18 Useful Words and Phrases to learn in Vietnamese

When arriving in a new country it is always a nice thought to learn some of the native language which is no exception in Vietnam. Whilst the amount of Vietnamese and the level of which they speak English at is sharply on the rise, it is always worth knowing a few key phrases to help you get by, especially when teaching the basics of English. If you look in any parks in the busier areas within the main cities, local teenage students can be found try to strike up a conversation with westerners to practice their English; it’s refreshing to see.

Haggling the price of something at a market in Vietnamese can often see the vendor lowering the usual going tourist rate and is often accompanied with a smile; they respect the attempt of conversing in their language (or because they know you are an Expat!). There are many benefits to learning common phrases to help living everyday life in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese alphabet does not contain the letters F, J, W and Z, however they have more characters than the English alphabet at 29. This is due to the accents on certain letters that produce a different sound. The pronunciation and the tone of the word is also extremely important especially for a singular word that is out of context. By saying the same word and ending on a higher tone, could mean something completely different to not keeping the same tone. The only similarity I can think of in the English language is the tone of how a question is raised, for example, ‘Go to the shop and get me some milk.’ and ‘Go to the shop and get me some milk?’ will be said differently in this way.

The phrases:

Hello / Hi

Xin Chào / Chào

[Sin – Chao / Chao]


How are you?

Bạn khỏe không

[Ban – Ko – Kong]


My Name is…

Tôi tên là…

[Toi – ten – la]



Làm ơn

[Lam – on]


Thank you

Cảm ơn/Cám ơn

[Cam – on]


















In English?

Bằng tiếng Anh?

[Bang – ting – an]







Vâng Co

[Vung or Cah]


Numbers 1-10


1              Một [Mot]

2              Hai [Hi]

3              Ba [Ba]

4              Bốn [Bon]

5              Năm [Nam]

6              Sáu [Sau]

7              Bảy [Bye]

8              Tám [Tahm]

9              Chín [Cheen]

10           Mười Mui


To say the numbers from 11-99, just put the two numbers required together, for example:

25 is 2-5 (Hai – Năm)


How much?

Bao nhiêu?

[Bao – Nee-u]


Too expensive

Mac Qua

[Mack – Kwa]


I do not understand

Tôi không hiểu

[Toy – kong – hue]



Xin lỗi

[Sin – loy]


Goodbye or bye

Tạm biệt

[Tam – Biet]


Whereas teachers are often asked to communicate in English during teaching time, it’s useful to know some basic language in Vietnemese, especially for younger children that may not know the English equivalent.


These blogs will become more frequent with the intention of giving advice and tips to those who are thinking of or will be in Vietnam to teach, so watch this space for more content soon.

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