There are many proverbs, sayings and idioms in the Vietnamese language that can be difficult to understand if you don’t know the context. In this blog post, we will explore 25 of the most common ones – and their meanings. Let’s get started!
1. Ăn cháo đá bát
Translation: Kicking the bowl after eating all the porridge.
Meaning: To show anger or frustration after completing a difficult task.
Usage: This proverb is often used to describe someone who has worked hard but does not receive the recognition they feel they deserve.
“He was so angry that he kicked the bowl after eating all the porridge.”
2. Ăn cỏ non, uống nước suối – ăn no mà không biết mình đói
Translation: Eating tender grass and drinking pure water – not knowing you’re hungry
Meaning: To be unaware of one’s own needs or situation
Usage: This proverb is used when someone is too absorbed in their own activities or problems that they do not take the time to assess their own situation.
“He’s so busy working on his project that he doesn’t realize he’s starving.”
3. Ăn no mới biết đói
Translation: Only know you’re hungry after eating
Meaning: To only understand the importance of something once you have experienced it yourself.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone has had a change of heart after experiencing something for themselves. “She didn’t want to go to the party, but she changed her mind after she saw how much fun everyone was having.”
“After going to the party, she realized how much fun it was and wished she had gone sooner.”
4. Ăn uống hài hoà
Translation: Eating and drinking harmoniously
Meaning: To have a healthy, balanced diet.
Usage: This proverb is often used to remind people to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. “You need to eat more fruits and vegetables if you want to be healthy.”
“Drinking enough water is important for keeping your body hydrated.”
5. Bầu ơi thương lấy bí cò
Translation: Oh pregnant woman, pity the gourd!
Meaning: Be careful with what you say because it may come back to haunt you in the future.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone is about to say something that they may regret later. “You shouldn’t talk badly about your boss, you never know who might be listening.”
“Don’t tell her secrets, she’ll tell everyone else.”
6. Bắt đầu từ đầu
Translation: Starting from the beginning
Meaning: To take a new approach in order to achieve success.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone has tried unsuccessfully to do something and they need to start over. “I’ve been trying to learn how to play the guitar for years, but I’m not getting any better. Maybe I should try starting from the beginning.”
“He’s never been good at math, so he’s going to have to start from the beginning if he wants to pass the test.”
7. Bỏ mồi bắt cá
Translation: Leaving bait to catch fish
Meaning: To use a strategy that will entice someone into doing what you want them to.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone is trying to get someone else to do something. “I know she’s busy, but if I leave this report on her desk, she’ll be sure to read it.”
“He knows how competitive his rival is, so he’s going to have to use some bait if he wants to beat him.”
8. Cá lóc đòng đòng
Translation: A big fish swimming in the water
Meaning: Someone who is powerful and influential.
Usage: This proverb is often used to describe someone who has a lot of power or influence. “He’s one of the most powerful people in the company.”
“She’s one of the most influential people on social media.”
9. Cái đầu làm việc, cái đuôi nghĩ ngơi
Translation: The head works, while the tail rests
Meaning: To have a division of labor in order to be more productive.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about work/life balance. “It’s important that you take some time to relax and recharge, otherwise you’ll get burned out.”
“He’s so busy with work that he doesn’t have time to take a break.”
10. Cái miệng tiếng đồn
Translation: The mouth is the gate of gossip
Meaning: Gossiping can be harmful to relationships.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone has been talking negatively about someone else behind their back. “You shouldn’t believe everything she says, she’s just spreading rumors.”
“He knows better than to listen to her gossip, it’ll only make him upset.”
11. Cha mẹ sinh con, trời sinh tình cảm
Translation: Parents give birth to children, God gives them love
Meaning: The bond between parents and their children is a special one.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone talks about the strong relationship that they have with their parents. “My parents are my best friends.”
“I owe everything to my parents, they’ve done so much for me.”
12. Chim đa đa còng còng
Translation: A flock of birds with many branches
Meaning: A large number of something.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about how many of something there are. “There are so many people at this concert!””He has a lot of books in his library.”
13. Con cái làm cha mẹ hổ ngưu
Translation: Children make their parents become tigers
Meaning: Parents will do anything for their children.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone talks about how much they love and care for their kids. “I would do anything for my children.”
“He’s a tiger dad, he’ll do anything to protect his family.”
14. Đánh chìa khóa mở cửa nhà
Translation: Punching the key to open the door of the house
Meaning: To have a strong determination.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about someone who is very determined or stubborn. “He’s going to keep trying until he succeeds.”
“She’s never going to give up, she’s got a lot of determination.”
15. Đi đường nào thì cũng tới đó
Translation: You’ll get there no matter which way you go
Meaning: You’ll eventually reach your destination.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone is trying to encourage someone else. “Don’t worry, you’ll pass the test.”
“It might take a little longer, but you’ll get there in the end.”
16. Đôi khi tiếng vang lớn hơn tiếng nói
Translation: Sometimes the sound of gunfire is louder than words
Meaning: Actions speak louder than words.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone has done something bad and they try to apologize. “I’m sorry for what I did.”
“It was wrong of me to do that, but actions speak louder than words.”
17. Giàu có mà không biết được hưởng thụ là gì
Translation: Being rich, but not knowing how to enjoy it
Meaning: Someone who is wealthy, but doesn’t know how to have fun.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about someone who is very boring. “She’s so rich, but she doesn’t know how to have any fun.”
“He’s always working, he never has any time to enjoy himself.”
18. Giặc đi về, người ta cũng theo
Translation: The enemy comes back and people also follow
Meaning: People will do anything to stay safe.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about the loyalty of people. “Even after the enemy left, the people still followed him.”
“She was willing to do anything to keep her job, even if it meant betraying her friends.”
19. Hãy cho tôi một con đường cho tôi chạy
Translation: Give me a road and I will run
Meaning: I can do it if you give me a chance. Usage: This proverb is often used when someone has been given a difficult task. “I don’t think I can do that.”
“Okay, I’ll try, but you need to give me a road to run on.”
20. Không có gì là không thể
Translation: There’s nothing that’s impossible
Meaning: You can do anything if you set your mind to it.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone is trying to encourage someone else. “You can do it! I know you can, just believe in yourself.”
21. Không có người nào hoàn hảo
Translation: There’s no one who is perfect
Meaning: No one is perfect.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone makes a mistake. “I’m sorry, I messed up.”
“There’s no one who is perfect, everyone makes mistakes sometimes.”
22. Lá lành đùm lá rách
Translation: The green leaf covers the broken one
Meaning: Someone will help you if you’re in need.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about the kindness of people. “She was willing to help me, even though she didn’t know me.”
“He’s always there for people who need him, he’s a good Samaritan.”
23. Lời nói không mất tiền mua
Translation: Words don’t cost money
Meaning: You can’t buy words with money.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone is trying to apologize. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
24. Mình cày ruộng thì ăn no
Translation: If you work the land then you’ll have enough to eat
Meaning: If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded.
Usage: This proverb is often used when someone is trying to encourage someone else. “You can do it! I know you can, just work hard and you’ll be successful.”
25. Nhất quyết không cho ai làm hư mình
Translation: I will not let anyone damage me
Meaning: I won’t let anyone hurt me.
Usage: This proverb is often used when talking about the strength of someone’s character. “I’m never going to forgive him for what he did.”
“She’s strong enough to get through anything, she won’t let anyone damage her.”