Saying Hello/Hi

In a nutshell, the following is the formula to say hi/hello in Vietnamese:

To say hello/hi in Vietnamese:

Chào + [The correct word to address that person]

The following table shows some common cases:

if you’re more or less at the same age or you’re especially close.chào bạnORchào + [The person’s name]
if the person is older than you and is malechào anh
if the person is older, and is femalechào chị
if the person is younger (for both male and female)chào em

So if the (first) name of your friend is H’o, you ‘d tell Chào H’o. You’d say Chào chị Thảo if she’s older and named Thảo. It’s worth remembering that the name can also be omitted: we should only have said Chào chị.

There is one significant difference between English and Vietnamese in the usage of the proper name and family name. If you’re formal in English, you ‘d probably be addressing the other person using their family name: Hi Jim, but Dear Rohn. In Vietnamese, in any case, we will still use a first name. The formality is encoded and never changed from first name to family name by the different way you handle it. Try a small experiment by calling your Vietnamese friend by his family name, and if there are many around, or you have forgotten his / her name, the person will probably think you’re talking to someone else!

In Vietnamese, goodbye in vietnamese always Refer to people by their firstname, including formal situations.

If the other person, like your old teachers, is someone older and very much admired / respected, consider adding a Xin before the term Chào to make it more formal: Xin Chào anh / chị.

By now, you have probably learned that in Vietnamese (and many other languages, such as Chinese, French, Japanese as well), the age factor plays an important role in addressing people. Although we still use “you” in English regardless of age, it is considered quite improper not to address individuals by age, even if you are the boss and the other person is your subordinate! This is not about power, it is about culture.

And if you wonder why there are quite a lot of ‘…’s in the table above. This is because there are several different ways of referring to someone who is older than you and who is male. And we have not discussed several other cases, such as someone who is substantially older / younger than you. Don’t worry, there will be another debate on this subject that will clear up all your doubts!

Saying Good morning, good evening, etc.

The equivalents in Vietnamese below are

Chàobuổi sáng
Chàobuổi chiều
Chàobuổi tối

There is one good news: the table above doesn’t need to be learned! And the reason? In Vietnam, using ‘good morning’ and the like, it’s somehow not so common to answer. Perhaps it is because of the language’s pragmatic aspect: Chào buổi sáng is 3 times longer than just Chào, which is already doing a good job. What were your guesses?

Say Goodbye, say goodbye

The translation of goodbye is tạm biệt, so that tạm biệt Huy is the equivalent of Goodbye Huy. The use of tạm biệt is exactly similar to that of chào.Using Bye as in Bye Huy is hip if you are young (at age or at heart) and the other person is likewise. But whenever you are formal with any suspect the other person is, please don’t use it.


  • To tell hi: (Xin) Chào + bạn/< Proper Name >/anh/chị
  • In normal cases, the equivalents of Good morning are generally uncommon to say.
  • To say farewell: Tạm biệt + bạn/ < Proper name > /anh / chị.

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