• Vietnamese course for beginners A1
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  • 1 The Vietnamese alphabet
  • 2 How to pronounce Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 3 Vietnamese keyboard and how to write accents
  • 4 How to introduce yourself in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 5 Vietnamese greetings [0/2]
  • 6 Vietnamese personal pronouns [0/2]
  • 7 How to talk about the weather in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 8 Counting numbers in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 9 Telling the time in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 10 Days, months and seasons in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 11 Learn the Vietnamese colours [0/2]
  • 12 Getting directions in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 13 How to write country names in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 14 How to name body parts in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 15 Foods and drinks in Vietnamese [0/2]
  • 16 Vietnamese sayings (life, love and new year) [0/2]
  • How to pronounce Vietnamese

    Vietnamese pronunciation guide

    The most difficult part of learning Vietnamese is definitely the proper pronunciation. This differs greatly to many Western languages and makes it very hard for most people to get the right tone. If you pronounce a word in the wrong way, it might have a totally different meaning. 

     

    Vietnamese tones

    The Vietnamese language has six different tones:

    Tone Vietnamese Accent mark Example
    level ngang (không dấu) none  ma (ghost)
    sharp rising  dấu sắc  ́ (mother)
    hanging dấu huyền  ̀ (where/which)
    falling rising, asking dấu hỏi  ̉ mả (grave)
    high rising, tumbling dấu ngã   ̃ (horse)
    heavy dấu nặng  ̣ mạ (rice seeding)

     

    Vietnamese vowel pronunciation: diphthongs and trithongs

    In the table below you can find all the vowel combinations. 

    Vowel combination Phonetic sound
    ai [aːj]
    ay [aj]
    ây [əj]
    ao [aːw]
    au [aw]
    âu [əw]
    eo [ɛw]
    êu  [ew]
    ia [iə̯]
    [iə̯]
    iêu [iə̯w]
    iu [iw]
    oa [wɑ]
    oai [wɑi]
    [wa]
    oe [wɛ]
    oi [ɔj]
    ôi [oj]

    ơi 

    [əːj]
    ua [uə̯]
    ưa [ɨə̯]
    [uə̯]
    ươ  [ɨə̯]
    ươu [ɨə̯w]
    ui [uj]
    uôi [uə̯j]
    [wə]
    [we]
    [wɤ]
    uy [wi]
    uyê [wiə]
    ưi [ɨj]
    ươi [ɯəi]
    ưu [ɨw]

     

    Spelling rules

    1. The vowel is represented mostly by the letter i. However, in some cases it is written with the letter y:
      1. when is the only sound that forms a syllable: (medicine), ý (idea/thought);
      2. the diphthong iê is written with the letters , when there is no preceeding consonant and it ends with an additional letter: yêu, yến, yểm
      3. some words formed by an intitial consonant and the vowel without a final letter, can both be written with an y or an i: hi vọng / hy vọngkíký, lí / lý

     

    Vietnamese consonant pronunciations: consonant combinations

    In this table we present to you all the consonant combinations.

    Consonant combination Phonetic sound Examples and how it sounds like
    ch [c] cho as in chip
    gi [z] giá as in zoo
    gh [g] ghen as in goal
    kh [x] khói as in loch
    ng [ŋ] ngồi as in sing
    ngh [ŋ] nghe as in wing
    nh [ɲ] nhanh as in canyon 
    ph [f] phở as in fine
    qu [kw] quen as in queen 
    th [th] thích as is top
    tr [ʈʂ] trơn as in church

     

    Spelling rules 

    1. The consonant k is normally represented by the letter c, e.g. cư, cơ, ca.
      1. ​Except before vowels i, ê, e, the letter k is written, for instance: ký, kê, kẻ.
    2. The consonant ng is represented by the combination of two consonants ng: ngư, ngơ, nga.
      1. ​Except before the vowels i, ê, e, the third consontant is added, thus ngh is written: nghỉ, nghề, nghe.
    3. The consonant is represented by the letter g: ga, gờ.
      1. ​Except before the vowels i, ê, e, it becomes gh: ghì, ghê, ghé.

    Summary

    The right intonation of the words is essential to understanding and communicating in Vietnamese. Studying all the basics of pronunciations will help you get around and the locals will understand you better.

    Exercises

    Vietnamese tones exercise 1

    Vietnamese consonants exercise