You say goodbye, I say hello

Whereas in English there are different words for greeting and saying goodbye, in Vietnamese basically we use the same word “chào” to say both “hello” and “goodbye”. This word “chào” can be used in different phrases. In this lesson about learning Vietnamese language, we would like to introduce the basic uses of those greetings.

You say goodbye, I say hello

1.      “Xin + chào”

“Xin chào” is a general term meaning “Hello./Hi”. The word “Xin” in the phrase itself makes the speech sound very polite and respectful. However, “Xin chào” can sound very formal. It does not sound friendly. You can say it to anybody when you don’t know what personal pronoun/title to address him/her because you don’t know yet his/her age or status, as well as when you are addressing group that includes people of various ages, social classes, etc/

2.      “Chào + second personal pronoun/ title.”

This phrase is the most common form to greet or say goodbye because it involves two typical features of Vietnamese speech which are politeness and friendliness. These two features are expressed by the personal pronoun/title mentioned in your phrase to address directly the listener(s). Here are a few examples:

Phrase Usage Explanation
Chào anh A general form of greeting or saying goodbye for a young or middle-aged man, or boy who is a little older than you, as if he could be your older brother “anh” mean “older brother”
Chào chị A general form of greeting or saying goodbye for a young or middle-aged woman, or a girl who is a little older than you, as if she could be your older sister “chị” means “older sister
Chào bác sĩ A form of greeting or saying goodbye for a doctor “bác sĩ” means “doctor”

 

When you talk with friends who are approximately your age or younger, you can address them with their names without using a personal pronoun.

Ex: Chào Nam

Chào John.

When you greet or say goodbye to anyone who is older or more senior than you, you must use the correct personal pronoun or title before the name if you mention his/her name in your phrase.

Ex: Chào anh Jack

Chào bác sĩ Mai

We’ll introduce the 3rd form in the next lesson.

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