Common Vietnamese Phrases for the workplace

I've picked up a second job in my fiance's family's restaurant and I want to be able to communicate effectively with them, since no one in the kitchen speaks English and most of the other people don't speak it fluently. I was wondering what some common phrases would be for working in a restaurant and having to communicate with your coworkers as well as Vietnamese customers who also don't speak English very well.

(speaking more fluently would also help me get more hours there, because right now I'm just bussing tables for 3hrs on the weekends, though as it stands my fiance doesn't speak Vietnamese either, though he can understand some.)

May 17, 2019


That's a tall order. I presume you want Vietnamese phrases? Pocket phrasebooks have sections devoted to ordering in restaurants and have beaucoup phrases and words. Lonely Planet and Rough Guide have what you are looking for. Being small you could carry it to work and since it is in English/Vietnamese, you could even cheat and show your customers or coworkers the applicable page and they could point to what you or they want.

May 17, 2019

This might actually be achievable, since you only need to be restricted by the context of the restaurant. I guess the menu is fixed, right?

First you need to know about the pronouns: If you are younger than someone, they will call you "em", and you will call them "anh" (for male) or "chi" (for female). If you are older than someone, they will call you "chi", and you will call them "em". It can get much more complicated than that, but this will get you through.

Then you need to be able to know names of cutlery, pots and pans, mug, cup, bowl, etc. Vietnamese uses classifiers, and it varies depending on what you are talking about, so it is worth knowing some of them: a bowl of pho would be "mot to pho". Big is "lon", small is "nho", and the adjective comes before the noun, so a big bowl of pho would be "mot to pho lon".

Pronunciation will be your biggest obstacle, because Vietnamese is tonal and it has more than one form for the vowels e, o and u. So the word I just wrote above for "big" (lon), if you pronounce it wrong (which is how you would pronounce it if you are a native English speaker), means female genitalia. So it's better to prepare and try to get the pronunciation right by listening to Google translate first.

You'll need to learn the numbers, of course, the names of the dishes so that you can recognize them easily when customers ask for them, and the most important phrase of all: "em oi, tieng tien nha!" (check please!)

June 15, 2019

It helps some, thank you! My issue is that I'm the one that will be the server, so I need to be able to speak on the other side of what a lot of these are for.

May 22, 2019

Thank you for the reminder

May 24, 2019

You need to practice more and more on duolingo... and someday... you can understand a little... Vietnam language :D :D :D

June 5, 2019

Hello, I have a tip for you. You can use this link to know how to say in Vietnamese. And then you use google translate with these sentences to know how to pronounce in Vietnamese. Hope it is useful

June 14, 2019
Learn Vietnamese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.