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Most common Vietnamese proverbs used in everyday life

During their lifetimes, our ancestors encountered quite a few challenges that led to a great variety of Vietnamese proverbs. Proverbs conclude our ancestors' life experience and lessons in different areas. Getting to know these proverbs is like taking a peek at our hearts and souls of various Vietnamese generations.

Following is a list of most common Vietnamese proverbs and their meanings that we often use in our daily conversations. They are organised alphabetically for easily memorising (if possible!).

Most common Vietnamese proverbs used in daily conversations
Most common Vietnamese proverbs used in daily conversations

Vietnamese proverbs starting with A



Ác giả ác báo

If you do bad things, you will receive negative consequences.

Ăn quả nhớ kẻ trồng cây

Always remember those that have brought you a good life.

Ao sâu tốt cá, nước cả cá to

A favorable condition will create people with moral character, great will and desire.

Ăn chọn nơi, chơi chọn bạn

Be selective in choosing friends for your life.

Ăn có nhai, nói có nghĩ

You should think while talking, like chewing when eating.

Ăn kỹ no lâu, cày sâu tốt lúa

Always do things properly to be fruitful in what you are doing.

Ăn chắc, mặc bền

You should choose a sustainable, long-lasting way in your life.

Ăn trông nồi, ngồi trông hướng

Always remember to observe things around you before acting.

Ăn ít no lâu, ăn nhiều chóng đói

​You should save little everyday so that you can eat for many days in the future.

Ăn cùng mâm, nằm cùng chiếu

Always stand by your friends no matter what the situation is.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with B



Bà con xa không bằng láng giềng gần

You should treat your near neighbors well as they may even more helpful than your far relatives.

Bán anh em xa, mua láng giềng gần

You should treat your near neighbors well as they may even more helpful than your far relatives.

Bảy mươi chưa què, chớ khoe rằng tốt

In the blink of an eye, a healthy person turns into a cripple because of an unfortunate accident. Hence, be humble in what you are having at the moment.

Bất học vô thuật

No study, no skills gained.

Biết thì thưa thốt, không biết thì dựa cột mà nghe

Listen carefully to those that know when you don't.

Bụng làm dạ chịu

You will get results of what you have done.

Buôn tàu buôn bè không bằng ăn dè hà tiện

You cannot get rich no matter how big you trade unless you learn to save.

Bệnh từ miệng vào, hoạ từ miệng ra

Be mindful what you eat in and what you say.

Bút sa, gà chết

You will get results of what you have done.

Biết người biết ta, trăm trận trăm thắng

You will win by being self-aware and learning about your competitor.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with C



Cả giận mất khôn

You may lose your wisdom when you are furious.

Cái khó ló cái khôn

In challenges, you will find ways and gain more wisdom.

Cái răng, cái tóc là góc con người

Should take care of teeth and hair as they show your beauty and even personalities.

Cái nết đánh chết cái đẹp

​A good soul is more than an appealing appearance.

Cây có cội, nước có nguồn

Everyone has their origins.

Cây ngay chẳng sợ chết đứng

If you do good things, you should not be nervous and scared.

Cha mẹ sinh con trời sinh tính

Parents give birth to children, but not able to decide on their personalities, genders, gender orientation etc.

Chạy trời không khỏi nắng

What comes will come. Cannot resist or run away from them.

Chị ngã em nâng

Siblings have each other in hard times.

Có chí thì nên

With great will and actions you will be successful.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with D



Đánh bạc quen tay, ngủ ngày quen mắt

Should avoid doing bad things as they may become bad habits.

Đất có lề, quê có thói

When going to any local, we must understand and respect their laws and customs to behave accordingly.

Đi đêm lắm có ngày gặp ma

​If you do bad things, you will receive negative consequences.

Đi hỏi già, về nhà hỏi trẻ

Should ask from elderlies life experiences because elderlies are very experienced and ask from children for things happening in the house because children are honest.

Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn

Should go out, travel and experience things as this helps you learn much more.

Điếc không sợ súng

Those have not experienced certain fears have no idea how to be fearful.

Đói cho sạch, rách cho thơm

Always do good and ethical things regardless of the situations you are in.

Đời cha ăn mặn, đời con khát nước

Things you are doing can affect your children's life.

Đồng tiền liền khúc ruột

Ordinary people attach great importance to money, sometimes more than their body.

Đời cha trồng cây, đời con ăn quả

Things you are doing can affect your children's life.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with E



Én bay cao mưa rào lại tạnh

Rain will be over when the swallows fly high.

Ép dầu ép mỡ, ai nỡ ép duyên

Love cannot be forced.

Ếch kêu uôm uôm, ao chuôm đầy nước

It rains heavily when frogs croak.

Em khôn cũng là em chị, chị dại cũng là chị em

Siblings are always siblings no matter what.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with G



Gái có công chồng chẳng phụ

A hardworking and caring wife makes her husband respect and love more.

Gần mực thì đen, gần đèn thì sáng

Be selective with who you surround and befriend with.

Giàu vì bạn, sang vì vợ

You are richer when hanging out with right friends, and are much posher because of your good wife.

Giặc đến nhà, đàn bà cũng đánh

Women must know how to fight like men for any possible conflicts and wars.

Giấy rách phải giữ lấy lề

No matter how poor or desperate you are, you still have to maintain your traditional values.

