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Learning a foreign language is of great significance today. It is the bridge
connecting countries in many fields. The mastery of a foreign language
enables us to communicate with people from other countries, achieve mutual
understandings, and further our trade contacts, economic co- operations, and
cultural and academic exchanges with other countries.
I am interested in learning English so much. Engli sh, as mentioned over
and over again, is an international language. In Viet Nam, English, now, is a
compulsory subject for pupils in most primary and secondary schools. It is
also an important subject for students at all universities. Particularly, English
is one of the essential requirements for those who want to find a good job.
However, in order to master a language, we have to pay attention not only
to grammar, structure, vocabulary, and pronunciation but also the culture of
the language.

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HAI PHONG PRIVATE UNIVERSITY
FOREIGN LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT
————-oOo————
GRADUATION PAPER
A CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS OF NEGATIVE
QUESTIONS IN ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE
By:
Pham Thu Ha
Class: NA 1201
Supervisor:
Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thu
Hai Phong – December 2012
BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
NHIỆM VỤ TỐT NGHIỆP
Sinh viên: Mã số: ..
Lớp: Ngành: .
Tên đề tài: ….

NHIỆM VỤ ĐỀ TÀI
1. Nội dung và các yêu cầu cần giải quyết trong nhiệm vụ đề tài tốt nghiệp
(Về lý luận, thực tiễn, các số liệu cần tính toán và bản vẽ)
2. Các số liệu cần thiết để thiết kế tính toán
3. Địa điểm thực tập:
CÁN BỘ HƯỚNG DẪN ĐỀ TÀI TỐT NGHIỆP
Người hướng dẫn thứ nhất:
Họ và tên:
Học hàm, học vị:
Cơ quan công tác:
Nội dung hướng dẫn:
Người hướng dẫn thứ hai:
Họ và tên:
Học hàm, học vị:
Cơ quan công tác:
Nội dung hướng dẫn:
Đề tài tốt nghiệp được giao ngàytháng .. năm 2012
Yêu cầu phải hoàn thành trước ngàytháng ..năm 2012
Đã nhận nhiệm vụ Đ.T.T.N Đã giao nhiệm vụ: Đ.T.T.N
Sinh viên Cán bộ hướng dẫn: Đ.T.T.N
Hải Phòng, ngàytháng…năm 2012
HIỆU TRƯỞNG
GS.TS.NGƯT. Trần Hữu Nghị
PHẦN NHẬN XÉT TÓM TẮT CỦA CÁN BỘ HƯỚNG DẪN
1. Tình thần thái độ của sinh viên trong quá trình làm đề tài tốt nghiệp:
2. Đánh giá chất lượng Đ.T.T.N (So với nội dung yêu cầu đã đề ta trong
nhiệm vụ Đ.T.T.N trên các mặt lý luận, thực tiễn, tính toán giá trị sử
dụng, chất lượng các bản vẽ)
3. Cho điểm của cán bộ hướng dẫn:
(Điểm chi bằng số và chữ)
Hải Phòng, ngày ..tháng..năm 2012
Cán bộ hướng dẫn chính
(Họ tên và chữ kí)
NHẬN XÉT ĐÁNH GIÁ CỦA CÁN BỘ CHẤM PHẢN BIỆN
ĐỀ TÀI TỐT NGHIỆP
1. Đánh giá chất lượng đề tài tốt nghiệp về các mặt thu thập và phân tích số
liệu ban đầu, cơ sở lý luận chọn phương án tối ưu, cách tính toán chất
lượng thuyết minh và bản vẽ, giá trị lý luận và thực tiễn đề tài.
2. Cho điểm của cán bộ phản biện
(Điểm ghi bằng số và chữ)
Ngày tháng..năm 2012
Người chấm phản biện
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
In the process of completing this Graduation Paper, I have received a great
deal of help, guidance and encouragement from my teachers and friends.
First of all, I would like to express my great gratitude to my supervisor,
Ms.Nguyen Thi Phuong Thu, M.A for helping me through this challenging
process.
I would also like to express my special thanks to other teachers of Foreign
Language Department for their supportive lectures during four years that have
provided me with good foundation to do effectively my Graduation Paper.
Last but not least, I would like to thanks my family, my friends for their
serious encouragement and inspiration me to complete this paper.
