40 Common Vietnamese Verbs That You Must Know (Part 1)

Acquiring vocabulary is a high priority for any language learner. The best place to start is to learn the most common words used by native speakers, especially Vietnamese VERBS.

Verbs are words that we used to talk about actions. They are a very important part to construct complete sentences, even simple ones.

The good news is, unlike many other languages, Vietnamese verbs are not conjugated. That means the verb forms stay the same regardless of the pronouns and tenses. For instance:

  • I eat → Mình ăn
  • He eats → Ảnh ăn
  • She ate → Cổ (đã) ăn

This lesson will introduce you to the most common and basic Vietnamese verbs, with example sentences that you can use in daily conversation.

After learning this list, you can also go to part 2 of this lesson to learn more common Verbs.

Meaning: to be

The word “là” is equivalent to “to be” verb in English, which also includes am/is/are/was/were.

But unlike English, Vietnamese “là” is mostly used to introduce something or someone's identity or profession. For example:

  • Ảnh giáo viên.
    He is a teacher.

where "giáo viên" means teacher

  • Họ người Mỹ
    They are Americans

where "người Mỹ" refers to American person or American people

When you want to describe someone or something like “she’s beautiful” or “phở is tasty”, you don’t have to use the word "là". For instance:

Cổ đẹp
She’s beautiful

Phở ngon
Phở is tasty

Meaning: to be in/at a location, or to stay

is used when talking about being in/at a location. For example:

  • Mình Việt Nam
    I am in Vietnam / I stay in Vietnam

  • Mình nhà
    I am at home / I stay (at) home

where "nhà" means home or house

Meaning: to have

You probably know that The word “Có” also means “yes”, but as a verb, it means “to have”. For example:

  • Mình hai anh chị em
    I have 2 siblings

where “anh chị em” means siblings or brothers and sisters

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THÍCH

Meaning: to like

  • Ảnh không thích đồ ngọt
    He doesn’t like sweet stuff

where “ngọt” means sweet, and “đồ” refers to stuff in general

LÀM

Meaning: to do, to make, or to work

The word “làm” has many meanings, but I’ll show you the most common ones. The first meaning of “làm” is “To do”

Bạn đang làm gì?
“What are you doing?” (literally “You are doing what?”)

The second meaning of “làm” is To make

  • Cổ làm đồ ăn cho ảnh
    She makes food for him

where “đồ ăn” means food, “cho ảnh” means for him

Another meaning of “làm” is to work. The word to work in Vietnamese, can either be “làm” or “làm việc". For example:

  • Bạn làm ở đâu?
    You work where? / Where do you work?

  • Mình làm việc với John
    I work with John

BIẾT

Meaning: to know

  • Mình không biết chỗ đó
    I don’t know that place

where “chỗ” refers to a place in general, “chỗ đó” means that place

NÓI

Meaning: to speak or to say

  • Mình biết nói một chút tiếng Việt
    I know how to speak a little Vietnamese

where “tiếng Việt” refers to the Vietnamese language, and “một chút” means a little, a bit

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NGHE

Meaning: to hear, to listen

  • Mình không nghe
    I didn’t hear clearly

where “rõ” means clear or clearly

HIỂU

Meaning: to understand

  • Mình không hiểu bạn nói gì
    I don’t understand what you say (literally "I don't understand you say what")

ĐI

Meaning: to go

  • Tuần sau mình đi Sapa
    Next week I’ll go to Sapa

where "tuần" means week, “tuần sau” means next week

ĂN

Meaning: to eat

  • Mình không ăn được cay
    I can’t eat spicy things

Note: The word “được” is used to talk about being able to do something. So “ăn được” means can eat or able to eat, “không ăn được” means cannot eat or not able to eat

The word “cay” refers to something spicy.

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UỐNG

Meaning: to drink

  • Ảnh không thích uống rượu
    He doesn’t like drinking wine

LẤY

Meaning: to take or to get

  • Mình lấy cái này
    I’ll to take this one / I’ll get this one

where “cái này” means this one

So the verb “Lấy” means “to take”, then we have “lấy cho”, which translates to “to take for someone something” or “to get someone something”. For example:

  • Lấy cho mình cái ghế
    Get me a chair

NGHĨ

Meaning: to think

  • Mình nghĩ trời sắp mưa
    I think it’s about to rain

The word “mưa” refers to the “rain” or “to rain”. The phrase “trời mưa” means “it rains”, so “trời sắp mưa” would be “it’s about to rain”.

“Sắp” refers to something that is about to happen.

TỚI or ĐẾN

Meaning: to come to, to arrive

The words “Tới” and “đến” have the same meanings, and they can be used interchangeably.

  • Ảnh sẽ tới Việt Nam vào tháng một
    He will come to Vietnam in January

where “tháng một” means “January”, and “vào tháng một” means “in January”.

The word “sẽ” is a tense marker that we place before a verb, to describe a future action if the context is not clear enough.



