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Learn Hmong

the

Jay Way

by

Jay Xiong
2nd Edition with 1st Revsion in 2016

www.HmongDictionary.com
Say the “-k” as in the English word sky – soft k.
Say the “aw” as in the English word law or “awe”

Hmong English phonics Equivalent English


Kawm lus Hmoob. -ker loo Hmong Learn Hmong. Lus = language
Hais lus Hmoob. hai loo Hmong Speak Hmong. Talk in Hmong.
Kuv zoo siab. -koo zhong shia I am hapy.
Zoo siab ntsib koj. zhong shia jee -kaw! Happy to meet you.

Say the “-p” as in the English word spy – soft p.

Hmong English phonics Equivalent English


Koj pab kuv. -kaw! -pa -koo You help me.
Peb mus noj mov. -pay moo naw! maw We go eat food. We go eat.
Koj puas paub? -kaw! -poua -pao Do you know?
Peb kawm lus Hmoob. -pay -ker loo Hmong We learn Hmong. We study Hmong.

Say the “-t” as in the English word stay – soft t.

Hmong English phonics Equivalent English


Koj tos kuv. -kaw! -taw -koo You wait for me.
Koj tuaj thiab los. -kaw! -toua! tia law You come too. hard t like tie, tia
Koj puas zoo siab. -kaw! -poua zhong shia Are you happy?
Kuv xav mus. -koo sah moo I would like to go.

Say the “ny” as in the English word canyon.


Say the “zh” as in the English word “measure”, i.e., like mezher.

Hmong English phonics Equivalent English


Nyob zoo. nyaw zhong Hello or hi.
Sis ntsib dua. shee jee doua Meet again or see you later.
Mus noj mov. moo naw! maw Go eat food or go eat.
Haus dej. hao day! Drink water.
Ua tsaug. oua chao Thank you.
Mus zoo. moo zhong Goodbye.

Speaking with tones. Say the English word “yo-yo” with high to low pitches.
Hmong phonics English
Peb pom. -pay-paw We see.
Peb niam. -pay-nia Our mother.
Peb kawm. -pay-ker We learn. We study.

Refer to MP3 files at: www.Hmongdictionary.com/learnhmong


Learn Hmong online at: www.udemy.com/learn-hmong-the-jay-way-101/

2nd Edition
Learn Hmong the Jay Way
1st Edition published: July 20, 2012
2nd Edition 1st published: April 10, 2014
2nd Edition with revisions published: October 25, 2016

Copyright © 2012-2016, Jay Xiong.


All rights reserved.
No part of this book shall be reproduced, distributed whether it be in part or in
whole, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any means, electronic,
emails, fax, mechanical, photocopying, recoding, displaying on any websites,
media or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN): 0-9726964-3-1

To Order This Book


Please visit: www.Hmongdictionary.com
Email: sistham@yahoo.com

Let's learn some more Hmong!

Hmong Equivalent English


Koj puas paub hais lus Hmoob? Do you know how to speak Hmong?
-kaw! -poua -pao hai loo Hmong hais = say, speak; lus = word, language.
Koj puas xav kawm lus Hmoob? Do you want to learn Hmong?
-kaw! -poua sah -ker loo Hmong Would you like to learn Hmong?
Koj puas zoo siab? Are you happy?
-kaw! -poua zhong shia You are happy?
Hais lus Askiv. Speak English.
hai loo ah-kee Talk in English.
Peb mus ua si. We go play.
-pay moo oua shee ua si = play
Kuv mus thiab. I go too.
-koo moo tia (hard t like the English word tie) thiab = too, also.
Zoo heev. Very good.
zhong heng zoo = good, heev = much or very
Ab tsi? What?
ah chee
Los peb kawm lus Hmoob. Come we learn Hmong.
law -pay -ker loo Hmong Come we study language Hmong.
To My Loving Parents
Txoov Neeb Xyooj
&
Ntxhi Tsab Xyooj

Parents-in-law
Txhiaj Foom Yaj
&
Phuab Kwm Yaj

My Family
Rena Yang Xyooj,
Tiffany, Timothy,
Thomas, and Anthony
About the Author
Jay Xiong, Hmong: Zeb Xyooj, is the author of the Hmong Dictionary called “Lus Hmoob
Txhais”, and also the owner and author of the www.HmongDictionary.com. Mr. Xiong is
also one of the key contributors to the www.MicrosoftTranslator.com where he provided his
dictionary with more than 6,000 Hmong entries to help kick start the translation engine in
November 2011. Mr. Xiong was born in Phou Khao Khouay, Viangchun, Laos.
Mr. Xiong has a great passion to preserve, improve and educate the Hmong language by
offering his service freely to the world at www.HmongDictionary.com since 2003. His
professional work experience includes 10+ years in Geographic Information System (GIS) and
Mapping, GIS application programming, and 11+ years in Database Design and Database
Management, Website Design and Computer Programming. Mr. Xiong speaks and writes Hmong,
Lao, and English.
Hmong Lao English
Nyob zoo ສະ ບາຍ ດ Hi or hello
phonics: nyaw zhong sah bai dee

You can visit his online dictionary at: www.HmongDictionary.com

Photo by Jay Xiong 2012. Phou Khao Khouay, (ວຽງຈຈນ), Viangchun, Laos

Believing is not good enough, you have to accomplish it to prove to yourself – JX.

A hidden knowledge is like a hidden star, it shines nowhere and benefits no one – JX.

If I focus on one thing long enough, I become the seed of that thing – JX.

Rua muag thiaj pom ntuj; qhib siab thiaj pom txuj – JX.
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank the following people for their time and knowledge to help
with this book. Without their help and invaluable suggestions, this book would
be like a song without lyrics.

Travis Gore Hmong name is Peev Xwm xeem Khab.


Chico, California.
Business website: www.travisgore.com

Sarah Gore Hmong name is Nkauj Dawb xeem Khab.


Chico, California.

Amy Ross Hmong name is Nkauj Hli, Music Teacher.


Crescent City, California.

Paj Cai Xyooj Business Owner, B.S. in Civil Engineer and


M.S. in Business.
Melbourne, Australia.

Charles Tsu Vue Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs Office and


Hmong Language Instructor – UW-Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Dr. Douglas-Chuedoua Vue Professor, Ph.D. in Education.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Nick Poss, Ph.D. Columbus, Ohio.

Phong Yang Hmong Language Instructor, M.A. Linguistics.


California State University, Fresno.

Yer T. Yang High School Teacher – Sheboygan, Wisconsin.


Master of Education with emphasis on ELL Education

Last but not least, I want to thank God for his endless love, wisdom and forgiveness.
DISCLAIMER
Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation and writing of this book, the
author assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions, and/or incorrect translations.
Furthermore, the author assumes no liability of any damages resulting from the use of the
information contained herein. In addition, there are words referenced in here which may
have multiple meanings; therefore, please check with Hmong dictionaries, and consult
with Hmong speakers for appropriate use. Last but not least is that some words and
graphic images illustrated in this book may not be suitable for all ages; however, as an
author, I want this book to be beneficial and comprehensive to the people who wish to
learn the Hmong language as much as possible.
Hmong have this old saying, “Xav luaj ntuj los xu luaj nyuj; xav luaj teb los xu luaj
zeb.” In English it simply means one can think and prepare as big as the universe, but still
will miss something as big as a cow, and when one thinks or prepares as big as a farm, he
still will miss something as big as a rock. In other words, human beings are not perfect no
matter how hard we try.
Nov mus kuv yuav hais me ntsis lus Hmoob. Phau ntawv no yog sau los pab qhia rau cov
neeg uas paub lus Askiv zoo, tabsis lawv xav kawm lus Hmoob. Yog li, cov lus txhais ua lus
Askiv ces tsis yog sau raws li kev siv lus Askiv tiag. Qhov no vim yog lus Hmoob tsis
muaj ib cov lus li lus Askiv. Piv txwv li zaj lus hauv qab no:

Hmoob Askiv /English


Kuv nyiam haus dej. Txhais ua lus Askiv → I like to drink water.

Sab lus Hmoob muaj 4 lo lus, tabsis sab lus Askiv muaj 5 vim sab Askiv muaj lo lus “to”
uas lus Hmoob tsis muaj. Yog li, kev txhais thiaj li sau li hauv qab no:

Hmoob yog: Kuv nyiam haus dej.


Askiv yog: I like drink water. Tus neeg paub lus Askiv zoo ces nws paub
tias yog “I like to drink water” lawm.

Qhov txhais li no vim yog kuv xav kom cov neeg kawm lus Hmoob paub tias:
Kuv = I, nyiam = like, haus = drink, dej = water.

Tsis tag li no xwb, kev sau lus Askiv los muab sau raws lus Hmoob thiab, xws li:
Koj mus qhov twg? Ces muab sau ua lus Askiv tias, “You go where?” vim:
Koj = You, mus = go, qhov twg = where.
Contents
Introduction.......................................................................... 1

The English Alphabet ….................................................................. 5


How to Pronounce the Hmong K, P, T, Z, C, Q, and R............... 6
Hmong Vowels and English Equivalent Phonics......................... 10
Hmong Tones.................................................................................. 16
Keys to Understand........................................................................ 28
Single Consonants.......................................................................... 29
Double Consonants........................................................................ 50
How to Pronounce the Double Consonants.................................. 52
Double Consonants with Pictures.................................................. 58
Triple Consonants.......................................................................... 74
Triple Consonants with Pictures..................................................... 82
Quadruple Consonants................................................................. 88
Consonants, Vowels and Tones Chart...................................... 90
Pronouns................................................................................................. 92
Verbs and Adverbs......................................................................... 99
Grammar and Syntax.................................................................... 102
Interrogative Sentences.................................................................. 109
Common Hmong Verbs................................................................. 113
Adjectives, Conjunctions and Prepositions.................................... 119
Past, Present and Future Tenses................................................ 124
Words that Indicate Future Tenses................................................ 126
Numbers and Their Spellings...................................................... 127
Word Meanings and Numbers........................................................ 130
Some Differences between Hmong and English............................. 133
Hmong Classifiers.......................................................................... 134

Classifiers Plus Verbs.................................................................. 137


Questioning Words........................................................................ 138
Sweet Words................................................................................... 142
The Blaming Game......................................................................... 143
The Swear Words............................................................................ 143
Repeating the Same Verb Means Greater or More................ 144
Hmong Common Nouns................................................................. 145
Hmong Compound Words............................................................ 150
Simple Phrase and Sentences........................................................... 151
Short Greetings................................................................................. 153
Typical Hmong Greetings.............................................................. 154
Typical Phone Conversations....................................................... 155
Shopping Phrase............................................................................... 155
Body Parts.......................................................................................... 157
Internal Organs................................................................................. 159
Household Items.............................................................................. 160
Grocery Items.................................................................................... 161
Agricultural Products..................................................................... 162
Illness and Disease............................................................................ 163
Basic Conversation Regarding Illness........................................ 164
World and Country........................................................................... 165
Direction and Orientation............................................................. 166
Geographic Locations....................................................................... 167
Bible Terminology........................................................................... 168
Hmong Clans..................................................................................... 170
First Names....................................................................................... 171
Family and Friends.......................................................................... 172
Courtship and Dating........................................................................ 173
Marriage and Wedding................................................................... 174
Funeral............................................................................................... 175
Wrapping Things in a Grammatical Way................................... 176
Next and Will..................................................................................... 177
Everything You Need to Know...................................................... 178
What is a Monosyllabic Language..................................................... 179
Time For a Short Story.................................................................... 180
Phrase Translation............................................................................. 181
The Dog and the Tree Fiction Story............................................. 183
Time to Write a Letter in Hmong...................................................... 184
Visiting Hmong at their homes.................................................... 196
Some Hmong Common Questions.................................................... 197
Differences between Hmong Der and Mong Leng Dialects... 198
Summary................................................................................................ 200
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 1

INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this book is to offer a different and non-linguistic approach to learning the Hmong
language. By non-linguistic approach I mean from a person, me, who is not a linguist, but have a
great desire to help people who are interested in learning the Hmong language in a different way.
Another reason that motivated me to write this book is the number of people who supported my
effort and my website www.hmongdictionary.com since 2003, and their encouragement for
writing this book.
The Hmong language, like many human languages, has pronouns, adverbs, verbs, conjunctions,
adjectives, nouns and the likes; however, with its own morphology and syntax. A human language
is no different than a computer language, and we need to know one, hopefully, our native language
well before trying to learn a second one. With this being said, I hope you are fluent either in
English or in Hmong because throughout this book there are many comparisons between them. In
its simplistic term, a human language is a means to converse or to speak, and a computer
language is a means to execute or run a specific program or command. For humans, the exact
words a person converses or speaks to get his result might vary from person to person, and this
variation happens because there are many different choices of words or synonyms to choose from
when forming his/her instructions. For the most part, the Hmong language does not have many
synonyms in comparison to the English language, and that makes it easy to learn, while extremely
hard to explain and define.
Furthermore, the Hmong language has two dialects: Hmong Der (also known as White),
and Hmong Leng or Hmong Joua (also known as Green). Many Hmong people who came
from China many centuries ago spoke the Hmong Leng dialect. For the most part, my guess is,
that 75 percent of the words from these two dialects are exactly the same – both pronunciations
and meanings; however, there are a few words that have the same spellings and pronunciations
but have different meanings. For example, the Hmong Der word “txav” means “to move” but it
means “to cut” in Hmong Leng. However, this book covers only the Hmong Der dialect, and I
want to apologize for not being able to cover both at this time – please see the end of this
book for some basic differences between these two dialects.
Learning a new language both spoken and written forms at the same time can be
accomplished, but patience is required while been introduced to that language. If you already
know the spoken form and need to learn only the written form then it might be a few months;
however, if you are trying to learn both at the same time, it will be a few years. However, the neat
part about knowing another language is like knowing another cooking recipe. Therefore, I
sincerely hope that the information I provided here is concise and useful enough that you will not
only be able follow my recipe, but also be able to speak and write Hmong better than some native
Hmong. Last but not least is that there are many words used throughout this book that have
multiple meanings, and this is true not only for Hmong but also for English. Additionally, most
translations may not be proper English translation but rather literal translation to help you
understand the equivalent words used in both languages. For example:
Hmong English The English sentence is
The Hmong
sentence is Kuv nyiam haus dej. I like drink water. not correct because it
correct. And not I like to drink water. is missing the “to” after
the verb “like.”
In other words, Kuv = I, nyiam = like, haus = drink, and dej = water.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
2 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

The Hmong People, Culture, and Language


The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group, the majority are in China, from the mountainous and
many isolated regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Thailand. After the United States
Secret War in Laos ended in 1975 many of the Hmong, estimated 100,000+, had migrated to the
United States, Canada, France, Japan, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia. The
Hmong culture is very much like many other cultures; however, one distinctive difference is
that the Hmong people are organized into roughly 18 last names or clans. Furthermore, the
Hmong culture prohibits marriage between two people with the same last name. Hmong believe
that those who have the same last name came from the same ancestors.
The main religion of the Hmong people prior to 1975 is mainly Shamanism – a belief and
practice of the spiritual world. However, many of the Hmong people who now live in the United
States have changed from Shamanism to Christianity. This change of religion has spread for many
Hmong people around the globe today. One can not choose to be a shaman, however, but only the
spirit can choose who can become a Shaman, and either gender can become a Shaman. Generally
it does not cost anything to consult with a shaman regarding one's illness until his/her illness is
cured.
Hmong did not have a written language where it was taught and learned openly until 1952 and
1953 when a Protestant missionary Dr. Lindwood Barney, a Roman Catholic missionary
Father Yves Bertrais (better known as Txiv Plig Nyiaj Pov), and Dr. William A. Smalley
who came to Laos to help create the Latin script for Hmong words. This Hmong language is what
we currently use these days, also better known as the Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA) system.
Another popular Hmong script is called “Pahawh” which was invented by a Hmong spiritual and
highly respected person named Shong Lue Yang, Soob Lwj Yaj in Hmong.
The Hmong language is considered a tonal language, and for the most part, about 90 percent
of the words are monosyllabic. The language is spoken with open syllables. Similar to most human
languages, the Hmong language also follows the subject-verb-object syntax structure. Unlike
English, Hmong do not have the plural forms, “-s, -en” and verbs remain the same regardless of
whether you use it to refer to the first, second, and third person. Additionally, there are no
participles in Hmong, i.e., “-ed, -ing, and -en” and no verbal nouns or gerunds, i.e., the writing
of this book. More importantly, there is no verb conjugation, i.e., does, do, did and done, in
Hmong. Hmong verbs have just one form like the English verbs “cut” and “put.” In addition,
Hmong do not have long and short vowels – just one pronunciation for each vowel. Therefore,
reading and writing Hmong is very consistent even words that you have never seen nor heard
before you can still write them correctly. There are seven distinctive tones in the Hmong
language and roughly about 13 vowels.
However, I believe there are more vowels/sounds than these that have not been identified due
to the lack of adequate research into the Hmong spoken language. For example, the Hmong sound
“au”, as in the English word Lao, and the Hmong sound “oe” as in the English word toe do exist,
but the Hmong people just use the “au” to represent both sounds. The word “oeb” is commonly
used as an exclamation. For example: Oeb, koj tuaj thiab los? Which it means “Oh, you come,
too?” And the Hmong word “aub” means “dog”, and these two words clearly have two distinctive
sounds or phonics, but we will leave that topic for a different book.
Thaum yus tsis paub yus hom lus ces zoo li yus tsis yog yus haiv neeg.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 3

Suggestion for Learning the Hmong Language


The very first step is to master the pronunciation of the single consonants, vowels and the tones.
The Hmong tones is problematic for most English speakers so make sure you spend enough time
learning the tones section. The Hmong language is considered a tonal language. So that means if
you say the word with the wrong tone it will mean an entirely different thing.
Most of the pages of this book have mp3 audio included. Each of the audio file will have the
filename of page-n.mp3 where n is the page number. For additional resources and audio files,
please visit:

www.hmongdictionary.com/learnhmong
My online course for learning Hmong:
www.udemy.com/learn-hmong-the-jay-way-101/

Last but not least is try to focus on words that are easy, and you like the most. Not sure about
you, but for me, I seem to learn the best when I like what I am learning the most.

Learning Strategies
1. Learn the English alphabet
2. Learn the Hmong vowels For introduction to the Hmong language,
you might want to teach as follows:
3. Learn the Hmong single consonants 1. Consonants
2. Vowels
4. Learn the Hmong tones 3. Tones
5. Learn the rest of the poly-consonants 4. Pronouns
5. Simple words and short phrases
6. Learn the pronouns, verbs, and adverbs
7. Learn the adjectives, conjunctions and prepositions
8. Learn the numbers
9. Learn the difference between English and Hmong
10. Learn the Hmong classifiers
11. Learn the Hmong grammar
12. Go to HmongDictionary.com/learnhmong and listen to the MP3 files

Thank you for your interest to learn the Hmongology (my new word) – The study of the Hmong
people, culture, and language.

Learning a new language is like learning new synonyms.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
4 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Simplified Consonants and New Vowels


The original Hmong consonants, np, nts, and nk have very similar phonics to the English letters
b, j, and g, i.e., baw, jaw, and gaw. For this reason, some Hmong people use these new
consonants in place of the original ones. Below are some words in both the new and the original
forms.
No Original form Simplified version Original word example Simplified version
1 np b npua bua

2 npl bl nplua blua

3 nplh blh nplhaib blhaib

4 nts j ntsaum jaum

5 ntsh jh ntshai jhai

6 nk g nkaum gaum

7 nkh gh nkhaus ghaus

8 plh new version phl plhu new version phlu

9 nplh new version nphl nplhaib new version nphlaib


The reason I mentioned these simplified consonants here is so you are aware that some of the
younger Hmong people, especially those that live in the United States, have been using both forms
interchangeably. The revised “phl and nphl” are more correct in Hmong phonetically. For
example, the English word “pea” = Hmong “phis”, English “plea” = Hmong “phlis” instead.
A new vowel I also created is the “H” which is a silent vowel. This “h” vowel is being used at
the end of other vowels only, i.e., ohs and ohm. For example: “Koj puas noj os?” is the current or
old writing method, and the above question can mean as follows:
1. Do you want to eat ducks?
2. Do you want to eat [with a different sound but having the same spelling “os”]
The new way with the “h” is as follows:
1. Koj puas noj os? Means “Do you want to eat ducks?”
2. Koj puas noj ohs? Means “Do you want to eat [with the correct Hmong sound]
To utter this new word “ohs”, you have to utter the “os” + “hos” = “ohs” which it happens more
toward the very back of your tongue. There are other vowels that I had used in my dictionary to
accommodate some of the English and Lao sounds that don't exist in Hmong. However, don't
worry about these new vowels yet.
io = As in English Leo These are for your information only!
oe = As in English toe
ue = Similar to the English sound oo-ay. Hmong example: Hueb! Ua twg lawm?
ui = As in the English word quit. Hmong example: Uib! Ua cas tsis pom lawm?
oi = Hmong example: Oib, tsis txhob ua li hos! By Dr. Chuedoua Vue.
wa = Like the Lao word khib nywab (garbage), for example.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 5

The English Alphabet with Hmong Pronunciation


The Romanized Popular Alphabet, RPA, is a Latin-based script which you already know. What you
need to learn is the pronunciations in Hmong. Each Hmong consonant has the English phonics “aw” as
in the word law. For example, the Hmong pronunciation for the letter D is the English phonics daw.
No Letter English phonics Hmong usage
1 A ah, or a as in word about vowel – as in ah, ma
2 B* baw – like English B tone marker and a simplified consonant – like English B
3 C no equivalent – learn later consonant – you will learn this later
The English word
4 D daw – like English D consonant – exactly like English D, day “tasty” has two
Ts. The first T is
5 E ay, as in word day vowel – as in say, lay uttered with a
6 F faw – like English F consonant – exactly like English F, foo puff of air –
aspirated, but not
7 G* gaw – as in good, go tone marker. Also a simplified consonant the second T. The
first T is called a
8 H haw – like English H consonant – exactly like English H, how hard T, and the
9 I ee, as in word bee vowel – as in see, tee second T is called
a soft T.
10 J* jaw – as in Jay, jar tone marker. Also a simplified consonant
11 K kaw – soft k, like “skaw” consonant – exactly like English soft K as in sky
12 L law – like English L consonant – exactly like English L The Hmong k, p, t
13 M maw-- like English M consonant – exactly like English M are uttered without
14 N naw – like English N consonant – exactly like English N the puff of air.

15 O aw, as in word law (awe) vowel – like the English word “awe”
16 P paw – soft p, like “spaw” consonant – exactly like English soft P, as in word spy
17 Q no equivalent – learn later consonant – you will learn this later
18 R no equivalent – learn later consonant – you will learn this later
19 S shaw, as in shoe, she consonant – exactly like English “sh” as in she, shy
20 T taw – soft t, like “staw” consonant – exactly like English soft T as in stay
21 U oo, as in word zoo , soo vowel – exactly like you, too
22 V vaw – like English V consonant – exactly like English V as in vie, vow
23 W vowel Pinch your nose tight, open your mouth and say “hmm”
w like “hmm” sound → similar to “ah” but with the “hmm” sound. No puffing!
24 X saw, as in see, song consonant – exactly like English S as in see, sow
25 Y yaw – like English Y consonant – exactly like English Y as in yo-yo
26 Z zhaw – like in “measure” consonant – like syllable “-sure” of the word measure (zher)

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
6 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

How to pronounce the Hmong K, P, T and Z


Hmong
(English phonics) English pronunciation and remark
Utter this K like the k in the word “sky” – soft K. In other words, only
K pronounce the “ky” exactly as how you say “-ky” in the word “sky.” Now say
(-kaw) the English word “skaw” but mute the “s” and utter the “-kaw” – as if it has
the “s” in front of it and that is the Hmong pronunciation for the K.
Utter this P like the p in the word “spy” – soft P. In other words, only
P pronounce the “py” exactly as how you say “-py” in the word “spy.” Now say
(-paw) the English word “spaw” but mute the “s” and utter the “-paw” – as if it has
the “s” in front of it and that is the Hmong pronunciation for the P.
Utter this T like the t in the word “stay” – soft T. In other words, only
T pronounce the “tay” exactly as how you say “-tay” in the word “stay.” Now
(-taw) say the English word “staw” but mute the “s” and utter the “-taw” – as if it
has the “s” in front of it and that is the Hmong pronunciation for the T.
Utter this Z like the s in the word “mea-sure” – like zher. In other words,
the Hmong “Z” is like “zh” in English. Now say the English word “measaw”
Z
but mute the “mea-” and utter the “-saw” – like zhaw. The English phonics
(zhaw)
“zhaw” sounds exactly like the Hmong “zos.” Do not say the “z” like the
word “zaw” as in the English word “zip”, however.

