View on GitHub


Draft for a more approachable Vietnamese learning resource.

2019 Vietnamese Textbook (open-source)

Table Of Contents


Vietnamese has a 29-letter alphabet (Wikipedia)

At first glance it looks similar to English with just a few accents but it can be deceiving. The letters, particularly the vowels, don’t usually sound like their English comunterparts so you need to learn them carefully.

There are 3 types of A, 3 types of O, 2 types of U, 2 types of E and 1 type of I.

The As

I like to think of the three As as sitting on a continuum from extremely open to extremely closed (A - Ă - Â)

A is open like in aunt or father (kind of a longer version of the first one)

Ă with a crescent on top is said like the U in UNDER. A bit shorter than A.

 (with a conical Vietnamese hat) rhymes with the vowel in hit or miss (watch out for this one - very different than an English A)

The Os

The Us

The Es

The I

The Y

While we are talking about vowels, the “y” in Vietnamese is also an /ee/ sound but when it is inside a word, it is said fast and merges with the following consonant.

Alphabet Table

Aa Ââ Ă ă B C c D d Đ đ E e Ê ê G g H h
“pa” “it” “up”   “guy” /z/ (N) /y/ (S) /d/        

Vietnamese has no F, J, W, Z letters

Vietnamese English sounds like
A a a the “a” sound in “father”
 â - as in “it”
Ă ă - as in “up”
B b (same as English)  
C c   Pronounced as a hard g (like in /golf/)
D d d pronounced /z/ in Hanoi and /y/ in Saigon (watch out)
Đ đ - hard D sound (this is the closest to English “d” but comes from the back of the mouth)
E e - -
Ê ê    
- F (not in Vietnamese)
G g    
    Gi - (in the north pronounced /z/)
H h   (same as English)
I i    
- J (not in Vietnamese)
K k    
    Kh -
L l    
M m (same as English)  
N n   (same as English)
    nh - /nya/
    ng - siNG - (only comes at the end of the word in English. They can start a word with Ng in Vietnamese)
O o   mORE
Ô ô - hellO, L M N O
Ơ ơ   crOss
P p (same as English)  
Q q (same as English) always comes as QU
R r (same as English) In the south, similar to English ‘R’. In the north, pronounced /z/
S s (same as English) same
T t ** kind of a soft d sound
    TH - an actual T sound
    TR - CH
U u   mOO
Ư ư Uhh  
V v   (same as English)
- W (not in Vietnamese)
x   said like a s
Y   (same as English)
- Z (not in Vietnamese)

Special Vietnamese Letters

ô, ơ, â, ă, ê, ư, đ


There are 6 tones that affect how you say each word. Words only have one tone each and always stay the same (i.e. the tone is attached to that word and doesn’t change)

-Vietnamese Tones

Using a Vietnamese Keyboard