It is said that Vietnamese is super hard, even if you ask Vietnamese themselves. Maybe the most challenging part of Vietnamese is supposed to be the accent marks which stand for 6 different tones: raising tone ( / ), falling tone ( \ ), heavy tone ( . ), wavy tone ( ~ ), question tone ( ? ) and no tone ( _ ).
Sometimes it will make you crazy because just a bit raising your voice, the meaning of the word you speak will completely different.
MA ( _ ) : ghost
MÃ ( ~ ) : appearance
MÀ ( \ ) : but
MÁ ( / ) : mom
MẠ ( . ) : rice seed
MẢ ( ? ) : grave
But don’t be afraid to learn new languages. Here are 5 reasons to prove Vietnamese is not as hard as you thought.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LEARN NEW ALPHABET
Since the French came to Vietnam 100 years ago, Vietnamese start to use the Latin alphabet (similar with English alphabet instead of using “Chữ Nôm” - acomplicated character system. Unlikely, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean or the other Asian Languages, you don’t have to learn a new alphabet for Vietnamese.
VIETNAMESE HAS NO GENDER
It’s a good new for new learner because when learning Vietnamese vocabulary you don't have to deal with much trouble on telling the difference between "feminine" or "masculine". If you've ever learned any kind of Europe languages except English, you can feel how comfort Vietnamese brings to learners, all you need to do is learn the word as it is.
VIETNAMESE HAS NO PLURAL NOUN
If in English you have to remember to add an “s” at the end of the word. “Cat” in plural is “cats”, “apple” become “apples” but “person” become “people” and “woman” become “women” and some word like “sheep” or “fish” don’t change at all.
For Vietnamese, new learners never mind about complicated plural rules. Yet if you are still confusing about how to specify Vietnamese noun, the plural is expressed by the words in front of it. For example: con mèo (cat), nhiều con mèo (many cats), vài con mèo (some cats). It’s super easy.
VIETNAMESE TENSES IS ONLY WITHIN 5 WORDS
Remember these words stand for 5 tenses below, then add them in front of any verb that you want to express.
đã = in the past
mới = in the recent past, more recently than đã
đang = right now, at this very moment
sắp = soon, in the near future
sẽ = in the future
Tôi đã lam bài = I did homework
Tôi mới làm bài = I just done homework
Tôi đang lam bài = I am doing homework (right now)
Tôi sắp lam bài = I am going to do homework
Tôi sẽ lam bài = I will do homework
In conclusion, Vietnamese is not so hard to learn, so if you are intending to visit Vietnam or planning to learn our language. Please don't hesitate, just go for it. New adventures are waiting for you! Connect with the local in their language by yourself, why not?
Finally, here are some simple & useful Vietnamese words for you to communicate with local people when travel in Vietnam:
Hello! - Xin Chào /sin chòw/
Goodbye! - Bai Bai /bái bai/
Thank you! - Cảm ơn /kàm ón/
Sorry! - Xin lỗi /sin lòy/
That’s right! - Đúng rồi - /dúng ròy/
That’s not correct! - Sai rồi - /sai ròy/
Ice tea - Trà đá - /chà dá/
Coffee with condensed milk - cà phê sữa đá - /cafe sure dá/
No Sugar - không đường - /kong dùrn/
It’s so hot! (weather) - nóng quá - /nong wáh/