If you see the “-k” in English phonics it denotes a soft k as in sky, and “k” as in “key.” Likewise,
“-p” is soft p as in spy, and “p” as in “pie”, and “-t” as in “stay” and “t” as in “tie.”

The English word “tasty” has two Ts. The first T – “tas-” has the audible puff of breath uttered
after – hard T, but not the second T – “-ty.” The second T's pronunciation is called
the soft T – unaspirated – clear and without puffing sounds.

Hard or aspirated means there is a “puff” of air, i.e., the “tas-” syllable of the word “tas-ty.”
Soft or unaspirated means no “puffing” sound, i.e., the “-ty” syllable of the word “tas-ty.”

The Hmong k, p, t and kh, ph, and th pronunciations

Hmong English soft pronunciation Hmong word English hard pronunciation


kais -kai (like skai) khais kai (like key, kay)
pais -pai (like spai) phais pai (like pie)
tais -tai (like stai) thais tie (like thai)

We will learn more about these double consonants later on when we learn the Hmong double
consonants. For now, just remember that the Hmong K, P, and T are always equivalent to the
English soft or clear pronunciation – no puffing sounds that is.

Peb kawm lus Hmoob = We learn language Hmong.


-pay -ker loo Hmong = We learn the Hmong language.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 7

Another letter I want to cover again is the Hmong vowel “w”. This Hmong vowel has the sound
segment of the English word “hmm” but without the “h” – nasal-aspirated and without the
“mm” – closed lips. Here is how to utter this Hmong “w” vowel. First, pinch your nose tight
and open your mouth, and then utter the English word “ah” and then the word “hmm”, but
don't puff any air through your mouth, however, and with your mouth open. If you do this
correctly, what you uttered should be the Hmong “w” sound. Again, transfer the “a-” as in about
to “w” as in word “hmm” only.
Now let's finish learning the remaining single consonants, C, Q, and R. The first letter we are
going to learn is the “C”, pronounced “cos.”

We are going borrow the English word situation, and the


sound segment we need is the capitalized letters of the word
siTUation. Make sure you don't say “TU” as CHOO which it has
a puffing sound. Meaning that if you say the word “si-tu-a-tion”
by forming your tongue and mouth looking like the image on the
left and without puffing, it can only sound like the Hmong “cus”
and not like the English “choo” or Hmong “chus” on the right
cus that is. The image on the right is how you say the Hmong “chus” chus
which it has a puffing sound – mouth aspirated effect.

Another English word that has the parts we need to learn the Hmong “C” is perhaps the word
“itch” but end without aspirating the “h”, i.e., itc. Now let's create a new word “itchaw” but say
this word like “itcaw” – without the puffing sound, and the syllable “-caw” of this word should
be close to the Hmong “cos” sound. The other word you can try is the word “speech” but not
aspirating the “h” effect. In other words, say it like “speec” by ending the “c” with your mouth and
tongue looking like the image on the left above. Make sure not uttering “speec” like “speek”,
however.
Let's practice one more time. First, place the tip of your tongue by pressing at the root of your
bottom teeth then lower your top teeth, as to bite part of your tongue, then arc part of your tongue
so it touches the roof of your mouth like the image on the left, and then utter the word “cos” or
“cus” without any puffing sounds. With a puffing sound it is “chus” in Hmong and without, it is
“cus” that is all. Initially, it might be helpful to bite a portion of your tongue prior to saying or
uttering the word “cus.”

It is helpful for me to think about pressing my tongue against the back of my teeth to pronounce
“cos” – Dr. Nick Poss.

Words of wisdom

Ruam noj ntau ntse noj tsau.


A fool eats a lot but the wise one eats until full.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
8 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

How to Pronounce the Consonant Q


The pronunciation of this consonant perhaps only exists in the Hmong language because Hmong
used to live close to too many frogs in the past. :) Other than that, I can't think of any words in
English that would come close to this “Q”, pronounced “qos.” But let's not give
up because if frogs can say it, we can, too. So let's try this. First,
let's say the English word “ah” a few times. Then form your
tongue like the image on the left – by pressing the tip of your
tongue at point B first then arc the back top of your tongue to
touch the roof of your mouth at point A. To utter the Hmong
“qas” just softly dropping your tongue, with a little push forward, at point A like
the image on the right. In other words, say this consonant “Q” from the back of your tongue and
throat by dropping or opening your tongue at point A. You might have to gag the first few
tries, but don't give up because we know it can be done.

1. Once you are able to make your mouth and tongue looking like the picture on the left, you
are now ready to call the most beautiful Miss Frog ever!
2. Okay, are you ready? Get ready as you are going to gag, and then utter the English word
“awe” by opening your tongue at point A with a little push forward. That is it. If you can
do this, you can go call Miss Frog, “Qos” in Hmong, and she might even nyiam koj (nyia
-kaw!), like you.

How to Pronounce the Consonant R


The English word that has the closest sound similar to the Hmong R,
pronounced “ros”, is perhaps the word “straw.” However, mute the “s-” but
keep the sound “-traw” part exactly like when the “s” is in front of it. Now say
“-traw” a few times and it should sound very close to the word “draw” indeed.
Now we want to eliminate the “R” sound – no vibrations at the tip of your
tongue at all, and it should sound like the English phonics “daw” instead.
Now press the tip of your tongue very hard against your palate like you are
going to say the word “-traw”, see image on the left, but utter with one clear
sound similar to the word “daw” but not exactly like “daw”, however.

Nasal-aspirated
Mouth-aspirated means exhale thru
means exhale thru your nose to form
your mouth i.e., the “H” sound, i.e.,
chat and Thai – has “hmm” before the
a puffing sound. rest, i.e., mong as in
the word Hmong.
chat Hmong
Letters such as L, M, and N are unaspirated consonants – clear pronunciations
Likewise K, P, T in Hmong are also unaspirated consonants – soft K, P, and T that is.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 9

Review Single Consonants


The English phonics for “-aw” below is exactly as in word “law” – awe that is.

Hmong English Like English Hmong English


No Letter phonics (consonant) word phonics
1 B baw bay, bee A simplified version of the “np” consonant.
2 C n/e No equivalence – will learn later
3 D daw day, dee de, do, du, di, dai, dia day, daw, doo, dee, dai, dia
4 F faw fee, foo, fay fee, fi, fo, foo, fua feng, fee, faw, fong, foua
5 G gaw go, guy A simplified version of the “nk” consonant.
6 H haw how, hay, hi hau, he, hai, hua hao, hay, hai, houa
7 J jaw jay, joe, jar A simplified version of the “nts” consonant.
8 K -kaw sky, ski The Hmong kai and ki phonics are similar to the -ky and
-ki sounds here. Mute the “s” sound that is.
9 L law lay, low, lie lai, lee, lo, lia lai, leng, law, lia
10 M maw my, me, moo me, mo, mau may, maw, mao
11 N naw no, nah, nay ne, na, nau, nu nay, nah, nao, noo
12 P -paw spay, spy The Hmong pe and pai phonics are similar to the -pay
and -py sounds here. Mute the “s” sound that is.
13 Q n/e No equivalence – will learn later
14 R n/e No equivalence – will learn later
15 S shaw she, shy si, sai, sia, so she, shai, shia, shaw
16 T -taw stay, sty The Hmong word te phonics is similar to the -tay sound.
Mute the “s” sound that is.
17 V vaw vow, vee, vie vi, vau vee, vao
18 X saw see, saw, sow xau, xo, xi sao, saw, see
19 Y yaw ya, ye, yay ya, yi, ye ya, yee, yay
20 Z zhaw measure The Hmong word zaw phonics is similar to the -sure
(zher) (zher) sound. Mute the “meas-” sound that is.
When I said “mute”, I mean you still utter the word as if it has the “s” in front of the word, i.e.,
“stay” but only utter the “-tay” – soft t without the “s” sound.

Kev hlub pib los ntawm kev pub; kev ntxub pib los ntawm kev cais.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
10 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Vowels
Now you are ready to learn the Hmong vowels, but don't worry because some of these vowels
do follow the same English phonetic methodology. Furthermore, there are no short and long
vowels in Hmong. In other words, there is only one type of pronunciation for each vowel.

No Hmong English phonics As in English word


1 a ah about, pa, ma
2 ai ai Thai – same as English
3 au ao Lao
4 aw er per. Do not curl your tongue for the “r”, however.
5 e ay day, say, just like the e in the musical note “Re” that is.
6 ee eng English
7 i ee bee, lee To say the Hmong W vowel:
8 ia ia The closest English phonics is perhaps
Kia – same as English
the word “hmm”, but with your
9 o aw law, saw mouth open and make the sound “ew”
10 oo ong among with little or no air through your nose.
Making sure “ew” does not sound
11 u oo zoo, too like “oo” as in word too, however.
12 ua oua Moua
13 w ew See above right for explanation.
14 aa* ung lung. *This is a Hmong Leng vowel.
Each of the Hmong words below has three parts: consonant + vowel + the S tone. The S tone has
a similar pitch to the first musical note “Do” as in “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti.” Also, I considered this
“S” tone the mid or neutral tone. From now on, we will spell “Do” like “Doe” instead.

No Hmong words with the S tone – “Doe” and “Re” pitches and English phonics
1 phonics pitch dah dai dao der day deng dee daw dong doo doua dia
2 Doe das dais daus daws des dees dis dos doos dus duas dias
3 Re da dai dau daw de dee di do doo du dua dia
4 Doe Re pitches nas nai naus naw nes nee nis naw noos nu nuas nia
The Hmong word dais means a bear, and the Hmong word dai means to hang something.
It is just like the English words “see, seem, and seek” and the ending letter dictates the
ending sound or pitch or tone in Hmong. So let's practice reading the following words using
the Doe and Re pitches along with some Hmong words.
Pitch Doe Re Doe Re Doe Re Doe Re Doe Re
Hmong das da dais dai daus dau daws daw des de
words dees dee dis di dias dia doos doo dus du
nes ne naus nau nias nia dos do dias dia

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 11

Below is a table with the 20 single consonants and the 13 vowels with the “Re” pitch. Practice
reading each consonant from the left with each vowel on the right, i.e., ba, bai, bau etc..

phonics ah ai ao er ay eng ee ia aw ong oo oua ew*


1 B a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
2 C a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
3 D a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
4 F a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
5 G a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
6 H a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
7 J a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
8 K a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
9 L a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
10 M a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
11 N a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
12 P a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
13 Q a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
14 R a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
15 S a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
16 T a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
17 V a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
18 X a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
19 Y a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w
20 Z a ai au aw e ee i ia o oo u ua w

Using the “Re” pitch, let's learn some of the Hmong words above. The Hmong word da (dah –
phonics) means to swim or lie down, dai = to hang, do (daw) to stir, du (doo) = smooth, lau
(lao) = male bird, lo (law) = to stick, sau (shao) = to write. For teachers, once you have taught
the 8 tones, come back to this page and ask your students to read each row above with each of the
8 tones, i.e., J, S, V, M, for example: naj, naij, nauj (nah!, nai! nao! English phonics).

Peb mus da dej (-pay moo dah day!) = We go swimming. We go bathe.


