How to Say Thank You in Vietnamese

Two Methods:Expressing Gratitude in VietnameseShowing Appreciation in Vietnamese Culture

Learning the words to say thank you in Vietnamese is a helpful and rewarding step to convey your gratitude while in Vietnam. Of equal importance, familiarize yourself with how people convey appreciation in Vietnamese culture. Be sure to work on pronunciation when speaking in Vietnamese, as your pronunciation will affect the meaning of the words you’re saying!

Method 1
Expressing Gratitude in Vietnamese

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    Say “cảm ơn.” The nearest equivalent to the English phrase “thanks,” in Vietnamese uses the words “cảm” and “ơn.” These two words together translate literally to the directive to “feel favor.” Use “cảm ơn” when thanking someone informally.[1]
    • In English, the phrase “thank you” has the person you are addressing built in – “you.” In Vietnamese, however, you’ll also need to add a word to indicate the person you are addressing.
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    Pronounce “cảm ơn” correctly. Since Vietnamese is a tonal language, pronunciation is extremely important to the meaning of both words and phrases. When you’re hoping to say “thank you,” say “cảm” in a broken falling tone, and “ơn” in a flat tone.[2] Since it is hard to imagine these sounds from simply reading about them, listen to recordings of the phrase online.[3]
    • When pronounced correctly, “cảm ơn” will sound like “gauhm uhhn”.
    • The “auh” portion of the first word is sounded out in a rising, then falling voice.
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    Include a personal pronoun. Increase the politeness of your expression by including a personal pronoun corresponding with the person you are addressing. In other words, say, “cám ơn,” in addition to an appropriate word for “you” in Vietnamese. [4]
    • Use “bà,” pronounced “baa,” when addressing an older woman, and “cô,” pronounced “coh,” to address a young girl.[5]
    • Use “ông”, pronounced “ohng,” to address a man who is older than you, and “anh,” pronounced “ang,” when thanking a young man.
    • For instance; “cám ơn cô” means “thank you,” as you would say it to a young woman.
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    Emphasize your gratitude. Add “nhiều lắm,” pronounced “nyee-oh luhm,” after saying “cảm ơn” to express especially strong gratitude. This addition indicates the English equivalent of "a lot" or "so much.”[6] Accordingly, say, “cảm ơn nhiều lắm,” pronounced “gauhm uhhn nyee-oh luhm,” if you’re hoping to more strongly convey your gratitude.[7]
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    Say thank you as formally as possible. The Vietnamese language includes another word to help express appreciation in contexts that requires extreme formality and politeness. In particular, the word “xin,” which translates to “to ask” or even “to beg” is placed before “cảm ơn.” Altogether, say “xin cảm ơn,” pronounced like “sin gauhm uhhn.” [8]

Method 2
Showing Appreciation in Vietnamese Culture

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    Smile when you receive a compliment. Vietnamese culture dictates that smiles are often used to convey appreciation instead of a verbal expression of thanks. Think of a smile as a silent “thank you.” Modesty is highly respected in Vietnamese culture, and deflecting a compliment with a smile is the best way to express appreciation for a compliment modestly.[9]
    • Similarly, if you pay someone a compliment, do not expect them to express their gratitude verbally.
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    Accept a smile instead of many common phrases. In English, people are often quick to say “hello,” as well as “thank you” and “sorry” in many different contexts. In Vietnamese culture, a smile often take the place of these phrases. In fact, anyone who is older or in a position of authority will usually not thank younger or subordinate people verbally. Accordingly, do not be offended if you do not receive a verbal thank you for a favor.[10]
    • In particular, do not expect someone who is your parents age or a teacher to say thank you. Instead, you will likely receive a nod.
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    Use other nonverbal expressions. Other expressions are also used to emphasize statements or replace verbal communication. Some common physical gestures, however, have different connotations in Vietnamese culture. For instance, avoid patting someone’s back or pointing while talking, as these actions will be perceived as disrespectful. Similarly, avoid placing your hands in your pocket or on your hips, especially while expressing gratitude.[11]
    • Cross your arms when expressing gratitude. This is considered a sign of respect.
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    Avoid holding eye contact. Eye contact with someone of a greater age or social status may be taken as a challenge. Meanwhile, eye contact with someone of the opposite gender indicates affection or desire. Accordingly, take care not to maintain eye contact with a anyone who may misread your expression. In fact, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect.[12]
    • Since people maintain eye contact when speaking in many other cultures, averting your eyes may be hard to get used to.
    • Practice looking away from a conversation partner's eyes before you go to Vietnam.
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    Say “you’re welcome.” In Vietnamese, the equivalent of the English phrase “you’re welcome” is synonymous with “there isn’t any problem.” Accordingly, say, “không có gì” to say “it’s nothing” or “không có chi” to say “you’re welcome” when someone thanks you.[13]
    • "Không" is spoken in a flat tone, while "có" is spoken in a rising tone. "Không có chi" is pronounced "khong koh tsee."

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Categories: World Languages