Category Archives: Vocabulary

Vietnamese vocabulary listed by topics.
Generally for intermediate-advanced students.

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Weather


My students requested “weather talk” after the “food talk”, so here it goes.

Trời nắng

Trời nhiều mây

Trời mưa

Trời u ám

Trời đẹp

Trời xấu

Trởi gió

Trời có tuyết rơi

Khí hậu – climate

Thời tiết – weather

Mùa xuân

Mùa hè, mùa hạ

Mùa thu

Mùa đông


Hôm nay

thời tiết

như thế nào?

Hôm nay













Ngày mai







Ngày mai





dự báo










Hôm qua



hy vọng

hôm nay




hôm qua






To talk about the weather, you can use

  1. Trời + a weather adjective / description. Do NOT use thời tiết or khí hậu

  2. The time (hôm nay, tuần trước, tháng sau, etc.) + a weather adjective / description.

Ối trời ơi! Trời ơi là trời!

Exercise: Ask and answer

The weather in America, how is it?____________________________________________

Spring’s weather in New York, how is it? ____________________________________________

Is it going to rain today? ____________________________________________

How was the weather yesterday? ____________________________________________

1. Trời đang mưa – it is raining

2. Trời sắp mưa – going to rain

3. Trời lại mưa rồi – it is raining again (complaint)

4. Trời mới mưa – it just rained


20,000 Miles Under the Sea


The caption for this photo is “Việt Nam đã có tàu ngầm rồi! Để so sánh với các nước trên thế giới!”
(Vietnam finally has submarine! To compare with other countries in the world)
The countries being compared to are
Mỹ: United States
Nga: Russia
Anh: Britain
Đức: Germany
Trung Quốc: China


Instant Holiday Greetings in Vietnamese


T’is the season to load up on holiday greetings!

1. Chúc mừng năm mới!
Happy New Year.
This is the easiest greeting.
If you remember nothing else, hold on to this one.
It works for both Jan 1 New Year and Lunar New Year (Tết), and you don’t need to know any pronouns.

2. Chúc (anh) năm mới vui vẻ!
Wish you a happy new year. Replace (anh) with the appropriate pronoun and you have your greeting.

3. Chúc (em) Giáng Sinh vui vẻ!
Merry Christmas!
4. Chúc (chị) Nô-en vui vẻ!
Merry Christmas!

Christmas is known as lễ Giáng Sinh or lễ Nô-en (from the French word Noel).
Chúc – to wish
Vui vẻ – happy

Chúc (you) Giáng Sinh / Nô-en vui vẻ!
As usual, use the appropriate Vietnamese pronoun for “you”.

5. Chúc mừng sinh nhật!
Happy birthday!
6. Chúc (anh) sinh nhật vui vẻ!
Wish you a happy birthday!

1. For the Lunar New Year (Tết, Tết Nguyên Đán), aside from the simple chúc mừng năm mới, there are many more elaborate Vietnamese Tết greetings here.
2. If you’re completely new and don’t know any pronouns, learn to address people properly in Vietnamese here.

Guess who? Ai đây? (1)


Since we’ve just had a lesson on how to describe people, can you read the description below and guess who this person is? Answer will be posted in the next lesson about describing people.

Người này cao tuổi, râu tóc bạc trắng, béo tròn, và thích mặc quần áo đỏ.
Người này tính tình vui vẻ, hay cười, cũng rất tốt bụng và hào phóng.
Người này sống ở Bắc Cực và nuôi rất nhiều tuần lộc.

Người này cao tuổi, râu tóc bạc trắng
Person this high age beard hair silver white
béo tròn, thích mặc quần áo đỏ
fat round, and like wear clothes (pant shirt) red
Người này tính tình vui vẻ, hay cười
Person this personality cheerful, often laugh
cũng rất tốt bụng hào phóng
also very kind-hearted and generous
Người này sống Bắc Cực nuôi rất nhiều tuần lộc
This person live at the North Pole and raise very many reindeers

What’s in Your Wallet?


Click to play audio

That’s the tag line for a bank in the US. I’m not that curious about what everyone carries everyday, but common knowledge in Vietnam is that whatever you have on you can be mất trộm. Read below for tips against trộm cắp.