Peb los pw (-pay law -pew) = We come to sleep.
Koj hu kuv (-kaw! hoo -koo) = You call me.
Los noj mov (law naw! maw) = Come eat or come eat food.
Kuv mus haus dej (-koo moo hao day!) = I go drink water.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
12 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Now that you have learned the Hmong vowels, let's combine them with some simple consonants
with the “Re” pitch. Remember, “das” has the “Doe” pitch and “da” has the “Re” pitch.
Hmong Hmong Hmong English Hmong Hmong Hmong English
consonant vowel word phonics consonant vowel word phonics
1 d a da dah 25 d ai dai dai
2 h ai hai hai 26 h a ha ha
3 l a la lah 27 l ai lai lai
4 m ia mia mia 28 m au mau mao
5 d au dau dao 29 d ia dia dia
6 h aw haw her 30 h a ha ha
7 l ua lua loua 31 l ai lai lai
8 m au mau mao 32 m aw maw mer
9 d e de day 33 d ee dee deng
10 h e he hay 34 h e he hay
11 l ee lee leng 35 l ee lee leng
12 m e me may 36 m ee mee meng
13 d i di dee 37 x ia xia sia
14 h i hi hee 38 y ai yai yai
15 l i li lee 39 n aw naw ner
16 m i mi mee 40 m ia mia mia
17 d o do daw 41 s oo soo shong
18 h oo hoo hong 42 h o ho haw
19 l o lo law 43 f oo foo fong
20 m oo moo mong 44 m u mu moo
21 d u du doo 45 d ua dua doua
22 h ua hua houa 46 h ua hua houa
23 l u lu loo 47 n au nau nao
24 x au xau sao 48 z ua zua zhoua

The above Hmong words have no tone markers; however, they do have the equivalent tone or pitch of
the 2nd musical note “Re”, i.e., Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti.

Hmong words: do (daw) means to stir, and me (may) means small, and dai means to hang.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 13

Please circle the English sound on the right column that has the sound of the Hmong vowel on the
left column. Make a few copies of this page and study until you know them well.

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English


Vowel Sound Vowel Sound Vowel Sound Vowel Sound
a ao ah
ah ay i ao ee ay
ee u ao oo ay o ee aw ao
ee ao ee eng e ay ee eng oo ao ee ong ia ee aw ia
i ee ay ah ai ia ay ai i ee ay ah e oo ay ee
oo oo ong aw aw oo ong er w ew ong aw a ah oo aw
ua oo oua aw au oo oua ao u oo oua aw w ew oo ee
w ao ay ew oo ao ong ew ai ao ai ew u oo ee ay
ai ai ia ah a ai ia ah o ai aw ah ia oo ia ai
e ay ee oo ee eng ee oo ai ay ai oo w ew ay ee
aw ee ay er i ee ay er e ee ay er u ay ee oo
w aw ew ay o aw ee ay a aw ew ah o aw oo ee
ua oua aw ao ia oua aw ia aw oua er ao ua oo oua ay
o aw oua ao w ew oua ao u aw oo ao o ee oo aw
u oo aw ee ua oo oua ee a oo aw ah i oo ee ay
oo ong ung ay o ong ung aw ee eng ung ay aw er aw oo
ia ia ai ee i ia ai ee ai ee ai oo u oo ee ah
w ai ew oo aw ai er oo o ai ew aw aa ah ung oo
u oo ai ia a oo ah ia ua oo oua ia o aw oo ee
a oo ah ee ia oo ah ia w oo ah ew ai oo ai aw
oo ai ay ong o ai aw ong u ai oo ong ee ee ay eng
ai ia ee ai ia ia ee ai oo ia ong ai i ee ay oo
e ee ay ao ee ee ay eng ai ee ay ai w ee oo ew
ai ai ia oo a ai ah oo w ew ia oo u ee oo ay
w oo ew aw aw oo er aw ua oua ew aw a oo ee ah
ua ao oua oo u ao oua oo a ao oua ah o ee aw oo
ee eng oo ee aw eng oo er e eng oo ay ai ee ai oo

The Hmong word “ua” (oua) means do or to do. For example: Kuv ua mov
(-koo oua maw) means I cook or I make food. Koj ua (-kaw! oua) means you do.
Peb mus ua num = We go do duty (job). Ua li koj hais = Do as you say.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
14 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Below please write the English phonics on the right for each of the Hmong word. For example, the
Hmong word “do” = English phonics “daw”, “da” = “dah”, and “daw” = “der” etc...

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English


1 do daw da dah doo dai
2 ha hau hu hai
3 lai la lia law
4 mo ma mia mai
5 du dau dao du daw der
6 hua hau hia haw
7 lai lau lua law
8 maw mau mia ma
9 di de dai dee
10 ho he ha hee
11 lee le lua lau
12 moo me mi mee
13 dai di daw dia
14 haw hi hai hia
15 lu lai lo lia
16 mua mi maw mia
17 dau do daw doo
18 hi ho he hoo
19 lia lo lee loo
20 mu mo mai moo
21 daw du dia dua
22 hai hu hee hua
23 la lu lw lua
24 maw mu ma mua
25 so see xe xia
26 xoo xee se sai
27 nua nau ne no
For teachers, please have your students read each row, i.e., do, da, doo and dai etc...

Hmong words: dai means to hang, so (shaw) = to wipe or rest, hau (hao) = to boil.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 15

Please write the equivalent English phonics on the right for each of the Hmong word. For
example, the Hmong vowel a = ah in English, zoo = zhong in English and lo = law in English.

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English


phonics phonics phonics phonics
a ah zoo zhong mia mia lo law
ai ua so ua
au w au w
naw ne ma de
i ee w ee
ia daw do maw
u ai oo ai
no nia ne via
oo o yu ia
sau lau moo xo
w aw ua au
ze w w aw
yee yo ye ya
aw yoo ee o
ai e aw oo
ia i ai e
ha loo nia xoo
ua ua aw ua
fau fw fo nw

Review Hmong Vowels


How many vowels are in the Hmong language? ____________.

Hmong vowel English phonics Hmong vowel English phonics Hmong vowel English phonics
1. _________ (ah) 2. _________ (ai) 3. _________ (ao)
4. _________ (er) 5. _________ (ay) 6. _________ (eng)
7. _________ (ee) 8. _________ (ia) 9. _________ (awe)
10. _________ (ong) 11. _________ (oo) 12. _________ (oua)
13. _________ (ew)

Hmong words: Sau (shao) means to write, ya (yah) means to fly, zoo (zhong) = good.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
16 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Tones
What is a tone? A tone is a pitch stressed with a particular word or a syllable of word. For
example, the English word “yo-yo” has two pitches or tones – “YO-yo”, high pitch to low pitch
respectively. A tone is then similar to the English musical notes “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti.” With
that said, we are going to use the first note “Do”, spelled “Doe” from here on, and we are going to
assign this “Doe” pitch to the Hmong S tone – the mid tone in Hmong.
1 English phonics dah dai dao der day deng dee dia daw dong doo doua dew

2 Hmong word das dais daus daws des dees dis dias dos doos dus duas dws

3 Phonics mah mai mao mer may meng mee mia maw mong moo moua mew

4 Hmong mas mais maus maws mes mees mis mias mos moos mus muas mws

5 Phonics nah nai nao ner nay neng nee nia naw nong noo nuoa new

6 Hmong nas nais naus naws nes nees nis nias nos noos nus nuas nws
If without the “S” tone, words “dai and dia” would have the same spelling and pronunciation in
both Hmong and English. The Hmong word “dai” means to hang, and “dia” means a spoon, i.e.,
ib dia mov – a spoon of rice. The “S” tone has the pitch of the “a-” of the English word “a-bout”
which is has the same pitch like the musical note “Doe” mentioned above.

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English
daws to untie dos onion mis milk mos young mus to go

Single Consonants and Vowels


Below is a table with single consonants and the 13 vowels with the “S” tone – Doe (a-) pitch.
English ah ai ao er ay eng ee ia aw ong oo oua w
1 bas bais baus baws bes bees bis bias bos boos bus buas bws
2 cas cais caus caws ces cees cis cias cos coos cus cuas cws
3 das dais daus daws des dees dis dias dos doos dus duas dws
4 fas fais faus faws fes fees fis fias fos foos fus fuas fws
5 gas gais gaus gaws ges gees gis gias gos goos gus guas gws
6 has hais haus haws hes hees his hias hos hoos hus huas hws
7 jas jais jaus jaws jes jees jis jias jos joos jus juas jws
8 kas kais kaus kaws kes kees kis kias kos koos kus kuas kws
9 las lais laus laws les lees lis lias los loos lus luas lws
10 mas mais maus maws mes mees mis mias mos moos mus muas mws
11 nas nais naus naws nes nees nis nias nos noos nus nuas nws
12 pas pais paus paws pes pees pis pias pos poos pus puas pws

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 17

13 qas qais qaus qaws qes qees qis qias qos qoos qus quas qws
14 ras rais raus raws res rees ris rias ros roos rus ruas rws
15 sas sais saus saws ses sees sis sias sos soos sus suas sws
16 tas tais taus taws tes tees tis tias tos toos tus tuas tws
17 vas vais vaus vaws ves vees vis vias vos voos vus vuas vws
18 xas xais xaus xaws xes xees xis xias xos xoos xus xuas xws
19 yas yais yaus yaws yes yees yis yias yos yoos yus yuas yws
20 zas zais zaus zaws zes zees zis zias zos zoos zus zuas zws
Okay, I hope you have mastered the “S” tone by now because we are going to add two more tones
to this boring “Doe” pitch. These two tones have the highest and lowest pitches in the Hmong
language, and the closest English word that has these two pitches is the English word “YO-yo.”
The first syllable “YO-” has the higher pitch and that is equivalent to the Hmong tone “B” – cim
Siab. The second syllable “-yo” has the lower pitch which is equivalent to the Hmong tone “M” –
cim Niam. Now let's say this English word “YO-yo” a few times from high to low pitches. Now
read the table below starting from the left column, YO-, -yo, then niab, niam to lab and lam.
Then read by row starting from syllable YO-, niab, nab to lab – b tone, and then “-yo” row from
-yo, niam to lam. Try saying the word “YO-yo” with much higher and lower pitches than usual.

Tone Pitch Hmong words with b and m tones


English Phonics nia nah nay noo nee dia dah day doua daw deng lah
1 highest -b YO- niab nab neb nub nib diab dab deb duab dob deeb lab
2 lowest -m -yo niam nam nem num nim diam dam dem duam dom deem lam

Hmong words with b and m tones


Phonics - pitch ah yah ay yay yee yia yer yong yao yaw yeng yai
3 YO- -b Ab Yab Eb yeb yib yiab yawb yoob yaub yob yeeb yaib
4 -yo -m Am Yam Em yem yim yiam yawm yoom yaum yom yeem yaim
Now let's add the mid tone S in between the cim Siab (b) and the cim Niam (m). Now read each column
from top to bottom, i.e., “YO-, Doe, and -yo” and then “niab, nias, niam” etc...

Tone Pitch Hmong words with b, s, and m tones


5 highest -b YO- niab nab neb nub nib diab dab deb duab dob deeb lab
6 mid -s Doe nias nas nes nus nis dias das des duas dos dees las
7 lowest -m -yo niam nam nem num nim diam dam dem duam dom deem lam
The word dab means a ghost and dam means to brake or is broken. We now can put Hmong tone
markers on the English word “yo-yo” like this: yob-yom.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
18 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Please fill in the correct tones for the Hmong words on the right column for each English pitch on
the left, syllable, column using our new word “a-YO-yo” – a- = s tone, YO- = b, -yo = m tone.
Pitch Tone Word Pitch Word Pitch Word Pitch Word Pitch Word
a- s mus YO- na__ -yo de__ a- me__ -yo no__
YO- b siab a- na__ YO- de__ YO- me__ a- no__
-yo m niam -yo na__ a- de__ -yo me__ YO- no__
See if you can pronounce this Hmong writing, “dis laim” – English phonics: dee lai. Well, these
two words are Lao words and it means “very good”, and xab npais dis (xah bai dee) means
“hello or hi” in English. Peb mus ua si (-pay moo oua shee) = We go play.

