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English And Vietnamese Prepositions Contrastive Examination Cultural Studies Essay

Prepositions are words used to connect nouns or noun set ups to other constructions in a phrase. They can be found in both British and Vietnamese language systems. However, prepositions have different characteristics and consumption in each words. The usage of prepositions could cause plenty of trouble for Vietnamese people when learning English and vice versa. Therefore, this newspaper aims at studying British and Vietnamese prepositions in a contrastive view, especially in displaying path and location so that leaner's can find it simpler to learn them. This newspaper also provides some implications for teaching prepositions which can be useful for individuals who teaching British or Vietnamese. Through these implications, I hope they can help teachers know how to help students use prepositions appropriately and correctly.

Literature Review

Prepositions in English


According to Oxford Advanced Learner's dictionary, a preposition "is a word or band of words used before a noun or pronoun to show place, position, time or method". Another explanation is a preposition "may be thought as connecting word showing the relation of an noun or a noun replacement to some other words in the phrase (the squirrel in the tree; the preposition in shows the partnership between your squirrel and the tree. )" ("Prepositions: classification and usage", n. d). From these explanations, we can come to a conclusion about the function of a preposition which could it be is utilized to connect nouns and noun constructions with other set ups in a word. Prepositions that we often use within everyday activity are: with, at, by, to, in, for, from, of, on. It is estimated that these prepositions make up for ninety percent of preposition consumption.

The part following a preposition is named its object. The object of an preposition can be a noun, a pronoun, a gerund or a noun clause. For example, we have:

a noun: We provided a present to our secretaries.

a pronoun: We offered a present-day to them.

a gerund: We thought about giving a show them.

a noun clause: We considered offering a present to whoever did the trick for us.

(Lougheed, n. d)


Prepositions tend to be in one-word form; however, there's also other prepositions with an increase of than one term. They are made up with two or three words. For instance, we have with respect to, before, in accordance with, in line with, in relation to and so forth. Another form is named prepositional word. Prepositional phrases are groups of words that start with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun. Some phrases are being used commonly and in a number of situations such as "acting as an adjective or an adverb, finding something in time and space, modifying a noun, or revealing when or where or under what conditions something happened. " ("Prepositions: Locator with time and place", n. d). Examples of these prepositional phrases are out of work, at the very least, through, in person, under orders, to any extent further etc. Besides, there are a few called marginal prepositions that happen to be verbal in forms, such as pertaining to, considering, including, pending and more.


Prepositions are used with a whole lot of functions including time, location, manner, means, number, purpose, and condition or condition. Regarding to prepositions of your time, there are a few prepositions like at, on, in, from, since, for, during, to, till/until, after, afterwards, by. before etc. For example, we have: at six o'clock, on Monday or in the evening. Another utilization of prepositions is to show location. Some participate in this category are in, at, on, next to, beside, behind, before, opposite, near, together with, under, above and so on. For example, Jone lives at 55 Boretz Road in Durham, She lives in Durham or Mary is relaxing next if you ask me. Prepositions of motion include: from, to, at, into, out of, towards, on, onto, across, through, around, along, up. For instance, he ran out of the room or Mary run on the wall surfaces. Other usages are the following.

Means or agent:

by: He was strike by the ball.

from: His success results from careful planning.

in: He requires pleasure in it.

on: They live on bread and drinking water.

with: He chased the mongoose with a keep.


by: By carrying it out yourself

in: He kept in misunderstanding.

like: He appears like a hero.

on: I swear it on my expression of honor.

with: He ate it with a fork.

State or condition:

at: My pal reaches work.

by: They are by themselves

in: He's in circumstances of confusion

on: He is on duty (scheduled to work).

for: I mistook you for someone else.

as: I see her as a good person

. Variety or mesure:

for: We drove for twenty mls.

by: We bought them by the kilo


for: He bought it for an emergency.

She went to metropolis for sightseeing.

He enjoyed her on her behalf thoughtfulness.

