Words that Sound like English - Vietnamese Loanwords

In this lesson, we are going to learn some common Vietnamese words that sound like English words! These words are often called loanwords or borrowed words.

So, what are loanwords?

Loanwords are foreign words that Vietnamese people have borrowed and adopted into the Vietnamese language, mostly originating from French, English, and Chinese language.

Keep in mind that some of these loanwords are written/spelled like Vietnamese words, and some are written/spelled exactly like the English words but have the Vietnamese pronunciation.

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Almost all languages in the world have loanwords because there is just not enough vocabulary to define all concepts. By doing so, we also integrate different cultures into our own.

I am thinking of updating this Vietnamese loanwords list over time. So stay tuned for the next update!

You can look at the loanwords with their related terms/example sentence, or just jump to the word list ⬇︎


sâm banh

English meaning: champagne

Another word that you may hear is "rượu sâm banh" which means champagne wine, where the word "rượu" means wine.

  • uống sâm banh / uống rượu sâm banh
    to drink champagne

bít tết

English meaning: beefsteak

Have you tried Vietnamese beefsteak? Let me tell you it's really different from the Western one. The Vietnamese version is often called "Bò bít tết", where "bò" means beef.

  • ăn bò bít tết
    to eat beefsteak

bia

English meaning: beer

Popular local beers are: bia Sài Gòn, bia Hà Nội, bia 333. When you want to order your beers, you can say:

  • "Cho hai bia Sài Gòn”
    “Give (me) two Saigon beers”

where “cho” is the verb to give

ô liu

English meaning: olive. Here are other related words:

  • dầu ô liu - olive oil
  • trái ô liu - olive fruit(s)

sốt

English meaning: sauce. Here are some common "sốt" in Vietnamese:

  • sốt cà chua - tomato sauce
  • sốt BBQ - BBQ sauce
  • sốt me - tamarind sauce
  • sốt bơ - butter sauce

salad

Vietnamese pronunciation: "xa-lát"

Salad is written as an English word, but is pronounced as "xa-lát" in Vietnamese. Here are some common "xa-lát" that you may find:

  • "xa-lát" trộn - mixed salad
  • "xa-lát" Nga - Russian salad

sandwich

Vietnamese pronunciation: “xăng-quých”

Or you might also hear “bánh mì xăng quých”, which literally means “sandwich bread”.

soda

Vietnamese pronunciation: “sô-đa”. Here are some common sodas:

  • “sô-đa" chanh - lime soda
  • “sô-đa" trái cây - fruit soda
  • lon “sô-đa" - a can of soda

yogurt

Vietnamese pronunciation: “da-ua”

We also have another word for yogurt which is sữa chua. But it is often used in the North, whereas "da-ua" is often used in the South.

menu

Vietnamese pronunciation: “me-nu”. When asking for the menu at the restaurant, you can say:

  • Cho mình cái "me-nu"
    Give me the menu
40 Common Vietnamese Verbs That You Must Know (Part 1)

Bellow are some Vietnamese loan words related to tech stuff.

radio

Vietnamese pronunciation: “ra-đi-ô”. Here's an example:

  • nghe "ra-đi-ô”
    listen to the radio

camera

Vietnamese pronunciation: “cam-mê-ra"

People also often say “máy cam-mê-ra”, which can refer to both the photo taking/video camera and the security camera. The word “máy” refers machine in general.

If you specifically refer to the photo taking/video camera, a better word would be “máy ảnh".

internet

Vietnamese pronunciation: “in-tơ-nét"

Another word for internet that Vietnamese people use is mạng, which literally refers to the “web". Here's a sentence example:

  • học tiếng Việt trên internet (in-tơ-nét) / mạng
    study Vietnamese on the internet

where “trên” is the preposition on.

laptop

Vietnamese pronunciation: “láp-tóp"

You may also hear “máy laptop (láp-tóp)”, which also refers to the laptop.

email

Vietnamese pronunciation: “i-meo". Here's a sentence example:

  • Địa chỉ email (i-meo) của bạn là gì?
    What’s your email address?

where “địa chỉ” means address, and so "địa chỉ email" means email address.

Common Vietnamese Loanwords / Borrowed Words

Food & Drinks

  • sâm banh - champagne
  • bít tết - beefsteak
  • bia - bia
  • ô liu - olive
  • sốt - sauce
  • salad - 🗣 “xa-lát”
  • sandwich - 🗣 “xăng-quých”
  • soda - 🗣 “sô-đa”
  • yogurt - 🗣 “da-ua” (South)
  • menu - 🗣 “me-nu”

Tech-related Words

  • ra-đi-ô - radio
  • camera - 🗣 “cam-mê-ra”
  • internet - 🗣 “in-tơ-nét”
  • laptop - 🗣 “láp-tóp”
  • laptop - 🗣 “láp-tóp”
  • email - 🗣 “i-meo”

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