5CQBT- Nguyen Ngoc Quynh Anh- Making and accepting invitation in Vietnamese and English

Making and accepting invitation 1
Running ahead: Making and accepting invitation - Vietnamese and English
Making and accepting invitation in
Vietnamese and English: contrastive
Nguyen Ngoc Quynh Anh
Class 5CQBT05
HCMC University of Pedagogy
Making and accepting invitation 2
Making and accepting invitation is speech act used very often and naturally in
our daily life. It plays an important role in communication. In day-to-day life, we are in
interpersonal relationship. Therefore, we are often in some cases of making and
accepting invitation. In order to get a harmonious relationship, we should master the
ways to make and accept invitation. In a contrastive analysis aspect, I collected some
investigations of some kinds of structures used for making and accepting invitation in
Vietnamese and English.
In the first part of this paper, we will discuss making invitation in both English and
Vietnamese and make a comparison between them to find out their similarities and
The second part of this paper focuses on accepting invitation. We also talk about
this issue in two languages mentioned above. From this, we will indicate some
similarities and differences between them.
Those two fields will help learners enrich their communication in both making
and accepting invitation. Moreover, based on these, learners can avoid some mistakes
when talking to foreigners or translating English into Vietnamese or vice versa. So, in
this third part, some implications for language teaching are discussed.
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Making invitation
In order to understand what “making invitation” means, let us look at the meaning
of the verb “invite”. As for the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “to invite” means to
ask somebody to come to a social event or to ask somebody formally to go somewhere
or do something (819).
Making invitation in Vietnamese
As a whole, in Vietnamese, invitation is made directly. Vietnamese people usually
frankly address their invitation to the person they want to invite. It makes easier for
listeners to get the content of invitation. In common, Vietnamese invitation takes four
forms. They are performative sentence, declarative sentence, imperative sentence, and
interrogative sentence.
In order to make clear, we will follow step to analyze them with their examples.
Performative sentence
In general, this kind of performative sentence in making invitation is different from
others about containing the verb “mời”. It means that the person who makes invitation
will say the word “mời” in his or her saying. Let us look at some following examples:
“Tức thì một người bưng khay bài ra đặt lên cái sập gỗ kín mít đánh xi trơn bóng:
- Mời các ông lấy chỗ.”
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“- Mời ông bà xơi cơm ạ!”
There are two kinds of performative sentences used for making invitation. They
are performative sentence without subject and performative sentence with subject. Now,
let us have a look at them.
Performative sentence without subject: making invitation belonging to this kind of
sentence does not contain the person who is making invitation.
“ Thưa, ông lạnh lắm phải không?
- Phải tôi lạnh lắm.
- Vậy mời ông sưởi cho ấm.”
“ Văn cười:
- Các bác cho tôi đánh đụng với nhé!
- Mời thầy.”
Those examples show us that the person who is making his or her invitation does not
appear in their saying.
Performative sentence with subject: invitation is made in a sentence which contains
the person who is speaking out his invitation and the verb “mời”. Some instances for this
kind of sentences are:
“Năm mới, vợ chồng chúng tôi mời ông xơi với chúng tôi một bữa cơm rau.” (Khai
Hưng, p. 53)
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“ Nhà sẵn có chai rượu, tôi xin mời mỗi người một cốc.”
Declarative sentence
The writer Khai Hung (1994) gives these declarative sentences in his short stories
as typical examples of making invitation.
“Nhân người ấy phàn nàn về sự tiếp khách chậm trễ của bọn hầu sáng, tôi liền mời:
- Hay ông sang ngồi cùng bàn với tôi cho vui.”( Khai Hưng, 314)
“Không thấy người lạ trả lời, thiếu nữ yên lặng bóc một quả cam Bố Hạ đưa cho
- Ông ăn cho đỡ khát.”
Imperative sentence
‘‘ Em uống nước đi!’’
