Hello

     

When you arrive in Việt Nam, as the native speakers of Vietnamese điện thoại tư vấn it, the first thing you"ll want to vì chưng is greet your new hosts. That means knowing how to say all the basic pleasantries such as “hello”, “nice to lớn meet you”, and “how are you?”

On the surface, Vietnamese greetings are actually a pretty simple topic. There aren"t a lot of different ways to lớn say “hello” in Vietnamese.

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What complicates things is that, in order khổng lồ know how lớn say “hello” in Vietnamese correctly, you often need lớn include the right pronoun (he/she/you) – và in Vietnamese, there are a lot of potential pronouns lớn choose from.

In this article, I"ll teach you all the basic Vietnamese words you need to know lớn successfully greet people và exchange niceties. I"ll also cover the basics of Vietnam"s pronoun system, as it"s essential for Vietnamese greetings and much else.

Let"s start with the most basic Vietnamese greeting that every textbook will teach you first:

“Hello” in Vietnamese – Xin chào

Xin chào is the safest, most polite way of saying “hello” in Vietnamese. You can use it lớn greet anybody.

It"s easy to lớn remember because chào sounds just like the Italian greeting “ciao”, which is often used in English. The accent on chào tells you that it"s pronounced using the “falling tone”. (A full explanation of Vietnamese tones is beyond the scope of this article.)

With chào in our arsenal, it"s time to take a brief detour into the bizarre world of Vietnamese pronouns.

Vietnamese Pronouns – a Basic Introduction

One of the strangest things about Vietnamese is that it doesn"t really have a word for “you”. Yes, really. You"d think that this is quite an important word to lớn have, but somehow the Vietnamese manage without it.

Instead, you address people (and refer to lớn yourself) using familial words like “uncle”, “brother”, or “grandpa”.

These words aren"t restricted to lớn your actual family: you use them with everyone, even a stranger on the street. The specific word to use depends on the age, gender, và social status of the person you’re talking to.

So for example, if I want to lớn ask you how you are, và you"re a girl slightly younger than me, I could say em bao gồm khỏe không?, where em means “younger sibling”. To lớn an old man, I would instead say ông tất cả khỏe không? – “how are you, grandpa?” There are many other words to learn.

Here are a few you should know:

em – “younger sibling”; said to someone slightly younger than youbạn – “friend”; said khổng lồ someone around the same age as you.anh – “older brother”; said khổng lồ a male slightly older than youchị – “older sister”; said khổng lồ a female slightly older than youchú – “uncle”; said to an adult man – “aunt”; said to lớn an adult womanông – “grandpa”; said to lớn an elderly man or someone much older than you – “grandma”; said lớn an elderly woman or someone much older than you

Those are just a few of the most common Vietnamese pronouns, and there are a few more dialectal variations.

If this sounds complicated, that"s because it is. But don"t worry too much. Vietnamese people won"t get offended if you use the wrong word. They know that foreigners struggle with this stuff, and calling someone “grandpa” or asking them their age isn"t considered impolite lượt thích the way it can be in Western culture.

In fact, if you spend time in Vietnam you"ll notice that Vietnamese people tend khổng lồ ask you bao nhiêu tuổi? (“how old are you?”) all the time. They don"t mean khổng lồ be rude; this question is extremely common in Vietnam because people need khổng lồ know how old you are in order to know which pronoun to use for you.

Another quick note about pronouns: just as Vietnamese has no real word for “you”, it also has no real word for “I”. Once again, the word you use for “I” depends on who is speaking to you; you use the same word for “I” that they use for “you”.

So for example, a young man might say to his girlfriend: anh yêu thương em (“I love you”), literally “older brother loves younger sibling.” The girlfriend might then say back to him em yêu thương anh – “younger sibling loves older brother”. Lưu ý how anh means “I” in the first sentence but “you” in the second one.

There are some other ways of saying “I”, but we"ll worry about them later.

Here"s another fun fact about Vietnamese pronouns. You know how in English, we typically refer lớn people by their title & last name in formal situations? For example, in some situations you might be addressed as “Benny”, but in others, you might be called “Mr. Lewis”.

Vietnam isn"t lượt thích this, & they don"t really have “titles” in the same way we"d think of them in English. In fact, Vietnamese people don"t really use each other"s family names at all.

Like in many Asian cultures, Vietnamese names put the family name first and the given name last. So what Westerners call a “last name” is actually a “first name”, if you catch my drift. For the avoidance of doubt, I’ll refer lớn “family names” & “given names” instead of “first” và “last”.

So, if someone"s given name is “Hiển”, others might refer to him as “Anh Hiển” – brother Hiển. This is roughly analogous to lớn calling someone “Mr. (Family name)” in English.

I’ve only scratched the surface. The topic of Vietnamese pronouns goes much deeper. But the above should be enough to lớn get started. Let"s get back khổng lồ chào và the question of how to say “hi” in Vietnamese.

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“Hello” in Vietnamese Chào bạn/anh/chị

In general, xin chào can sound more formal than necessary. It"s more casual khổng lồ say chào followed by the appropriate pronoun, e.g.:

chào bạn – “hello (person same age as me)”chào anh – “hello (young man, boy slightly older than me)”chào chị – “hello (young woman, girl older than me)”

If you want lớn greet a group of people, you can say chào các bạn – “hello all (my) friends”.