("Prepositions: description and utilization", n. d)

Vietnamese Prepositions


Like British, Vietnamese also offers a group of word which is comparable to prepositions. We may call this category Vietnamese exact carbon copy of English preposition. To make it simple, many people prefer to use the name preposition. Nevertheless, the idea preposition in Vietnamese is a quite complicated issue because some linguists have said that prepositions do not are present in Vietnamese. Yet, corresponding to Tuc (2003), "although the difference between prepositions and serial verbs in Vietnamese is not necessarily clear-cut, Vietnamese prepositions do exist" (p. 69). In his book, he also provided many instances to confirm his opinion. Additionally, nowadays, in many books of teaching Vietnamese for foreigners, the name preposition is often used. Therefore, to be convenient, the name Vietnamese preposition is employed for equivalent of English preposition in Vietnamese in this newspaper.

Types of prepositions in Vietnamese

According to Tran (2007) there are two main types of preposition in Vietnamese: prepositions of the time and location. In addition, there are a few other prepositions called miscellaneous ones. Prepositions of the time are v o (in, on, at), trong or su»˜t (during), tr »c (before), sau (after), k» t» khi (since) and cho t»i khi (until). In terms of prepositions of location, there are trЄn (on, above, over), trong (in, inside), chung quanh (around), bЄn phi (on the right of), cnh (next to) and so on. Finally, miscellaneous prepositions conclude cho (for), v»i (with), v» (about), nh» (because of), b»i (by) etc.

Here are some examples about how these prepositions are being used in phrases. Their use in Vietnamese is similar to in English.


Tґi th »ng dy v o su gi» sng (I usually get up at six am)

Trong b»‡a ti»c cґ y khґng ni g c. (She said nothing at all during the party)


Bn tґi s»˜ng » S i Gn (My pal lives in Saigon)

Vi»n bo t ng n±m bЄn phi ti»m sch c (The museum is situated on the right of the used bookstore)


Li ˜y ng»"i v»i tґi! (Come and take a seat beside me)

Nh» mua hoa cho tґi nh. (Remember to buy flowers for me, OK?)

»˜i v»i tґi, chuy»n ˜ khґng quan tr»ng (That concern doesn't matter to me)

(Tran, 2007)

Contrast between British and Vietnamese prepositions

The notion preposition is quite a fascinating issue. There could be so a lot of things to state if we compare prepositions in English with those in Vietnamese in a sizable scale. Nonetheless, within this paper, I only make a contrast between English and Vietnamese prepositions in two aspects: prepositions of movements with directional verbs and locative prepositions because they often cause problems for Vietnamese people when learning British and vice versa.

Prepositions of activity with directional verbs

The first difference between British and Vietnamese prepositions is related to directional verbs. In British, directional verbs like come, go and get there cannot take immediate objects. This implies they must have a preposition (or a prepositional expression), bare particle or deictic verbial ("bare noun word adverb"). Since prepositions are being reviewed in this paper, the illustrations with bare particle and deictic verbial are not mentioned. Listed below are the types of directional verbs with prepositions

Sally has ended up to NEW YORK CITY.

Catrin will come to Sheffield the following month.

They attained the air port.

("Vietnamese online grammar", n. d)

In Vietnamese, by contrast, there is no need to utilize prepositions with these directional verbs because these verbs may take direct objects independently. We've these instances:

Tun tr »c cґ ˜i Lun ґn (The other day she visited London)

Bao gi» cґ y ˜»nh sang Vi»t Nam? (When does indeed she plan to come to Vietnam?)

My. bay xu»˜ng phi-tr» ng LiЄn-khang. (The aircraft got at Lien khang international airport)

("Vietnamese online grammar", n. d)

Actually, in Vietnamese, there is no preposition which is similar to preposition "to" in English. The verb ˜n (reach, reach) is utilized instead as the following examples:

Tґi khґng c th»i gi» ˜i (˜n) b u ˜i»n

I don't possess time to visit the post-office

Locative prepositions

In English, space prepositions point out the location of your object without watching the positioning of the audio speakers. For example, British people often say: "the planes is "in" the sky, the child is playing "in" the kitchen, vehicles run "in" the road". (McCarty, Prez, Torres-Guzman, To, & Watahomigie, 2004, p. 150). On the contrary, in Vietnamese, people tend to consider the position of the audio system. They say: my bay » trЄn tr»i (the planes is above her or him), ˜»a tr» ˜ang ch i trong nh  bp (the child is inside the kitchen), nh»‡ng chic xe h i chy ngo i ˜ »ng (automobiles are outside). Therefore, preposition in can be translated 3 ways into Vietnamese with three different meanings: trЄn, trong, ngo i.

