HCMC Dining Guide

Friday, November 16, 2012

Useful phrases

Some phrases that may come in handy on the streets of Vietnam for more advanced Vietnamese learners:

Tôi đang nói tiếng Việt. Anh/chị hãy nghe. - I'm speaking Vietnamese. Listen to me.

Xin anh/chị hãy nói chậm. Tôi không hiểu. - Please speak slowly. I don't understand.

Tôi không giỏi tiếng Việt. Xin các anh chị đừng cười. - I'm not good at Vietnamese. Please don't laugh.

Anh đừng nhìn tôi. - Don't look at me. (For those times when someone has been gawking at you for 5 minutes.)

Anh/chị đừng gọi tôi nữa. Tôi nghe rồi. - Stop calling me. I already heard. (Perfect for when a xe om driver or hawker has been trying to get your attention by shouting at you repeatedly.)

Anh/chị đừng nói chuyen tiếng Anh với tôi. Tôi biết tiếng Việt. - Don't speak English with me. I speak Vietnamese.

This is one my teacher told me to jokingly use when people ask me random personal questions like "How much money do you make?, and "Are you married?":
Anh/chị muốn biết, phải không?
Mọt câu hỏi, mọt đô-la.
Trả tiền cho tôi.

You wan't to know, right? One question, one dollar. Give me money.

Also, if someone is really annoying you and a simple 'không' (no) isn't working, try using a strong 'thôi!' That's the same as saying 'No, enough!' in English.

Here's something we can all agree on: Tài xế taxi kỳ quá! - Taxi drivers are crazy!

Xin các anh chị đừng nói chuyen ồn ào. Tôi sắp đi ngủ. - Please don't be noisy. I'm about to go to sleep. (For when your neighbors are using their karaoke machine.)


  1. Some are wrong
    it's nói not nới
    don't laugh: đừng cười
    Don't speak English with me. I speak Vietnamese: Đừng nói tiếng Anh với tôi. Tôi biết tiếng Việt

    1. shut up Thinh! Just kidding, thanks for the corrections.

  2. Is this the best you could come up with!? What about "thay mau chua?" (Pointing at your neck implying your throat has been just been cut) when someone quotes you a ridiculously high price for something. Or, when someone asks you when you will do something which you absolutely have no intention of ever doing, you reply "Tet...Tet Congo." Or my favorite, and pls, pls use this one as much as possible when you are forced or decide to revert your position on a previously agreed arrangement with a Vietnamese counterpart simply say, "Thong cam, nhi."

  3. What does that mean? Given my level this is pretty much the best I could do.

    1. the first one, "thấy máu chưa" is literally, have you seen the blood yet? Though obviously, you would definitely not say that. It's the equivalent of how we'd ( well, mostly salespeople) say " You're killing me here."

      Tet Congo. I have no idea. I think it has something to do with Tết and Africa. I don''t why.

      Ah. After all these years, Vietnamese is still a pain to read. Not that I don't like it's just annoyingly difficult at times. I blame the monosyllables. Oh, watch out for the D and Đ.

    2. Thanks - I agree about it being annoyingly difficult sometimes, haha.

  4. kỳ = weird
    điên = crazy
    ngủ = sleep
    Also, some words seem to be missing in some of the sentences there for a direct translation. I might translate some differently if I want to be really picky. Sometimes words get lost in translation or get cut short, but still maintains the right 'idea/thought'. But I guess that tends to happen and some direct translations won't make much sense unless done with both languages in mind. But getting the right/similar idea across should be good enough.

    The anonymous person above seem to have written "thấy máu chưa?", which is "See blood yet?". I think you got to be a tad crazy to actually use that, even if the prices are high haha.
    Not exactly sure what "Tet...Tet Congo." is. Please enlighten us on that one. Sounds random.
    I believe the other one is "thông cảm, nhé".
    Thông cảm = sympathize. Can be used in the context of please understand me.
    nhé = an add on word, which I think kind of holds the idea of 'ok'(I tend to pronounce and use nhe instead. Maybe it's just a southern thing or what I grew up with). "nhi" could be a northern thing too, but I can't be sure.

    Just thought I share some of my understandings. I'm by no means pro at translating though. It's just some things I can pick up here and there.

    Good luck on your learning!

    1. Thanks for the thoughts! I realized afterward that I could translate 'See blood yet', though I think I'll stick with either 'nói thách' or the classic 'mắc quá!' if I'm getting charged too much. Also I've seen nhé used a lot, though I haven't really picked it up yet.

  5. Tết công gô is simply 'never' because they don't have tết/new year in congo for some reason

  6. there are democratic republic of congo and republic of congo. They are 2 separate countries so i'm not sure which one that term is referring to.

  7. About thấy máu chưa. Cắt cổ(cut throat) is a slang for rip off. Think when you say thấy máu chưa it means "you've cut deep enough".

    Damn I kick ass at viet!

    1. I should hope so, considering you are Vietnamese haha!