‘‘Anh giai uống đi !’’ ( Pham, p.135)
‘‘Em tôi cầm một chén cơm lạt và một bó nhang :
- Anh ăn đi cho đỡ đói !’’ (Mac Can, p.194)
Those instances belong to declarative sentence and imperative sentence
mentioned above show us that making invitation following these types has the same
meaning. Invitations here can be considered as orders. They are just different from
containing the word “đi” in imperative sentence and without it in declarative sentence.
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Interrogative sentence
People frequently use interrogative sentence for making invitation indirectly. In
other words, it is a reminding saying which contains the meaning of invitation. People
use it for expressing their warm and friendly welcome to invited person.
“Ông Đoàn, sao lâu nay không thấy ông lai chơi?” (Khai Hung, p.315)
In some other cases, people use many phrases such as ‘‘kính’’, ‘‘hân hạnh, “rất
hân hạnh”, “trân trọng”, “xin trân trọng”, “có nhã ý”…when giving their invitation to those
who are in higher social position than them. It is also a way to show their respect to the
people who are invited.
“Tôi lấy làm hân hạnh mời ông lại nhà chơi.”
“Ngày mai tôi có nhã ý mời anh tới chơi”
In the past, especially in feudal period, Vietnamese people often use the word
“rước” instead of “mời” when making invitation.
“Nàng đặt mâm xuống phản mời khách:
- Rước ông lại xơi rượu.” (Khai Hung,p. 57)
From this case, we can see the position of the invited people implicated. Moreover,
it helps us see that the person who is making invitation is a polite and courteous one.
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Making invitation in English
English invitation tends to lead listeners to its content directly as well. When the
invitation is spoken out, listeners easily understand what speaker wants to them do.
Normally, English invitation is in the form of many these basic kinds of sentences:
performative sentence, directive sentence, directive sentence with “let’s”, yes/no
question, WH- question, and tag question.
Performative sentence
According to Cao Xuân Hạo (224), a performative sentence is considered as a
declarative sentence. It expressed the related action as soon as uttered by the narrator.
Like “mời” in Vietnamese, the verb “invite” usually appear in this kind of sentence.
“Are you free? I’d like to invite you to our dancing party.”
Performative sentence used in making invitation in English usually have form
with“…would like to invite…” or“…want to invite…”. For example, “I would like to invite
you to come my wedding.”
Directive sentence
Those invitations are as same as requests or orders. They are often used in
close friendship. Some instances for making invitation by directive sentences are:
“Do join me for a coffee.”
“Come and see me next Friday.”
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Directive sentence with “let’s”
This type also often appears in friendly relationship. People use it to invite each
other to go somewhere informal. Normally, people who make invitation by using
directive sentence with “let’s” are in the same age or the social status.
“Let’s break for lunch.”
“Let’s go to our place for a bear.” (Tillitt, p.86)
Yes/no question
This kind of invitation shows politeness and formality in speakers’ conversation.
Now, let have a look at these instances.
“Can you come over and join us?
“May we have the pleasure of your company at dinner?”
“Shall we have a drink at this restaurant?”
Sometimes, many yes/no questions refer to invitation although they mention
about different issues. For instance, when a person asks you many yes/no questions
such as "Are you free next Thursday?" or "Are you doing anything next weekend?",
maybe he wants to invite you do join something with him. Before making invitation, he
would like to know whether if you will be free or not next time. It is a way to show the
respect and politeness of speaker. It helps the person who is invited has change to
Making and accepting invitation 9
WH- question
Based on many reference materials that I have collected for this paper, WHquestion is used in making invitation with a highest frequency. In close relationship,
people often use this kind of question to invite each other in purpose of increasing
friendliness. It also makes listeners feel comfortable and free. The editor Le Huy Lam
shows us some typical examples in his book.
“Why don’t you come on holiday with us?” (p.59)
"Would you be interested in coming to the cinema with me tonight?"(p.59)
"How do you fancy going out for a meal at the weekend?"(p.60)
“Would you have dinner with me on Friday?”
