Learn Vietnamese culture: When does Vietnamese “yes” mean “yes” and when does “yes” mean “no”?

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2018

Learn Vietnamese online - Live in Vietnamese

Warning: Vietnamese “yes” is not the same as “yes” in English.

These are very simple words for expats who are learning Vietnamese and haven’t learned Vietnamese. We all know that there is one word, just one word, for no which is “không”, but for yes?

There are many of them:

  • “Dạ” (Southern of Vietnam) and “Vâng” (Nothern of Vietnam) - Used to answer to people who are older than you.
  • “Ừ” and “Ờ”  - Used to answer to the people who are younger or have the same age as you.

Or different sounds derived from those words above:

Vầng, Ừm, Ừa, Okay (young generation)...


Normally, Vietnamese people will use the verb contained in the question to express “yes/approval”.

For examples:

1.Q: Anh xem phim Người Nhện chưa? (Did you watch “Spider Man”?)

A: Anh xem rồi. (I watched it.)

2. Q: Em có người yêu chưa? (Do you have a boyfriend?)

A: Em có rồi. (I have a boyfriend.)


Be careful with the negative questions! Vietnamese people say “yes” to approve the negation!!!

For example:

1. Q: Hôm nay em không ăn trưa à? (You don’t have lunch today?)

A: Ừ! (Yes – Meaning: No, I don’t)

2. Q: Cái hộp này không phải của em phải không?

A: Dạ. (Yes – meaning: no, it’s not mine)

So our advice for those who are struggling to learn Vietnamese are:

-    Try NOT  to use negative questions as much as possible. It always causes confusion for both sides.

-    But if you want to give it a try, ask a question in different ways. This can help you have correct answers to your question.

-    Avoid “either-or” question.

Knowing how to say yes is the easy part but understanding what it really means may take a lot of practice and experience! So why not sign up for a Vietnamese course now? :D

_VLS - Vietnamese Language Studies - Learn Vietnamese - Live in Vietnamese_



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