Vietnamese phrasebook

Sourced from Wikivoyage. Text is available under the CC-by-SA 3.0 license.
Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt) is one of the most spoken languages in the world, with around 90 million native speakers. It is the official language in Vietnam and also widely spoken in places where the Vietnamese have immigrated such as the United States, France, Australia and Canada. Vietnamese grammar is very simple: nouns and adjectives don't have genders, and verbs aren't conjugated. Vietnamese is a tonal language; the meaning of a word depends on how high or low your voice is. Vietnamese is not related to Chinese, though it contains many loan words from Chinese due to centuries of Chinese rule in Vietnam, and even used Chinese-like characters as its writing system, called "chữ Nôm", until Vietnam was colonised by the French.
Vietnamese is traditionally divided into three different regional dialect groups: North, Central and South. The Northern dialect, as spoken in Hanoi, is the "standard" that is used in news broadcasts, and all Vietnamese pop singers are excepted to sing in the Northern dialect regardless of what dialect they speak. That said, if you are based in Vietnam's main economic centre in the South (around Ho Chi Minh City), the Southern dialect is what you will hear in everyday life. The Southern dialect also tends to be more prevalent in overseas Vietnamese communities, due to the Southern origin of most of the refugees who fled in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

Pronunciation guide


Phrase list

Learning more