“Would you like to come with me?” (p.62)
Among them, the WH- question started with “Would you like to…?” often appear in
making invitation. It has been familiar with both native speakers and foreigners.
Tag question
Tag question is rarely used in making invitation. Speakers often use this kind of
sentence to remind or repeat their invitation to the invited people.
“You will come to have dinner with us, won’t you?”
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Similarities and differences of making invitation in Vietnamese and English
Within this paper, I would like to discuss some contrasts between Vietnamese
and English about making invitation.
The first point similarity between these two languages is that invitation maintains
performative verb: “invite” in English, “mời” in Vietnamese if it is under form of
performative sentence. Generally, people often use it to give their invitation directly.
In the second similarity, the verb “mời” in Vietnamese and “to invite” in English
has the same meaning in their own language. However, their role in sentence is
different. In English, “to invite” just appears in declarative sentence. For instance, “I’d
like to invite you to a party next Friday”. Meanwhile, the verb “mời” is often used in both
declarative sentence and imperative sentence such as “ Uống chứ! Nào!... Mời...”, “ Ai
đấy? Mời vào”.
Next, making invitation in English usually forms from a sentence which contains
all basic and necessary elements such as subject, verb, object. Unlike English, subject
in invitation does not appear frequently. The main elements that are usually present are
the verb “mời” and the invited person.
To contrastive view about the functions, the verbs “to invite” and ‘mời” has
different functions in their own languages. Vietnamese invitation with the word “mời”
creates politeness and respect between speakers. Besides, the meaning of “mời” shows
us the friendliness in communication. Just by the word “mời”, people can make invitation
in different of situations with various kinds of people they want to invite.
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Last, in English, people just use the verb “to invite” in order to make invitation
when they say two sentences beginning with “I would like to invite…” or “I want to
invite…”. People usually use these sentences with “to invite” in real formal context. We
can see that the use of “to invite” is in shortage of sentence pattern.
Accepting invitation
We can define the action of accepting invitation beginning with the definition of
the verb “to accept”. Looking up the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary in, we can
see “to accept” means “to take willingly something that is offered; to say ‘yes’ to an offer,
invitation, etc” (7). From this definition, the answer to the question “what accepting
invitation is” is “to say yes to an invitation”.
Accepting invitation in Vietnamese
In Vietnamese, a person who is invited by another rarely accepted the invitation
directly. That is why people have to base on situation and the attitude or utterance which
is replied from invited person in order to know whether he accept or not. There are some
ways to accept invitation in Vietnamese language. Vietnamese people often use some
normal sentences such as definite utterance, question, exclamatory sentence,
affirmative sentence, and some other ways with particles. When saying these
sentences, people express their emotion in them.
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Definite utterance
Speaker accepts invitation by giving a definite utterance. This utterance relates
to the content of invitation.
“Bằng yên lặng, nàng lại nói luôn:
- Thôi ông hãy ở lại lát nữa.
Bằng ngẫm nghĩ, rồi chép miệng nhìn nàng mỉm cười:
- Thì ở lại.”( Khai Hung, p.212)
“- Anh có hút thuốc không?
- Có thuốc hả? Sao không nói?”
Exclamatory sentence
“Nàng đặt mâm xuống phản mời khách.
- Rước ông lại xơi rượu.
Bằng dứng dậy nhìn mâm nói:
- Ồ! Cỗ to nhỉ!” ( Khai Hung, p.268)
In general, accepting invitation by a question or an exclamatory sentence help
the invited person express his surprise or interest.
Making and accepting invitation 13
Affirmative sentence
It can be considered as a positive remark about the value of invitation. Invited
person often say that to show their gratefulness.
“-Trưa nay chú ở lại ăn cơm nhà tôi nhé. Chỉ mong chú đừng chê bữa cơm đạm
- Chị đừng nói vậy chứ. Được ăn cơm chị nấu là quí hóa cho tôi lắm rồi.”
