Basic Vietnamese

Vietnamese Tones, Pronunciation and Alphabet


There are six tones in Vietnamese, each of which is represented by a different diacritical mark. Depending on the tones, the word “ma” can mean ghost, mother, which/but, tomb, horse or rise seedling. The six tones are:

Mid tone: produced at the relative middle of your voice range. No tone mark is used. (ma = ghost)
High-rising tone: begins high and rises sharply. (má = mother)
Low- falling tone: begins low and falls lower. (mà = but)
Low-rising tone: begins low, dips lower, then rises sharply. (mả = tomb)
High-broken tone: begins above middle, dips, then rises sharply. (mã = horse)
Low-broken tone: begins low then falls sharply. (mạ = rice seedling)

Vietnamese Alphabet

a   ă   â   b   c   d   đ   e   ê   g   h   i   k   l    m   n   o   ô   ơ   p   q   r    s   t   u   ư   v   x   y


a- like a in part     
ă- like u in cup, cut    
â- like  (?)
b- like b
c,k- like k    
d- like z in zero    
đ- like d     
e- like e in lend     
ê- like ai in plain    
g- like g in gain    
h- like h in house    
i,y- like e in me    
l- like l in live     
m- like m     
n- like n    
o- like o in core     
ô- like oh     
ơ- like in nerd    
p- like p     
qu- like q    
r- like r in really    
s- like sh in she    
t- like t in total     
u- like oo in cool    
ư- like u in huh   
v- like v    
x- like s in so


gi- as z in north or y in south         ng- like the -nga- in long ago        nh- like ni in opinion                      ph- like f    
tr- as ch in north and tr in south     th- like th in thanks        
ch- like ch in chew   

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