accurate)

ba ci ci chn (incorrect)

Usually, with the existence of the deictic term, the noun is demonstrative like "n y", " kia", "y", . (eg: ci th±ng nhc n y). But, in spoken vocabulary, we often notice that the demonstratives are omitted, like "ci th±ng nhc".

The nucleus (brain noun) :

According to Dinh Dien (n. d), the nucleus (position (0)) may be a noun(boy, teacher, feline, house) or a mixture between a classifier (danh t» ch» loi) and the head noun such as " con ng »i", "quy»n sch", "my sy". Otherwise, the head noun may be a classifier followed by a descriptive free expression cluster (t»- h»p t» t»± do miЄu t) such as "hai ng »i ˜ang ng»"i ni chuy»n ˜±ng kia", "nh»‡ng vi»c b n hґm b»‡a" On top of that, words that are not nouns can also be the head due to the speaking behavior of Vietnamese. For instance, we can reduce the NP "hai c»˜c c  phЄ ˜en" in to the NP "hai ˜en".

Some Vietnamese classifiers are generally used:

ci : used for most inanimate items (ci b n, ci gh, . . )

con: usually for animals and children (con b), but can be used to illustrate some inanimate objects (con dao, con ˜ »ng)

b i: used for compositions like songs, drawings, poems, essays, etc (b i th , b i ht, . . )

cy: used for stick-like things (cy ph »ng, cy sєng, )

ta: structures of power: courts, halls, "ivory towers" (ta nh , . . )

qu/tri: used for globular objects (qu chu»˜i, tri ˜t, . . )

quy»n/cu»˜n: used for book-like objects (cu»˜n sch, quy»n tp ch, . . )

t»: bed linens and other slim objects made of paper (t» giy, t» bo, . . )

l: smaller bedding of paper (l th , l b i, )

vi»c: a meeting or an ongoing process (vi»c kinh doanh, vi»c h»c, )

End elements:

Doan et al. labeled the end elements in terms of part of conversation, structure, way of connection, order of some elements.

c. 1) In conditions of part of conversation :


l»p ngoi ng»‡


l»p giao tip


l»p ˜ґng

cardinal numeral

l»p 4

noun of place

l»p trЄn lu

noun of time

l»p bu»-i t»˜i


l»p c»a tґi

Table 6 : The end elements in Vietnamese NP in conditions of part of speech

c. 2) In conditions of composition:

A main - accessory key phrase: sch vn h»c M»

A coordinated word: sch nghe v  ni

A S-V phrase: sch m tґi v»a mua

c. 3) In terms of way of connection:

Direct ways ( eg: tinh thn thp, m‡t b»" cu)

Indirect ways (eg : b» phim m  anh thch, b i vit m  tґi v»a ho n th nh)

c. 4) In conditions of the next order:

The nucleus A B (a, b, c, d) C




goes with the nucleus to form a term (a substance noun)

describes the characteristics of the thing that the nucleus mentioned

Ex: phng khch r»ng, b n l m vi»c sang tr»ng, .

demonstrative pronouns such as "n y, y, ˜"





a noun, a verb or an adjective

"v» + noun" or "b±ng + noun"

"c»a + noun" or "» + noun"


Table 6 : The end elements in Vietnamese NP in conditions of some elements' order.

Something about demonstratives could cause you misunderstanding if we arrange them in various order. For instance, compare two NPs " vi»c y c»a anh" and "vi»c c»a anh y", we can easily see the difference in interpretation here due to our speaking intonation. Inside the first NP, if we consult with a set intonation, we can understand it as "his work", whereas, if we speak with a increasing intonation at "y" in the next NP, it could be comprehended that "it's your projects, not others' work".

Some illustrations :

Tt c nh»‡ng ci vy ˜en b±ng jeans » shop Cass m  cu

(-1) (-2) (-3) (0) (1) (a b c d)

th »ng thy ˜


b)  »ng ˜ua s»˜ 2 » tr »c m·t (Diep, 2000, p. 60)

(0) (1) ( cardinal amount c)

c) Nh»‡ng th±ng nhc ngh»ch ng»m y

(-2) (0) (1) (adjective) (2)

d) S n nh  chi m»i lau

(0) (1) (S-V term)

e) Ci cu»˜n tp ch » trЄn k» ˜

(-1) (0) (1) (c) (2)

A contrast of British NP and Vietnamese NP

From that which you discuss above about the NP in English and Vietnamese, we can easily see that both of them have a simple framework : pre-modification, head, post-modification. . However, you may still find some dissimilarities between them. We will discuss some remarkable similarities and distinctions in the positions of pre-modification and post-modification in British and Vietnamese NP.

Firstly, in both English and Vietnamese NP, quantifier, numerals, fractions stand prior to the brain noun.

