Plural in Vietnamese
In Vietnamese, there are no conjugations or inflections. The word units as you know them will never change. That said, how would you want to specify that there is more than one unit of something? Easy! We just add "quantifiers" before the nouns and their "counters". The most common plural quantifiers are các and những. Let's look at how the noun táo (apple) is used with các and những.
Note: You can highlight the Vietnamese text to listen to it. táo (apple / apples / the apple / the apples) trái táo (the apple / the apples) một trái táo (an apple / one apple) các trái táo / những trái táo (the apples) Tên của trái này là táo. (This fruit's name is apple.) Mình thích táo. (I like apples.) Đây là trái táo cô đang tìm nè! (This is the apple you're looking for!) Nhưng mình chỉ thích táo ngọt thôi. (But I only like the apples that are sweet.) Ngày xửa ngày xưa, có một trái táo. (Once upon the time, there is an apple / one apple.) Trong các trái táo, trái này đẹp nhất. (In all of the apples, this one is the most beautiful.) Những trái táo mình trồng đều ngọt hết nha! (The apples I grew all taste sweet, you hear!)
Basically, táo can be translated and understood as a singular or a plural but các trái táo and những trái táo should always be translated and understood as a plural. You can apply this concept to pretty much any noun in Vietnamese. Even pronouns.
However, sometimes các sounds better in some cases, and những sounds better in other cases. There are also instances where they are NOT interchangeable and you have to use either các or những. Unfortunately, there are no concrete rules about which nouns go with which quantifiers. You just learn them cases by case. After some time, you will develop an ear for it. Additionally, there are many other plural quantifiers such as tụi, mấy, etc. but I think we should cover them later in separate lessons.
Now that you know how to specify a plural form of a noun in Vietnamese, go forth and practice. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment below.
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