31 Examples of Vietlish // A Simple Equation

31 Loanwords in Vietnamese 🤔 Discover Vietlish

Vietlish is a simple equation: Vietlish = Vietnamese + English.

If you are a regular reader of our content you may well have already seen our Chinglish and Konglish articles also (any guesses what languages these refer to? Tell us in the comments below if you know).

Vietnamese Loanwords

Today we move onto Vietnam’s very own version.

Why does Vietnam have these loanwords though? Quite simple really, Vietnam used to be colonized by the United States and France, and therefore Vietnamese has some terms borrowed from English and French.

Note that most of the following loanwords in Vietnamese are written and spelled like Vietnamese words while some are both spelled and written the same as their English counterparts.

In fact, you may notice that some words are spelled and written similarly in English, French, Italian, etc. 


Vietnamese, to an English native speaker at least, can be hugely intimidating.

Sure, we have the romanized alphabet which Korean, Japanese and Chinese do not, but Vietnamese is tonal and let’s be honest, bare’s little to no resemblence to English whatsoever when you come to pronounce a word.

This alone makes many give up before they’ve even started… BUT WAIT!

We are here to boost that motivation up a notch by telling you it isn’t all bad!

First and foremost, we teach Vietnamese online with some of the very best Vietnamese teachers you’ll come across…

But putting the sales pitch aside, we are going to discover 31 words in Vietnamese you already know, because they are loanwords in Vietnamese.

Just in case you don’t know what a loanword is, the definition can be summed up as “a word adopted from a foreign language with little or no modification.”

So without further ado, let’s check out 31 examples of Vietlish which should help boost your language learning motivation and confirm it isn’t as hard as you might think!

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Food & Drink

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Daily Life

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Sports

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Technology

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – French Borrowed Terms

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – FAQ’s

Vietnamese Dialects // North or South? Thumbnail

Vietnamese Dialects // North or South?

North vs South? Vietnamese dialects can vary quite significantly. This is one of the very early questions a Vietnamese learner asks themselves.

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Food

  • Bít tết – (Beef)steak. Beefsteak means “Bò bít tết” in Vietnamese, where “Bò” means “beef”. 
  • Bia – Beer. An important word for many of us, thankfully it’s pronounced almost exactly the same as the English version. No problem ordering those drinks then!

Want to order a steak and a beer in Vietnamese? Thanks to Vietlish, you already know how to do it!

  • Ô-liu – Olive
  • Sốt – Sauce

When a person talks about Vietnamese sauce, he or she may not be referring to the sauce that Western people use in restaurant to eat with beef or chicken.

Instead, they will most likely be referring to the unique fish sauce of Vietnam whose odour is unbearable to some.

However, as Vietnamese people are becoming more familiar with Western food, other sauces are becoming common in Vietnamese cuisine.

  • Xa-lát – Salad
  • Cà rốt – Carrot

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Daily Life

  • Vi rút – Virus

The most frequently used word in more recent times is vi rút which originates from the English word – virus.

Vietnamese people also use the metaphorical meaning of virus as in “something is viral” to imply that something is omnipresent or is the talk of the town.

It mostly has a negative feeling.
  • Ban nhạc – Band. Nhạc means “music” and “ban nhạc” means “band”. We use “nhóm nhạc” and “ban nhạc” interchangeably.  
  • Cạc – Car

This similar pronunciation, think card without the “rd” on the end. It is mostly used in the Southern Vietnam. 

  • Can – Can

Identical in spelling but different in pronunciation. The English is pronounced as “/can/” like “can’t” while the second is “/kæn/”  

  • Quần soóc – Shorts (pants)
  • Sê-ri – Series 
  • Xì-trét – Stress

“Xì-trét” is a fun way to talk about stress. 

Vietnamese Slang // 8 Words You Need To Learn Thumbnail

Vietnamese Slang // 8 Words You Need To Learn

Vietnamese Slang // Learn How To Speak Like A Native Want to level up your Vietnamese to levels you’ve never seen before? Learning Vietnamese Slang is a great way to start! Vietnamese slang, as with any language, is used frequently…

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Sports

More specifically we cover two words most likely used in football!

  • Gôn – Goal
  • Sút – Shoot 

“Sút” (shoot) means to kick the ball into a “gôn” (goal). Nice couple of words for you football fans out there!

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – Technology

  • Phông – Font
  • Tivi – TV

Both of the above have exactly the same pronunciation as in English! Nice and easy!

  • Ra-đi-ô – Radio
  • Ca-mê-ra – Camera

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – French Borrowed Terms

Now we move onto some terms taken from the French language. Here are some of the more popular ones for you to learn.

Food and Drinks

  • Pho mát – Fromage
  • Bánh gatô – Gâteau

There are many bakery shops in Vietnam that use the French word “gateau” in its brandname such as Gateau de Blanc in Ho Chi Minh City or Paris Gateau in Hanoi.

Their “bánh gatô” are “ngon vãi chưởng” (super delicious).

WANT TO LEARN MORE SLANG? Check out these Vietnamese slang terms here

  • Bơ – Beurre
  • Bia – Bière
  • Bít tết – Bifteck

Interestingly, French also has a similarly-pronounced word for “Bít tết”

  • Cà phê – Café. Café is used to refer to both coffee and a coffee shop in Vietnam. 

Daily Life

Vietlish Words
  • Va li – Valise
  • Xà bông – Savon
  • Ba lô – Ballot 
  • Ban công – Balcon
  • Áp phích – Affiche
  • Ca-ra-vát – Cravate

There we have it, 31 words in Vietnamese that use Vietlish!

Hopefully this post has helped you realise it’s not all that bad learning a langauge so different to yours.

The Best Vietnamese Podcasts You Need To Know About (for 2021) Thumbnail

The Best Vietnamese Podcasts You Need To Know About (for 2021)

Podcasts are a super way to learn. With that being said we have prepared a list of the top 10 Vietnamese podcasts to help improve your language skills.

Did we miss any out? Drop us a comment and we’ll add your favourites or let us know if you have any questions!

Vietlish (Loanwords in Vietnamese) – FAQ’s

Why does Vietnam have loanwords?

Quite simple really, Vietnam used to be colonized by the United States and France, and therefore Vietnamese has some terms borrowed from English and French.

How do you say “beer” in Vietnamese?

Bia – Beer.

An important word for many of us, thankfully it’s pronounced almost exactly the same as the English version. No problem ordering those drinks then!

How do you say “TV” in Vietnamese?

Tivi – it’s pronounced exactly the same as in English!

What are some examples of loanwords in Vietnamese from French?

There are actually quite a lot but two commonly used one relating to food are:

Pho mát – Fromage

Bánh gatô – Gateau

What is “Carrot” in Vietnamese?

Just like the English… Cà rốt!

Want More From LTL?

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What’s more – we even offer Vietnamese courses in Vietnam too. Check out our small group classes for Vietnamese or our individual programs.

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    Irene Magnosi , Irene Magnosi

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