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The Most Common Ways to Say Hello in Vietnamese

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Chào các bạn!

Saying “Hello” in Vietnamese is just a piece of cake because it’s as easy as learning the Vietnamese alphabet especially for new learners.

    – Wait a minute! Then why am I here?

What is really challenging, on the other hand, is how to choose the right pronoun to address locals. It’s not as simple as “You” and “I” only in English. You need to guess how old people are and what the right pronoun to use is (including for yourself) 

    – Wait, what???

Don’t freak out, I’m here to help! 

Needless to say, “Xin chào” is obviously the easiest and most common way to say Hello in Vietnam. However, we are going into it and discover the most common Vietnamese greetings that you can start using by the end of this article. By breaking down the principles into smaller pieces, greeting someone when learning Vietnamese will become way easier than you thought. Not to mention you’ll be able to impress locals also.

Ready? Let’s start with the most “problematic” one, cách xưng hô với người Việt (how to address Vietnamese people)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills! Table of Contents
  1. Đại từ (Personal pronoun)
  2. Cấu trúc câu (sentence structure)
  3. Cách chào đối với bạn bè thân thiết (How to greet close friends)
  4. Cách chào trang trọng (Formal ways to greet people)
  5. Cách chào đối với các mối quan hệ xã giao (How to greet social relations)
  6. Cách chào theo thời điểm trong ngày (Greetings based on different times of the day)
  7. Cách chào người lâu không gặp (How to greet people you haven’t seen for a long time)
  8. Cách chào tạm biệt (How to say goodbye)
  9. Greeting etiquette
  10. 1. Đại từ (Personal pronoun) 

    By knowing the right personal pronoun, you’ve already mastered one of the most challenging parts of learning Vietnamese that allows you to confidently communicate with locals. 

    • First, you will probably meet young people when coming to Vietnam. These are for talking to friends or people at your age. 
      Tôi, tớ, mình, tao : I
      Bạn, cậu, mày : You

    Ví dụ  (example) : 

      -Me talking to a friend : Tao không tin là nó kết hôn rồi (I don’t believe that she’s married)
      – My friend : Tao cũng thế (Me neither)

    Here you can see that we both use “tao” for ourselves as “I” and it’s also applicable for “me”.

    Một ví dụ khác (another example)

      – Me talking to a friend : Cuối tuần mày rảnh không? (Are you free this weekend?)
      – My friend : Tao chưa biết được (I don’t know yet)

     Bear in mind that “tao” and “mày” should be used for very close friends or siblings in a friendly environment. Any cases out of this context would be considered rude, disrespectful or aggressive. 

    • Next, when talking to (up to around) 20 years older people, it will change to :
      Em : I 
      Anh (for males) /chị (for females) : You

    This means younger people usually have to show respect to older people in Vietnam and using different pronouns reflects it, which also means if you want to disown someone, change the pronoun 🙂 (I’ll tell you more  in the coming parts).

    Ví dụ : 

      – Me talking to my elder sister : Chị cho em mượn xe nhé (May I borrow your vehicle?)
      – My sister : Ừ, nhớ về sớm nhé (Okay, remember to come back soon) – 

    In this situation, she doesn’t have to use pronouns if she doesn’t want to because she’s older than me. It’s very common to omit some words in Vietnamese when it’s not necessary, such as in informal talks.

    • When talking to (up to) 20~30 years older people who are in your parents generation, what you will have to use are: 
      Cháu : I
      (for females) /Chú (for males) /Bác (for all) : You

    We use “” (for females) and “Chú” (for males) to address people who are younger than your parents whereas “Bác” is used with people who you think are older than your parents. How do you know if they’re younger or older than your parents? You’ll have to guess or it’s based on how well you know the person. One tip is to always use “” and “Chú” because it means they look young to you. 

    Ví dụ : 

      – Me talking to my aut : gọi cháu có việc gì không (ạ)? (Did you call me for something?)
      – My aunt : định rủ cháu đi ăn trưa (I was planning to ask you out for lunch)

    Một ví dụ khác : 

      – Me (33 years old) talking to a 50 year-old cashier : cho cháu gửi tiền (Miss, I’d like to pay)
      – Her : Của cháu hết 100 (Your bill is 100.000vnd)

    If you want to learn more about Possessive pronouns as in this example, we’ve got a lesson about it. 

    God! It’s getting confusing..

