Dạ - Yes
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
To put simply, dạ means yes in Vietnamese. There are many ways to say yes in Vietnamese, such as dạ, vâng, ờ, ừa, and ừ. Depending on the Northern or the Southern dialect, and depending on how you want to show your attitude toward the listener, saying yes can vary. In this lesson, let's focus on dạ.
First off, dạ is meant to be used in a conversation, or a dialog. It's a way to say yes but also a way to show respect to the listener. In other words, it's a polite form of yes.
You can use dạ by itself to answer yes to "Yes-no" tag questions. Tag questions are questions with an answer already assumed. Tag questions usually end with words such as phải không, hả, or ha. Here are some examples.
Note: You can highlight the Vietnamese text to listen to it. Mẹ: Con mới đi qua Nhật chơi phải không? (Mom: You just went on a trip to Japan, didn't you?) Con: Dạ. (Child: Yes.) Ba: Đi chơi bên Nhật chắc vui lắm ha? (Dad: A trip in Japan must be fun huh? Con: Dạ. (Child: Yes.) Chú: Con đi với bạn Kim hả? (Uncle: You went with Kim, right?) Con: Dạ! (Child: Yes!)
Dạ can also be used by itself to say yes when someone calls you, or when someone asks you to do something. Think of roger in English.
Note: You can highlight the Vietnamese text to listen to it. Thầy: Kim ơi! (Teacher: Hey Tu!) Kim: Dạ! (Kim: Yes!) Thầy: Giúp thầy bưng cái thùng lên lớp. (Teacher: Help me cary the box to class. Kim: Dạ! (Kim: Yes!)
Additionally, you can use dạ to answer "Yes-no" questions. However, in this case, dạ cannot be by itself. The yes answer in this type of question is actually the verb or the adjective that is in question. Dạ just goes before the entire answer. Dạ in this case is often optional and easily missed. Without dạ here, the answer still makes sense, but just a little less polite. Let's look at some examples.
Note: You can highlight the Vietnamese text to listen to it. Chủ tiệm: Em hiểu không? (Boss: Do you understand?) Nhân viên: Dạ hiểu. / Dạ không. (Worker: Yes. / No.) Thùy: Trang hiểu không? (Thuy: Do you understand?) Trang: Hiểu. / Không. (Trang: Yes. / No.) Bà: Con vui không? (Grandma: Are you happy?) Cháu: Dạ vui. / Dạ không. (Grandson: Yes. / No.) Tùng: Mày vui không? (Tung: Are you happy?) Bo: Vui. / Không. (Bo: Yes. / No.)
In fact, saying dạ at the beginning of your response is considered polite and most kids are trained at a young age to behave this way. That said, even when you answer with a no, dạ still goes before it, as you can see in the examples above.
I mentioned that dạ goes before the entire answer. That's true for the entire response, too. In other words, whenever you response to someone older or someone you want to respect, you can just say dạ first at the beginning of the response. You don't have to say it again for other sentences until it's your turn to respond again.
Note: You can highlight the Vietnamese text to listen to it. Mẹ: Con đi đâu mới về? Con: Dạ, con đi công viên. Con thấy trời đẹp nên đi công viên chơi. Mẹ: Mẹ chờ con về đi ăn chung với gia đình nè. Con: Dạ, để con đi rữa tay rồi mình ăn. Hôm nay mình ăn cái gì hả mẹ? Mẹ: Hôm nay mình ăn sushi. Đi rữa tay đi rồi mình đi. Con: Dạ!
One last thing, and this should be self-explanatory: you can also use dạ by itself as a way to show that you are following the conversation. It is kind of like saying yeah over and over again while your mom is telling a story just to show her that you are following.
That's it! That's all the uses of dạ! To summarize:
1) Dạ is used colloquially 2) Dạ is used to express respect and politeness 3) Dạ is used by itself to say yes to a tag questions 4) Dạ is used by itself when someone calls you or ask you to do something. 5) Dạ is used to answer to a yes-no question, accompanied by a verb or an adjective. 6) Dạ is used by itself as a way to show the listener that you are following.
Now that you can use dạ like a native speaker, go out there and score some points! If you have any questions, please feel free to drop a comment. I'd love to hear it.