In English, there are many simple ways to greet people such as “Hi!”, “Hello!”, “Good morning!” or “How are you doing?” Is it the same in Vietnamese? Let me introduce you to some common ways of greeting in Vietnam.
1. “Xin chào!”
This is the most proper and popular way to greet. However, it is too formal for daily use, but a good start for foreigners to start with.
2. “Chào …!”/ “… chào …!”
“Chào” itself means “Hi!” or “Hello!” Depending on the interpersonal relations of the people involved in the conversation, you will need to use different pronouns before and after this word. Only saying “Chao” is considered rude and used between friends only. Sometimes, we add “ạ” at the end of the phrase to show more respect.
3. “… ơi!”
This is not to say “Hello” but to call someone/some people, specifically to get their attention. Similar to “Hey…”, “Ơi!” can be used to respond to someone’s calling, only if that someone is about the same age or younger.
4. Nod and smile
Sometimes you just need to look at people, give a bright smile, maybe nod your head or bow down a little to show that you have recognized the other person.
Of course, you can just say “Hi!” or “Hello” and people will understand, though a “Xin chào” shows more appreciation.