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.
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.
|Structures||When to use||Examples|
|Chào + pronoun||most common way |
to greet anyone
|Chào + name||only to someone younger||Chào Ly|
|Chào + pronoun + name||only to someone older |
(more polite & intimate)
|Chào chị Mai|
|Pronoun 1 + chào + pronoun 2||only to someone older |
|Em chào chị (Mai) |
Con chào chú
(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.
When saying goodbye to somebody, you can use the following phrases of "See you soon", "See you later" and "See you tomorrow" in Vietnamese.
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 ạ, or use both in the same sentence.
dạ (is added at the beginning at the sentence)
ạ (is added at the end of the sentence)
A: Chào em. Gặp lại em sau!
B: Dạ, em chào anh. Gặp lại anh sau!
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
(a) Common Greetings in Vietnamese
(b) Common Wishes in Vietnamese
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:
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.
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
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” 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.
A: Dạo này em thế nào?
B: Em vẫn khỏe. Còn anh?
A: Mình là Mai. Còn bạn?
B: Mình tên là Ly.
“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).
A: John đang làm gì? (What's John doing?)
B: Ảnh đang ngủ (He's sleeping)
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.
A: Chị đang đi đâu đó (Where are you going?)
B: Chị đang đi chợ (I'm going to the market)
Here are some essential vocabulary about time:
bây giờ ⇢ now
mấy giờ ⇢ what time?
giờ ⇢ o'clock
phút ⇢ minute
giây ⇢ second
kém ⇢ minutes to
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)
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
chỗ đổi tiền ⇢ money changer
ngân hàng ⇢ bank
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.
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).
A: Chị ơi, cái này bao nhiêu tiền?
B: 40 ngàn
A: Ok. Cho em cái này.
A: Chị uống gì? | What do you drink?
B: Cho em 1 cà phê đá | Please give me 1 iced coffee
This is another sentence that you may find yourself using a lot as a beginner. Use the above sentence when you don't understand the other speaker. 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
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
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.
A: Cô ơi, cái này bao nhiêu tiền? B: 120 ngàn A: 100 ngàn được không? | 100k can? B: Được
In Vietnamese, Là (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
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 là 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 là right afterward.
Here are some common tastes:
chua ⇢ sour
cay ⇢ spicy
mặn ⇢ salty
ngọt ⇢ sweet
nhạt ⇢ plain
đắng ⇢ bitter