Góp gió thành bão

Small savings today will accumulate to a rich life tomorrow. Small effort everyday will contribute to a big success in the future.

Gió thổi đổi trời

Wind blows and then weather changes. Be prepare and watch out to the changes of weather.

Gái một con trông mòn con mắt

A woman after giving birth (especially after her first pregnancy) will often be young and beautiful, with a smooth skin and more caring personality.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with H



Hay ăn thì lăn vào bếp

You get to work yourself to earn.

Học thầy không tày học bạn

You may learn much more from your peers than teachers.

Hổ phụ sinh hổ tử

A talented child inherits from a talented parent.

Hổ dữ không ăn thịt con

No parents will hurt their children.

Hương năng thắp năng khói, người năng nói năng lỗ

Everything in moderation does not cause harm, and therefore does not make mistakes.

Hay ở, dở đi

Stay at good places, leave bad ones.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with K



Khéo ăn thì no, khéo co thì ấm

Should know how to arrange your life to always have an adequate and good conditions.

Không có lửa sao có khói

Everything happens for a reason.

Khôn đâu đến trẻ, khỏe đâu đến già

Young people are not wise, old people are not healthy.

Kiếm củi ba năm thiêu một giờ

Should learn to save or you will use up all your assets.

Kiến tha lâu cũng đầy tổ

Small savings today will accumulate to a rich life tomorrow. Small effort everyday will contribute to a big success in the future.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with L



Lá rụng về cội

The life cycle of humans is always the same.

Làm khi lành để dành khi đau

​Work hard when you can, so you can rest when you need to.

Lấy vợ xem tông, lấy chồng xem giống

Should learn about the background and families of partners before tying the knots.

Liệu cơm gắp mắm

We should live accordingly to the conditions we are in.

Lời chào cao hơn mâm cỗ

Always remember to greet properly.

Lửa gần rơm lâu ngày cũng bén

A love sooner or later will occur between a man and a woman who stay close to each other.

Lửa thử vàng, gian nan thử sức

Challenges expose your abilities.

Lá lành đùm lá rách

​Remember to help people that are in need.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with M



Máu chảy ruột mềm

People with same blood can feel the pains of each other.

Mất lòng trước, được lòng sau

Should be straightforward from the beginning for good in the future.

Mật ngọt chết ruồi

The truths are not sweet.

Miếng ngon nhớ lâu, lời đau nhớ đời

Be careful when you say anything, because harsh words cause pain, and torment and hatred forever.

Môi hở răng lạnh

People with same blood should care about and help each other.

Mồm miệng đỡ chân tay

Well-spoken people always have more advantages.

Một câu nhịn, chín câu lành

Be patient, humble a little to achieve good long-term results.

Một con ngựa đau cả tàu bỏ cỏ

Live with meaningful love, mutual affection, mutual help for a mutual development.

Một miếng khi đói bằng một gói khi no

Helping in times of need is more valuable than giving when they are full (rich).

Mưu cao chẳng bằng chí dày

A strong will is better than a good plan.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with N



Nắng tốt dưa, mưa tốt lúa

Sun is good for cucumber, rain is good for rice (farming experience).

Người chửa cửa mả

Giving birth is a life-threatening incident.

Người đẹp vì lụa, lúa tốt vì phân

Wearing good clothes beautifies your look.

Người làm nên của, của không làm nên người

Humans create wealth, wealth cannot create humans.

Nhà sạch thì mát, bát sạch ngon cơm

Clean house brings good living experience, clean bowl helps you eat more deliciously.

Nhân vô thập toàn

People are not perfect.

Nhất nước, nhì phân, tam cần, tứ giống

Priorities of farming are water, fertiliser, care and seeds.

Nói có sách, mách có chứng

​Always tell with references and proofs and not with assumptions.

Nước chảy đá mòn

A natural fact but also an advice to be patient to get the results.

Nồi nào ấp vung đó

​You get what you deserve.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with O



Ôm rơm rặm bụng

​If you take on a lot of things, especially things that are not important, you will end up getting into trouble and distractions.

Ở bầu thì tròn, ở ống thì dài

Should adapt to the surrounded environments, e.g. to the culture of a local.

Ở chọn nơi, chơi chọn bạn

Be selective in choosing where to live and who to befriend with.

Ở hiền gặp lành

If you are decent and kind in your life, you will have a good life.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with Q



Quạ tắm thì ráo, sáo tắm thì mưa

When it's raining and you see crows bathing, the rain is going to stop. When it's sunny and you see the flute bathing, it's going to rain (life experience).

Quen mặt đắt hàng

Once you know each other, it's easy to buy and sell.

Qua giêng hết năm, qua rằm hết tháng

Time flies.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with R



Ráng mỡ gà thì gió, ráng mỡ chó thì mưa

If clous are as yellow as chicken fat, it is about to have a strong wind. If clouds are as pink as dog fat, there will be heavy rain.

Rau nào sâu ấy

Children take after their parents.

Ruộng bề bề không bằng nghề trong tay

No matter how much assets you have, you should find for yourself a skill to live by.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with S



Sai con toán, bán con trâu

Should consider carefully when doing anything.

Sông có khúc, người có lúc

A fact of life is that people can change with time.

Sông lở cát bồi

Life sometimes goes down and up at other times. A normal fact of life.

Sống để dạ chết mang theo

Keep something hidden, bury it in your heart, never reveal it for the rest of your life.

Vietnamese proverbs starting with T