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Lesson Transcript

Becky: Xin chào! I’m Becky. Welcome back to VietnamesePod101.com This is the Absolute Beginner series, Season 1, Lesson 2 - Asking Someone’s Name in Vietnamese
Huyen: Xin chào! I’m Huyen.
Becky: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask “What’s your name?” in different situations. The conversation is between Lan, Mary, and Nam. You’re going to listen to the dialogue in three different situations; one informal, one formal with a woman, and the other with a man.
Huyen: They are strangers and meet each other for the first time. Let’s listen to the conversation.
:(When asking in general)
Lan: Bạn tên là gì?
Mary: Tôi tên là Mary.
:(When asking a slightly older woman, or a young woman in formal situations)
Mary: Chị tên là gì?
Lan: Tôi tên là Lan.
:(When asking a slightly older man, or a young man in formal situations.)
Lan: Anh tên là gì?
Nam: Tôi tên là Nam.
:(When asking in general)
Lan: What's your name?
Mary: My name is Mary.
:(When asking a slightly older woman, or a young woman in formal situations)
Mary: What's your name?
Lan: My name is Lan
:(When asking a slightly older man, or a young man in formal situations.)
Lan: What's your name?
Nam: My name is Nam.
Becky: Let’s talk about Vietnamese pronouns. The Vietnamese language has a complicated system of pronouns.
Huyen: Yeah, it depends a lot on gender, age, and the intimacy of the relationship
Becky: For example, there are different pronouns which mean “I”, and you have to change the word for “I” depending on who you are talking to. There are also different pronouns meaning “you”, and we’ll learn them all one by one throughout this series.
Huyen: Yes, it’s going to be very interesting.
Becky: Right, But for now, as beginners, we still don’t know which pronouns are appropriate, so it’s better to be safe and politely ask the other person how you should address him or her when you first meet.
Huyen: And you know what, Vietnamese people are very interested in talking with foreigners. They’ll definitely tell you how to use pronouns correctly.
Becky: That’s true. Okay, now let’s move on to the vocab.
Becky: Let’s take a closer look at some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Huyten The first word is Anh.
Becky: This is one of the most common pronouns in Vietnamese. It’s second person singular, which means “you”. The word itself means “older brother”, but when it is used as a pronoun, it refers to a slightly older man or a young man you meet in formal situation.
Huyen: That’s right. In this case, anh is more polite than bạn.
Becky: What’s the next word, Huyen?
Huyen: Chị.
Becky: Again, this pronoun also means “you” and is commonly used. The word itself means “older sister”, but when it’s used as a pronoun, it refers to a slightly older woman or a young woman you meet in formal situation. Okay, now onto the grammar.
Becky: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask “What’s your name?” in Vietnamese.
Huyen: In general, the question is Bạn tên là gì?
Becky: The literal translation of this question is “You name is what?” and it can also be translated as “What are you named?” Let’s break this down:
Huyen: First is the pronoun bạn...
Becky: ...which means “you”.
Huyen: Then we have tên...
Becky: ...which means “name”.
Huyen: Then the verb là…
Becky: ...which is “to be”. And finally the question word
Huyen: gì which means “what”.
Becky: To answer this question, say...
Huyen: Tôi tên là.
Becky: And then you say your name. We learned this in the first lesson. We’ve just learned the general translation of “What’s your name?” Let’s see how it changes in different situations.
Huyen: Well, Bạn tên là gì? can be used in most situations. But the pronoun bạn usually refers to a person around your age.
Becky: So, when talking with someone older than you or someone in formal situations as in business, this pronoun is not appropriate.
Huyen: In such cases, replace bạn with anh when the other person is a young man and replace “bạn” with “chị” when the other person is a young woman.
Becky: The rest of the question remains unchanged. The answer to the new questions stays the same too, which is...
Huyen: Tôi tên là and your name.
Becky: Let’s hear some examples.
Huyen: Bạn tên là gì? Tôi tên là An.
Becky: “What’s your name?” “My name is An.”
Huyen: Anh tên là gì? Tôi tên là Nam.
Becky: “What’s your name?” “My name is Nam.” “You” in this case is a young man, in formal situations.
Huyen: Chị tên là gì? Tôi tên là Mary.
Becky: “What’s your name?” “My name is Mary.” “You” in this case is a young woman, in formal situations.


Becky: That’s all for this lesson. Now you can practice asking Vietnamese people’s names!
Huyen: We hope you have enjoyed this lesson.
Becky: Don’t forget to check the lesson notes to reinforces what you you’ve learned in this lesson.
Huyen: See you in our next lesson. Tạm biệt!
Becky: Thanks for listening, bye!


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Monday at 6:30 pm
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Hello Listeners! Do you feel ready to ask somebody's name in Vietnamese? Let's practice!

