Most of the consonants are pronounced approximately as in the International Phonetic Alphabet, with the following clarifications:
- Both D and GI are pronounced either [z] in the northern dialects (including Hanoi), or [j] (similar to English y) in the central and Saigon dialects. In Middle Vietnamese, D was [ð], also one of the pronunciations of Portuguese d; and GI was [ʝ], vaguely reminiscent of Italian [dʒ], spelled gi.
- Đ is similar to a [d] sound in many languages. Vietnamese đ, however, is additionally pronounced with a glottal stop immediately preceding or simultaneous with it.
- S is pronounced like the English s for the southern dialect and some central dialects; however, it is pronounced [ʂ] (similar to English sh) among the northern dialects. [ʂ] is the Middle Vietnamese pronunciation; it was spelled s due to the similarity with the apico-alveolar sound spelled the same way in medieval Portuguese.
- V is pronounced [v] in the northern dialects, or [j] and [bj] in the southern dialects.
- X is pronounced like English s (at the beginning of a word, e.g. “sing”). This sound was [ɕ] in Middle Vietnamese, resembling the Portuguese sound /ʃ/, spelled x.
- CH is a voiceless palatal stop (IPA: [c], similar to British English t in “Tuesday”) or affricate (IPA: [tʃ], similar to English ch in “chip”). Pronounced as [t̚] in the final position.
- KH is a voiceless velar fricative (IPA: [x]). It is similar to the German or Scottish ch, Russian x, Dutch g, Spanish j, or Arabic and Persian “خ” (kh).
- NG is a velar nasal (IPA: [ŋ]). It is similar to both occurrences of ng in English “singing“. It is never pronounced like English n, or n plus g.
- NH is a palatal nasal (IPA: [ɲ]), similar to Indonesian ny, Spanish ñ, Portuguese nh, Czech and Slovak ň, or French and Italian gn.
- PH is pronounced [f], as in English “Philip” or the English “f”. It is never pronounced like English p or Hindi “फ” (ph). It is used instead of F (e-phờ) because it developed from an earlier [pʰ] (like Greek phi).
- TH is an aspirated t (IPA: [tʰ]). It is similar to the “थ” (th) sound in Hindi or the t sound in English when pronounced at the beginning of a word. It is never pronounced like the English th in path or French/Spanish t.
- TR is a retroflex t (in the southern regions) and pronounced like the Vietnamese ch in the southern dialects and like the Vietnamese “gi” in the northern dialects.
The digraph GH and the trigraph NGH are basically variants of g and ng used before i, in order to avoid confusion with the digraph GI. For historical reasons, gh and ngh are also used before e or ê.