Hai Phong, December 2012
Student
Phạm Thu Hà
Abbreviations and Symbols
1. E.g. = Example
2. (1980:439) = (year : page)
3. Etc = et cet era
4. V = verb
5. S = subject
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I: INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………… 1
1. Rationale …………………………………………………………………………………. 1
2. Aims of the study …………………………………………………………………….. 2
3. Scope of the study ……………………………………………………………………. 2
4. Methods of the study ………………………………………………………………… 3
5. Design of the study …………………………………………………………………… 3
PART II: DEVELOPMENT ……………………………………………………………….. 4
CHAPTER I: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND …………………………………. 4
1. Negation in English and Vietnamese in brief. ……………………………… 4
1.1. Definition of negation. …………………………………………………………… 4
1.2. Scope of negation ………………………………………………………………….. 4
1.3. Focus of negation ………………………………………………………………….. 5
The relationship between scope and focus of negation ………………… 7
2. Negative questions in English ……………………………………………………. 7
2.1 What is a negative question? …………………………………………………… 7
2.2 The semantic and pragmatic approaches to English negative
questions ……………………………………………………………………………………. 8
CHAPTER 2: A CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS OF ENGLISH AND
VIETNAMESE NEGATIVE QUESTIONS ……………………………………….. 11
1. Negative forms and non-assertive forms in English ……………………. 11
1.1. Negative Forms …………………………………………………………………… 11
1.2. Non – assertive forms ………………………………………………………….. 12
2. Negative orientation ……………………………………………………………….. 13
3. English negative questions ………………………………………………………. 14
3.1. Negative Yes/No questions …………………………………………………… 14
3.2. Negative Tag- questions ………………………………………………………. 15
3.3. Negative Wh- questions ……………………………………………………….. 16
3.4. Negative alternative questions ………………………………………………. 16
4. A contrastive analysis of negative questions in English and their
Vietnamese equivalents. ………………………………………………………………… 17
4.1. Structures of negative question ……………………………………………… 18
4.1.1 Negative structures in Yes/No questions …………………………… 18
4.1.2 Negative structures in Tag- questions ……………………………….. 22
4.1.3 Negative structures in Wh- questions ……………………………….. 24
4.1.4 Negative structures in alternative questions ……………………….. 26
4.2. Subclause …………………………………………………………………………… 28
4.2.1 Use of “not” in English negative questions and in Vietnamese
equivalents …………………………………………………………………………….. 28
5. Summary ……………………………………………………………………………….. 31
CHAPTER 3: COMMON MISTAKES MADE BY HAIPHONG PRIVATE
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN USING ENGLISH NEGATIVE
QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS ……………………………….. 32
1. Some common mistakes ………………………………………………………….. 32
2. Some suggestions to correct the mistakes ………………………………….. 33
PART 3: CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………….. 36
1. Summary of the study ……………………………………………………………… 36
2. Suggestions for further studies and final comment ……………………… 37
References ………………………………………………………………………………………… 38
Books: ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 38
Websites: ………………………………………………………………………………………… 38
APPENDIX ………………………………………………………………………………………. 40
1
PART I: INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale
Learning a foreign language is of great significance today. It is the bridge
connecting countries in many fields. The mastery of a foreign language
enables us to communicate with people from other countries, achieve mutual
understandings, and further our trade contacts, economic co- operations, and
cultural and academic exchanges with other countries.
I am interested in learning English so much. English, as mentioned over
and over again, is an international language. In Viet Nam, English, now, is a
compulsory subject for pupils in most primary and secondary schools. It is
also an important subject for students at all universities. Particularly, English
is one of the essential requirements for those who want to find a good job.
However, in order to master a language, we have to pay attention not only
to grammar, structure, vocabulary, and pronunciation but also the culture of
the language.
In communicative process in English as well as in other languages,
questions play an important role. We are not able to keep communication
going on well without asking questions. We ask question in order to exchange
information, ideas, feeling and knowledge. On the other hand, we sometimes
ask questions not for the above purposes but for confirmation, refusal irony or
reply avoidance. It is undeniable that questions can not be missed in
communication. There are a lot of types of question in English but in this
paper I would like to devote all my interest into English negative questions
and their Vietnamese equivalents. The purpose is to get more understanding
of this type of questions to use them flexibly. The contrastive analysis of
English and Vietnamese negative questions also reveals the similarities and
differences between the two languages. From my experience and knowledge,
2
I will go deep into this matter with a hope to assist people who are interested
in the subject matter.