Now let's use just the three tone markers and see if you are still able to read the following words.
1 ah as mus dab nam yeb dem yas meb lom hib mus nom
2 YO- yaub siab dam nas yem des yam mes los his mub nob
3 -yo yaum niam das nab yes deb yab mem lob him mum nos
Now let's learn some simple words that have these three tones.
Some of these words do have multiple meanings, however.
Hmong
(English phonics) English Hmong English
4 mus (moo) to go 19 tob (-taw) deep
5 hais (hai) to say or speak 20 mem (may) pen or pencil
6 paub (-pao) to know 21 nom (naw) an official
7 pom (-paw) to see 22 pib (-pee) begin, start
8 los (law) to come, to return 23 kim (-kee) expensive
9 deb (day) far 24 kib (-kee) to fry
10 dib (dee) cucumber 25 kis (-kee) gap, to spread into
11 dam (dah) to break 26 lis (lee) to take care or work on
12 lem (lay) to turn 27 lim (lee) to filter
13 teb (-tay) to answer, respond 28 nab (nah) snake, here
14 cem to yell, scold 29 tam (-tah) to reserve (without pay)
15 ces then 30 tas (-tah) done, finished, complete
16 peb (-pay) we, three 31 lom (law) to poison
17 tos (-taw) to wait for 32 lob (law) to grab or take
18 tom (-taw) to bite, allege, accuse 33 zes (zhay) a nest

Peb mus (-pay moo) = We go. Peb tos (-pay -taw) = We wait. Peb los (-pay law) = We come.
Peb paub (-pay -pao) = We know. Nab tom (nah -taw) = Snake bites. deb deb (day day) = far far.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 19

Well, with just three tones, we can't really create any meaningful Hmong songs so let's add two
more tones, and their pitches are similar to the English word “section.” Now, let's say this word
“SEC-tion” like this: “SEC-” with an upward (rising) pitch, and then “-tion!” with a downward
or falling pitch. The “SEC-” pitch is similar to the Hmong “V” tone – cim Kuv, and the “-tion”
pitch is similar to the “G” tone – cim Neeg. So say this word “SEC-tion” a few times. Now add
the Hmong tones to this English word secv -tiong but read it the same way as in English still.

Now read the following table, from left column “SEC-” to “-tion”, “nav nag” and “nev neg” to the
last column. Then read by row, starting “SEC-, nav, nev” to “lov”, and then “-tion”, nag to log.

No Pitch Tone Hmong words with v and g tones


1 SEC- v nav nev nov duv mev div nuv liv tiv dev deev lov
2 -tion g nag neg nog dug meg dig nug lig tig deg deeg log

Now please fill in the appropriate Hmong tone markers.


Pitch Word Pitch Word Pitch Word Pitch Word Pitch Word
SEC- muv -tion na__ SEC- de__ SEC- me__ -tion no__
-tion mug SEC- na__ -tion de__ -tion me__ SEC- no__

Below, read columns from left to right, i.e., YO-, -yo, Doe, SEC-, -tion. Then da b, dam, das, dav, and
dag. Then read by row, i.e., YO-, dab, daib to dwb.
English phonics dah dai dao der day deng dee dia daw doo dew
3 YO- b dab daib daub dawb deb deeb dib diab dob dub dwb
4 -yo m dam daim daum dawm dem deem dim diam dom dum dwm
5 Re – da dai dau daw de dee di dia do du dw
6 Doe s das dais daus daws des dees dis dias dos dus dws
7 SEC- v dav daiv dauv dawv dev deev div diav dov duv dwv
8 -tion g dag daig daug dawg deg deeg dig diag dog dug dwg

No Pitch Tone Hmong words with b, v, s, g and m tones


9 YO- b dab daib daub dawb deb deeb dib diab dob dub dwb
10 SEC- v dav daiv dauv dawv dev deev div diav dov duv dwv
11 Re – da dai dau daw de dee di dia do du dw
12 Doe s das dais daus daws des dees dis dias dos dus dws
13 -tion g dag daig daug dawg deg deeg dig diag dog dug dwg
14 -yo m dam daim daum dawm dem deem dim diam dom dum dwm
dav (dah) = wide. dag (dah) = lie, tease, joke. dawb (der) = white, free. dib (dee) = cucumber.
peb dag (-pay dah) = we lie or we are joking. dev dub (day doo) = dog black.
peb yuav los (-pay youa law) = we will come. dev dag peb (day dah -pay) = dog lie us.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
20 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Okay, now you have learned five tones out of eight so let's learn some Hmong words that have
these tones. Read each by row from left to right, and then by column from top to bottom.

No Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English
1 dab ghost deb far zes nest tuab thick teeb light
2 dav wide dev dog pev up there tuav to hold ceev fast
3 pas a stick nas squirrel los to come muas to buy lees to admit
4 dag to lie nag rain tag done muag to sell tuag to die
5 dam to break hem scare pam blanket muam sister tuam to kick

The last two tones you are going to learn are very simple. The first one is similar to the
musical note “Re” – cim Zoo (zhong). This tone has no marker; therefore, any words ending
with just vowels, i.e., zoo, ua, pa, dua etc... means they have the “Re” musical pitch. The
other tone is equivalent to the English word “hey!” or any interjection words, i.e., you! This is
called the “J” tone – cim Koj (-kaw!).

No Pitch Tone Hmong words with j and blank tones


English phonics doo! dai! dao! der! day! deng! dee! dia! daw! dong! doua!
6 hey! j duj daij dauj dawj dej deej dij diaj doj dooj duaj
7 “Re” blank du dai dau daw de dee di dia do doo dua

The word dej (day!) means water, and de means to pinch. Below is a table which has the seven tones.
First, read by column starting from left to right, and then by row from top to bottom.

No Pitch Tone Hmong words with the seven tones


8 YO- b dab daib daub dawb deb deeb dib diab dob dub dwb
9 hey! j daj daij dauj dawj dej deej dij diaj doj duj dwj
10 SEC- v dav daiv dauv dawv dev deev div diav dov duv dwv
11 “Re” --- da dai dau daw de dee di dia do du dw
12 “Doe” s das dais daus daws des dees dis dias dos dus dws
13 -tion g dag daig daug dawg deg deeg dig diag dog dug dwg
14 -yo m dam daim daum dawm dem deem dim diam dom dum dwm
Now you have learned the seven tones that cover most of the Hmong words. The only tone left is the D
tone which you will learn later. To learn the Hmong tones, try to memorize this Hmong line:

English Pitch: Hey! Doe SEC- -yo -tion YO- Re n/a


Hmong Tone: Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo Tod
English phonics: -kaw moo -koo nia neng shia zhong -taw
Meaning: you go my mom person heart good there
In other words: You go to my good mother over there.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 21

Phrase to remember: Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo Tod
Equivalent English phonics: -kaw! moo -koo nia neng shia zhong -taw

siaB – shia
The problem I noticed with
some English speakers is that
koJ – kaw! they start the Hmong word
with the mid tone and
zoo – zhong then they try to change to
the proper tone afterward.
kuV – koo Therefore, train yourself to
start with the right tone, i.e.,
B is a high tone so you start
muS – moo high right away. This is like
saying “YO-” initially and
not “yo-” and try to rise.
neeG – neng For example, the Hmong
word “nej” is like English
“nay!” and not “nay-AY!”
niaM – nia

Looking at the graph of tones above you see that the highest tone is the B which is equivalent to
the syllable “YO-” of the word YO-yo. And the lowest possible pitch you can make is the M tone
which is equivalent to the second syllable “-yo”. And the mid tone is the S which I put it at 50%
pitch between tones B and M. So the S tone has the equivalent pitch of the musical note “Doe.”
Branching from this S mid tone are the G and V tones that we have learned earlier, and that the V
tone is equivalent to the syllable “SEC-” and the G tone is equivalent to the syllable “-tion” of the
word “sec-tion.” The G tone starts roughly from the S tone, but it falls downward similar to the
syllable “-tion.” The V tone starts from the S tone but it rises upward like the syllable “SEC-”
The next tone is the “blank” tone which has no markers after the vowels. This tone is very close
to the pitch of the musical note “Re.” The last tone is the J and its pitch is very close to the word
“hey!” – interjection words that is. Now let's put these tone markers or pitches into an English
phrase to see if we can compare them to the Hmong tones. Try to read the following words by
column and then by row.

English Pitch: Hey! Doe SEC- -yo -tion YO– Re


Hmong Tone: Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo
Hmong na (nah): naj nas nav nam nag nab na
Hmong ne (day): dej des dev dem deg deb de

I hope these examples help you learn the Hmong tones. Just think of the Hmong tone markers,
the last non-vowel letters, like the ending letters in the English words. For example: Let, led etc...
The Hmong tone markers, for example: Leb, lem etc... The D tone is nothing more than starting
with the M tone and then rise or end quickly with the V tone, i.e., tod = tom + ov (tom-ov).
I see you (ais xis yus – Hmong spelling and phonics). You see me (yus xis mis). I see many
(ais xis meb-nis). How many (haus meb-nis). Kuv zoo siab (-koo zhong shia) = I am happy.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
22 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Tone Markers on English Words


To help you understand the Hmong tones, we are going to refer to some English words that have
similar pitches. In other words, the English word yo-yo will be written with Hmong tone markers
as yob-yom which is – YO-yo – high to low pitches.

English Hmong phonics English word with Hmong tone marker


offer ov-fawm ofv-ferm As you can see English is somewhat a
don't dooj-rwg dontj tonal language, too. The thing you
do dus dos don't realize is that the pitch can
purple phawb-poem purb-plem be slightly off and people still can
sick xiv-kwg seekv understand because of its content.
for sure fos suaj fors surej For example, if you say “you too”
I like you. ais laiv yus Is likev yous like “youm toob” – lowest to
hey! hej heyj highest pitch, most people will
hello heb-loes helb-los have a hard time understanding.
poor me phuaj mis poor me j s But if you say yous tooj
you too yus thuj you toos j people will know.
table theb-npoem tab-blem
after av-fwg-taws afv-ters Just think of a tonal language like a
lucky lav-kim v
luc -ky m song, you have to sing each word as
many meb-nis b
ma -ny s close to the correct pitch or tone as
how haus how s possible, i.e., Doe Re
stopping xas-tov-pees ss--topv-pings Hmong word: haus me = drink little

Practice reading the following words, k, p and t are soft like in words spy, sky, stay etc...

Pitch → “Re” hey! Doe SEC- -yo -tion YO- Re m+v


d + ai = dai daij dais daiv daim daig daib dai daid
f + ai = fai faij fais faiv faim faig faib fai faid
h + ai = hai haij hais haiv haim haig haib hai haid
k + ai = kai kaij kais kaiv kaim kaig kaib kai kaid
l + ai = lai laij lais laiv laim laig laib lai laid
m + ai = mai maij mais maiv maim maig maib mai maid
n + ai = nai naij nais naiv naim naig naib nai naid
p + ai = pai paij pais paiv paim paig paib pai paid
s + ai = sai saij sais saiv saim saig saib sai said
t + ai = tai taij tais taiv taim taig taib tai taid
v + ai = vai vaij vais vaiv vaim vaig vaib vai vaid
x + ai = xai xaij xais xaiv xaim xaig xaib xai xaid
y + ai = yai yaij yais yaiv yaim yaig yaib yai yaid
z + ai = zai zaij zais zaiv zaim zaig zaib zai zaid

The English word “die” would be written in Hmong phonically as “dais”, and the English word
“do” would be written as “dus”, and “never” would be written as “neb-vawm.”
I saw you before (ais xos yus bis-foj in Hmong phonics). I hear you (ais hiaj yus).

