Lesson 2: Learn The 6 Tones in Vietnamese – Học 6 Thanh Điệu Trong Tiếng Việt

6 Tones In Vietnamese

tones in Vietnamese

Lesson 2: Learn The 6 Tones in Vietnamese – Học 6 Thanh Điệu Trong Tiếng Việt

Tones are imagined to be the most difficult aspect of learning to speak Vietnamese, but there is no reason to fret. After this lesson, you will find that Vietnamese tones are rather straightforward and easy to master. There are 6 tones in Vietnamese, namely: high+flat (ngang), sắc (high+rising), huyền ),  (low+falling), gradual+low rising (hỏi), gradual+low rising (ngã), nặng (low+heavy/quick falling), which can be best represented by 6 examples: ma, má, mà, mả, mã, mạ.

    1. Ngang:
       high flat>
      ma (meaning “ghost”) (tone mark: none)
    2. Sắc:
       high rising >
      (meaning “mother”, used mainly in the south, informal). (tone mark above vowel: á)
    3. Huyền:
       low falling >
      (meaning “yet”, or “but also”) (tonal mark above vowel: à)
    4. Hỏi:
      low gradual rising =
      mả (meaning “a grave, tomb”) (tone mark above vowel: ả)
    5. Ngã:
      low gradual rising (in the south, the tone 5 is identical to tone 4, but it is part of correct spelling to write the correct tone mark whereas in the north the tone is more distinct, starting much higher and finishing even higher compared to tone 2)>
      (Chinese Vietnamese word for “horse”) (tonal mark above vowel: ã)
    6. Nặng
      : low heavy/quick falling>
      mạ (coating a metal with a layer of another metal, a rice seedling) (tonal mark below vowel: ạ)

Here is an illustration of the 6 tones with tone 5 illustrated according to the Northern accent:

6 Vietnamese tones
6 Vietnamese tones


You will learn 30 examples of the 6 tones, which are very common words in Vietnamese. Click on the play button to hear the audio.

    • Ngang: high+flat
      1. ba
      2. ga
        (propane gas, or train station)
      3. ma
      4. xa
      5. cơm
    • Sắc: high+rising
      1. (leaf)
      2. đá
        (kick, or stone, or ice)
      3. chó
      4. (he, she, it, very casual personal pronoun)
      5. máy
    • Huyền: low+falling
      1. (chicken)
      2. mèo
      3. nhà
        (house, home)
      4. (grandmother)
      5. (and)
    • Hỏi: low gradual rising
      1. hỏi
        (ask a question)
      2. mỏi
        (tired in the muscles)
      3. mở
      4. chở
         (drive someone in a car, ride someone on a bike)
      5. phở
        (phở, the famous Vietnamese beef noodle soup)
    • Ngã: low gradual rising (the same as tone 4)
      1. ngã
        (to fall)
      2. cãi
        (to quarrel)
      3. sẽ
      4. ngỗng
      5. gỗ
    • Nặng: low+heavy falling
      1. lạ
      2. mặn
      3. ngọt
      4. nhẹ
        (mild, light)
      5. nặng

There you have it. By now, and with some practice you should be able to hear, recognize and produce these tones accurately. Enjoy speaking Vietnamese and leave a comment if you have any question.


Facebook Comments