Future meaning in Vietnamese and English: Similarities and Differences





modality, modal verbs, lexical means, grammatical means, marked


The paper describes in detail and employs one table and six discussions to compare expressions of future meaning in Vietnamese and English declaratives to find out their differences and similarities. The findings are the basis for giving some advice to learners of Vietnamese and English. Vietnamese neither distinguishes nor employs grammatical means to express various shades of future meaning. A lexical means like sẽ, định, tính, or sắp, or a combination of two or more like định sẽ, tính sẽ, or dự tính sẽ, does. The lexical means may be omitted when an adverbial of future time like sáng mai, meaning tomorrow morning, occurs. At first glance, Vietnamese learners face difficulty because one expression in their mother tongue separates into two or more in English, resulting in unnecessary differentiation; conversely, native speakers of English seem more enjoyable noticing that two or more expressions in their mother tongue merge into one in Vietnamese. However, to understand Vietnamese sentences, foreigners must depend more on contextual cues than when they process English sentences. This is uneasy for the native English speakers, who are accustomed to using a language in which all the modal meanings have signs, either lexical or grammatical or both, with an explicit indicator in the structure of the nuclear predication of the declaratives.

Author Biography

To Minh Thanh, Hoa Sen University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

To Minh Thanh received a Master’s degree in Bilingual Education from the University of Massachusetts, the USA, in 1998 and a Ph. D’s degree in Linguistics & Literature from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam in 2006. She was promoted to Associate Professor in Linguistics in 2012 and was awarded with the title of Meritorious Teacher by the President of Viet Nam in 2014 for her outstanding scientific research achievements and significant contribution to the educational development of the country. She is currently a lecturer of Department of English/American Language and Culture, Faculty of International Languages & Cultures, Hoa Sen University, Viet Nam. She has been teaching at higher education in Viet Nam for more than 40 years. Her research interests include Applied Linguistics, Contrastive Linguistics, Bilingual Education, TESOL Methodology, Measurement and Assessment in Higher Education, and Current Issues in Linguistics. She has published five books in English Linguistics and two dozen of journal articles, using both English and Vietnamese as a means of expression and communication.


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How to Cite

To, M. T. (2022). Future meaning in Vietnamese and English: Similarities and Differences. International Journal of TESOL & Education, 2(3), 133–148. https://doi.org/10.54855/ijte.22239