If you are just starting to learn Vietnamese, it is important to take a look at all the Vietnamese basic phrases and sentences for beginner level. These phrases are commonly used in Vietnamese daily conversation by the locals.

You will start with learning how to greet someone in Vietnamese to how to give basic expressions in Vietnamese.


Hello / Goodbye

  • xin chào ⇢ hello (formal)
  • chào ⇢ hello, goodbye (casual)

Xin chào is often used more in Vietnamese formal greetings. A reporter or a TV presenter may say xin chào to the audiences, or an event host may use it to greet the attendees.

More casual and common ways of Vietnamese greetings often start with the word Chào. To say goodbye in Vietnamese, you can also use the pattern Chào + pronoun.

StructuresWhen to useExamples
Chào + pronounmost common way
to greet anyone
Chào chú
Chào + nameonly to someone youngerChào Ly
Chào + pronoun + nameonly to someone older
(more polite & intimate)
Chào chị Mai
Pronoun 1 + chào + pronoun 2only to someone older
(more polite)
Em chào chị (Mai)
Con chào chú

Sample Conversation

(A is a male, old enough to be B's older brother)

A: Chào em
B: Chào anh

(C can be a male or female, young enough to be D's nephew/niece)

C: Con chào chú
D: Chào con


If you need to review on Personal Pronouns, refer to the course "Level 1: Vietnamese Basic Grammar" here.



See you

When saying goodbye to somebody, you can use the following phrases of "See you soon", "See you later" and "See you tomorrow" in Vietnamese.

  • Hẹn gặp lại (bạn) ⇢ See you (extremely polite)
  • Gặp lại (bạn) sau ⇢ See you later (casual)
  • Lát nữa gặp lại (bạn) ⇢ Meet you later (casual)
  • Mai gặp (bạn) ⇢ See you tomorrow (casual)

Pronoun can be omitted in the above phrases if you are talking to a same-age person or younger.

Besides using the appropriate pronouns to show politeness when addressing older people, Vietnamese also use either particle dạ or , or use both in the same sentence.

dạ (is added at the beginning at the sentence)
(is added at the end of the sentence)

Sample Conversation

A: Chào em. Gặp lại em sau!
B: Dạ, em chào anh. Gặp lại anh sau!



Thank you / Sorry / Excuse me

  • cám ơn (bạn) ⇢ thank you
  • xin lỗi (bạn) ⇢ sorry; excuse me
  • làm phiền bạn ⇢ excuse me; (sorry to bother)

The pronouns in the first 2 phrases are optional when speaking to a same-age person or younger.

The phrases làm phiền bạn or cảm phiền bạn are used when politely asking someone to do you a favor, especially if the person is much older. You may also hear these 2 phrases in services. For instance:

Làm phiền anh không hút thuốc ở đây
= Excuse me, please don't smoke here

Làm phiền bạn cầm giúp mình
= (Sorry to bother you) Please help me hold this



Common greetings and Wishes

(a) Common Greetings in Vietnamese

  • chào buổi sáng ⇢ good morning (commonly used, but mostly used to greet a group of people)
  • chào buổi tối ⇢ good evening (not often used & mostly to greet a group of people)
  • ngủ ngon ⇢ goodnight (commonly used)

(b) Common Wishes in Vietnamese

  • sinh nhật vui vẻ ⇢ happy birthday
  • năm mới vui vẻ ⇢ happy new year
  • Giáng Sinh vui vẻ ⇢ Merry Christmas
  • cuối tuần vui vẻ ⇢ happy weekend

To wish someone using the phrases above, simply use the structure [chúc + "pronoun"]. For example:

Chúc em sinh nhật vui vẻ
= Wish you a happy birthday

(c) Other casual wishes in Vietnamese:

  • chúc sức khoẻ ⇢ (for) good health
  • chúc may mắn ⇢ good luck
  • chúc ngon miệng ⇢ bon appétit
  • chúc ngon miệng ⇢ have fun


How are you?

First-time meeting

Vietnamese people don't use "How are you?" when greeting strangers or someone that you see very often. To a stranger, after a casual greeting with [Chào + pronoun], we proceed to ask each other's personal information, such as name and age.

To Acquaintances

When greeting someone you know after sometimes not seeing each other, start by saying [Chào + pronoun], then proceed to ask one of the following phrases:

Bạn khoẻ không? ⇢ How are you?
(often used with someone you are not particular close with, or someone more senior)
Dạo này bạn thế nào? ⇢ How are you lately?
Dạo này gia đình của bạn thế nào? ⇢ How is your family lately?
Dạo này công việc của bạn thế nào? ⇢ How is your job lately?

Some responses that you can use for the above phrases:

vẫn bình thường ⇢ still normal (as usual)
bận lắm! ⇢ very busy
không tốt lắm ⇢ not very good

Sample Conversation

A: Dạo này em thế nào?
B: Dạo này em bận lắm!

A: Dạo này gia đình của em thế nào?
B: Vẫn bình thường ạ.



And you?

  • Còn bạn

“And you” or “how about you” in Vietnamese is expressed using the pattern [còn + “pronoun”]. It makes the conversations sound more natural than to repeat the same question again.

Sample conversations:

A: Dạo này em thế nào?
B: Em vẫn khỏe. Còn anh?

A: Mình là Mai. Còn bạn?
B: Mình tên là Ly.



What are you doing?

  • Bạn đang làm gì đó? ⇢ What are you doing?