NGHĨ

Meaning: to think

  • Mình nghĩ cái đó hơi xấu
    I think that one is a bit ugly

where "xấu" means "ugly", and "hơi xấu" means "a bit ugly" or "slightly ugly"

MUỐN

Meaning: to want

  • Mình không muốn nghĩ tới nó
    I don't want to think about it

To say "to think of" or "to think about" something, you can say "nghĩ tới" or "nghĩ đến".

MUA

Meaning: to buy

  • Cổ thích mua quần áo giảm giá
    She likes to buy discounted clothes

"quần áo" means "clothes".
"giảm giá" can be a verb "to reduce the price". In this sentence, it is an adjective which refers to "discounted price" or "reduced price".

BÁN

Meaning: to sell

  • Cửa hàng này bán mắc!
    This store sells expensive

where "cửa hàng" refers to a store or a shop, and “mắc” means “expensive".

In Northern dialect, people would use the word “đắt” instead of "mắc" for saying “expensive”

40 Common Vietnamese Verbs That You Must Know (Part 2)

DÙNG

Meanings: to use, to take food/drink/medicine

The first meaning of dùng is “to use”

  • Cái này dùng để làm gì?
    This one is used to do what? / What is this for?

where “để làm gì?” literally means “to do what?” or simply “what for?”


The second meaning of “dùng” is “to take” as in taking food, drink or medicine

  • Anh dùng trà hay là cà phê?
    You take tea or coffee?

CHO

Meanings: to give, to let and to put

Here’s an example of “to give”

  • Ảnh cho cổ hai vé xem phim
    He gave her two movie tickets

where “vé xem phim” means “movie ticket”


The second meaning of “cho” is “to let”

  • Tại sao bạn không cho mình biết?
    Why you didn’t let me know?

where “tại sao” means “why”


Then we have the third meaning of “cho” which is “to put”. You can also say cho something vào, which means “to put something in”

  • Cổ không thích cho đường vào cà phê
    She doesn't like to put sugar in the coffee

where “đường” means “sugar”, so “cho đường vào” means “to put sugar in”.

HỎI

Meaning: to ask, to inquire

  • Em hỏi ý kiến của sếp chưa?
    Have you asked the boss’s opinion?

“hỏi ý kiến” means “to ask someone’s opinion"
“sếp” refers to a “boss” or a “superior”

NHÌN

Meaning: to look at

  • Cổ nhìn ảnh và không nói gì
    She looks at him and doesn’t say anything

When “gì” is used with a negative form of a verb, it would have the meaning of “anything”. For example:

  • không nói gì - to not say anything
  • không hiểu gì - to not understand anything
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THẤY

This is a powerful verb to know because it has three common meanings: to see, to feel, and to find.

The first meaning of “thấy” is “to see”.

Earlier, we’ve learned that the word nhìn means “to look at”. Now we have the word thấy or nhìn thấy both mean “to see something with your eyes”. For example:

  • Hôm qua mình thấy siêu thị có khuyến mãi
    Yesterday I saw the supermarket has promotions

where “siêu thị” refers to “supermarket”, and "khuyến mãi” refers to the “sales promotion”


The second meaning of “thấy” is “to feel”. You can either say thấy or cảm thấy. For example:

  • Sáng nay mình thấy hơi mệt
    This morning I feel a bit tired

where “sáng nay” means “this morning”, and “mệt” means “tired” or “tiring”


The third meaning of “thấy” is “to find” in terms of thinking or feeling a particular way, about someone or something.

  • Mình thấy ảnh là một người thích khoe khoang
    I find him to be a person who likes to brag

where “khoe khoang” means “to brag” or “to boast”

COI

Meanings: to watch, to view something attentively

The first meaning of "coi" is "to watch something" or “to watch someone doing something”, such as:

  • coi ti vi - to watch the TV
  • coi ảnh nhảy - to watch him dance

The second meaning of “coi” is “to bring your eyes and your attention on something”. For example:

  • coi điện thoại
    can be translated as “to view/look at something on the phone”

  • coi tin tức - to view the news
    which can be on the TV, or in the news’paper

Another word for “coi” that you may know is “xem”. Although "coi" seems to be used more often in the Southern dialect, while "xem" is used more often in the Northern dialect.

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Common Vietnamese Verbs List

  1. - to be (am/is/are/was)
  2. - to be in/at a location; to stay
  3. - to have
  4. THÍCH - to like
  5. LÀM - to do, to make, to work
  6. BIẾT - to know
  7. NÓI - to speak, to say
  8. NGHE - to listen, to hear
  9. HIỂU - to understand
  10. ĐI - to go
  11. ĂN - to eat
  12. UỐNG - to drink
  13. LẤY - to take, to get / LẤY CHO - to get someone something
  14. NGHĨ - to think
  15. TỚI / ĐẾN - to come to, to arrive to
  16. NGHĨ - to think
  17. MUỐN - to want
  18. MUA - to buy
  19. BÁN - to sell
  20. DÙNG - to use; to take food/drink/medicine
  21. CHO - to give; to let / CHO VÀO - to put something in
  22. HỎI - to ask
  23. NHÌN - to look at
  24. THẤY - to see; to feel; to find
  25. COI / XEM - to watch; to view

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