By the way, if you"re not sure what all those weird accent marks mean on or under words like chị, or why Vietnamese sometimes has twố ằccents ọn the sẩme letter, you need khổng lồ go back & learn the Vietnamese alphabet. While Vietnamese is difficult khổng lồ pronounce, the writing system is actually fairly easy to learn. I’ll be publishing an article soon explaining how lớn read the Vietnamese alphabet.

“Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” and “Good Evening” in Vietnamese

If your brain needs a break from juggling all these pronouns, you might want to play it safe with one of these options:

chào buổi sáng means “good morning” in Vietnamesechào buổi chiều means “good afternoon” in Vietnamesechào buổi tối means “good evening” in Vietnamese

These greetings aren"t as commonly used as a simple chào bạn, but they"re still something you should know.

“Hello” (on the phone) in Vietnamese – Á-lô

I can only assume the Vietnamese got this one from the French. When you answer the phone in Vietnamese, you don"t say chào but á-lô, just like how in Portuguese you say alô & in French you say allô, all of which are of course derived originally from the English “hello”?

Á-lô is also the kind of thing you might say if the line is patchy và you"re not sure if the other person is there. Á-lô, can you hear me?

“Hey!” in Vietnamese – Ơi

Ơi sounds uncomfortably lượt thích the British “oi!”, which would be a rude way khổng lồ address a stranger in English.

But in Vietnam, ơi is an extremely common and perfectly polite way lớn get someone"s attention – on the street, in a shop, across the dinner table, or anywhere.

You"d usually preface it with the correct pronoun. For example, you might say anh ơi! to beckon the (male) waiter over in a restaurant.

You can also use ơi with someone"s given name. So when Anh Hiển walks into the room, try getting his attention with a Hiển ơi!

“How are you?” in Vietnamese – Khỏe không?

In Vietnamese, lớn ask someone how they are, what you’re really asking is if they"re khỏe – “healthy”.

So “how are you?” is khỏe không? (“are you healthy?”).

You can also use a slightly longer sentence with a pronoun. For example, you could ask an elderly man ông có khỏe không? (“are you (grandpa) healthy?”).

Vietnamese has no exact word for “yes”, so in order khổng lồ reply to a question in the affirmative, you simply repeat the word from the question. So the positive response khổng lồ khỏe không? is just khỏe! (“(I"m) healthy.”).

Không by itself just means “no”, so if “grandpa” is not feeling good, the conversation might look like this:

Ông có khỏe không?Không!

“What’s your name?” in Vietnamese – Tên của bạn là gì? / các bạn tên gì?

An important early step when getting to know someone is learning their name! “Name” in Vietnamese is tên, & to ask for it say tên của người tiêu dùng là gì? (“name of friend is what?”), or the simpler bạn thương hiệu gì?

As I hope you"ve figured out by now, you"ll need lớn replace bạn in the above examples with the appropriate pronoun for whom you"re talking to. So you might instead ask tên của cô ý là gì? or bà thương hiệu gì?

Once you & your conversation partner know each other"s names, it might be time to drop this pronoun malarkey altogether. It"s common in Vietnamese lớn refer to yourself và others in the third person, even when it would sound strange to vị so in English.

Phưc: Phưc là ngừơi Việt. George là ngừơi Mỹ, yêu cầu không?George: Không phãi, George là ngừơi Anh.

Translation:

Phưc: Phưc is Vietnamese. Is George American?George: No, George is English.

This style of speech sounds weird khổng lồ an English speaker, but in Vietnam it"s considered friendly & respectful. Plus it means you can take a break from worrying about which pronoun khổng lồ use.

“Nice lớn Meet You” in Vietnamese – Rất vui được chạm mặt bạn

After greeting someone, and learning their name (and age), the next thing you might want to bởi vì is say rất vui được chạm chán bạn. This means “nice to meet you!”

Once again, replace bạn with the right pronoun.

“Goodbye” in Vietnamese: Tạm biệt / Hẹn gặp gỡ lại

We"ve covered how khổng lồ say “hello”, but what if you want lớn say “goodbye” in Vietnamese? The most important phrase to lớn know here is tạm biệt, which means, well, “goodbye”!

Another phrase you might say hẹn gặp lại, which literally means “(I) hope (we) meet again!”

More Ways to lớn Say “I” in Vietnamese

Since knowledge of Vietnamese pronouns is so essential to lớn a knowledge of Vietnamese greetings, I feel it"s helpful to over on another quick pronoun-related point.

A ubiquitous pronoun that you absolutely must know is tôi, pronounced “toy”. Most “learn Vietnamese” books will tell you that this word means “I”, although its literal meaning is something more lượt thích “servant”.

As you speak with Vietnamese people, however, you"ll quickly learn that tôi is considered a bit too formal for everyday speech. Really, you should refer to yourself as em/anh/chi etc. As described above.

Tôi is the kind of word you use in abstract situations with no specific audience, e.g. Writing a newspaper article or addressing a camera.

It"s also a word you could use in a crowd if you want to be absolutely clear that you"re talking about yourself và not, say, someone else in the room who could conceivably be an em.

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của ai? – “whose is this?”của tôi! – “It’s mine!”

But tôi can still show up in greetings. For example, tôi vô cùng vui được chạm chán anh (“I"m very pleased to meet you”).

Cảm ơn các bạn for reading! (That means “thank you, friends!”)

What are the other essential words and phrases for when you first meet someone in Vietnamese? Is there anything I"ve missed?

And vày you have any tips for remembering the vast array of Vietnamese pronouns và knowing which ones khổng lồ use? (The pronoun topic is much deeper than what I scratched upon here. It really is one of the unusual things about the language.)