We've gotten classifiers like trai and qua (sorry, no signs). Which is more appropriate when talking generally about apples?
Feel free to use both words interchangeably. Though "quả" is more common in the North while "trái" is used more often in the South. :)
Sorry if this is a silly question but is there a (few) classifier(s) that can be used if you don't know/have forgotten the specific one? Also, are there some objects that just take a normal classifier as they don't fit into a certain category? Thanks!
Take a look at this https://www.duolingo.com/skill/vi/Classifiers-1.
The most common classifiers are:
- "Cái" or "chiếc" for objects. Unless the object has specific or unique features that require other classifiers, most of them (70% of all nouns) can be accompanied by "cái" or "chiếc" interchangeably.
- "Con" for animals
- "Cây" for plants and trees.
A lot :). But don't be scared. Just use those most common classifiers (con, cái, người, trái/quả, etc.) shown at the beginning of that level and you'll be fine.
How would I know if this sentence means "the apple" or "apple?" Does it even matter when speaking in Vietnamese?
As a native Vietnamese speaker, I would think of "trái táo" as either "apple" or "the apple". Our language doesn't have articles as English does. Therefore, you can only make sense of the word "trái táo" based on the context where it appears. For examples:
X: Bạn muốn ăn trái cam hay "trái táo"? [X cầm một trái cam trên một tay và một "trái táo" ở tay bên kia và X hỏi Y chọn thứ trái cây mà Y muốn ăn.]
- Would you like to eat the orange or "the apple"? [X shows an orange on one hand and an "apple" on the other and X asks Y to pick one fruit that Y wants to eat.]
Y: "Trái táo". -"The apple".
"(Trái) táo" nghĩa là một loại trái cây tròn cứng có vỏ màu đỏ, lục nhạt hay vàng và ruột bên trong màu trắng. [You can omit the classifier "trái" when you refer to the fruit as something in general.]
- "Apple" means a hard round fruit that has red, light green, or yellow skin and is white inside.
"cái" is the most common classifier for things and objects. However, "trái" and "quả" are classifiers specifically for "fruit(s)". You can't say "CÁI táo" but "QUẢ táo" or "TRÁI táo".