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Grammar Notes:

Unlike English where the word 'you' is used to refer to the person we're talking to and the word 'I' is used to refer to ourselves in all cases.

In Vietnamese, instead we have many words to mean 'you' and 'I' depending on our sex and age and the sex and age of the person we're talking to. You can see below all these words:

    These words are used to mean 'you' as following:

  • anh = you (when we're talking to a man older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the man is 35)
  • chị = you (when we're talking to a woman older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 35)
  • chú = you (when we're talking to a man much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the man is 50)
  • cô = you (when we're talking to a woman much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 50)
  • bác = you (when we're talking to a person much much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the person is 60 or over)
  • ông = you (when we're talking to a man much much older than us (an old man), for example we're 30 years old and the man is 60 or over)
  • bà = you (when we're talking to a woman much much older than us (an old woman), for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 60 or over)
  • em = you (when we're talking to a person younger than us, for example we're 30 years old and the person is 25)
  • con = you (when we're talking to a person much younger than us, for example we're 30 years old and the kid is 7)
  • cháu = you (when we're talking to a person much much younger than us, for example we're 50 years old and the kid is 7)
  • bạn = you (when we're talking to a person whose age is same with ours, maybe we don't know exactly his or her age but we guess he or she has the same age with ours)
  • cậu = you (People in the North of Vietnam use this word to mean you in conversations while people in the Central and the South don't.)

       For example:

         To say thank you to a man older than us, we say Cảm ơn anh.

         To say thank you to a person younger than us, we say Cảm ơn em.

         To say thank you to a person whose age is same with ours, we say Cảm ơn bạn.

    Please notice that these words are also used to mean 'I' as following:

  • anh = I (if we're male and talking to a person younger than us, for example we're a 30 year-old man and the person is 25)
  • chị = I (if we're female and talking to a person younger than us, for example we're a 30 year-old woman and the person is 25)
  • chú = I (if we're male and talking to a person much younger than us, for example we're a 50 year-old man and the person is 20)
  • cô = I (if we're female and talking to a person much younger than us, for example we're a 50 year-old woman and the person is 20)
  • bác = I (if we're talking to a person much much younger than us, for example we're 70 years old and the person is 20)
  • ông = I (if we're male and talking to a person much much younger than us, for example we're a 70 year-old man and the person is 20)
  • bà = I (if we're female and talking to a person much much younger than us, for example we're a 70 year-old woman and the person is 20)
  • em = I (if we're talking to a person older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the person is 35)
  • con = I (if we're talking to a person much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the person is 60)
  • cháu = I (if we're talking to a person much much older than us, for example we're 20 years old and the person is 60)
  • bạn = I (when we're talking to a person whose age is same with ours, maybe we don't know exactly his or her age but we guess he or she has the same age with ours)
  • mình = I (when we're talking to a person whose age is same with ours, maybe we don't know exactly his or her age but we guess he or she has the same age with ours. This word sounds friendly.)
  • Tôi = I (when we want to be formal or official speaking)
  • Tớ = I (People in the north of Vietnam use this word to mean I in conversations between friends while people in the central and the south don't.)

       For example:

         To say thank you as a full sentence to a man older than us, we say Em cảm ơn anh.

         To say thank you as a full sentence to a person younger than us, and if we're male then we say Anh cảm ơn em.

         To say thank you as a full sentence to a person younger than us, and if we're female then we say Chị cảm ơn em.

         To say thank you as a full sentence to a man much much older than us, we say Cháu cảm ơn ông.

         To say thank you as a full sentence to a person whose age is same with ours and we want to be friendly speaking, we say Mình cảm ơn bạn.

         To say 'Give me that book' to a person whose age is same with ours, we say Đưa cho bạn cuốn sách đó với.

         To say thank you as a full sentence to a man older than us and we want to be formal and official speaking, we say Tôi cảm ơn anh.

cuốn sách = quyển sách = book

So these couples often go with each other to mean 'I' and 'you' when we're talking to a person depending sex and age:

               Anh (I) - Em (you)  = this couple is used when we're male and older than him or her.

