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7+ Easy Vietnamese Proverbs You Should Learn Today

June 29, 2022
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You have learned essential words and grammar, but you are not a pro speaker yet? Well, one quick way to improve your skills and sound like a local is using Vietnamese proverbs like a pro! After all, these broad expressions are excellent to use when reflecting on our life situations. More importantly, it can be used when we are giving some advice to the people close to us. Get to know all the best proverbs to use in this post today!

The Vietnamese Language

Before digging into the sayings, let's first get to know the Vietnamese language deeply.

As of today, around 70 million people speak Vietnamese in Vietnam (where it is the official language) and in other parts of the world. Since it is near countries like Laos, Cambodia, China, and Thailand, there are some unique similarities in terms of their languages. Historically speaking, there are also French words that you can here in Vietnam as the country was colonized by France back in 1877. 

Regarding the nature of the language, Vietnamese belongs to the Viet-Muong group of the Vietic branch of the Mon-Khmer language family. It is, therefore, one of the Austroasiatic language stock. With a total of 329,569 square kilometers, it is not surprising to know that there are numerous dialects and tonal differences in the Vietnamese language, depending on the region. 

The Vietnamese language characterizes itself with various tones, differentiating words with similar consonants and vowels, using modifiers instead of affixes to indicate the tense of verb forms, and using word order to express the syntactic relationship between different words to one. Speaking of which, it may seem a bit tough for non-speakers to grasp the essentials quickly. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to learn. With basic vocab, proverbs, and expressions for daily life, you can easily earn respect and love of the locals.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading below!

7+ Essential Vietnamese Proverbs

Vietnamese proverbs

As we know, proverbs are phrases that hold a special meaning for native speakers. More often than not, non-native speakers may find proverbs confusing or meaningless if they do not have a basic grasp of the language and the colloquial meanings. The following sayings will not only give you an idea of the Vietnamese culture but also proffer lessons relatable to all worldwide. Make sure you learn them thoroughly to speak Vietnamese fluently.

1. Một ngày đi du lịch sẽ mang theo một giỏ đầy học hỏi

Translation: A day of traveling will bring a basket full of learning

Also known as Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn, this means that one must go out of their comfort zone to learn new and unique things. Perfect to use with your friends who feel insecure about their skills, right? 

2. Thùng rỗng tạo ra tiếng ồn lớn

Translation: Empty barrels make loud noises

Similar to English, this means that the person with the least knowledge is usually the loudest.

3. Con trâu béo sẽ hấp dẫn con trâu gầy

Translation: The fat buffalo will attract the lean buffalo

This expression suggests that successful people will always influence beginners and naive.

4. Cây tre non dễ uốn.

Translation: Young bamboo trees are easy to bend

The Vietnamese proverb Cây tre non dễ uốn means the young hearts are easy to bend or influence toward god, but the strong ones of the old can easily escape the tyranny of lies.

5. Thà ăn mặn nói thật còn hơn ăn chay nói dối.

Translation: Better to eat salty food and tell the truth than to lie and eat like a vegetarian

This one means that it is better to tell the truth than spread lies. After all, we have to remember that lies have a way of coming back to haunt us.

6. Tốt hơn một hòa bình nhẹ nhàng hơn là một chiến thắng béo bở

Translation: Better a lean peace than a fat victory

This Vietnamese proverb means that it is better to have a bad type of peace than to fight or quarrel with other people. To put it simply, this means peace over war.

7. Một khuôn mặt công bằng có thể che giấu một trái tim xấu

Translation: A fair face may hide a foul heart

Also known as Khẩu phật tâm xà,  this proverb is mainly used by parents  to educate their children. It simply says to don't judge a book by its cover.

8. Đừng hắt hủi cơm nguội; cảm giác đói giúp bạn ăn ngay cả thức ăn đã hỏng

Translation: Don't spurn cold rice; hunger helps you eat even food that has gone bad

This Vietnamese proverb says that one should value even the smallest and useless things like rice that have gone bad or cold. Because once the time comes, even cold rice becomes the savior of the starving lot.

