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Greeting and Addressing Terms

You can use all of the greetings in Vocabulary 1 at any time of the day. The formal way to say Hello is Xin chào. The word Xin added at the beginning of the sentence is used to express politeness. However, it is more common to greet someone by addressing them with one of the other phrases given in Vocabulary 1: chào ông to an older man, chào bà to an older woman, chào anh to a somewhat older/similarly-aged man, chào chị to a somewhat older/similarly-aged woman or chào cháu to a child. You can make these sentences more polite by using xin at the beginning, such as Xin chào ông, Xin chào bà and so on.

It might be surprising for an English speaker to find out that these terms are based on kinship terms and also serve as personal pronouns (equivalent to you in English).

Kinship terms
ông grandfather
bà grandmother
anh elder brother
chị elder sister
em younger sibling
cháu grandson/granddaughter

To say goodbye you can also use chào, with or without a term of address. If the context is ambiguous, you can distinguish goodbye from hello by adding further information such as See you again! For example, Chào, hẹn gặp lại (to anyone), or Chào chị, hẹn gặp lại (to a somewhat older/similarly-aged woman) and so on.