    • Last one (I promise), when talking to grandparents generations, what we use are:
      Cháu : I
      Ông (for grandpas)/ (for grandmas) : You

    Ví dụ

      – Me talking to my grandpa : Ông ơi, ông có muốn uống trà không ạ? (Grandpa, would you like some tea?)
      – My grandpa : Có, cho ông một chén (Yes, give me a cup of tea)

    You can see here that we use “ông” in both two sentences, which mean “ông” can be used for me to call my grandpa but it also can be used for my grandpa to use for himself (It’s similar to the example with “cháu” above).

      – My grandpa : Có, cho ông một chén (Yes, give “grandpa” a cup of tea)
    Two Kids Running Towards Their Grandparents

    2. Cấu trúc câu (sentence structure)

    We have just been through one of the most difficult principles of the basic Vietnamese language. You can now relax because it’s super easy to form a Hello sentence when learning Vietnamese.

    • Full sentence:
    Cấu trúc câu
    (Sentence structure)
    Chủ ngữ
    (Subject)
    chào
    (“greet”)
    người được chào
    (the person being greeted)

    (used when talking to older people to show respect)
    Ví dụ
    (Example)
    Emchàoanh

    Ví dụ : 

      Em chào anh (ạ) : for older brother
      Em chào chị (ạ) : for older sisters
      Cháu chào cô (ạ) : for older aunts
      Cháu chào chú (ạ) : for older uncles
      Cháu chào ông (ạ) : for grandpas
      Cháu chào bà (ạ) : for grandmas

    A tip to remember “ạ” is to think of it as the first letter of the Vietnamese alphabet with a dot to show respect when talking to older people. 

    Chào + người được chào (the person that you greet)/name

    Ví dụ : 

      Chào anh 
      Chào chị
      Chào cô
      Chào chú
      Chào Linh
      Chào Hương

    All of the examples above are to be used in both formal and informal situations. Although the shorter version seems faster to speak, it’s more polite when using the full version.

    3. Cách chào đối với bạn bè thân thiết (How to greet close friends)

    Close friends are easier to treat and there are different ways to greet people like them such as:

      Ê (Hey)
      A lô (Hello?)
      Đang đâu? (Where are you?)
      Đang làm gì đấy? (What are you doing?)
      Mày ơi (Hey you…)
      Đi đâu đây? (Where are you going?)

    Remember that those sentences can be used for both text messages and phone calls, meaning you can either type or start a conversation with close friends by saying them.

    Ví dụ : 

    Tôi (me) : A lô
    Bạn tôi (my friend) : Ơi? (What?)
    Tôi : Đang làm gì đấy? (What are you doing?)
    Bạn tôi : Chuẩn bị ngủ, làm sao? (About to sleep, what’s up?)
    Tôi : Thôi, ngủ đi (Never mind, sleep!)

    Wondering what “đi” means in the sentence, I’ve got a video about it for you. Simply check it here. Also, if you notice some vowels in the Vietnamese alphabet have a hat when writing, they are : a, e, o. When typing them using the Vietnamese keyboard, we press the key twice.  For example : aa becomes â, ee becomes ê, oo becomes ô. 

    4. Cách chào trang trọng (Formal ways to greet people)

    It’s not hard to sound formal because you only need to remember these rules: 

    • Use the short version of the sentence (Subject is not needed)

    Ví dụ : 

    Informal wayFormal way
    Em chào anh
    (Hi/hello)
    Chào anh
    (Hello Sir)
    Em chào anh chị
    (Hi everyone)
    Chào mọi người
    (Hello everyone)
    Em mời anh vào
    (Come in please)
    Xin mời vào
    (Come in please)
    • Use “Tôi” for “I” instead of “em” 

    Ví dụ : 

    Informal wayFormal way
    Em đến rồi
    (I’m here already)
    Tôi đến rồi
    (I’m here already)
    Mình đây/Em đây
    (I’m here)
    Tôi đây
    (I’m here)
    • When you greet people in a meeting or event, you can use these sentences : 
      Xin kính chào quý vị và các bạn (Ladies and gentlemen)
      Xin chào các anh, các chị (Hello everyone)

    5. Cách chào đối với các mối quan hệ xã giao (How to greet social relations)

    A New Coworker Is Being Introduced

    Greeting social relations is quite similar to formal greetings. The only difference, if any, is whether you want to show your emotions or not. What I was trying to say is, depending on how close you are, you can decide which way you would use to greet people in basic Vietnamese. 