Thursday at 6:26 pm
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Hi Ali,

Thanks for your comment and just a minor correction:

"Xin chào. Tôi tên là Ali.

Anh tên là gi?

Chị tên là gi?"

Please let us know if you have any questions.



Team VietnamesePod101.com

Tuesday at 3:49 pm
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Xin chào. Tôi tên la Ali.

Anh tên lá gi?

Chị tên lá gi?

Rất vui được gặp bạn :)

Monday at 11:41 am
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Chào Holger!

Breaking a sentence into each word is a great way to analyze it and learn from there! Thanks for sharing a great tip with our fellow students!

Have a great day! ?


Team VietnamesePod101.com

Tuesday at 1:15 am
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Xin chào Khanh.

Và cảm ơn em rất nhiều.

Em đã làm cho tôi mỉm cười ngày hôm nay.

Thank you Khanh. :-) I just read your feedback today and you made me smile.

I really appreciate your feedback.

I might stress something again that might help a lot of people too, it is:

1.) You might also use google translator to learn Vietnamese.

Let's show what's important when for example learning the phrase:

Tôi xin lỗi.

Google will just tell:

I'm sorry.

While this might be correct, what do we get when we translate each syllable?

Tôi - I

xin - please

lỗi. - error

Now you learned a lot more than just the phrase and know how it's assembled.

2.) Or one more only as a further example:

Em khỏe không?

What do we get if we dissect this into syllables as well?

Em - this is the pronoun for people male or female from 5-10 years younger then you (correct me, if I'm wrong. :-)

khỏe - strong

không - (are) not

So literally it's more like:

she/he strong (is) not?

or more in valid English?

She's not strong?

But the không has here the function of an intonation question.

This is a question that could be answered with yes/no.

Or in Vietnamese with repeating the part:

Em khỏe. (If she feels good)


Em không khỏe.

If she's not feeling good.

But I guess this is only used, when you didn't see someone for quite some time?

3.) Because you could also follow a sentence more like this:

Bạn tên là gì?

Friend's name is what?

Yes, this is some extra work at first and translating each syllable in google as well.

But it will help rapidly to improve so much quicker. And you don't have to do it.

But you could. And will get through here much quicker. For sure. :-)

Have a nice day.

(Chúc anh một ngày tốt đẹp.)

4.) Google will help you type in a sentence if you omit all the diacritics, this means:

Write for example:

Em khoe khong? (Without any tone signs)

and google will many times correctly add:

Em khỏe không?

If it does not, normally there was already a diacritic added.

Tôi yêu việt nam và tôi yêu tiếng việt.

Greets from Switzerland.


Monday at 2:00 pm
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Hi Holger,

I can't tell you how impressed I am reading your post! What an excellent progress you are making! Thanks so much for taking your time to write this and I am sure many other students will find it useful. We are glad to help you improve your Vietnamese and would love any further feedbacks and questions from you!

Have a great day!


Team VietnamesePod101.com

Monday at 7:58 am
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This is my introduction:

Xin chào em (Teacher's name).

Tôi tên là Holger.

Tôi đến từ Đức.

Một trong những sở thích của tôi là sáng tác.

Và Một trong những sở thích của tôi là sáng tác nhạc

Rất vui được làm quen với em.

Và tôi thích nghe nhạc.

Tôi Bốn mươi mốt tuổi.

Tôi là một kỹ sư phần mềm.

Tôi đã học tiếng Việt trong vài tháng.

Because it also contains how are you and the name. Just the question about the name is missing. So:

Tôi yêu tieng viet.

Tôi tên là Holger.

Em tên là gì?

Rất vui được gặp bạn!

And what I found out about Vietnamese, I don't know if everything is correct, but it may help:

What I learned about Vietnamese:

1. Vietnamese Has No Genders

It seem like Vietnamese has no concept of "masculine" or "feminine" words.

So the language can be learned without this, without any need for extra memorisation.

2. Vietnamese Dispenses with "a" and "the"

Người can mean both a person or "the person", and as it seems there is no worry about the distinction.

3. Vietnamese Doesn’t Have Plurals

In English or German or Spanish, when we want to make something plural we usually stick an "s" on the end of it.

"Dog" becomes "dogs", "table" becomes "tables" and "house" becomes "houses". However, there are many exceptions. "Person" becomes "people", "mouse" becomes "mice", "man" becomes "men", and some words like "sheep" or "fish" don’t change at all.

In Vietnamese, everything is like a sheep.

The word người, which I’ve already mentioned, can be used for both "people" or "person";

"chó" is "dog" or "dogs",

"bàn" is "table" or "tables", and so on.

First I thought this might get confusing for me, but I found that if someone doesn't add a "the" or "a" normal this is not a problem.

And if I want to be really specific, I can just put an extra word in front of the noun, like:

một người (one person),

nhũng người (some people),

or các người (all the people).

