How to Pronounce 6 Vietnamese tones: Best Guide for Beginners

Most languages in the world have 3 or 4 tones, in Vietnam there are 6 tones, including 5 different tone marks. Therefore, Vietnamese is listed on the list of difficult languages to learn in the world because in order to pronounce Vietnamese words correctly, foreigners will have to learn through 6 tones in Vietnamese. Let’s learn 6 Vietnamese tone marks below.

I. Conception of Vietnamese tone marks

Tone is a super-segmentation unit, it is expressed in a syllable or the entire vocal part of a syllable, including the beginning, accompaniment, main and final sounds. It has the effect of changing the meaning of language units.

The tones in Vietnamese make sentences more emotional and contribute to making Vietnamese richer and more beautiful. So how many tones are there in Vietnamese?

See more:

II. 6 tones in Vietnamese – How many tones in vietnamese?

The interesting things about Vietnamese are in the tone and pronunciation when talking. To make it interesting, there are 5 punctuation marks and 6 tones in Vietnamese.

Most of these punctuation marks are placed either above or below the vowels in a word (with the exception of the unmarked). Find out below.

how to pronounce 6 vietnamese tones

2.1. The tone No.1 – Unmarked ( Thanh ngang ) – Tone in Vietnamese

Unmarked is a relatively tall bar with a stable flat tone, the same in all syllables. Appears in almost all syllables.

The pitch of the tone has little change in pronunciation and it is independent of the composition of the syllable. In different syllables like a, ha, hoa, hai… the contours are almost unchanged.

vietnamese tones - Unmarked

Example:

  • Công ty (Company)
  • Cam (Orange)
  • Bông hoa (Flower)

2.2. The tone No.2 – Grave accent  (Thanh huyền)

Grave accent is pronounced at a lower pitch compared to the tone no.1 . Like the unmarked, the tone is uniform in intensity, unchanged, not pharyngized during pronunciation. The Vietnamese tone mark for this sound is (`).

vietnamese tones - Grave accent

Example:

  • Nhà (House)
  • Mèo (Cat)
  • Cừu (Sheep)

2.3. The tone No.3 – Tilde (Thanh ngã)

Tildes are high-pitched tones that start lower and end higher when pronounced. It is one of the difficult tones to pronounce when foreigners are just starting to learn Vietnamese. The Vietnamese tone mark for this sound is “~”.

Vietnamese tones - Tilde

Example:

  • Cũ (old)
  • Ngã (Fall)
  • Mũi (Nose)

2.4. The tone No.4 – Hook above (Thanh hỏi)

Hook above is a low-pitched tone. When pronouncing, the beginning and the end of the tone are both in the low range. The question bar and the fall sound are two difficult sounds to pronounce clearly for beginners to learn Vietnamese. The Vietnamese tone mark for this sound is (?).

Vietnamese tone marks

Example:

  • Lẻ loi (lonely)
  • Vui vẻ (Happy)
  • Lỏng lẻo (Loose)

2.5. The tone No.5 – Acute accent (Thanh sắc)

Acute accent is the tone of the high-pitched voice. When pronouncing, you need to raise your voice really fast to create this tone. The Vietnamese tone mark for this sound is (´).

Acute accent

Example:

  • Chó (Dog)
  • Tóc (Hair)
  • Cắt (Cut)

2.6. The tone No.6 – Underdot (Thanh nặng)

Underdot is the low-pitched tone, the least confusing of the tones because the short, sudden and strong feeling of this tone is easier to remember than the rest. The Vietnamese tone mark for this sound is (.).

vietnamese tone marks - Underdot

Example:

  • Chợ (Market)
  • Lạ (Strange)
  • Lạm dụng (Abuse)

We can see from a letter when using different tones will give us a different feeling about that word, in addition, it also changes the meaning of that word.

Example: 

  • Ma (Ghost)
  • Má (Mother)
  • Mả (Tomb)

In addition, these punctuations and Vietnamese tone marks are not used indiscriminately, but must follow the rules to be able to create meaningful words without causing misunderstandings when speaking or listening. This also causes many difficulties for foreigners when they first start learning Vietnamese because even Vietnamese children are easy to make these mistakes. Follow us to learn more about Vietnamese!!!

If you want to speak Vietnamese smoothly, let’s check out the high quality courses at Jellyfish:

For more information and free consultancy, please fill the form below! We will reach out to you!

Jellyfish Vietnam – Hotline: 0961.275.006