In addition, Tran (2010) stated several differences between British and Vietnamese prepositions in terms of semantics and pragmatics. First, when talking about the bigger position, they take the contact so this means between trajector (˜»˜i t »ng ˜»nh v») and landmark (˜»˜i t »ng qui chiu) under consideration. For instance, they distinguish the meaning of on, above and over. Meanwhile, Vietnamese people almost do not pay attention to this aspect. They just use the only phrase trЄn. Second, when talking about the connection between above (trЄn) and under (d »i), British people are always alert to if trajector (˜»˜i t »ng ˜»nh v») is in the vertical guide (v№ng quy chiu thng ˜»ng) of the landmark's (˜»˜i t »ng qui chiu) area. That's the reason why they have got these words: above / over / on and under / below / beneath. On the other hand, Vietnamese people only devide the area into two part "above/under" (trЄn/d »i). To point the center position, English has in the center of / between (for 2 things) and among (for 3 things and more) while Vietnamese use the term gi»‡a for all these cases. Types of this type are summarized in the table below.


English prepositions

Vietnamese prepositions


in, inside



out, outdoors, out of

ngo i


on, upon, above, on top of, over, atop


D ‡»I

under, underneath, beneath, below

d »i

TR ‡»C

before, in front of, ahead of, preceding

tr »c


behind, following, behind (br), in the back of (ame)



by, near, next to, near, beside, alongside, to the right/left

bЄn, cnh, st, gn, k», bЄn phi, bЄn tri


within, among, between, in the middle of, in the midst of


(Tran, 2010)

Implications for teaching

After having contrasted British and Vietnamese prepositions in two aspects as above, I'd like to say the implications for instructing English at senior high school inside our country.

Since learners have a tendency to translate everything to their mother tongue, teachers should be very careful when teaching British, especially prepositions. They need to realize that there is absolutely no exact one-to-one translation from English to Vietnamese and vice versa. Referring to the discourse "prepositions with directional verbs", we know that whenever translating a phrase from English to Vietnamese or Vietnamese to English, sometimes we may add or omit the prepositions. For instance, we might not exactly use preposition "to" with directional verbs in Vietnamese. Furthermore, as talked about in the section Locative prepositions above, we can realize that a Vietnamese preposition may have several prepositions which can be equivalent to them in British. Therefore, teachers should ask learners to take notice of this problem and know when to use the most likely preposition. In sum, to ensure the exact preposition can be used, learners should observe a preposition is utilized in a certain context. They shouldn't translate straight using prepositions in their language since prepositions can be used differently in different language.

Moreover, the difference between Vietnamese and British prepositions is mainly scheduled to semantics and the idea of reference point (quan ni»m quy chiu), so it is vital that teachers have enough understanding of these domains to clarify to students completely. Culture difference and the behavior of using prepositions in each terminology are also things that teachers should remember. If teachers are incredibly careful about these things, students may reduce making mistakes when working with prepositions.


In summary, preposition can be an interesting category in linguistics. There are so a lot of things to go over about preposition. However, sometimes learners may feel lost about how to work with prepositions correctly, especially when Vietnamese prepositions have different things from British prepositions. That's the reason why learners often make flaws when working with prepositions. A contrastive examination in this field is necessary and important since it shows difference between British and Vietnamese prepositions with regards to path and location. Directional and locative prepositions are the ones that often causes trouble to students more than other styles. After having contrasted them, we can easily see that English prepositions are more complex than those in Vietnamese. Moreover, the research also suggest some implications for instructing prepositions in Vietnamese senior high school, so I hope that this research paper will be a piece of useful referent materials for many who are considering teaching a dialect aspect, specifically preposition.

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