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 23

Review the Hmong Tones


Let's make sure you really can say the Hmong tones correctly, and we are going to use the
English word YO-yo which you should have mastered its pitches by now – high to low. What I
want you to do is equate the “YO-” to b, and “-yo” to m tones, i.e., yob-yom that is.
English English English
word with Hmong word with Hmong word with Hmong
pitch tone marker tone marker word tone marker word tone marker word
1 YO- b – highest pitch dayb deb diab diab daob daub
2 -yo m
– lowest pitch daym dem diam diam daom daum
b
Other English words that have these two Hmong tones are YEL -lowm and PUR -plem. The next b

English word we want to use is the word “Hi!” If you say this word like most people normally say
then it should have the equivalent pitch of the Hmong J tone. The Hmong phonics for the word
“hi!” is “haij”, and Hmong phonics for the English word “hey!” is “hej.” Let's see you can read
these Hmong words: haib, haim, heb, hem, haij and hej. The next tone is the mid-tone S which
has the equivalent pitch of the syllable “al-” of the English word “allow” or like the “a-” of the
word “about.” Again, this is the “Doe” musical note if you remember. In other words, the Hmong
word “as” sound exactly like the “a-” of the word “a-bout.” And the Hmong phonics of the English
word “al-low” would be “as-laus.” Now read these words: haib, haim, haij and hais.
The “Re” musical note is equivalent to the Hmong blank tone. Again, the musical notes “Doe Re”
have similar pitches like the Hmong words “mus zoo” – moo zhong. Now try to say the Hmong word
“hai” with the same pitch of the “Re” musical note. The Hmong word “de” sound exactly like the
English word “day” with the “Re” pitch. Now read these words: haib, haim, haij, hais and hai.
Pitch: YO- -yo hi! Doe Re

The next two tones are the V and G. The V tone has the equivalent pitch of the syllable “SEC-” of
the word “SEC-tion.” And the G tone has the pitch of the syllable “-tion” of the word “SEC-tion.”
Now let's practice reading these words:
Hmong word: dev deg daiv daig diav diag dov dog dav dag
Pitch Sec- -tion Sec- -tion Sec- -tion Sec- -tion Sec- -tion
English phonics: day day dai dai dia dia daw daw dah dah

Now read these words: (day) deb dem dej des de dev deg
(nah) nab nam naj nas na nav nag
pitch YO- -yo hey! Doe Re SEC- -tion

The last tone is the D tone, and it is a combination of the M tone plus the V tone. For example, if
you start the Hmong word “dem” then “ev” as one long utterance then that is the same sound as
the word “ded.” Another Hmong word “tod” is really “tom + ov” or “tom-ov” like that.
English pitch: hey! doe sec- -yo -tion yo- re m+v
Now read this line: Noj nos nov nom nog nob no nod
Memorize this line: Koj mus kuv niam neeg siab zoo tod

Hmong words: dev means dog, diav = spoon, dav = wide, deb = far, dej = water

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
24 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Let's Learn Some Simple Hmong Words


No Hmong Askiv Hmong Askiv Hmong Askiv Hmong Askiv Hmong Askiv Hmong Askiv
1 cab pull fwj bottle kov touch muag sell paub know rooj table
2 cem yell hais say kub hot muam sister peb we sai fast
3 co shake haum fit kuv I mus go piav explain saib watch
4 cuaj nine haus drink laus old nab snake piam ruin saj taste
5 dab ghost hu call lees admit nag rain pog grandma sau write
6 dag lie kaj clear lem turn neb you (2) pom see siab tall
7 daj yellow kab insect liab red nej you all qaib chicken sim try
8 dam break kam let lig late no cold qaij tilt tag done
9 dawb white kav stem loj big noj eat qab tasty tau have
10 deb far kaum ten los come nom official qev borrow teb farm
11 dev dog kauv deer maj hurry nov here quaj cry tig turn
12 dos onion kev way miv cat nus brother rau six tuav grab

Before we learn more Hmong words, let's learn two Hmong pronouns. The first pronoun is
“kuv” which has the English phonics “-koo” with the “SEC-” pitch. And it means I, my, me,
mine in English. The second pronoun is “koj” which has the English phonics “-kaw!” And it
means “you, your, yours” – for one person only, however. Below are some Hmong phrases with
English translation. Don't pay too much attention to the Hmong grammar, but just each word
translation. The Hmong part is acceptable, but not the English.

Dev cab kauv = Dog pull deer. Koj cem kuv = You yell me. Kuv muab = I give. Koj pom
cuaj = You see nine. Nab los noj mov = Snake come eat rice. Peb saib koj = We watch you.
Kuv muag paj = I sell flower. Nej los koom peb = You come join us. Qaib liab los haus dej
= Chicken red come drink water. Kuv noj mov kib = I eat rice fried. Kuv haus dej kub = I
drink water hot. Dev laus mob = Dog old ill. Koj pab kuv haus dej = You help me drink
water. Koj tuav kuv mus = You hold me go. Nag los loj = Rain come heavy. Pog tig mus
piav = Grandmother turn go explain. Kuv muab mov muam noj = I give rice sister eat. Dab
kam hu = Ghost agree call. Peb mus faib mov = We go divide rice. Koj los teb kuv = You
come answer me. Koj maj mus noj mov = You hurry go eat rice (food). Peb paub koj zoo =
We know you well. Peb pom dev daj dag dab = We see dog yellow tease ghost. Dev dub hais
qaib dawb mus noj mov = Dog black tell chicken white go eat rice. Kauv maj mus noj dos =
Deer hurry go eat onion. Kuv zoo siab = I am happy. Koj haus fwj dej = You drink bottle
water. Nas liab los noj paj = Squirrel red come eat flower. Koj paub hais lus Hmoob =
You know speak language Hmong. Lam mus = Just go (go without wanting and/or intention).
The Hmong word “lam” means without desire and/or intention.

The Hmong word “mov” can mean “food or cooked rice.” yuav mov = buy cooked rice, and
noj mov = eat food or simply “eat” as well. mus noj mov = go eat food. koj noj = you eat.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 25

Practice Reading Simple Hmong Phrases


English English
Hmong (English phonics) transliterated Hmong (English phonics) transliterated
1. Koj los. (-kaw law) 1. You come. 11. Noj mov. (naw maw) 11. Eat rice or food.
2. Kuv zoo siab. (-koo zhong shia) 2. I am happy. 12. Mus pw. (moo -pew) 12. Go sleep.
3. Los noj mov. (law naw maw) 3. Come eat food. 13. Tuaj pab. (-toua -pah) 13. Come help.
4. Koj hais lus. (-kaw hai loo) 4. You say words. 14. Los saib. (law shai) 14. Come see.
5. Yog lawm. (yaw ler) 5. Correct or right. 15. Dag xwb. (dah sew) 15. Joking only.
6. Leej twg? (leng -tew) 6. Person who? 16. Ua li cas? (oua lee cah) 16. What happens?
7. Koj paub. (-kaw -pao) 7. You know. 17. Vim tias. (vee -tia) 17. Because.
8. Koj pab. (-kaw -pah) 8. You help. 18. Piav los. (-pia law) 18. So explain.
9. Kuv pom. (-koo -paw) 9. I see. 19. Tag lawm. (-tah ler) 19. Done already.
10. Zoo heev. (-zhong heng) 10. Good very. 20. Koj muaj. (-kaw moua) 20. You have.

Hmong English transliterated


21. Kuv xav mus. (-koo sah moo) 21. I want to go.
Same word with different tones
22. Koj puas kam? (-kaw -poua -kah) 22. You do allow?
23. Kuv yog neeg. (-koo yaw neng) 23. I am human. nees = horse
24. Koj noj ab tsi? (-kaw naw ah chee) 24. You eat what? neeg = humans
25. Kuv tuaj pab. (-koo -toua -pah) 25. I come help. neeb = shamanism
26. Los noj mov. (law naw maw) 26. Come eat food. neej = life
27. Peb pom lawv. (-pay -paw ler) 27. We see them. no = cold
28. Yog koj haus. (yaw -kaw hao) 28. If you drink. noj = eat
29. Koj hais lus. (-kaw hai loo) 29. You say words (talk). nov = here
30. Koj yuav tuaj. (-kaw youa -toua) 30. You will come. nom = officials
31. Koj puas yuav? (-kaw -poua youa) 31. You want to buy? nog = load
32. Koj puas noj? (-kaw -poua naw!) 32. You want to eat? Therefore, pronouncing each
33. Leej twg paub? (leng -tew -pao) 33. Who know? Hmong tone correctly is
34. Peb mus pw. (-pay moo -pew) 34. We go sleep. very important. For example:
35. Koj zoo siab. (-kaw zhong shia) 35. You are happy. Kuv noj means I eat, and
36. Kuv pom koj. (-koo -paw -kaw!) 36. I see you. Kuv no means I am cold.
37. Los noj. (law naw!) 37. Come eat. However, when Hmong people
38. Tus neeg zoo. (-too neng zhong) 38. A person good. sing the “kwv txhiaj”, the tones
39. Nees noj zaub. (neng naw zhao) 39. Horse eat vegetables. may not always be correct. For
40. Kuv los haus dej. (-koo law hao day!) 40. I come drink water. example: Leem nias leem txi.
41. Dev daj. (day dah!) 41. Dog yellow. Means “Leej niam leej txiv.”
42. Lawv tuaj. (ler -toua!) 42. They come. So how do you know? Well, when
43. Koj puas da dej? (-kaw -poua dah day!) 43. You want to bathe? you're good enough to “hais” the
44. Los peb mus. (law -pay moo) 44. Come we go. Hmong “kwv txhiaj” then you
45. Leej twg hu koj? (leng -tew hoo -kaw!) 45. Who call you? will know. :) – content-based
46. Koj puas xav mus? (-kaw -poua sah moo) 46. You do want to go? that is!
47. Koj puas paub? (-kaw -poua -pao) 47. You do know?
48. Koj muag mov (-kaw moua maw) 48. You sell rice.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
26 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Below please circle the English phonics, sound, that corresponds to the Hmong vowel. For
example, the Hmong word “dab” has the Hmong “a” vowel which is equivalent to the English
“ah” sound, and the Hmong word “lis” has the English equivalent “ee” sound.

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English


Word Sound Vowel Sound Vowel Sound Vowel Sound
dab ao ah ay lis ao ee ay dub ao oo ay tos ee aw ao
seev ao ee eng tes ay ee eng noob ao ee ong diab ee aw ia
ib ee ay ah dais ia ay ai zib ee ay ah eb oo ay ee
zoo oo ong aw laws oo ong er lws w ong aw av ah oo aw
dua oo oua aw bua oo oua aw mus oo oua aw pw w oo ee
wb ao ay w roob ao ong ew pais ao ai ew tub oo ee ay
sai ai ia ah nab ai ia ah pom ai aw ah cia oo ia ai
peb ay ee oo teeb eng ee oo pais ay ai oo cw w ay ee
dawb ee ay er pib ee ay er zeb ee ay er pub ay ee oo
wb aw w ay noj aw ew ay yaj aw ew ah pom aw oo ee
dua oua aw ao luaj oua aw ao laws oua er ao ua oo oua ay
noj aw oua ao nws w oua ao ru aw oo ao nov ee oo aw
hu oo aw ee pub oo aw ee fab oo aw ah iv oo ee ay
moo ong ung ay mob ong ung aw kee eng ung ay laws er aw oo
sia ia ai ee zib ia ai ee miv ee ai oo dub oo ee ah
lwj ai w oo hws ai w oo nom ai ew aw aa ah ung oo
tu oo ai ia kuj oo ai ia cua oo oua ia os aw oo ee
pa oo ah ee zia oo ah ia hwm oo ah w hais oo ai aw
moo ai ay ong zos ai aw ong yus ai oo ong ceev ee ay eng
tais ia ee ai sai ia ee ai moo ia ong ai ci ee ay oo
ze ee ay ao ze ee ay ao tais ee ay ai cw ee oo ew
tais ai ia oo pab ai ah oo dws w ia oo cub ee oo ay
tw oo w aw pw oo w aw puas oua ew aw cam oo ee ah
sua ao oua oo huv ao oua oo pas ao oua ah nom ee aw oo
keev eng oo ee daws eng oo er lees eng oo ee nai ee ai oo
zab ah ee ay tu ah oo ay cia ah ee ia neb aw ay oo

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 27

Let's Learn Some Words with Single Consonants


Hmong English transliterated Hmong English transliterated
Hais lus Askiv. Speak English. Aws, kuv xav noj. Yes, I want to eat.
Koj dag. You lie. Cia kuv ua. Let me do.
Koj hais lus. You speak. You talk. Hais lus phem. Talk words bad.
Koj los nov. You come here. Hais lus qab zib. Talk words sweet.
Koj mus. You go. Hais dab neeg. Tell or talk story.
Koj noj. You eat. Haus dej heev. Drink water much.
Koj puas haus dej? You want drink water? Hos koj ne? How about you?
Koj puas muaj? You do have? Koj dag kuv xwb. You lie to me only.
Koj puas mus? You are going? Koj mus tau. You can go.
Koj puas paub? You do know? Koj tuaj pab kuv. You come help me.
Koj tos kuv. You wait for me. Koj ua mov. You cook food.
Koj ua. You do. Koj xav noj los? You would like to eat?
Koj yog leej twg? You are who? Kuv yog Dib. I am Dee.
Koj yog neeg zoo. You are person good. Maj mam ua. Slowly do (work).
Koj zoo siab heev. You are happy much. Muaj mob. Have illness.
Kuv hais lus Hmoob. I speak Hmong. Nov puas yog koj li? Is this yours?
Kuv mus lawm. I go already. Pom tus dab. See a ghost.
Kuv pom lawm. I see already. Koj puas maj? You are hurry?
Kuv yuav tos koj. I will wait for you. Puas zoo? Is good? (Is it good?)
Leej twg tuaj? Who comes? Rau peb noj. For us eat.
Miv los haus dej. Cat come drink water. Kam kawg. Okay, sure.
Mus da dej. Go bathe. Tau pom koj. Have seen you.
Mus ho tuaj nawb. Go and come (again). Tus dej loj. A river big.
Mus zoo koj. Goodbye to you. Wb ob leeg ua. We two persons do.
Peb mus noj mov. We go eat food. Puas yooj yim? Is easy? (Is it easy?)
Pib kawm Hmoob. Begin learn Hmong. Yog los mas. It is correct.
Sau lus Hmoob Write Hmong. Yog tiag hos. It is real.
Ua li ohs. Okay. Zoo heev. Good much.
The Hmong word “puas” is generally a questioning word, i.e., puas zoo? Is good?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
28 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Now that you know how to pronounce the single consonants and vowels you are ready to learn
how to link each letter to a Hmong word and picture. This is very similar to the English “A” for
apple and “B” for bird etc... However, before we do that, let's make sure you understand the keys
and methodology that I am using.

