Hi guys, today in this article I’d like to help you say ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and ‘Are you tired?’ in Vietnamese. I haven’t known whether you’re excited to learn these new strange things or not; but there’s a saying in Vietnamese which is ‘Đi một ngày đàng, học một sàng khôn’, meaning ‘if you take a one-day trip, you can learn a bunch of knowledge.’ Well, I hope that you can also have fun when you take a trip to ‘Natural Vietnamese Language’ or NVL. Now off we go!
Chào anh. Hôm nay anh khoẻ không?
/Chow un. Hoam nay un kweah kongm?/
Hello. How are you today?
Chào anh = Hello (older brother)
Hôm nay = Today
Anh = You
Literally, ‘anh’ means ‘older brother’. When a Vietnamese is talking with you, to show respect, he or she will try to take you as someone in his or her family at about the same age. In this situation, if you’re a male, of course, you’re considered as his older brother. Don’t worry if you’re a female, because they’ll have some other way to address you. This is how Vietnamese try to justify for how they’re supposed to address you.
Khoẻ = Fine, strong
Không = Or not.
This word can be placed at the end of the sentence to turn it into a question. It means ‘zero’ or ‘oh’ when you discuss on numbers.
Khoẻ. Cảm ơn. Còn cô Thanh, cô khoẻ không?
/Kweah. Caam ern. Cong co Tun, co kweah kongm?/
Fine. Thanks. And you Ms Thanh, how are you?
Cảm ơn (cám ơn) = Thanks or thank you.
If you’ve ever talked to a Vietnamese, you may notice that they tend to say ‘cám ơn’ for ‘thank you’ instead of ‘cảm ơn’. The former is the spoken form, and the latter may sound a little bit formal. If you can’t tell the difference between the two tones on top of the word ‘cam’ in ‘cảm ơn’, you might find it beneficial to read the article ‘TONE MARKS’ posted earlier.
Còn = and
Cô = Ms, aunt on your father side.
It’s much easy for you to use ‘cô’ when formally addressing a female at any age.
Thanh = (female name)
It’s a female name, which means ‘green.’ Vietnamese name their children with Chinese-Vietnamese names. Of course, each name can have some meaning as the parent’s best hope or wish they want their children to have all their lives. Therefore, Thanh’s parents may want her to as ‘green’ as the youth of the leaves and trees. Up till now, can you guess her parents’ wish for her? Yes, that’s right. They want her to be young ‘forever.’ Who doesn’t want to be young that long? LOL.
Cảm ơn anh. Tôi vẫn khoẻ. Hôm nay anh bận không?
/Caam ern un. Toy vung kweah. Hoam nay un bung kongm?/
Thank you. I’m (still) fine. Are you busy today?
Tôi = I, me
This word is rather formal, and therefore you may use it to address someone you’ve just met. If you use it to talk to your friends, it could mean you’re angry with them a bit, because you’re trying to keep it formal with them. All the same, it’s the easiest way to address yourself because you don’t have to take you as your listener’s any family member at all. You can use this to talk to quite many male or female Vietnamese at different age ranges.
Vẫn = still
Bận = [be] busy
Adjectives in Vietnamese can be used as verbs. And verbs can function like adjectives before the nouns they modify. This may sound weird to English speakers, but as you can see language rules are arbitrary. I had the same feelings and so many different questions unanswered for so long when I started studying English about seventeen years ago. Well, this is what makes the world go round. In addition, you can have the problem of the same type if you know some Chinese or Korean. They treat adjectives the same way like the Vietnamese do. LOL.
Hôm nay tôi bận lắm.
/Hoam nay toy bung lam./
I’m so busy today.
Lắm = so
‘Lắm’ is placed after the adjective or adverb it modifies. ‘Bận’ is ‘busy,’ so ‘bận lắm’ means ‘so busy.’
Anh không mệt à?
/Un kongm meit ah?/
Aren’t you tired?
À = huh
‘À’ is put at the end of a statement or negative sentence to turn it into a question. When you use this word, you want to have the confirmation from your listener.
Tôi không mệt lắm. Cô và anh Bình bận không?
/Toy kongm meit lam. Co vah un Bin bung kongm?/
I’m not so tired. Are you and Mr. Binh busy?
‘Và’ = and
Both ‘và’ and ‘còn’ mean ‘and.’ However, when you put ‘còn’ at the beginning of a sentence it means ‘how about…?’
Chúng tôi không bận lắm.
/Choongm toy kongm bung lam/.
We’re not so busy.
‘Chúng tôi’ = we, us
There’re two ways to say ‘we’ or ‘us’ in Vietnamese, but they have different implications. ‘Chúng tôi’ refers to you and ‘the other guys over here or elsewhere’ excluding your listener(s), while ‘chúng ta’ includes your listener or listeners.
Anh Hiếu khoẻ không?
/Un Hiew kweah kongm?/
How’s Mr. Hieu?
Hiếu = (male name)
It means ‘devotion’ to your parents
Anh ấy khoẻ lắm.
/Un ey kweah lam/
He’s doing good.
À, còn cô Thu có khoẻ không?
/Ah, cong co Too caw kweah kongm?/
Well, and how’s Ms. Thu?
‘Có’ here doesn’t mean ‘to have’ or ‘to exist.’ In this context, it can be optionally placed in front of a verb or and adjective, along with ‘không’ added to the end of a statement to turn it into a question. So you can also say ‘À, còn cô Thu khoẻ không?’
Cảm ơn anh. Cô ấy vẫn khoẻ.
/Caam ern un. Co ey vung kweah./
Thank you. She’s doing good.
That’s so good.
Tốt = good
In Vietnamese, some things like ‘it’s’ or ‘that’s’ are not usually added to the beginning of such a comment. Just simply speak the adjective of the comment out and some other thing like ‘lắm’ without any subject-plus-be combination ahead of it.