Some other ways with particles
Firstly, in this case of giving unsure acceptance, the invited person partly wants
to accept the invitation and partly not. Maybe he or she is looking forward to an
agreement from somebody else or from something like that. The example between a
guy and a girl below will make us clearer.
“- Em chỉ thèm một ly cà phê.
- Vậy thì ra quán. ở ngoài cổng có một quán khá lắm.
- Để em vào xin mẹ đã.”
The accepting invitation of the person in this example belongs to her mother. She
cannot make decision by herself. Although she would like to accept the invitation, there
is a little bit hesitation in her mind.
Sometimes, Vietnamese people seem ignore the invitation of another person but
they naturally accept this through many such responses “ để mặc”, “cứ mặc”, “để đấy”.
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“ Mời bác uống nước.
Bác cứ để mặc em.”
Nowadays, that lifestyle has some changes creates some new reply for accepting
invitation. Among them, the words “OK” and “rồi” are used often. Those words used for
accepting invitation point out the higher or position of invited person in relationship with
the person who make invitation. Close friends also often use the word “OK” and “rồi” in
their interaction when they accept invitation.
Generally, Vietnamese people accept invitation by saying some words such as
“vâng”, “vâng ạ”, “được”, “ừ”, “dạ”, “cám ơn”. They are familiar replies that express
politeness and friendliness. This is the direct way to accept invitation. The invited person
makes their decision without hesitating.
‘‘- Ở đây, phải làm thế mới được. Chờ họ hầu, thì họa may chín giờ mới có thức
ăn…Thưa ông, ta cùng ăn xíu mại nhé ?
- Vâng’’
Accepting invitation in English
Similar to Vietnamese, in English, people usually do not accept invitation with a
direct agreement, but instead they preface the invitation in some ways. They are giving
immediately agreement with a declarative sentence, giving a kind remark with
exclamatory sentence, accepting with a question, and expressing a sure attitude.
Making and accepting invitation 15
Declarative sentence
This type expresses the eagerness of invited person. By responding this way, he
gives his immediate agreement. Some examples for this type are “I’d love to”, “I’d like
to”, “I won’t say no”, “I like nothing better”.
Exclamatory sentence
It shows a kind remark from invited person. Let us look at these illustrative
examples: "What a great idea, thanks.", “Sounds great”, “That would be very nice”, “That
would be wonderful”.
To approve invitation, invited person sometimes respond a question. It is also a
way to accepting invitation.
“- Would you like to come my home for dinner tomorrow?
- Why not? What can I bring?”
This kind of question does not need any answer for it. The invited person just
asks this question to show their eagerness with the invitation. After replying the
invitation, he can ask something new but until related to the invitation in order to show
his gratefulness or interest.
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Some expressing sure attitude words
Normally, invited person often accept invitation by replying “You bet”, “You
certainly can!”, “Sure”, “Actually” to affirm his agreement. By accepting this way, he can
set inviter’s mind of rest.
Similarities and differences of accepting invitation in Vietnamese and English
From the list of ways of accepting invitation in two those languages investigated
above, I would like to make a contrast between them. At first, in common, people often
accept invitation directly in both Vietnamese and English. They always show a positive
attitude when saying acceptance. Moreover, their accepting saying also includes their
pleasure and thankfulness for being invited.
Next, Vietnamese accepting invitation is much more productive than English
one. On the contrary, English accepting invitation is restricted. In English, people just
use these sentences mentioned above to reply that they agree to accept invitation.
Last, in English, the question “why not?” refers to an acceptance of invitation.
Nowadays, the way to accept invitation in Vietnamese by asking a question is a little bit
similar to in English. However, the Vietnamese question used for accepting invitation
usually has a sufficient structure with basic elements of a sentence.
