Useful Vietnamese words and phrases

The Vietnamese language is a very difficult one to learn. Being a tonal language, with regional variations, it is nigh on impossible for a short-term traveller to get their mouth and tongue around some of the pronunciations (so it is very easy to say something impolite or inappropriate, or very funny). The Vietnamese language has 6 tones, which means that a word can be said 6 ways and have 6 different meanings!
There are also regional variations, to confuse matters further, so what you learn as polite in Saigon may be quite the opposite in Hanoi. In the 17th century, Alexander de Rhodes (Jesuit scholar and missionary) introduced the Romanized script, which was used by the ‘educated’ elite. It was not until 1954 (when Uncle Ho governed North Vietnam) that this Romanized script became the official written script for all the Vietnamese.
Today, English is the most popular second language in Vietnam, so there is bound to be someone around who can help you. Some people also speak French, while others speak Russian, but these are becoming less common. Having said how difficult it is to learn Vietnamese, don’t be put off, have a go, but also be prepared to receive a few laughs at your attempts. Below is a list of often used or useful words and phrases.

clients

English  

Hello

What is your name?

Thank you

See you later

Yes

Yes

No

Excuse me

Sorry

How much?

Where is the toilet?

Restaurant

Telephone

Post Office

I'm a vegetarian

I can’t eat red meat

I can’t eat wheat  my

I can’t eat msg

I am allergic to ...

I want to see a doctor

I have diarrhea

I don’t want ice /

milk / sugar

I want to eat chicken soup

I want to eat beef soup

I don't understand

Black coffee

White coffee

Tea

Ice

Water

Beer

Phonetics

sin chow

ten la zee

gum urn

hen gup lie

vung

roy

kom

sin loy

Xin loi

bough new

na vay sin ar dow?

nia hung

deen toewhy

boo dien

toy la nooi un chai

toy kom tie an dook tit door

toy kom te an dook bot me

toy kom un me chinh

toy la nooi be zi um...

toy mun gup buck sea

toy be dee ya chai

toy kom mun dah /

sewer / durng

toy mun un fur gar

toy mun un fur bor

toy kom beet

ca fe den

ca fe sewer

cha

nook da

nook

Beer

Vietnamese

Xin chao

Ten la gi?

Cam on

Hen gap lai

Vang (North)

Da (South)

Khong

Xin loi

Xin loi

Bao nhieu?

Nha ve sinh o dau?

Nha Hang

 Dien thoai

Buu dien

Toi la nguoi an chay

Toi khong the an duoc thit do

Toi khong the an duoc bot my

Toi khong an mi chinh

Toi la nguoi bi di ung...

Toi muon gap bac si

Toi bi di ia chay

Toi khong muon da /

sua / duong

Toi muon an pho ga

Toi muon an pho bo

Toi khong biet

Ca phe den

Ca phe sua

Tra

Nuoc da

Nuoc

Bia

Numbers take a little getting used to but here is a simple list with the phonetics in italics:

1- mot

2- hi

3- bar

4- bon

5- numb

6- sow

7- buy

8- tum

9- chin

10- mooee

mot

hai

ba

bon

nam

sau

bai

tam

chin

muoi

20-hi mooee

30-bar mooee

40- bon mooee

50-numb mooee

60-sow mooee

70-buy mooee

80-tum mooee

90-chin mooee

100-mot chum

1000-mot nian

hai muoi

ba muoi

bon muoi

nam moui

sau muoi

bay muoi

tam muoi

chin muoi

mot tram

mot ngan


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