Keys to Understand

Letter
Pronunciation Hmong Word Picture Practice Reading

Consonant
T vowel &
tos Hmong example
tone marker English example
T + aub
“tos” is the Hmong
spelling and sound
Taub → Hmong word for Hmong English Practice words
Tone Marker word word ta tai tau taw etc..
for the letter T.
Vowel

The Hmong “os” phonics is exactly as the English word “awe” or like “aw” as in word law. Therefore,
the Hmong letter T pronounced “tos” is equivalent to the English “-taw”, soft t, as in word “staw.” The
“au” phonics is similar to the “ao” of the word Lao, and “taub” has the highest tone b – cim Siab.

Below is the letter D, pronounced “dos” in Hmong having the English phonics “daw.” The Hmong
word for the letter D here is “dev” having the equivalent English phonics “day” with a Hmong V tone.
Below the picture is the Hmong word “Dev”, and to the right is the English word for the picture – dog.
Example & Practice Reading

Kuv muaj ib tus dev.


d + ev
D I have one dog.
dos Dev
(daw) (dayv) da dai dau daw de dee di
Dev / Dog dia do doo du dua dw.

English phonics for Practice words


English Hmong spelling
the Hmong Dev with for the letter D
phonics for the letter D
a Hmong v tone with vowels

The Hmong word “ib” means one, and since there are no articles in Hmong, the syntax, “ib
classifier” is equivalent to the English article a, an, and the. For example, kuv muaj ib tus dev =
I have a dog or I have one dog. Without a number in front of a classifier, i.e., tus devdaj means
the yellow dog, and tus dev means a or the dog. Dev means dogs, just like kauv means deer.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 29

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Kuv pom ib tus bua.


I see one pig.
B* b + ua
bos Bua Practice Words
(baw) (boua)
ba bai bau baw be bee bi bia bo boo
Bua / Pig bu bua bw.
English phonics

Nov yog tus cuam dawb.


This is a gibbon white.
c + uam
C Cuam ca cai cau caw ce cee ci cia co coo
cos cu cua cw. cia = let, cab = pull,
(couam)
Cuam / Gibbon cem = yell, ci = shine, cua = wind,
coob = many, cog = plant.

Kuv muaj ib tus dev daj.


I have one dog yellow.
D d + ev
dos Dev da dai dau daw de dee di dia do doo
(daw) (dayv) du dua dw. dab = ghost, de = pinch,
dub = black, diav = spoon.
Dev / Dog
* Some people use “B” in place of the “np” consonant, i.e., “bua” instead of “npua.”

Practice Reading
Due to the above three consonants, we are limited to very few words here. And to help you
understand the Hmong words and the equivalent English words, the following are transliterated.
Pay no attention to its grammar, but just the Hmong words and their phonics.

Hmong English Hmong English


1. Bua da dej. Pig bathe (take a bath) 7. Dev caum bua. Dog chase pig.
2. Cuam dag dev. Gibbon tease dog. 8. Dev daj da dej. Dog yellow bathe.
3. Dev de cuam. Dog pinch gibbon. 9. Dab dag dev. Ghost trick dog.
4. Bua de dib. Pig pick cucumber. 10. Dev dua dab doog. Dog tear ghost bruise.
5. Cuam cem dev. Gibbon yell dog. 11. Bua da av dub. Pig bathe dirt black.
6. Cuam dawm dev. Gibbon stumble dog. 12. Cuam cuab bua. Gibbon call pig.

The Hmong word “dag” means to lie, to kid, to tease or to trick.


Koj dag tus dev = You trick the dog.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
30 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Koj muaj ib fwj cawv.


You have one bottle alcohol.
F f + wj
fos
(faw)
Fwj fa fai fau faw fe fee fi fia fo foo fu
fua fw. fiav = swing,
faus = bury, faib = divide.
Fwj / Bottle

Neeg siv goj mus nuv jes.


People use boat go fishing.
G* g + oj
gos Goj ga gai gau gaw ge gee gi gia go goo
(gaw) (gaw!) gu gua gw.
Caij lub goj = Ride a boat.
Goj / Boat

Koj haus cawv.


You drink alcohol.
H h + aus
hos Haus ha hai hau haw he hee hi hia ho hoo
(haw) (hao) hu hua hw. haus dej = drink water,
hais lus = talk or speak,
hau = boil, hauv = inside.
Haus / Drink
* Some people use “g” in place of “nk” consonant, i.e., “goj” instead of “nkoj.”

Practice Reading
The following are transliterated English. Pay no attention to its grammar, but only focus on
reading the Hmong words with the correct vowel and tone.

No Hmong English Hmong English


1. Dev haus dej. Dog drink water. 7. Cuam caij dev. Gibbon ride dog.
2. Bua dag dev haus. Pig trick dog drink 8. Dev faib fwj dej Dog divide bottle water.
3. Dev da dej hauv goj. Dog bathe in boat 9. Bua caum dev. Pig chase dog.
4. Haus fwj dej. Drink bottle water. 10. Dev cem dab. Dog yell ghost.
5. Dev caum dab. Dog chase ghost. 11. Dab dim. Ghost escape.
6. Hais dag. Talk joke (joking) 12. Dev de cuam. Dog pinch gibbon.

Dab hu dev = Ghost call dog. Dab dag dev = Ghost kid dog.
Dev da dej = Dog bathe. Bua haus dej = Pig drink water.
Koj hu kuv (-kaw hoo -koo) = You call me.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 31

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Koj puas muaj jes?


J* j + es You do have fish?
jos Jes ja jai jau jaw je jee ji jia jo joo ju
(jaw) (jay)
jua jw.
Jes / Fish

Kuv pom ib tus kauv me.


k + auv I see one deer small.
K Kauv
kos ka kai kau kaw ke kee ki kia ko
(-kaov) – soft k
(-kaw) koo ku kua kw. koj = you, kuv = I,
like skao
kawm = learn, kaum = ten.
Kauv / Deer

Koj paub tus liab daj.


You know a monkey yellow.
L l + iab
los Liab la lai lau law le lee li lia lo loo lu
(law) (liab) lua lw. los = come, loj = big,
liam = accuse, lem = turn.
Liab / Monkey
* Some people use “J” in place of the “nts” consonant, i.e., “jes” instead of “ntses.”

Practice Reading

Hmong English Hmong English


1. Kauv los haus dej. Deer come drink water. 9. Liab hu jes los. Monkey call fish come.
2. Liab hais lus. Monkey say words. 10. Dev caum liab. Dog chase monkey.
3. Kauv kam haus. Deer agree drink. 11. Dev kov kauv. Dog touch deer.
4. Lauj haus fwj dej. Lauj drink bottle water. 12. Koj los haus cawv You come drink alcohol.
5. Jes haus dej heev. Fish drink water much. 13. Liab kov kuv. Monkey touch me.
6. Koj hais lus. You say word (talk). 14. Dev dag liab. Dog lie monkey.
7. Kuv kov kauv. I touch Deer. 15. Liab liam kauv. Monkey accuse deer.
8. Dev cem dab. Dog yell ghost. 16. Kauv cem koj. Deer yell you.

Please fill in the missing tone markers and missing words. Lia__ caum cua__ ces kau__ los da
dej. Je__ , lia__, kau__ ces yog fish, monkey and deer. Fish is ________, you = _______,
deer = ________, monkey = __________, learn = ________, come = ________

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
32 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Tus miv caum tus nas.
The cat chase the squirrel.
M m + iv
mos Miv ma mai mau maw me mee mi mia
(maw) (meev) mo moo mu mua mw. muaj =
have, mov = rice, mus = go.
Miv / Cat

Tus nees noj kuv cov paj.


The horse eat my flowers.
N n + ees
nos Nees na nai nau naw ne nee ni nia no
(naw) (neng) noo nu nua nw. niam = mom, noj
= eat, noog = bird, neb = you two.
Nees / Horse

Kuv cog paj.


p + aj I plant flowers.
P Paj
pos pa pai pau paw pe pee pi pia po
(-pah!) – soft p
(-paw) poo pu pua pw. peb = we, pab =
like spa
help, paub = know, pom = see.
Paj / Flowers

Practice Reading

Miv pom nees mus da dej. Cat see horse go bathe. Nees los noj paj. Horse come eat flowers.
Maj mam mus kev. Slowly go way – walk. Paj muaj pos. Flowers have thorn. Nej los noj
mov. You come eat food – eat. Miv maj mam mus pw. Cat slowly go sleep. Liab hais kauv
mus noj jes. Monkey ask deer go eat fish. Hawj haus fwj cawv hauv. Herr drink bottle wine
inside. Dev cab cuam mus da dej. Dog pull gibbon go bathe. Nees noj paj poob los. Horse
eat flowers fall down.

Practice Your Skills


Please translate the following phrases into English.

1. Lub paj = ________________________ 6. Koj mus = _____________________


2. Miv pom nas = ____________________ 7. Koj mus pw = ___________________
3. Miv los haus dej = __________________ 8. Los pab kuv = ___________________
4. Peb pab koj = _____________________ 9. Mus da dej = ___________________
5. Koj paub kuv = ____________________ 10. Kuv muaj mov = ________________

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 33

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Koj pom ib tus qav.


You see one frog.
Q q + av
qos Qav qa qai qau qaw qe qee qi qia qo
qoo qu qua qw. qaib = chicken,
Qav / Frog qe = egg, quaj = cry, qab = tasty.

Muab rab rauj rau kuv.


Give the hammer to me.
R r + auj
ros Rauj ra rai rau raw re ree ri ria ro roo
ru rua rw. rooj = table, roj = oil,
Rauj / Hammer rau = six, rog = fat, ris = pants.

Tus sai saib peb.


The mountain goat look at us.
S s + ai
sos Sai sa sai sau saw se see si sia so soo
(shaw) (shai) su sua sw. sau = write, so = rest,
siab = tall, sim = try, su = lunch.
Sai / Mountain goat

Practice Reading

Cov qav quaj ua rau sai ceeb loj heev li. Qaib qua = chicken crow, lau qaib qua = male
chicken (rooster) crow, qav quaj = frog call (cry), qee leej = some people, qee zaus =
sometimes. Neeg xav noj qe kib = People want to eat egg fried. Koj noj puas qab? = you eat
is delicious? Qab heev = delicious very. Koj qog peb = you mimic us.
Rau mov = set food or put food on the table. Rau mov rau peb noj = put food on the table
for us to eat. Siv roj los kib zaub = use oil come fry vegetables, mov kib = rice fried, rau siab
kawm = study hard, rau caum = sixty, rau = six, ruaj = sturdy, peb siv = we use,
peb noj su = we eat lunch.

Practice Your Skills


1. chicken = _____ 2. watch = ______ 3. test = ______4. rest = _______ 5. six = _____
6. knife = _______ 7. sturdy = _____ 8. oil = ______ 9. delicious = ________
10. some people = ____ ____ 11. rooster = ____ ______ 12. cry = _______

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
34 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Lub taub no loj heev.
t + aub The pumpkin here is big very.
T Taub (This pumpkin is very big)
tos
(-taob) – soft t ta tai tau taw te tee ti tia to too tu
(-taw)
like stao Taub / Pumpkin tua tw. teb = answer, tuaj = come,
teeb = light, tes = hand, tom = bite.