2. Aims of the study
I have been learning English for a long time; however, I sometimes make
mistakes in using and translating English negative questions into Vietnamese
and vice versa. Many students also make these mistakes. For these reasons;
my study deals with “Negative question in English and Vietnamese – a
contrastive analysis”.
In details, my Graduation Paper aims at:
a. Examining how the structures of English and Vietnamese
negative questions are built and used in details.
b. Making a comparison between English negative questions and
their Vietnamese equivalents.
c. Exposing some common mistakes made by Vietnamese students
and presenting some suggested solutions.
d. Heightening learner‟s awareness in learning English and
Vietnamese negative questions.
3. Scope of the study
The study “Negative questions in English and Vietnamese – a contrastive
analysis” focuses on negative questions in English and Vietnamese
equivalents within the frame of structures and using negative words. Four
types of questions will be discussed: Yes-No questions, Tag questions, Wh-
questions and Alternative questions. However, due to the limited time and
knowledge, only negative questions that use the negator “not” will be
discussed in details, the others will be suggested for further study. The study
also finds out the common mistakes made by students at HPU and some
suggestions to correct these mistakes.
3
4. Methods of the study
The study is conducted by carefully collecting materials from various
sources to have full – blown information of English and Vietnamese negative
questions. Moreover, I have consulted with my supervisor, and obtained
suggestions, instructions and encouragement from my teachers. The
contrastive analysis is made intra- and interlingually: English negative
questions with Vietnamese counterparts. The contrastive analysis involves
two stages: the description of the structures and the use of negative words in
both languages.
5. Design of the study
My graduation paper is divided into three parts, in which the second,
naturally, is the most important part.
a. Part 1 is the INTRODUCTION in which the rationale, aims of
the study, scope of the study, methods of the study, design of the
study are presented.
b. Part 2 contains three chapters:
Chapter 1 provides readers with some theoretical background
on negation, negative questions in English and Vietnamese in brief.
Chapter 2 is also the main part of the study, which provides
the contrastive analysis of English and Vietnamese negative
questions.
Chapter 3 is the common mistakes made by students in using
English negative questions and suggested solutions.
c. Part 3 is the Conclusion of the study. It also gives out implication
for learning Negative questions in English and some suggestions
for further studies.
4
PART II: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER I: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1. Negation in English and Vietnamese in brief.
1.1. Definition of negation.
According to the Vietnamese Dictionary, published in 1998 by the Centre
of Dictionary, “Negation is the act of rejecting the existence, the necessity of
something, is the opposition of affirmation”. In the Longman Dictionary of
Contemporary English, published in 1994, negation is “the act of stating that
something does not exist or is untrue”. The study is mainly based on English
Grammar book “A University Grammar of English” (R, Quirk.1973). As for
him, the negation of a simple sentence is accomplished by inserting not, n’t
between the operator and the predication. Although the definition of negation
varies from scholar to scholar, from dictionary to dictionary, we can draw
some main points as follows: “Negation is a part of man‟s cognition activity
and communication process. It is also a basic category of thinking, of formal
logic. It is the opposition of the affirmative category”.
According to Le Quang Thiem, a Vietnamese linguist, “negative sentence
is used to describe the absence of an object, an event or a phenomena” while
in many grammar books; we can see that a negative sentence is used to claim
that something is not true or incorrect.
1.2. Scope of negation
The term “scope of negation” is introduced to refer to the stretch of
language over which the negative has its effect. The relation between negative
words and non-assertive words that they govern will happen in scope of
negation (that is part of language that the negative meaning operates through).
The scope of negation formally extends from the negative words to the end of
the clause or to the beginning of a final adjunct. The subject and any adjuncts
5
occur before a final predication often lies outside it. Thus, the operator can be
within or outside the scope. Below are some examples to illustrate:
E.g. I absolutely did not agree with you. (1)
Versus I did not absolutely agree with you. (2)
In (1), the scope of negation stretches from “not” to “you”, subject (I), adjunct
(absolutely), operator (did) are excluded, the predication takes full negative
effect
(1) = It is absolute that I did not agree with you
or = that I did not agree with you is absolute
Sentence (2) I did not absolutely agree with you, subject (I) and operator (did)
are put outside while adjunct is inside, negative meaning extends from
negative word to the end of the clause.