9. Nếu bạn không làm việc, bạn sẽ không ăn

Translation: If you won't work, you shan't eat

This one is often used as a reminder to young people. It says that one who is lazy and does not work should not be given food to eat because they do not earn it. If they don't work, don't let them eat!

10. Khi ăn trái cây, hãy nghĩ đến người đã trồng cây.

Translation: When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree

This Vietnamese proverb, also known a Ăn quả nhớ kẻ trồng cây, means that you have to be thankful for what you have. It reminds us to appreciate the process that led to the result. 

11. Khi ăn nhai kỹ

Translation: When eating, chew well.

This proverb means that one should always think before speaking, just like how one chews to help the food digest well.

Other Vietnamese Proverbs And Expressions You Should Know

Vietnamese proverbs

English TranslationVietnamese ProverbSound
If you want to eat pickled herring, think about the thirst you will haveNếu bạn muốn ăn cá trích ngâm chua, hãy nghĩ đến cơn khát bạn sẽ có
Feeding boys without teaching them: we raise asses. Feeding girls without teaching them: we raise pigsNuôi con trai mà không dạy chúng: chúng ta nuôi con lừa. Nuôi con gái mà không dạy chúng: chúng tôi nuôi lợn
A good beginning is half the battleKhởi đầu tốt là đã chiến thắng một nửa
A fool may sometimes give a wise man counselĐôi khi kẻ ngu ngốc có thể đưa ra lời khuyên cho người khôn ngoan
When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friendsĂn thì chọn địa điểm, chơi thì chọn bạn
It's best to wash one's soiled linen at homeTốt nhất là giặt đồ vải bẩn ở nhà
You can't kill someone's habitBạn không thể giết chết thói quen của ai đó
One worm may damage the whole cooking soupMột con sâu có thể làm hỏng cả món canh đang nấu
The buffalo that arrive late will have to drink muddy water and eat dried grassTrâu đến muộn phải uống nước đục, ăn cỏ khô.
One piece of food while hungry equals a big box of food while fullMột miếng thức ăn khi đói bằng một hộp thức ăn lớn khi no
The human tongue is more poisonous than a bee's stingLưỡi người độc hơn ong đốt
Better to die than to live with a bad reputationThà chết còn hơn sống với tiếng xấu
Drop bait to catch fishThả mồi bắt cá
The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring rollNgười chồng ăn bánh mì kẹp thịt; vợ ăn chả giò
When the father's generation eats salt, the child's generation thirsts for waterThế hệ cha ăn muối thì thế hệ con cháu khát nước.
Giving just a crumb to the hungry is worth more than giving lunch to the satisfiedChỉ cho một mẩu bánh mì cho người đói có giá trị hơn là đưa bữa trưa cho người hài lòng
He wanted to cure a healthy pig and ended up with a sick oneAnh ta muốn chữa khỏi một con lợn khỏe mạnh và cuối cùng lại mắc bệnh

Why Vietnamese Proverbs?

Now that you have covered all the critical Vietnamese proverbs, the only thing left to do is practice regularly. Practicing these has helped most learners gain a stronger understanding of the language. After all, the proverbs we shared above can help us learn more about the perceptions and values taught in Vietnamese society. It will also pave the way for you to understand the sayings of the locals and allow you to start your learning with cool expressions.

However, this is not the end. Want to become an expert in Vietnamese? It is important to dig more into the words and culture of the language. And to do that, Ling App is here to help you!

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The best part of learning with Ling is that the content is always full of valuable videos and audio recordings, making learning fun and entertaining. Thus, if you are willing to become a fast learner, start learning Vietnamese with Ling without delay. Just download the app in the PlayStore and AppStore and experience the joy of learning new languages daily. Enjoy with Ling!

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