The Alphabet

The official Latin-based Vietnamese alphabet consists of 29 letters: 17 consonants and 12 vowels. 22 letters come from the Roman alphabet except f, j, w, and z. Seven letters are modified with diacritics: ă, â, đ, ê, ô, ơ, and ư. As in English, the order follows the Roman alphabetic convention, except letters with diacritical marks come after letters without. For instance, a precedes ă and d precedes đ. Here’s the alphabetization that is taught in schools:

Aa Ăă Ââ Bb Cc Dd Đđ Ee Êê Gg Hh Ii Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Ôô Ơơ Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Ưư Vv Xx Yy

Letters with Diacritics

Vietnamese has an extensive number of letters with diacritics to make tonal distinctions. The ordering of tone marks is varied, but one of the most common systems is Nguyễn Đình Hòa’s: unmarked tone (ngang), acute (sắc), grave (huyền), hook above (hỏi), tilde (ngã), and underdot (nặng).1 Because diacritics play an essential role in differentiating the vowel qualities, each vowel can carry double diacritics. For a complete reference, below are 134 (including the seven modified) letters (uppercase and lowercase) to demonstrate all the possibilities of letters with diacritics.

Áá Àà Ảả Ãã Ạạ Ăă Ắắ Ằằ Ẳẳ Ẵẵ Ặặ Ââ Ấấ Ầầ Ẩẩ Ẫẫ Ậậ Đđ Éé Èè Ẻẻ Ẽẽ Ẹẹ Êê Ếế Ềề Ểể Ễễ Ệệ Íí Ìì Ỉỉ Ĩĩ Ịị Óó Òò Ỏỏ Õõ Ọọ Ôô Ốố Ồồ Ổổ Ỗỗ Ộộ Ơơ Ớớ Ờờ Ởở Ỡỡ Ợợ Úú Ùù Ủủ Ũũ Ụụ Ưư Ứứ Ừừ Ửử Ữữ Ựự Ýý Ỳỳ Ỷỷ Ỹỹ Ỵỵ
  • 1 Thompson, Laurence. A Vietnamese Grammar. (Washington: University of Washington Press, 1965), 68.