“Đang” is one of the Vietnamese tense markers. It is the equivalent of the present continuous in English. It is placed before a verb to denote an action that is taking place at the moment of speaking. Here are some examples:

John đang ăn táo = John is eating apples
John đang làm việc = John is working

Đó and Vậy are common ending particles in Vietnamese. They are placed at the end of the sentence to mark an action currently in progress (at the moment).

Sample conversation:

A: John đang làm gì? (What's John doing?)
B: Ảnh đang ngủ (He's sleeping)



Where are you going?

  • Bạn đang đi đâu đó? ⇢ Where are you going?

This sentence can be used to casually start a conversation with someone you know.

Đâu is another Vietnamese question word for "Where", and is often placed at the end of the question.

Sample conversations:

A: Chị đang đi đâu đó (Where are you going?)
B: Chị đang đi chợ (I'm going to the market)



What time is it?

  • Bây giờ là mấy giờ? ⇢ What time is it now?
  • Mấy giờ rồi? ⇢ What time already?

Here are some essential vocabulary about time:

bây giờ ⇢ now
mấy giờ ⇢ what time?
giờ ⇢ o'clock
phút ⇢ minute
giây ⇢ second
kém minutes to

Sample conversations:

A: Bây giờ là mấy giờ?
B: Bây giờ là tám giờ mười (8:10)

A: Mấy giờ rồi?
B: Mười giờ kém mười rồi (10mins to 10 / 9:50)



Where is the ... ?

  • Nhà vệ sinh ở đâu? ⇢ Where is the bathroom?
  • Thang máy ở đâu? ⇢ Where is the elevator?

Ở đâu is the equivalent of where in English. Like most Vietnamese question words, it is placed at the end of the question. Some useful locations that you might want to know:

tiệm thuốc ⇢ pharmacy
bệnh viện ⇢ hospital
tiệm giặt ủi ⇢ laundry shop
tiệm cắt tóc ⇢ barbershop
cửa hàng tiện lợi ⇢ convenience store
cửa hàng đổi tiền ⇢ money changer store
ngân hàng ⇢ bank



How much?

  • Cái này bao nhiêu tiền? ⇢ How much is this one?
  • Cái đó bao nhiêu tiền? ⇢ How much is that one?

Vocabulary

cái này ⇢ this one
cái đó ⇢ that one
bao nhiêu ⇢ how much; how many
tiền ⇢ money

As a beginner, you may not know lots of vocabulary or what things are called in Vietnamese. Therefore, the 2 words "cái này" and "cái đó" would be very useful to use. Cái này can be used to refer to something that is near to you, where cái đó for something further.



Please give me this one

  • Cho mình cái này ⇢ Please give me this one
  • Cho mình cái đó ⇢ Please give me that one

This phrase is very useful for beginners in situations such as ordering food & drink & shopping for stuff.

[ Cho + pronoun ] is used when you ask someone for something. Cho is a "powerful" word to know since it has so many meanings. Cho can mean 'to give', 'to put', 'to let', 'to think' and 'for'(preposition).

Sample conversation:

Shopping
A: Chị ơi, cái này bao nhiêu tiền?
B: 40 ngàn
A: Ok. Cho em cái này.

Ordering
A: Chị uống gì? | What do you drink?
B: Cho em 1 cà phê đá | Please give me 1 iced coffee



I don't understand

  • Xin lỗi, mình không hiểu? ⇢ Sorry, I don't understand

This is another sentence that you may find yourself using a lot as a beginner. To negate verbs in Vietnamese, simply place không before the verb. For instance

không hiểu ⇢ to not understand
không thích ⇢ to not like
không muốn ⇢ to not want



Can you ... ?

  • Bạn nói tiếng Anh được không? ⇢ Can you speak English?
  • Bạn nói chậm lại được không? ⇢ Can you speak slower?

The 2 sentences above can be used when you don't understand the person speaking Vietnamese. Được không is placed at the end of the sentence, as many other question words, to ask 'can?' or 'possible?' for someone to do something.

Short responses for question with "được không?":

(+) Affirmative: Được
(-) Negative: Không được

Sample Sentence

Xin lỗi, mình không hiểu. Bạn nói tiếng Anh được không?
Sorry, I don't understand. Can you speak English?

This same sentence pattern can also be used to bargain for prices when you go shopping.

Sample Conversation

A: Cô ơi, cái này bao nhiêu tiền? B: 120 ngàn A: 100 ngàn được không? | 100k can? B: Được



I'm hungry

  • Mình đói quá ⇢ I'm hungry
  • Mình thấy đói quá ⇢ I feel hungry

In Vietnamese, (to be) only precedes nouns or noun phrases, but not adjectives. To express your feeling, you can also use the verb thấy, a shorter form of cảm thấy (to feel).

Quá means very / too, and it is used as an exclamatory particle to express emotion in spoken Vietnamese. Quá can come before or after an adjective / adverb. However, when it comes before, it often refers to a negative connotation.

Other similar adjectives that you may want to know:

no ⇢ full
khát (nước) ⇢ thirsty
mệt ⇢ tired
vui ⇢ happy
buồn ⇢ sad
buồn ngủ ⇢ sleepy



It's very delicious

  • Rất là ngon! ⇢ Very delicious
  • Cái này rất là ngon! ⇢ This one is very delicious

Vietnamese food culture is very unique. When trying out some street foods or restaurant, giving a nice compliment about the food is going to make the chef/owner happy!

Rất means very/a lot in Vietnamese. The word being added after rất does not mean to be. It's there simply to make the sentence sounds more natural. Therefore, whenever you use an adverb of degree such as rất (very), khá (quite), consider adding right afterward.


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