               Em (I) - Anh (you)  = this couple is used when we're younger than him.

               Em (I) - Chị (you) = this couple is used when we're younger than her.

               Chị (I) - Em (you) = this couple is used when we're female and older than him or her.

               Con (I) - Cô (you) = this couple is used when we're much younger than her. 

               Cô (I) - Con (you) = this couple is used when we're female and much older than him or her.

               Con (I) - Chú (you) = this couple is used when we're much younger than him.

               Chú (I) - Con (you) = this couple is used when we're male and much older than him or her.

               Con (I) - Ông (you) = this couple is used when we're much much younger than him.

               Ông (I) - Con (you) = this couple is used when we're male and much much older than him or her.

               Con (I) - Bà (you) = this couple is used when we're much much younger than her.

               Bà (I) - Con (you) = this couple is used when we're female and much much older than him or her.

               Cháu (I) - Chú (you) = this couple is used when we're much younger than him.

               Chú (I) - Cháu (you) = this couple is used when we're male and much older than him or her. 

               Cháu (I) - Cô (you) = this couple is used when we're much younger than her.

               Cô (I) - Cháu (you) = this couple is used when we're female and much older than him or her. 

               Con (I) - Bác (you) = this couple is used when we're much much younger than him or her

               Bác (I) - Con (you) = this couple is used when we're much much older than him or her

               Cháu (I) - Bác (you) = this couple is used when we're much much younger than him or her

               Bác (I) - Cháu (you) = this couple is used when we're much much older than him or her

               Cháu (I) - Bà (you) = this couple is used when we're much much younger than her.

               Bà (I) - Cháu (you) = this couple is used when we're female and much much older than him or her

               Cháu (I) - Ông (you) = this couple is used when we're much much younger than him

               Ông (I) - Cháu (you) = this couple is used when we're male and much much older than him or her

               Tôi (I) - Bạn (you) = this couple is used when we and the person we're talking to have the same age and we want to be formal-speaking

               Mình (I) - Bạn (you) = this couple is used when we and the person we're talking to have the same age and we want to be friendly-speaking.

               Tớ (I) - Cậu (you) = this couple is used by the northern people of Vietnam between friends.

               Mình (I) - Cậu (you) = this couple is used by the northern people of Vietnam between friends.

 Another example may be as below:

     To say hello as a full sentence to a man much older than us, we say Cháu chào chú.

     To say hello as a full sentence to a woman much older than us, we say Cháu chào .

     To say hello as a full sentence to a man older than us, we say Em chào anh.

     To say hello as a full sentence to a person younger than us, and if we're male then we say Anh chào em.

     To say hello as a full sentence to a person whose age is same as ours and we want to be friendly,  we say Mình chào bạn.

...

Please notice that the word Tôi and Mình are used with official manner at workplaces, at the meetings, at public, at TV shows while others are used in daily conversation.

      For example:

      At the meeting we introduce ourselves as below:

            Tôi là Dũng = I'm Dung (or My name is Dung).

            Tôi là bác sĩ = I'm a doctor.

             or you can say:

              Mình là Dũng = I'm Dung (or My name is Dung).

             Mình là bác sĩ = I'm a doctor.   

      In daily conversation, to introduce ourselves we can say as following:

             If we're male and older than the person we're talking to, we say

              Anh là Dũng = I'm Dung (or My name is Dung).

              Anh là bác sĩ = I'm a doctor.

       If we're talking to a person much much older than us, we say

              Cháu là Dũng = I'm Dung (or My name is Dung).

              Cháu là bác sĩ = I'm a doctor.

