“How are you” is widely used as a polite way of greeting in English. It can be used with someone you know, as well as strangers.
However, that’s not the case in Vietnamese culture.
Vietnamese people ask “How are you?” only to someone they know.
In this lesson, I’ll show you different ways to ask “How are you?”, and how to respond to those questions in Vietnamese.
To make any conversation in Vietnamese, you’re required to know personal pronouns. They are simply words that you use to address yourself and the person you’re talking to.
To simplify the lesson, we will be using the pronoun mình for “I” and bạn for “You”.
Generally, Vietnamese people don’t say “How are you” to strangers.
They often use it to ask someone whom they know but haven’t talked to in a while. That can be in person or over the phone.
For instance, you haven’t been in contact with a friend for over a month. You can ask “How are you” to this friend when you see him or her again.
As a Vietnamese native speaker, I mostly ask “How are you” to my grandparents over the phone every few months when I call them.
Below are the top 4 common phrases used by the locals to ask “How are you”.
Literally means: “You’re healthy?”
Khoẻ means “healthy” or “strong”.
Không is often placed at the end of the sentence to make a yes-no question - “Are you?”, “Do you?”, “Is she”, etc.
Bạn khỏe không? can be said to be the standard way of asking How are you politely in Vietnamese.
However, it is mostly used to ask an older person or someone you know but is not very close with.
Literally means: “These days you how?
This sentence can be translated as “How are you these days?”
Dạo này means “these days”
Thế nào means “how”
Dạo này bạn thế nào? is a more casual way of asking “How are you” compared to Bạn khỏe không?.
Native speakers use this phrase more often in daily conversations with someone they know.
Literally means: “These days job how?
This sentence can be translated as “How's work these days?”
Công việc means “work” or "job"
This phrase can be used to start a conversation by asking about the person's current job.
Literally means: “Your family how?
Gia đình means "family"
This phrase can be used to start a conversation by asking about the person's family.
You can replace the word gia đình (family) with words for family members￼ such as:
For example: "Ba mẹ của bạn thế nào" = "How are your parents￼￼￼?"
So you have learned different ways of asking “how are you￼” to someone you know but haven’t talked to in a while￼.
To engage in a conversation with some know but see quite often, such as a neighbor, ￼you can use the following phrases:
This question can be translated as “Where are you going?”.
đi means “to go”
đang đi means “to be going”
đâu is the question word for “where”
đó is a common ending particle in Vietnamese. It is often placed at the end of the sentence to mark an action currently in progress (at the moment).
You can use this phrase when you bump into someone you know on the street.
This question can be translated as “What are you doing?”.
làm means “to do”
đang làm means “to be doing”
gì is the question word for “what”
You can use this phrase to start a conversation with someone you know or with a stranger.
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