Language & Culture

Drinking beer in Vietnam: how to say cheers

Whether attending a wedding or eating snails, the Vietnamese are fond of drinking beer. Let’s look at how to say cheers in Vietnamese, and some other vocabulary that might come in handy if you find yourself drinking beer in Vietnam.

Drinking beer in Vietnam

How to drink beer Vietnamese-style

Every time you take a sip of your beer, you must clink glasses with your companions.

Sometimes you just clink and drink, but often you’ll hear one of the following.

How to say cheers in Vietnamese

How to toast in Southern Vietnam:

một, hai, ba, vô! (always pronounce vô as /yo/)
= 1, 2, 3, cheers!

Northerners have adapted this toast into their own:

một, hai, ba, /zo/! (often written as dô)
hai, ba, /zo/
hai, ba, uống!
= 1, 2, 3, cheers!
2, 3, cheers
2, 3, drink!

Other common drinking phrases

Somebody may well clink glasses (cạn ly) with you and say:

một trăm phần trăm
= 100% (they want you to down the glass)

You may be able to get away with:

năm mười phần trăm (= năm mười)
= 50% (they want you to drink half of your glass)

If you can’t or don’t want to drink:

[Anh/Chị/Em/…] không uống bia được.
= I can’t drink beer.

In Vietnamese culture, drinking beer goes hand in hand with eating food. Beer snacks vary from peanuts to seafood. Beer is also common at celebrations and festivals. Wherever you’re drinking beer, you’ll be encouraged to eat, or you can invite others’ to eat with:

ăn đi!
= eat!, please eat

Or if you spend too much time eating, you may be told to: uống đi!

Over to you: Have you ever drunk beer with Vietnamese people? Share your experiences in the comments!

Photo credit: dantri website

14 replies on “Drinking beer in Vietnam: how to say cheers”

You misspelled “dô”. It must be “vô”. Since southern vietnamese pronounces “v” as “d”. For example “đi về” turns to “đi dề”.

While many Southerners pronounce ‘v’ as /y/, this is not one of those words. Northerners cheer 1, 2, 3 /zô/ which narrows it down to d- or gi-. See here for a video produced by a native speaker, also spelling it as dô.

I’m right and Annie is wrong. I do watch Annie’s video. She’s from north Vietnam. Vô is southern word.(watch her first video you can see she speaks with a northern accent) although she claims she speaks Saigonese accent. Vô in the verbs like “đi vô” (to go inside or into) said by south vietnamese whereas north vietnamese says “đi vào”. Watch football in Vietnam you will see in the north they shout “vào”, in the south we shout “vô” when a goal is scored. Dô in vietnamese does not mean anything.

OK, you have convinced me that “vô” is a correct spelling for this word. From your explanation it seems to be a word I’ve come across before (eg. chung nao vo Sai Gon?) though I didn’t know how it was spelt.

However, there are two questions here. Is “vô” correct? Yes. Is “dô” incorrect? Not proven.

Before publishing articles, I do check either by looking online or asking a native speaker. Often both. Obviously given the time frame involved (this article was published 11 months ago), I can’t guarantee which of these I did when I wrote this article. Whatever I did led me to the conclusion of “dô”.

When you queried this, I naturally googled again. Whether they’re right or wrong, I cannot comment, but I found many results for both vô and dô. From these results, Annie’s video (in fact produced several months after I published my article) seemed the most credible, hence my link to it before. A simple google search produces numerous cases of people writing “dô”.

They could all be wrong. Just because a native English speaker writes “recieve” instead “receive”, that doesn’t make it correct. But there still remains a question in my mind that I need to find an answer to before I can accept that this is the case here…. Why have I heard northerners saying “1, 2, 3, /zo/”?

@Thanh Nguyen: When you say first video, were you referring to lesson 1, where she teaches 5 popular expressions?

I’m sorry but, (if this is the video you were referring to) in the lesson 1 video, her accent is perfect SaiGonese, not northern: she pronounces biet Chet lien” as “bieK chet lienG” if listened to carefully (southerners-and south central-usually pronounce ending t’s and n’s as k’s and ng’s respectively, with exceptions not limited to “êt” & “ên”, of course … Annie also teaches this ‘rule’ in one of her videos. Also, if one listens carefully, southerners pronounce “một” both as “mộK” and as-is. Another example of southern accent: cám ơnG). If it’s a different video you’re talking about, please reply with the link.

In Annie’s other videos, I do confirm that she also speaks northern accent, but I think this is because, like many southerners, they are better at imitating northerners than northerners can imitate southern accent. So I’m saying I believe Annie is a southerner who can imitate northern accent quite well-in one the videos where she teaches the northern accent I think she says that she herself is southerner while her friend is northerner. Furthermore, in more than one of her videos, she emphasizes a Vietnamese language text with a southern accent focus.

@Ruth Elizabeth: Regarding the issue of whether or not northerners say “dô,” I don’t have proof but I hypothesize that these persons are either children of northerners or northerners heavily assimilated into the south (as opposed to official northerners): “SaiGonese” northerners/ ?Người Bắc Sài Gòn?. While official northerners pronounce V exactly as-is, I think SOME assimilated northerners may pronounce V like american’s Z = which sounds like VN Northerner’s “d-” or “gi-” (like Ruth mentioned earlier). My family is assimilated northerners and although we pronounce our V’s like official northerners, I’ve seen with my own eyes recently USA-emigrated northerners from SaiGon who pronounce “vô” as zô (american Z) (I’ve also heard some Viet Kieu poke fun at northerners by claiming that some of them pronounce the name of country as “ZietNam”-I hope someone can confirm whether the pronunciation of Zietnam exists or not). My guess is that some of these northerners who have lived the majority of their lives in the south misspell because they don’t know how to and at the same time base their misspelling from the SaiGonese pronunciation of vô-which is “dô” (it’s rampant for native Vietnamese to misspell words. Common examples: interchanging “d” for “gi,” interchanging dấu ngã & hỏi, interchanging “i” for “y,” etc). I’m not saying the Saigon pronunciation is incorrect, because it’s widely recognized and normal. Annie, a southerner, misspelled vô as “dô” (but instead of pronouncing as “zô”) she says the authentic southern pronunciation of “yô” (american y).

BTW, Ruth I’m impressed at how much you know and how you pay attention so well to the nuances of the Vietnamese language that even natives don’t recognize. Excellent job, keep it up, and thanks for sharing with the world!

Thanks for weighing in, T.

Actually, it was in Hanoi that I came across 1, 2, 3, /dzo/ as a toast. That’s why I didn’t question the spelling that I found online (I wrote this article before Annie made her video on a similar topic).

Now you mention it, I think I once heard someone say /Zietnam/, but I could be making that up… As if /Yietnam/ wasn’t strange enough!

Saying southern vietnamese words become a style in the north vietnam for years after 30/4/1975.
Some or most of them begins saying “tính tiền” instead of “thanh toán”, “cho chị một ly cà phê” instead of “bán cho chị một ly cà phê”, “dễ thương” instead of “xinh đẹp” orn”đáng yêu” etc…

I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone else encountering problems with your
blog. It appears like some of the text within your posts
are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback
and let me know if this is happening to them too? This might be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before.
Appreciate it
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