VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE for Vietnamese and Foreigners – Vietnamese consonants – Section 3

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… be continued for section 2:

Vietnamese Consonants

   The consonants that occur in Vietnamese are listed below in the Vietnamese orthography with the phonetic pronunciation to the right.

Vietnamese consonants -
Vietnamese consonants (Source: Lac Viet Computing Corporation)

     Some consonant sounds are written with only one letter (like “p), other consonant sounds are written with a two-letter disgrah (like “ph), and others are written with more than one letter or digraph (the velar stop is written variously as “c”, “k”, or “q).

     The tables below show detail and it may help you easier to understand.

Vietnamese single consonants

     There are 17 single consonants as listed below:

Vietnamese single consonants -
Vietnamese single consonants (Source: IRD New Tech)

Vietnamese consonants clusters

     There are 11 consonants clusters:

Vietnamese consonants clusters -
Vietnamese consonants clusters (Source: Lac Viet Computing Corporation)

Vietnamese final consonants

     There are 8 final consonants:

Vietnamese final consonants -
Vietnamese final consonants (Source: IRN New Tech)

Difference between two sounds – K & Kh, Ng & Ngh

     It is necessray to make a difference between these two sounds:

K  vs. Kh

   “K” & “kh” are two of the consonant symbols in the Vietnamese language. “K” is produced fortis and unaspirated. It is similar to the “c” in cat. In Vietnamese language it is similar to “c” and “q”. Perhaps one of the most common words beginning with “k” is “kem” which means “ice cream” and “kẹo” which means “candy”. “Kh” is produced lenis voiceless dorsorelar spirant. The most common ‘kh’ word is “không” which means “no” or “not” though there are less common meanings as well. “Khỏe” which means “strong” and “healthy” is another common word. To place “khỏe không” after a personal referent is to enquire as to another’s health – literally: “you well no?” as in “bạn khỏe không?” Also in these times of fast food, the ubiquitous french fry is known as “khoai tây chiên” meaning “potato fry”.

Difference between K and Kh -
Difference between K and Kh (Source: Lac Viet Computing Corporation)

Ng and Ngh

    The sound that  ng and ngh make in Vietnamese is by far the hardest sound for Westerners to make. Ng and ngh simply make the last sound in “king” or “running” (as long as you don’t make the hard /g/ sound at the end). The problem arises when  ng or ngh come at the beginning of a word, as the common family name Nguyễn clearly demonstrates. Here, the speaker has to isolate the /ŋ/ sound, which even many Western dictionaries don’t recognize in their pronunciation guides. (Those that do tend to represent it as /ng/.) This lesson will help you to at least pronounce the /ŋ/ sound well enough for a native listener.

    One thing you have to take a notice of is the combination of these above consonants  Ng/ ngh with vowels. See below for detail:

      Difference between Ng and Ngh (Source:

      Ngh can only combine with the vowels which are started with i, e, ê.

     Ng can combine with vowels started with a, o, ơ, ô, u, ư.

   Besides, Vietnamese has another pair of sound (g/ gh) which are all pronouned as /g/, for these consonants, there is also rule in combining with vowels.

Difference Ng and Ngh -

gh can only combine with vowel started with e, ê, i.
g can go with vowel started with a, o, ơ, ô, u, ư.
* g can also go with i but in this case it will be pronoun as /j/, e.g. cái gì.

… continue in section 4 …

◊  VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE for Vietnamese and Foreigners – Introduction – Section 1
◊  VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE for Vietnamese and Foreigners – Vietnamese Alphabet – Section 2
◊  VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE for Vietnamese and Foreigners – Vietnamese Tones – Section 4
◊  VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE for Vietnamese and Foreigners – Vietnamese Dialogue: Greeting – Section 5

02 /2020

◊  Header image – Source:  Student Vietnam Exchange.
◊  Indexes, bold text, italic text in bracket and sepia image has been set by Ban Tu Thu –

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