(a) All those old chairs

Quantifier mind noun

(b) Thousands of people

numeral head noun

(c) One-third of my students

fraction brain noun

(a) Tt c nh»‡ng ci gh c ˜

quantifier head noun adjective

(b) V i ng n ng »i

numeral head noun

(c) M»t phn ba s»˜ h»c sinh c»a tґi

fraction head noun

Secondly, demonstrative, ordinal quantities, possessives come prior to the head noun in British but after the brain noun in Vietnamese.

That large brick house

demonstrative head noun

The second tour to Korea

ordinal number mind noun

My favorite spicy food

possessive head noun

(a) Ngґi nh  b±ng gch to l»n ˜

head noun demonstrative

(b) Chuyn du l»ch th» hai ˜n H n Qu»˜c

head noun ordinal number

(c) Th»c n cay yЄu thch c»a tґi

head noun possessive

Thirdly, in terms of adjectives, we put them in front of the head noun in English NP however in Vietnamese, we put them after the mind noun.

Ex : ci b n m u nu l m b±ng g»- xo i

head noun. adjectives

A brown oaken stand.

adjectives mind noun.

However, in some instances, adjectives come following the brain noun in British NP such as "something strange", "somebody brave", Additionally, the order of adjectives modifiers in British is rather set (epithet, size, shape, age, colour, origin, compound, present participle) whereas that in Vietnamese NP may be exchanged, predicated on the speaker's attention. For instance, in British, we just have only 1 order "a pretty blue skirt" however when we say in Vietnamese, there are 2 ways "m»t chic vy m u xanh da tr»i xinh x‡n" and " m»t chic vy xinh x‡n m u xanh da tr»i".

Moreover, in English NP, the occurrence of nouns and determiners is obligatory but optional in Vietnamese NP. So, if we translate the saying " cu»˜n sch trЄn b n" into Vietnamese, it will be " reserve on table". Is it right? Because you see, the real word should be " the booklet up for grabs".

In Vietnamese, classifiers are usually obligatory in numerated NP whereas in British, we don't normally use classifiers before nouns, except some special words "a set of shoes", "a loaf of breads".

EX: In British, we say "two books" but in Vietnamese, we say "hai cu»˜n sch".

The next difference I want to mention is the position of noun modifiers. In English NP, they come before a head noun however in Vietnamese, they come after the head noun. Nevertheless, occasionally in Vietnamese, noun modifiers precedes the top noun (eg m»t thi nhn, m»t c» th», . . )

A ballet class

A bundle tour

A summer campaign

(a) M»t l»p ba lЄ

(b) Chuyn du l»ch tr»n gi

(c) chin d»ch m№a hЁ

Last but not least, sometimes there are a few ambiguous structures that cause us lost. In Vietnamese, what makes people's mind first is spoken first is the common rule, which is also an all natural order of people's thinking (Dinh, n. d, p. 11). Let's have a NP as an example. How many ways you can say the British NP "a new Korean leather layer" ? We have "m»t ci o khoc m»i b±ng lґng thє c»a H n Qu»˜c" or "m»t ci o khoc H n Qu»˜c b±ng lґng thє m»i" and "m»t ci o khoc b±ng lґng thє H n Qu»˜c m»i".

It seems that in the English NP, the position of pre-modifiers and post-premodifiers aren't so free and versatile as that in Vietnamese NP

Implication in English coaching and learning

Learners of British may have some issues such as how to convert from

English into Vietnamese and vice versa because of the differences in the positioning of pre-modifiers and post-modifiers we have just mentioned previously (for example: m»t quy»n sch hay - a publication good or a publication interesting. They may also maintain trouble with the order of the adjectives in a rather long noun term with many adjectives. Which adjective come first? Which should come next? Where should we put those adjectives. Vietnamese students could find it difficult to keep in mind all the positions because of the habit of inserting the adjectives following the brain noun and using them flexibly.

Knowing clearly about English NP and Vietnamese NP, especially the differences as well as the normal problems that Vietnamese learners often meet can help the teachers guide their students appropriately. Quite simply, learners can know their problems from the beginning so that they can think it is easy to learn English later, especially sentence structure. Based on the data of English NP and Vietnamese NP, the instructors also design the tasks for students to combine and practice knowledge of phrases and phrases in both two languages.


In summary, although NP in English and Vietnamese has the same basic framework (pre-modification, brain, post-modification), they won't be the same in the word order of pre-modification and post-modification. These distinctions are induced by the dissimilarity in considering and speaking behavior of English and Vietnamese. As a student as well as a teacher-to-be, this research helps me a whole lot. When doing this project, I have an opportunity to consolidate my understanding of both British and Vietnamese and know something new and helpful. Using what I learn from this research, I'll apply to my research and teaching career.

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