Similarly, there are many words to mean 'He' or 'She' in Vietnamese based on sex and age of the person that we want to talk about as following:     

  • anh ấy = he (when we're talking about a man older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the man is 35)
  • chị ấy = she (when we're talking about a woman older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 35)
  • chú ấy = he (when we're talking about a man much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the man is 50)
  • cô ấy = she (when we're talking about a woman much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 50)
  • bác ấy = he (when we're talking about a person much much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the person is 60 or over)
  • ông ấy = she (when we're talking about a man much much older than us (an old man), for example we're 30 years old and the man is 60 or over)
  • bà ấy = she (when we're talking about a woman much much older than us (an old woman), for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 60 or over)
  • em ấy = he or she (when we're talking about a person younger than us, for example we're 30 years old and the person is 25) 
  • cháu ấy = he or she (when we're talking about a person much much younger than us, for example we're 50 years old and the kid is 7)
  • bạn ấy = he or she (when we're talking about a person whose age is same with ours, maybe we don't know exactly his or her age but we guess he or she has the same age with ours)
  • Nó = he or she (when elder people talk about younger people with close relationship, for example parents talk about their son or daughter,...)
  • Cậu ấy = he or she (People in the north of Vietnam use this word in conversations while people in the central and the south don't.)

 So the rule is to add the word ấy to the above words except we don't have the phrases con ấy, mình ấy, tôi ấy.

 For example:

       If we're talking about a man older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the man is 35, we can say like:

             Anh ấy là bác sĩ = He is a doctor.

       If we're talking about a woman older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 35, we can say like:

            Chị ấy là bác sĩ = She is a doctor.

       If we're talking about a man much older than us, for example we're 30 years old and the man is 50, we can say like:

           Chú ấy là bác sĩ = He is a doctor.

       If we're talking about a woman much much older than us (an old woman), for example we're 30 years old and the woman is 60 or over,

        we can say like:

          Bà ấy là bác sĩ = She is a doctor.

        When parents talk about their son's or daughter's job, they can say as below:

             Nó là bác sĩ = He is a doctor.

             Nó là bác sĩ = She is a doctor.

      ...

họ = bọn họ = chúng nó = bọn nó = tụi nó = bọn chúng = tụi họ = tụi chúng = bọn họ = they

 

      For example:

          Họ là bác sĩ = they're doctors.

          Họ nói tiếng Việt = They speak Vietnamese.

Please note that chúng nó, bọn nó, tụi nó, bọn chúng sound friendly and can be used when an elder talks about the younger and only between people with very close relationship, for example when parents talk about their kids.

            For example:

              Parents can talk about their kids' ability to speak Vietnamese.

              Chúng nó nói tiếng Việt = They speak Vietnamese.

              Bọn nó nói tiếng Việt = They speak Vietnamese.

              Tụi nó nói tiếng Việt = They speak Vietnamese.

              Bọn chúng nói tiếng Việt = They speak Vietnamese.

         In daily speaking, The word họ should be used in most cases to indicate unfamiliar (unknown) people.

 

chúng ta = chúng tôi = chúng mình = bọn mình = tụi mình = mình = bọn tôi = we

       For example:

              Chúng tôi nói tiếng Việt = We speak Vietnamse.

              Please note that chúng mình or mình is friendly so please use this phrase with friends only.

              Mình đi nhé = Bọn mình đi nhé = Chúng mình đi nhé = Let's go.

              The word mình here is a short form of bọn mình, chúng mình. It does not mean 'I' like above.

When mentioning to a thing or an animal (pet), the word nó is used.

nó = it

       for example:

          Trời mưa. = It rains.

           Con chó rất dữ. Gặp người lạ là nó tấn công liền. = The dog is very fierce. It attacks stranger people immediately.

           Cái bàn rất đẹp. Nó giá 1 triệu đồng. = The table is very beautiful. It costs 1 million VND.

dữ = hung dữ = dữ tợn = fierce

gặp = to see, to meet

là = to be

tấn công = to attack

liền = immediate, right away

con chó = dog

người lạ = stranger person

VND = Vietnam Dong (currency of Viet Nam)

cái bàn = table

đẹp = beautiful

rất = very

giá = to cost

triệu = million

 

 

 

 

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