6 tones in Vietnamese | Southern Vietnamese Dialects | Learn Southern Vietnamese with SVFF

Welcome to the ultimate guide for learning Vietnamese tones! This blog is based on a series of lessons aimed at helping non-native speakers master the six essential tones in Vietnamese. Let’s dive in and start your journey toward fluency.

Introduction to Vietnamese Tones

Vietnamese is a tonal language, meaning the pitch or intonation used when pronouncing a word can change its meaning. There are six tones in Vietnamese: mid-level (thanh ngang), low falling (thanh huyền), high rising (dấu sắc), low falling and rising (dấu hỏi), high rising broken (dấu ngã), and low broken (dấu nặng). Understanding and mastering these tones is crucial for effective communication.

Mid-Level Tone (Thanh Ngang)

The mid-level tone is the most neutral and steady tone, similar to speaking in a normal voice without any rise or fall.

Examples:

  • ba (father)
  • bà (grandmother)
  • bi (marble)

Practice Sentences:

  • Em tôi đang ăn cơm chưa? (Is my younger sibling eating rice yet?)
  • Ba tôi hôm nay không ăn cơm. (My father didn’t eat rice today.)

Low Falling Tone (Thanh Huyền)

The low falling tone starts at a normal pitch and then falls lower.

Examples:

  • mà (but)
  • và (and)
  • nhì (to look)

Practice Sentences:

  • Bà Hà về nhà từ chiều rồi. (Mrs. Hà came home since the afternoon.)
  • Nhà bà Hồng gần nhà bà Đào. (Mrs. Hồng’s house is near Mrs. Đào’s house.)

High Rising Tone (Dấu Sắc)

The high-rising tone starts at a mid-level pitch and rises sharply.

Examples:

  • cá (fish)
  • vá (to sew)
  • tá (to pick)

Practice Sentences:

  • Má thích ăn bún mắm. (Mom likes to eat vermicelli with fermented fish sauce.)
  • Phước có cái áo mới. (Phước has a new shirt.)

Low Falling and Rising Tone (Dấu Hỏi)

The low falling and rising tone starts with a fall and then rises.

Examples:

  • cả (all)
  • thả (to release)
  • bả (bait)

Practice Sentences:

  • Thảo hỏi Bảo đã ngủ đủ chưa? (Thảo asked if Bảo had slept enough.)
  • Bảo trả lời bảo đã ngủ cả buổi chiều. (Bảo replied that he had slept the whole afternoon.)

High Rising Broken Tone (Dấu Ngã)

The high-rising broken tone is similar to the high-rising tone but with a glottal stop in the middle.

Examples:

  • ngã (to fall)
  • xả (to discharge)
  • nhã (graceful)

Practice Sentences:

  • Vũ nhủ mẹ đi ngủ. (Vũ advises his mother to go to sleep.)
  • Cú thủ (cunning defense).

Low Broken Tone (Dấu Nặng)

The low broken tone starts very low and ends with a glottal stop.

Examples:

  • mẹ (mother)
  • mạ (rice seedling)
  • lạ (strange)

Practice Sentences:

  • Chị mộ đội. (Sister’s tomb.)
  • Hộp vịt lộn. (A box of fertilized duck eggs.)

Conclusion

Mastering Vietnamese tones is a critical step in learning the language. Regular practice with the examples and sentences provided will help you become more comfortable and confident in your pronunciation.

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