1. túi, bao any kind of bag (handbag, groceries bag, shopping bag)
2. wallet, purse
3. tiền money
4. thẻ tín dụng credit or debit card
5. thẻ học sinh / thẻ sinh viên high school / university student card
6. bằng lái xe driver’s license (“permit drive vehicle”)
7. chứng minh nhân dân, commonly abbreviated CMND – the Vietnamese state-issued ID card
8. hộ chiếu passport
9. thị thực visa – people just say “visa” as well
10. đồng hồ clock, watch
11. máy ảnh, máy chụp hình camera (“machine picture”)

One word of caution: if you travel in Vietnam, anything on you can be (bị) mất (trộm) (to lose, to get stolen). Ví, tiền, bằng lái xe, điện thoại di động are the most common.

Anh bị mất gì? Anh bị mất tiền
You get stolen what? I get stolen money

You can also bị cướp (get robbed) or bị lừa mất (get swindled and lose something).
It’s really that bad, and công an (the police) will never help you recover anything (from my personal experience).

When in Vietnam, I usually stuff just a couple of bills and bằng lái xe into a pant or shirt pocket. Putting everything in or túi makes it convenient to lose credit cards, cash, and driver’s license all at once.
I also make photocopy of all my IDs (passport, visa, etc) and hide them somewhere safe for the day I become yet another theft victim and have to reapply for everything.

Bonus: makeup is mỹ phẩm or đồ trang điểm.
Lipstick is son môi. Sunscreen is kem chống nắng (“cream against sunlight”). Sunglasses are kính râm.
Women skincare products are usually called kem dưỡng da (literally “cream to preserve skin”).

Last but not least, if you ride a scooter in Vietnam, mũ bảo hiểm (helmet) is a must-have. Don’t have one? Traffic police will gladly slap you with a hefty fine and the inconvenience of confiscating your ride. No kidding, traffic in Vietnam gets worse every year, but traffic laws get ridiculous even faster.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Eat a ton of turkey today!

For your amusement, the Vietnamese has this popular children’s song about chicken (close enough to the turkey). It’s been parodied so many times that I don’t even know the original lyrics any more.
It’ll give my soft-hearted friend a heart attack, so I’ll spare her today 🙂

Gà mà không gáy là con gà chiên.
Gà mà hay gáy là con gà điên.
Đi lang thang trong sân , bắt con gà , bỏ vô nồi.
Mua 2 lon Tiger , nhắm chân gà , nhắm chân gà.

Gà mà không gáy là con gà gay.
Gà mà không gáy là con gà toi.
Đi lang thang trong sân, bắt con gà, ướp tiêu hành,
Ăn xong lăn quay ra, chết tui rùi, cúm gia cầm.

The rooster that doesn’t roost is the fried one
The rooster that roost too often is the cuckoo one
Wander around the yard, catch a rooster, put into the pot
Buy 2 Tiger beers, eat chicken leg, eat chicken leg

The rooster that doesn’t roost is the troubled / gay one
The rooster that doesn’t roost is a goner
Wander around the yard, catch a rooster, marinate with pepper scallion
Finish eating and collapse, I’m done for, (I got) avian flu

Beauty, the Beast, and the Laundry List – Part 2/2


From this point on, we will venture into territory that no Vietnamese textbook ever dare touch in a 100 years: How to say bad things about people, and how to say things about bad people.
Let’s get started.

Click to play audio

The Beast

1. Xấu – ugly
2. Xấu trai – ugly (for men)
3.Lùn, thấp – short
4. Béo, mập, tròn – fat, chubby
5. Ngu, đần – dumb, stupid, stupid-looking

Personality / Characteristics
1. Dữ – aggressive (Dữ như cọp – fierce like a tiger)
2. Xấu tính – nasty character
3. Khó tính – difficult (to get along with)
4. Kỹ tính – OCD obsessive
5. Nóng tính – hot-tempered
6. Ích kỷ – selfish
7. Keo kiệt, keo bẩn – stingy, penny pinching
8. Lười – lazy
9. Dễ giận – easily offended
10. Dễ dỗi – easily offended
11. Kiêu căng – arrogant
12. Tinh vi – know-it-all show-off
13. Đanh đá – aggressive, in your face
14. Tọc mạch – nosy
15. Chậm, chậm chạp – slow (in this day and age, slowness is considered a bad thing)
16. Đồng bóng – prissy (most likely used to describe a difficult to please gay guy)
17. Vũ phu – violent (for men; this is the wife-beater)
18. Ác, độc ác – mean, nasty, evil

People in this category include the stepmothers of Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora.
Can you think of anyone else who has nothing but bad quality?