My biggest huddle at the moment is this - How to express me/I and you in Vietnamese? The Vietnamese language has no simple expression of I and you. The situation is very similar in Korean, but my native language Korean isn't very helpful at this point, because I need to learn the all Vietnamese you's and I's, case by case.

Here's my question.

(1) Two young men (around 20~25 years old), age isn't known to each other at first.

     How one call the other at first?  For example, how to express. 

     "Hello, nice to see you. I want to bring you to my company." (You == anh?)

     "Did you come from Hanoi?" (You == anh?)

     What if the other turned out to be younger than you? 2 years younger than you? or older than you?

     Do Vietnamese people change the word 'you', in that case?

(2) How do Vietnamese call others in these cases?

     40 year-old male asking 5-year boy - "Did you see that?"  

     40 year-old male asking 15-year old girl - "Did you see that?"
     40 year-old male asking 30-year old man - "Did you see that?"

     40 year-old male asking 35-year old woman - "Did you see that?"

     40 year-old male asking some similar-age-looking man - "Did you see that?"

     40 year-old male asking some similar-age-looking woman - "Did you see that?"

     40 year-old male asking some seemingly-elder woman - "Did you see that?"

Seems to me that there are numerous other ways of calling 'you' in Vietnamese, according to the relative relation of the speaker to the listener. Quite confused.

How do I have to call my wife? How to ask my wife, "Did you see that train?"

Do I have to call other way, if I'm married to an elder woman? 

Help me please.

Posted by nomota multilingual

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  1. Favicon of BlogIcon Elisabeth 2014.04.18 01:11 신고 Address Modify/Delete Reply

    I'm another learner, not a native speaker, but I can answer some of those questions if you like?

    There are some good explanations about pronouns here: and here:

    But it's not exact. When Vietnamese people meet someone for the first time, they follow some rules to decide which pronouns to use... and sometimes they get it wrong! One time one of my male friends (Vietnamese) started talking to a woman (Vietnamese) calling her 'em' but when they both found out she was 5 years older than him, everyone was embarrassed.

    So don't worry about it too much!

  2. Favicon of BlogIcon Elisabeth 2014.04.23 01:23 신고 Address Modify/Delete Reply

    Great! I'm glad they were helpful.

    • Nomota 2014.04.23 20:42 신고 Address Modify/Delete

      I have written my own explanation in Korean for my own use, and for those Korean speakers who want to learn Vietnamese. Thanks, your links were very helpful.

  3. Favicon of BlogIcon Elisabeth 2014.04.25 00:40 신고 Address Modify/Delete Reply

    Can I link to that article from my resource list? (See here:

    • Nomota 2014.04.29 14:34 신고 Address Modify/Delete

      Sure. You may link it to your resource list. ( )