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10 years ago
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Ngoc, I sure hope you can help us with this one! Am looking forward to your valued input

10 years ago

Vietnamese Proverbs

By Jan Dodd, author of Rough Guide to Vietnam

List of Vietnamese proverbs, with english translations.

Most of the proverbs came to me from a whole host of friends and contacts, mostly in Vietnam. The same ones kept cropping up again and again, so I took that to mean they are commonly used. Others were found repeated in more than one source. With thanks to: Pham The Liem, Wu Tuan Anh, Pham Xuan Binh, Mark Procter, Tran A. Tu, Charlie Nguyen, Nguyen Hang, Martin Wilson, Nguyen Thi Thu Chung, and Le Chi Thao.

Eating is much but accommodating is little
An nhieu, o may

Eating as in the North; clothing as in the South
An Bac, mac nam

You eat slowly, that is good for stomach; you plough deeply, that is good for fields
An ky no lau, cay sau tot lua

When having a party, go first; when walking in the water, go after
An co di truoc, loi nuoc theo sau
( = He that comes first to the hill may sit where he will = the early bird catches the worm)

One worm may damage the whole cooking soup
Con sau bo dau noi canh

Eating and sitting without labor
An khong ngoi roi
(= to be at the loose end)

Eeating nothing but saying yes
An khong noi co
( = to slander)

It depends on how much of rice you eat the sauce
Lieu com gap mam
( = cut your coat according to your cloth according to your means)

Try to seize the bowl of rice but forget the whole table of food
Tham bat bo mam

One piece of food while hungry equals a big box of food while full
Mot mieng khi doi bang mot goi khi no

The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll
Ong an cha ba an nem

The man show a pig leg, the woman show a bottle of wine
Ong gio chan gio; ba tho chai ruou [Or: Ong dua chan gio, ba tho chai ruou]
( = scratch my back and I shall scratch yours)

Eats as strongly as elephant

10 years ago

Eats as strongly as elephant
An khoe nhu voi

Eat as small as a cat
An nhu meo

Looks as monkey eats ginger
Nhu khi an gung

The good leaves protect the worn-out leaves
La lanh dum la rach

All chili is hot; all women are jealous
Ot nao ma ot chang cay, gai nao ma gai chang hay ghen chong

Good wine must drink together with good friend
Ruou ngon phai co ban hien

We fence (or protect) the tree that gives us fruits
A(n ca^y na`o, ra`o ca^y a^'y

When eating chew well, think before speaking
A(n co' nhai, no'i co' nghi~

When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friends
A(n cho.n no*i, cho*i cho.n ba.n
(= be fastidious)

Eat the plum (given as a gift) but give back a peach
A(n ma^.n tra? dda`o
(= Return gift to gift)

It's better to eat salty food and speak the truth than to eat vegetarian and tell lies
A(n ma(.n no'i ngay ho*n a(n chay no'i do^'i
(= Better to eat meat and speak truth than to fast and tell lies)

When you eat, it's vegetable, when you are sick, it's medicine
Co*m thi` rau, ddau thi` thuo^'c

Pay first and then get what you have paid for
Tie^`n trao cha'o mu'c

The student tried to steal the cooking fish
The teacher found out. The student says Oh forgive me
I just opened the fish container.
If you were a bit later, I would have taken the whole fish container.
Hoc tro an vung ca kho
Thay do bat duoc, oi a con chua
Thua thay co moi mo vung
Thay cham ti nua con bung ca noi

When you eat, check the pots and pans; When you sit, check the direction.
An trong noi, ngoi trong huong
(Discreetly check the kitchen so that you don't put your foot in your mouth like asking for another serving when there is barely enough food for all guests, bragging about your preference of seafood when the host is about to serve chicken, etc. Check the direction when you sit -- for example facing South should be
reserved for the guest of honor, avoid turning your back to the host's ancestral altar, turning your back to the guest of honor or the host, sitting at better seat than your own elders, sitting at the same level as people of
higher ranks in society or in the family, etc.)

9 years ago

Yes and No

In Vietnamese there are no exact specific words for 'Yes' and 'No'. There are several forms Da. Pha?i, Va^ng ...  which you can use to answer in affirmative. For negative you can use Kho^ng  in most cases.

    Are you going to Hue?          O^ng ddi Hue^' pha?i không ?    Yes                            Da. pha?i   ( or Va^ng in the North)                                   (lit: Yes, right.)    No.                            Kho^ng.                                   (lit: No)
9 years ago

Usually when the Vietnamese are asked a question, they repeat the verb used in the question to answer in affirmative:

    Are you going to Hue tomorrow?   Mai o^ng ddi Hue^' pha?i không ?                                    (lit: tomorrow you go Hue ?)    Yes.                             Mai to^i ddi                                    (lit: Tomorrow I go.)

When a question is in the past tense you can use the word co' ('have')  to answer in affirmative:

    Have you visited Vietnam ?       O^ng dda~ dde^'n tha(m Vie^.t Nam chu*a ?    Yes.                             To^i co'.   (lit: I have)    No.                              To^i chu*a. (lit: I have not yet).


