Greetings

1. Vietnamese people use “chào” when they meet each other.

Read the following chart, and keep in mind that the reference age for the reader is 25 years old. Practice the appropriate greetings for each age group and gender.

Approximate Age Group Male Female
Over 65 Chào ông  Chào bà 
40 – 60 Chào bác / Chào chú / Chào cậu  Chào bác / Chào cô / Chào dì 
25 – 40 Chào anh  Chào chị 
Under 25 Chào em  Chào con / Chào cháu 

2. When the name / nickname was known, we can mention it also.

Chào ông Hải.
Chào bà Dung.
Chào bác Nam.
Chào chú Hiền.
Chào cô Lý.
Chào Xuân Bắc.
Chào Mít.

Notes:

  • The Vietnamese pronoun system is very complex, having hundreds of pronouns, since Vietnamese generally address each other, including in greetings, according to age, familial/social role and gender.
  • It’s is polite to address a person as if he (she) is older person. Say “chị Trang”, “anh Thắng” instead of just “Trang” or “Thang” even though that person is of the same age. Only in close acquaintance, then we can address another person by name.
  • As for the answer, we should say: “Tên tôi là Trang”, not “Tên tôi là chị Trang”, or "Tên tôi là Thắng", not "Tên tôi là anh Thắng"
  • Thus, Vietnamese often ask for your age soon after greeting you, in order to determine how to address you appropriately. Don’t misconstrue this behavior as rudeness.

3. Vocabulary

To greet Chào 
Mr., you, grandpa Ông 
Mrs., you, grandma  
You, older brother Anh 
You, older sister Chị 
Male teacher Thầy 
Female teacher, aunt (younger sister of father)  
Uncle (older brother or older sister of parents) Bác 
Uncle (younger brother of father) Chú 
Aunt (younger sister of mother)  
Fine, healthy Khỏe 
To introduce Giới thiệu 
This is Đây là 
It’s a pleasure Hân hạnh 

4. Practice

Hello David. How are you? Chào anh David. Anh khỏe không? 
Hello Nam. I'm fine. How are you? Chào anh Nam. Tôi khỏe. Anh khỏe không? 
Thank you. I'm fine. Let me introduce to you, this is Trang. Cám ơn anh. Tôi khỏe. Xin giới thiệu với anh, đây là chị Trang. 
Hello Trang. Chào chị Trang. 
Hello David. It's a pleasure to meet you. Chào anh David. Hân hạnh được biết anh.