    Therefore, it’s pretty easy at this point. A few simple examples that you may use for colleagues, acquaintances or an old friend are:

      Xin chào (Hello) – in most cases
      Chào mọi người (Hello everyone) – when meeting a group of colleagues
      Chào cả nhà (Hello everyone) – when meeting a group of old friends
      Chào mừng các bạn (Welcome you guys …) – when welcoming participant in an event
      Chào nhé (Bye) – when saying goodbye to anyone

    6. Cách chào theo thời điểm trong ngày (Greetings based on different times of the day)

    A Girl Standing at an Open Door

    Another thing that you may be interested in is how to say Hi in basic Vietnamese based on different times of the day. Unlike in English, Vietnamese native speakers don’t usually say things like “Good afternoon” or “Good evening”. In case you still want to find out something similar to easily remember and connect to your mother tongue, here are some examples:

      Chào buổi sáng (Good morning)
      Buổi tối vui vẻ (Have a fun evening)
      Chúc các bạn ngủ ngon (Goodnight/Sleep well)

    Those are very popular in both spoken and written basic Vietnamese and commonly used on TV shows, daily meetings or at the end of an event. Another note is we don’t really say Hi in the middle of the day or when you see someone again during the day. We just simply smile or ask something instead if we want to be friendly. And that’s all you need to remember. 

    7. Cách chào người lâu không gặp (How to greet people you haven’t seen for a long time)

    Two Old Man Greeting Each Other

    If you’re meeting an old friend, a family member or a classmate that you haven’t met for a while, here is what you can say to them:

      Khoẻ không? (How are you?)
      Lâu lắm không gặp (I haven’t seen you in such a long time)
      Dạo này thế nào rồi/Dạo này sao rồi? (How have you been lately?)
      Công việc dạo này thế nào? (How has your job/work been?)
      Trùng hợp nhỉ/Trùng hợp quá (What a coincidence!) – This can be used if you unexpectedly see someone somewhere. This also sounds a little bit sarcastic if you mean you didn’t think that person is able to be there for some reason.

    8. Cách chào tạm biệt (How to say goodbye)

    Last but not least, you will definitely say goodbye to someone after having a conversation. The fact is Vietnamese native speakers sometimes use “bye” for both speaking and writing. Furthermore, we also have several ways to say before leaving. 

    Ví dụ : 

      Chào nhé (Bye)
      Đi đây (gotta go)
      Tôi phải đi đây (I gotta go)
      Gặp sau nhé (See you later)
      Có gì alo (Call you later)
      Nói chuyện sau nhé (Talk to you later)
      Hẹn sớm gặp lại (See you soon) – For someone you might not see for some time
      Giữ sức khoẻ nhé/Bảo trọng nhé (Take care) – For someone you might not see for some time
    Two Couples Saying Goodbye at the Door

    Bear in mind that all the cases that I’ve mentioned above are for you to clearly understand the purposes and the meaning of Vietnamese greetings. It doesn’t mean you cannot use some of them for different situations. To make it simple we can use ways mentioned in Part 1. However, to impress Vietnamese native speakers and communicate like a native, you can try all the other suggestions. 

    9. Greeting etiquette

    I was planning to stop at 8 but decided to add one more topic which is good manners when greeting Vietnamese people (I like number 9 a lot). In fact, there are certain things that I want to remind you so that you won’t make mistakes when it comes to cultures. 

      – When talking to older people, you can put “” at the end of the sentence to show respect. However, it’s not necessary in writing to avoid repetition. Using them occasionally is enough.
      – In the North of Vietnam, family cultures are shown pretty clearly. Therefore, when coming to someone’s house, you can observe and see whether they’re religious, their house is very neat and tidy, there are old people in the family … or not to behave appropriately. Vietnamese native speakers often prefer guests to take off their shoes before entering. If you’re young, remember to take off your hat also when you greet older people.
      – Bowing is not a Vietnamese culture but having your arm crossing over your chest and slightly bowing are very nice and respectful gestures for kids when greeting adults. You don’t have to do so but it would be great if your kids do. That would really impress others.
      – Do not try to talk to or greet people when you’re chewing because it might be seen as rude or disrespectful. Finishing the food and greeting properly is considered even more polite. 

    10. Conclusion

    Alright!! That’s pretty much everything. From a Vietnamese native speaker’s perspective, I’m very confident that I’ve shared with you the most useful key phrases and techniques that you need when saying Hello (and Goodbye) in basic Vietnamese. Things have never been easier and I hope you’ll be able to apply them very soon. 

    I know that I’ve mentioned several times but on VietnamesePod101.com we publish plenty of lessons and vocabulary lists that include audio files so that you can practice pronunciation also. Give it a shot!

    Hẹn sớm gặp lại!

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