Questions in Vietnamese are usually formed by adding the particles kho^ng ('not') or chu*a ('not yet') to the end of the sentence in affirmative form. Questions with the verb 'to be' involved are created by adding pha?i không ('right isn't it') to the affirmative sentences:

    He can speak Vietnamese.     Anh ta bie^'t nói tie^'ng Vie^.t .    Can he speak Vietnamese?     Anh ta bie^'t nói tie^'ng Vie^.t pha?i kho^ng  ?    He has met his  family.      Anh ta dda~ ga(.p gia ddi`nh.    Has he met his family?       Anh ta dda~ ga(.p gia ddi`nh chu*a ?    We will go to Hanoi tomorrow.    Chu'ng ta se~ ddi Ha` no^.i nga`y mai.    Will we go to Hanoi tomorrow ?   Chu'ng ta se~ ddi Ha` no^.i nga`y mai pha?i kho^ng ?

Other Vietnamese question words include the following:

    who     ai           Who are you ?              Anh la` ai ?    which   na`o         Which place ?              Cho^~ na`o ?    what    ca'i gi`     What is this ?             Ca'i gi` dda^y ?    where   o*? dda^u    Where is the bathroom ?    Nha` ve^. sinh o*? dda^u ?    how     the^' na`o   How do I get there ?       Ddi dde^'n ddo' the^' na`o ?    when    khi na`o     When do you go ?           Khi na`o anh ddi ?


9 years ago


Comparisons are easy in Vietnamese. They are made in the following way, using the word ho*n :

    Saigon is bigger than Hue.         Sa`i go`n lo*'n ho*n Hue^'.                                       (lit: Saigon big ho*n Hue^')    This one is cheaper than that one  Ca'i na`y re? ho*n ca'i kia.                                       (lit: This one cheap ho*n that one)

The superior form is created by using the word nha^'t (lit: first) behind adjectives:

    Saigon is the biggest city in Vietnam    Sa`i go`n la` tha`nh pho^' lo*'n nha^'t Vie^.t Nam.    (lit: Saigon is city big first Vietnam)


To show the ownership or possession, place the word cu?a between the noun and pronoun:

    my backpack         Ba lo^ cu?a to^i    her room            Pho`ng cu?a co^ ta.    your breakfast      Bu*~a ddie^?m ta^m cu?a o^ng.


    all                 ta^'t ca?    every               mo^~i    enough              ddu? ro^`i    many/much           nhie^`u    little/few          i't    a bit               mo^.t chu't    several             va`i


9 years ago

To Be

Although Vietnamese has an equivalent to the English verb 'to be' la`,  it is not used in quite the same way as in English. Vietnamese only uses the verb la`  when a noun is involved like in a sentence such as 'I am a student'. With adjectives, la` is dropped altogether - a Vietnamese speaker would say 'I hungry' instead of 'I am hungry':

    I am a student.              Tôi la` sinh vie^n.    I am hungry.                 Tôi ðói.


Tense is indicated by expression of time like 'yesterday', 'tomorrow', 'a while ago' and so on. However, Vietnamese does use the particle ða~to indicate actions that have been done in the past, the particle ðangto express something is being done and the particle se~  to indicate actions in future:

    He has gone to Hanoi.         Anh ta ða~  ði Ha` nô.i .    He is going to Hanoi.         Anh ta ðang ði Ha` nô.i .    He will go to Hanoi.          Anh ta se~ ði Ha` nô.i .

However in Vietnamese there is a similarity with the compound past tense in English:

    I have learned English.       Tôi co' ho.c tie^'ng Anh.    I have known him.             Tôi co' bie^'t anh ta.


Commands in Vietnamese are formed by giving a dynamic emphasis to the verb,
that means adding the verb ddi (go) to the end of the verbs you want to emphasize:

    Do it!                        La`m ddi!    Go away!                      DDi ddi!

Commands in the negative are formed by using DDu*`ng ('Not do')  or Không ddu*o*.c ('not  allowed')

    Don't be noisy !              DDu*`ng la`m ô`n!    Don't go!                     DDu*`ng ddi!


9 years ago



Vietnamese grammar, compared with English grammar is really quite simple. There are no verb conjugations, no plurals, no articles, and at a elementary level has a sentence order similar to English.

Word order
Like English, the Vietnamese word order is subject-verb-object. The sentence "I speak Vietnamese" follows exactly the same order in Vietnamese:

    I speak Vietnamese    Tôi nói tie^'ng Vie^.t

But on contrary as in English, adjectives are put behind the nouns they describe:

     the big house        cái nha` lo*'n


Nouns are usually made up of one,  two or occasionally several words. There is no masculine/feminine form:

      tree                  cây      hotel                 khách sa.n      museum                vie^.n ba?o ta`ng

Plural form is optional. It is created by adding the particles "nhu*~ng" or "các" in front of the single form:

      tourist               khách du      tourists              (nhu*~ng) khách du



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