Learning Vietnamese seems to be hard for a lot of ex-pats or foreigners but it really just takes a bit of practice and patience to be able to learn and understand it. Vietnamese language personal pronouns are typically used in written forms, or in a more formal setting.
In conversations, Vietnamese use ‘kinship’ honorific terms of respect to refer to themselves or others, even when they are not related by blood. Some of the most commonly used are:
Vietnamese language personal pronouns are both a necessity and a challenge
Generally refers to a much younger person, often a child, and is usually used in Southern Vietnam.
Generally refers to a much younger person, often a child, and is usually used in Northern Vietnam.
Generally refers to anyone younger than you, but older than a child. It can be used for younger male and female family members of the same generation and also with acquaintances. It can be a term of endearment, used to address a female/feminine companion or spouse regardless of age. It is also commonly used to hail a service staff who is noticeably younger than you.
Generally used for a non-elderly woman; a woman who’s a little older, like one’s own “big sister“; can be used as a romantic term of endearment.
Literally means ‘older brother’. It is used for males older than the speaker as a form of respect. A female equivalent for this term is “Chị”. Unless the subject in question is noticeably younger or older, these pronouns are the most neutral and socially accepted ones to use in any social setting.
Means ‘uncle’ and is used to address a male person whose age is similar or slightly younger than your father’s.
Used to address a woman older than you and older than “Chị”. Sometimes “Cô” is also used as a polite way to address females in a position of authority and/or respect, such as teachers, government officials, restaurateurs, etc.
The genderless term refers to a person that is not considered elderly but noticeably older than the speaker’s parents.
Refers to a man who is senior, in terms of age or social hierarchy. Employers and well-respected men are sometimes referred to as “Ông” regardless of their age.
This is used to address any elderly woman old enough to be a grandmother.
To begin capturing the essence of Vietnamese Language personal pronouns, watch this video.
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