Lesson 1: How to greet in Vietnamese

Greeting is an essential part of daily interactions, and understanding how to greet someone properly is crucial when learning Vietnamese. “Lesson 1: How to greet in Vietnamese” will cover different forms of greetings, appropriate usage in various contexts, and cultural nuances.


1. Basic Greetings

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Xin chào

  • Usage: This is the most common way to say “Hello” in Vietnamese. It is appropriate for both formal and informal settings.
  • Example:
    • Xin chào, bạn khỏe không?
    • Hello, how are you?

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Chào bạn

  • Usage: This greeting is used to say “Hello, friend” and is commonly used among peers.
  • Example:
    • Chào bạn, hôm nay thế nào?
    • Hello, how’s your day?

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Chào anh/chị

  • Usage: “Anh” and “chị” mean “older brother” and “older sister” respectively, and are used to address men and women slightly older than the speaker. It shows respect and politeness.
  • Example:
    • Chào anh, anh có khỏe không?
    • Hello, are you well?

2. Time-Specific Greetings

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Chào buổi sáng

  • Usage: This means “Good morning” and is used until around 10 AM.
  • Example:
    • Chào buổi sáng, bạn có ngủ ngon không?
    • Good morning, did you sleep well?

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Chào buổi trưa

  • Usage: This means “Good afternoon” and is used from around 10 AM to 1 PM.
  • Example:
    • Chào buổi trưa, bạn đã ăn trưa chưa?
    • Good afternoon, have you had lunch?

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Chào buổi chiều

  • Usage: This means “Good afternoon/evening” and is used from around 1 PM to 6 PM.
  • Example:
    • Chào buổi chiều, bạn làm việc có mệt không?
    • Good afternoon, are you tired from work?

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Chào buổi tối

  • Usage: This means “Good evening” and is used from around 6 PM onwards.
  • Example:
    • Chào buổi tối, bạn đã ăn tối chưa?
    • Good evening, have you had dinner?

3. Formal and Respectful Greetings

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Kính chào

  • Usage: This formal greeting is equivalent to “Respectful greetings” and is used in formal settings or when addressing someone of higher status.
  • Example:
    • Kính chào quý vị
    • Respectful greetings, everyone

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Chào ông/bà

  • Usage: “Ông” means “sir” and “bà” means “madam”. These terms are used to greet elderly men and women, showing respect.
  • Example:
    • Chào ông, ông có khỏe không?
    • Hello sir, are you well?

4. Casual and Friendly Greetings

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Ừ, chào

  • Usage: This casual form of greeting is often used among close friends and peers.
  • Example:
    • Ừ, chào, lâu quá không gặp
    • Hey, long time no see

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Ê, bạn

  • Usage: This informal and friendly greeting is akin to “Hey, friend“.
  • Example:
    • Ê, bạn, đi đâu vậy?
    • Hey, friend, where are you going?

5. Greeting Questions and Responses

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Asking “How are you?”

  • Bạn có khỏe không?
  • How are you?

Example Response:

  • Tôi khỏe, cảm ơn.
  • I’m fine, thank you.
  • Tôi không khỏe lắm.
  • I’m not very well.

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Asking “How’s your day?”

  • Hôm nay thế nào?
  • How’s your day?

Example Response:

  • Hôm nay tôi rất bận.
  • Today, I am very busy.
  • Ngày hôm nay của tôi rất tốt.
  • My day today is very good.

6. Greetings in Different Social Settings

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Professional Settings

In professional environments, it’s important to use formal language and show respect for hierarchy. Address colleagues and superiors with their appropriate titles.

  • Chào anh/chị, tôi là…
  • Hello Mr./Ms., I am…
  • Kính chào quý vị
  • Respectful greetings, everyone
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Social Gatherings

In social settings, greetings can be more relaxed but still polite.

  • Xin chào mọi người
  • Hello everyone
  • Chào bạn
  • Hello friend

7. Cultural Tips

a. Use of Titles and Pronouns

  • Vietnamese culture places great emphasis on hierarchy and respect. Always use appropriate titles such as “anh”, “chị”, “ông”, “bà”, etc., based on the age and status of the person you are addressing.

b. Showing Respect

  • A slight bow or nod when greeting someone, especially elders or those of higher status, shows respect.

c. Handshakes and Physical Contact

  • Handshakes are common in formal settings but may not be as firm as in Western cultures. For elders and those you are not closely acquainted with, it is polite to place your left hand on your right forearm while shaking hands.

How to greet in Vietnamese? By mastering these greetings and understanding the cultural context, you’ll be able to start conversations in Vietnamese with confidence and respect.


Lesson 2: Introducing yourself in Vietnamese