1.3. Focus of negation
We need to identify not only the scope, but also the focus of negation.
Focus of negation gives a stress on particular part of a negative clause; this
not only indicates the contrast of meaning implicit in the negative but also
implies the rest of the clause in the positive. The focus of negation is to place
effect on single word, which belongs to either open-class item in clause.
Grammarians divided focus of negation in English into two types:
End-focus
Quirk defines that end focus is the chief prominence on the last- open
items (verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs) and proper noun. The end focus is
used to withdraw the hearer‟s attention to the information that speaker wants
to convey; when a negative clause has end-focus, only last item is negated,
the rest is positive.
E.g.: They haven‟t been to Vietnam ≈ (They have gone to somewhere,
but not to Vietnam)
6
Contrastive-focus
Contrastive focus may be placed at earlier points and falls on any of the
non-final elements of the clause or final item which belongs to closed-system
items (prepositions, pronouns, etc…). Using contrastive focus, only one item
is negated and the rest of clause is understood in positive sense.
E.g.: Peter did not send a postcard to Mary on Christmas.
≈ (Someone sent a postcard to Mary on Christmas, not Peter).
Peter did not send a postcard to Mary on Christmas.
≈ (Peter sent something to Mary on Christmas, not postcard).
The contrastive focus points out which element is negated in a clause to
contrast it with something or somebody already mentioned. Contrastive focus
falls on the final item, but not end-focus.
E.g.: She is not waiting for me ≈ (She is waiting for someone, not me).
His father was not out ≈ (He was in).
Operator also gets a contrastive focus which places contrastive emphasis on
tense.
E.g.: She didn‟t study English two years ago (Now, she is learning
English).
Operator is used in elliptical replies to concentrate attention on new
information by avoiding repetition of the given information.
E.g.: Have you phoned your parents? No, I haven‟t. ≈ (I haven‟t
phoned my parents).
Did you go out last night? No, I didn‟t. ≈ (I didn‟t go out last
night).
The participation of end focus and a contrastive focus makes the focus of
negation not as ambiguous as the scope of negations they also have a certain
contribution to finding appropriate account for ambiguity in the scope of
negation.
7
The relationship between scope and focus of negation
The scope and focus are interrelated in such as a way that the scope must
include the focus. In an independent clause, the scope of negation covers all
the negative effect the extent of the scope is identified by the position of the
focus.
2. Negative questions in English
2.1 What is a negative question?
“Negative questions are interrogative sentences with the presence of
negative marker. They ordinarily do not accomplish questioning in the
sense of information seeking”.
e.g. Doesn‟t she understand?
Why don‟t you listen to me?
“Negative questions are generally used in different situations to express
an opinion (seeking agreement) or to confirm information (checking
information). To express an opinion in a more polite way, people
change them into negative questions. They want the listeners to agree
with their opinion”.
e.g. Isn‟t it cold today? (I think it‟s cold today. How about you?)
Doesn‟t she dance well? (In my opinion, she is a good dancer. What do
you think?)
“Negative questions can also be used to ask for confirmation of
something you believe to be true or of a negative belief”.
e.g. Can‟t you come to my party tomorrow? (I am surprised that you
cannot come to my party tomorrow. Is it right?)
8
2.2 The semantic and pragmatic approaches to English negative
questions
Ladd (1981) presents a first look at the semantics and pragmatics of
negative questions. The first is a systematic ambiguity in negative questions,
such as:
E.g.1: Isn‟t there a vegetarian restaurant around here?
E.g.2: Didn‟t he even vote for Reagan?
The ambiguity in these is remarkably hard to keep hold of, and the
following elaboration may be helpful.
E.g.3: (Situation: Kathleen and Jeff have just come from Chicago on
the Greyhouse bus to visit Bob in Ithaca)
Bob: You guys must be starving. You want to get something to eat?
Kathleen: Yeah, isn’t there a vegetarian restaurant around here-
Moosewood or something like that
Bob: Gee, you’ve heard of Moosewood all the way out in Chicago, huh?
Ok, let’s go there.
Kathleen uses the negative question “Isn‟t there a veget

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