These comparisons just focus on many practical and typical similarities and
differences between two those languages. It helps learners get interference between
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Implication on teaching
Through some aspects of contrastive view into making and accepting invitation in
both Vietnamese and English, I would like to discuss some implications for Vietnamese
and English teaching and leaning at high school in our system of education.
Firstly, it is necessary for teachers to make their student aware of cultural
similarities and differences of making and accepting invitation in Vietnamese culture and
English culture. Teacher should distinguish what kinds of making and accepting
invitation used in informal situations and formal ones. From that, students can
understand clearly the function of this speech act in order to use it exactly in real
situation in daily life. It leads student to be confident when they are in conversation with
others people.
Secondly, teachers should provide input as much as possible to enrich student’s
knowledge about the way to making and accepting invitation in two languages talked
above. Nowadays, with the help of modern technology in language teaching, it is easier
for teachers to provide students with a variety of ways to make and accept invitation.
Through the Internet, television, videos or other means of communication, teachers can
find many suitable conversations for apply in real life. Then, students can have more
options to choose suitable input for making and accepting invitation. These options may
be a little bit different from the required textbooks used for speaking courses. Thus, it
helps student to go further in their speaking skill.
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Finally, it is more important for teachers to organize periods of speaking skill in
class in which making and accepting invitation used in conversation. In other words,
teachers try their best to create communicative opportunities for students to practice
these utterances in English. From that, students have many opportunities to practice
what they have just learned. Gradually, these activities stimulate or provoke the
enthusiasm and eagerness of students to in practicing making and accepting invitation
of with native speakers of English. Teachers can ask them to do role-play or to play.
Students can memorize the structures and functions of these aspects as soon as they
are speaking together. Besides, reading some books or stories that mention the ways to
make and accept invitations helps student remember these utterances easily.
In conclusion, this paper brings us the overview of making and accepting
invitation. As we know, making and accepting invitation is used often in our daily life.
They play an important role in communication. It is not easy for people to make invitation
politely and friendly. The speaker has to show their willingness when making it. Besides,
they should say something sincere to make the invited person feel comfortable. To
invited people, the way they accept invitation is more important than making it. They
have to know the way to accept it politely and courteously. Moreover, they have to reply
by saying many utterances that show their interest and gratefulness. From these
contrastive analysis aspects, I hope that it will help students know something new to
improve our knowledge about making and accepting invitation. Besides, I also hope that
Making and accepting invitation 19
this paper can provide useful ideas and knowledge to teachers to apply this field in
language teaching.
Reference list
Cao, Xuan Hao. (1991). Tiếng Việt Sơ thảo ngữ pháp chức năng. Ha Noi Capital: Social
Sciences Publisher.
Khai Hung. (1994). Tuyển tập truyện ngắn. Hai Phong city: Hai Phong Publisher.
Le, Huy Lam. (2000). Đàm thoại tiếng Anh trong mọi tình huống. Ca Mau city: Ca Mau
Mac Can. ( 2005). Tấm ván phóng dao. Ha Noi Capital: Writers’ Society Publisher.
Hornby, A S. (1948). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University
Pham, T. K. Trung. (2003). Đặc điểm ngôn ngữ trong nghi thức chào, mời, chúc mừng
của người Việt. Graduation paper. Ho Chi Minh City: University of Padegory.
Tillitt, Bruce and Bruder, Mary Newton. (1985). Speaking naturally. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Luu, Quy Khuong. An investigation into spoken direct invitations in English and
Vietnamese. Retrived December, 11, 2009, from http://www.khsdh.udn.vn/zipfiles/so23/23.khuong_luu%20quy_LOI%20MOI%20TRUC%20TI
Making and accepting invitation 20
Luu, Quy Khuong. Nghiên cứu cách chấp nhận gián tiếp lời mời trong tiếng Anh và tiếng
Việt từ quan điểm lời nói. Retrived December, 11, 2009, from http://www.khsdh.udn.vn/zipfiles/So24/24_22_khuong_luu%20quy.pdf