Seems to be easier now.

And it’s not just nouns that are simple…

4. Vietnamese Has No Confusing Verb Endings

Vietnamese seems to be a completely non-inflective language – no word ever changes its form in any context. Learn the word nói, and you know how to say "speak" in all contexts and tenses for all speakers.

I nói,

you nói,

he or she nói,

we nói, you all nói,

and they nói.

Seems like this part makes it easier again.

5. Vietnamese Tenses Can Be Learned Easier than in other languages?

Vietnamese tenses are easy it seems. When taking the original verb, e.g. "ăn" (to eat), and stick one of the following 5 words in front of it:

đã = in the past

mới = in the recent past, more recently than đã

đang = right now, at this very moment

sắp = soon, in the near future

sẽ = in the future

(But there exists some times more, right?.)

To give you some concrete examples ("tôi" means "I"):

Tôi ăn cơm = I eat rice

Tôi đã ăn cơm = I ate rice

Tôi mới ăn cơm = I just ate rice, I recently ate rice

Tôi đang ăn cơm = I am eating rice (right now)

Tôi sắp ăn cơm = I am going to eat rice, I am about to eat rice

Tôi sẽ ăn cơm = I will eat rice.

Better yet, you can often skip these words entirely if it’s obvious from the context

– for example "tôi ăn cơm hom qua" – "I eat rice yesterday" – is perfectly valid Vietnamese, if my researches are right.

6. I Don’t Have To Learn a New Alphabet

Because the letters are on the keyboard or phone.

Still a little bit hard for me is to remember the diacritics (is this correct?) the marks over the words if needed, for example in "tôi" so the ^ is a diacritic

In fact I got the impression, learning to read Vietnamese is actually easier than learning to read English, because…

7. Vietnamese Spelling is Highly Consistent and Unambiguous

Because how to pronounce the English words "read", "object", "close", and "present"? Well, was it close, or did you close?

Did you present the present, read what I’ve read, or object to the object?

Vietnamese, seems not to have the inconsistency of English writing/reading . The same letter is always pronounced the same way no matter what the word or context

and you can always tell from reading a single Vietnamese word exactly how it’s supposed to be pronounced.

Once I can read the Vietnamese alphabet’s and understand its five tone marks, I can read any Vietnamese word.

8. Vietnamese Grammar is Virtually Non-Existent

I already mentioned how Vietnamese lets you leave out the tense word (like saying "I eat rice yesterday")

Broken sounding sentences might be correct in Vietnamese because we can use the minimum of words.

9. Vietnamese Vocabulary is Highly Logical

What I loved a lot, is the amusing fact that

xe ôm –

the local name for Vietnam’s ubiquitous motorbike taxis –

translates literally as "hug vehicle."

But it doesn’t stop there – a huge percentage of Vietnamese vocabulary is formed by just combining two words in a logical manner, whereas in English you'd have to learn an entirely new third word that sounds completely different.

For instance, if I told you that máy means "machine" and bay means "flying", could you guess what máy bay means?

There are more examples than I can begin to list:

a bench is a "long chair",

a refrigerator is a "cold cupboard",

a bra is a "breast shirt" and

a bicycle is a "pedal vehicle".

To ski is "to slide snow",

a tractor is a "pulling machine",

a turkey is a "western chicken",

a zebra is a "striped horse",

and the list goes on and on and on.

I think with this knowledge I gained now it's a little easier to learn.

This should unlock more words for me in a short time.

So basically what is left is (I do not mean with this I don't have to learn as much anymore, it's just much easier to understand now):

Studying pronounciation, how to write and read.

Now I am continuing with the studies since I just came back from vacation.

Thursday at 11:51 pm
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Hi Hailey,

Welcome to VietnamesePod101.com!

Your are right. This is how Vietnamese from Hanoi speak. Have you been practicing on how to ask someone's name?

Tôi là Huyền. Rất vui được gặp bạn!

Do you understand what I wrote above?

Enjoy your time studying with us and please feel free to ask if you have any questions.



Team VietnamesePod101.com

Saturday at 9:19 am
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Is this how Vietnamese from Hanoi speak? Or is this different?

Tuesday at 12:05 pm
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Hi David,

Thank you for your question.

You were not hearing it wrong. That's how people in the north of Vietnam speak in real life.

We do not distinguish d, gi and r in speaking (but we do write them correctly in writing) and they are all pronounced like /z/

I know it's confusing to foreigners but that's the speaking habit of Northerners.



Team VietnamesePod101.com

Thursday at 1:16 am
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What is going on with the phonics with some of these words?

In the sentence Toi ten la gi? the word gi sounds like /zee/

In the statement, nice to meet you, rat sounds like zat.

Am I just hearing it wrong or is there something going on in spoken Vietnamese that is similar to English minimal pairs where a word like little is actual pronounced lidel?