Tus vaub kib no mus kev qeeb.


v + aub The turtle here walks slow.
V k + ib
vos
(vaw)
Vaub kib va vai vau vaw ve vee vi via vo voo vu
vua vw. vau = fall, vim = because,
(vaob -keeb)
Vaub kib / Turtle voj = circle, vov = cover.

Neeg siv xov los xaws khaub ncaws.


People use threads to sew clothes.
X x + ov
xos Xov xa xai xau xaw xe xee xi xia xo xoo
(saw) (sawv) xu xua xw. xa xov = send news, xav
Xov / Threads mus = want to go, xaus = end.

Practice Reading
Taub dag ces yog pumpkin yellow. Tau tuaj = have come, teeb meem = problem, teem taub
= short, tagkis = tomorrow, tiaj tus = flat, even. Toj roob = mountains, tuav tes = hold hand.
Koj teb kuv = you answer me. Koj daim teb = your piece farm. Vim li cas = why, tau vov =
have covered, vauv = son-in-law, vim tias = because, tau = have, taum = bean, tuag = die.
Xav mus = want to go, xav haus = want to drink, xav pom = want to see, xav tuaj = want
to come. Xa xov = send news, rau nej = for you all, paub = know. Koj xauj = you look or peek
at, koj xuas = you use or grab, tus pas = a stick. Tej tais = the bowls, tej diav = the spoons,
tej neeg = the people, tij laug = older brothers, kwv = younger brothers, kwv tij = brothers.

Practice Translation

1. I drink water = 6. You help me =


2. I want to go? 7. Why? =
3. I want to learn = 8. I learn Hmong =
4. I have = 9. Come eat =
5. Koj teb kuv = 10. Kuv paub koj =

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 35

Single Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Koj muaj ob tus yaj.
You have two sheep.
Y y + aj
yos Yaj ya yai yau yaw ye yee yi yia yo yoo
(yaw) (yah!) yu yua yw. yuav = buy, yeem =
Yaj / Sheep agree, yog = correct, ya = fly.

Kuv pom tus zaj hauv dej.


I see a dragon in water.
Z z + aj
zos Zaj za zai zau zaw ze zee zi zia zo zoo
(zhaw) (zhah!) zu zua zw. ze = near, zos = city,
Zaj / Dragon zoo = good, zis = urine.

Practice Reading
Zaj los noj zaub hauv lub pas dej xiav. Yaj pom tus zaj ces yaj sawv saib xwb. Zaj haus dej =
Dragon drink water. Yaj los pw = Sheep come sleep. Cuam zaum saib dev = Gibbon sit
watch dog. Dev haus fwj dej tas = Dog drink bottle water finish. Kuv tuaj pab koj = I come
help you. Kauv daj los noj zaub = Deer yellow come eat vegetables. Liab los kov miv =
Monkey come touch cat. Miv mus caum liab = Cat go chase monkey. Koj yaug tes = You
rinse hands. Koj yeej = You win. Koj swb = you lose.
Qav quaj = Frog call or cry. Rab rauj raug kuv tes = The hammer hit my hand. Sai los noj
taub = Mountain goat come eat pumpkin. Vim leej twg = Because who. Peb yuav tuaj saib
nej = We will come visit you all. Koj puas kam = You do allow (do you allow). Koj kawm
puas tau = You learn do can (can you learn or are you able to learn). Kuv kawm tau = I learn
can (I can learn or I do learn). Thov los pab peb = Please come help us. Ua tsaug = Thanks.
Mus zoo = Goodbye. Koj puas paub? = You do know (do you know). Kuv pom koj mus = I
see you go. Los peb kawm uake = Come we learn together. Kuv yuav qhia nej = I will teach
you. Yog nej xav kawm = If you want to learn. Hais lus Hmoob = Speak language Hmong.
Hais = utter, lus = language or words.

Practice Your Skills

1. I come help you = 2. I know you =


3. Koj puas xav mus = 4. Peb kawm uake =
5. Cat see monkey eat = 6. Dragon go swim =
7. Kuv haus dej = 8. Koj los noj =
9. I call you come help = 10. We eat together =
Kuv zoo siab (-koo zhong shia) = I am happy.
Koj zoo siab (-kaw! zhong shia) = You are happy.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
36 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Single Consonants and Pictures


Say each letter with the Hmong “os” – English phonics “awe” sound, i.e., Dos = Dev
B C D F

Bua / Pig Cuam / Gibbon Dev / Dog Fwj / Bottle

G H J K

Goj / Boat Haus / Drink Jes / Fish Kauv / Deer

L M N P

Liab / Monkey Miv / Cat Nees / Horse Paj / Flower

Q R S T

Qav / Frog Rauj / Hammer Sai / Mountain goat Taub / Pumpkin

V X Y Z

Vaub kib / Turtle Xov / Threads Yaj / Sheep Zaj / Dragon

Make a copy of this page and erase the Hmong words, and give each student a copy. Now you read the
English words and have the students fill in the equivalent Hmong words, i.e., cat = miv etc...

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 37

Single Consonants and Vowels


Below are the single consonants with vowels with English phonics. Read the following words
using the musical note “Re” pitch. Once students have mastered the “Re” tone, work on other
tones, i.e., j, s, v, m, g, b etc... The English phonics is provided for reference only.

B → Bua (boua) C → Cuam D → Dev (day) F → Fwj (few)

b + ua = bua (boua) c + ua = cua d + e = de (day) f + ia = fia (fia)


b+i = bi (bee) c+i = ci d + a = da (dah) f + au = fau (fao)
b + ia = bia (bia) c + ia = cia d + o = do (daw) f + ee = fee (feng)
b + au = bau (bao) c + au = cau d + i = di (dee) f + ai = fai (fai)
b+o = bo (baw) c+e = ce d + ai = dai (dai) f + oo = foo (fong)

G → Goj (gaw) H → Haus (hao) J → Jes (jay) K → Kauv (-kao)

g+o = go (gaw) h + au = hau (hao) j + e = je (jay) k + au = kau (-kao)


g + ai = gai (gai) h + ua = hua (houa) j + au = jau (jao) k + u = ku (-koo)
g + au = gau (gao) h+e = he (hay) j + u = ju (joo) k + e = ke (-kay)
g+e = ge (gay) h + ai = hai (hai) j + ai = jai (jai) k + oo = koo (-kong)
g + ua = gua (goua) h + ee = hee (heng) j + aw = jaw (jer) k + a = ka (-kah)

L → Liab (lia) M → Miv (mee) N → Nees (neng) P → Paj (-pa)

l + ia = lia (lia) m + i = mi (mee) n + ee = nee (neng) p+a = pa (-pah)


l + au = lau (lao) m + a = ma (mah) n+e = ne (nay) p + au = pau (-pao)
l+e = le (lay) m + u = mu (moo) n + oo = noo (nong) p + ia = pia (-pia)
l + oo = loo (long) m + o = mo (maw) n + ia = nia (nia) p+o = po (-paw)
l+u = lu (loo) m + oo = moo (mong) n + ai = nai (nai) p+u = pu (-poo)
Q → Qav R → Rauj S → Sai (shai) T→ Taub (-tao)

q + ua = qua r + ia = ria s + ai = sai (shai) t + au = tau (-tao)


q + ai = qai r + ua = rua s + au = sau (shao) t+i = ti (-tee)
q+e = qe r+i = ri s+i = si (shee) t + ai = tai (-tai)
q+a = qa r+a = ra s + ee = see (sheng) t + ee = tee (-teng)
q + ia = qia r+e = re s+a = sa (shah) t + ia = tia (-tia)

V → Vaub kib X → Xauv (sao) Y → Yaj (ya) Z → Zaj (zhah)


(vao -kee)
v + au = vau (vao) x+e = xe (say) y + au = yau (yao) z+e = ze (zhay)
v + ia = via (via) x + au = xau (sao) y + ee = yee (yeng) z+a = za (zhah)
v + a = va (vah) x + ua = xua (soua) y+a = ya (yah) z + oo = zoo (zhong)
v + o = vo (vaw) x+u = xu (soo) y+i = yi (yee) z + ee = zee (zheng)
v + ai = vai (vai) x+i = xi (see) y + oo = yoo (yong) z + ua = zua (zhoua)

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
38 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Single Consonants and Vowels


The table below consists of 20 single consonants and 13 vowels. First, read by row starting from
left to right, and then by column. Make sure you are able to pronounce each word correctly before
you move on. The correct pitch or tone of these words are equivalent to the musical note “Re”
since there is no tone marker. This is called the cim Zoo – Zhong.

English ah ai ao er ay eng ee ia aw ong oo oua w*


sound

1 ba bai bau baw be bee bi bia bo boo bu bua bw


2 ca cai cau caw ce cee ci cia co coo cu cua cw
3 da dai dau daw de dee di dia do doo du dua dw
4 fa fai fau faw fe fee fi fia fo foo fu fua fw
5 ga gai gau gaw ge gee gi gia go goo gu gua gw
6 ha hai hau haw he hee hi hia ho hoo hu hua hw
7 ja jai jau jaw je jee ji jia jo joo ju jua jw
8 ka kai kau kaw ke kee ki kia ko koo ku kua kw
9 la lai lau law le lee li lia lo loo lu lua lw
10 ma mai mau maw me mee mi mia mo moo mu mua mw
11 na nai nau naw ne nee ni nia no noo nu nua nw
12 pa pai pau paw pe pee pi pia po poo pu pua pw
13 qa qai qau qaw qe qee qi qia qo qoo qu qua qw
14 ra rai rau raw re ree ri ria ro roo ru rua rw
15 sa sai sau saw se see si sia so soo su sua sw
16 ta tai tau taw te tee ti tia to too tu tua tw
17 va vai vau vaw ve vee vi via vo voo vu vua vw
18 xa xai xau xaw xe xee xi xia xo xoo xu xua xw
19 ya yai yau yaw ye yee yi yia yo yoo yu yua yw
20 za zai zau zaw ze zee zi zia zo zoo zu zua zw
For teachers, you might want to select a particular row and read from left to right with a different
tone. For example, row 20: Zab, zaib, zaub, zawb to zwb. And then do the same thing for certain
column, i.e., column 7, beeb, ceeb, deeb, feeb to zeeb. Next is to select certain row but then mix
each word with a different tone, i.e., row 20: Zam, zais, zaub, zawv to zwg. If you are learning on
your own, try to put the seven tones, Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo, with any row. For
example, row 20: zaj zais zauv zawm zeg zeeb zi ziaj zos zoov zum zuag zwb.

Hmong words: hu (hoo) means to call, de (day) means to pinch, ze (zhay) = near.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 39

Practice Reading With Simple Translation


Hmong: Nej los pab kuv kawm lus Hmoob. Koj puas paub hais lus Askiv? Leej twg tuaj saib peb?
See hu rau koj. Tag kis peb yuav mus ua si. Koj puas yog ib tus neeg siab zoo. Kuv xav mus pw.
Translation: Nej los = you come, pab kuv = help me, kawm lus Hmoob = learn Hmong.
Koj puas paub = Do you know, hais lus Askiv? = speak English? Leej twg tuaj = who come,
saib peb = visit us, koj = you (one person), nej = you all, los = come, pab = help, kawm =
learn, lus = language or word, paub = know, hais = say or speak. Askiv = English.
Leej twg = who, hu rau = call to/for, tag kis = tomorrow, peb = we, yuav = will, mus = go,
ua si = play, yog = is/are, ib = one, tus = a, neeg = person, siab zoo = heart good,
xav = want to or would like to, pw = sleep.

Hmong: Dab dag dev dub mus noj av. Cuam daj los haus dej. Cua daj cua dub muaj zog heev.
Neeg siab zoo hais lus zoo. Neeg siab luv hais lus ceev. Cia peb mus noj mov. Nej puas muaj mov?
Nej puas muag fawm kib? Peb xav los kawm lus Askiv. Hais lus Hmoob puas yooj yim? Lus
Hmoob muaj yim lub suab lossis cim. Tus kauv pw hauv daim teb.
Translation: Dab = ghost, dag = lie, dev = dog, dub = black, mus = go, noj = eat, av = dirt or
soil, cuam = gibbon, daj = yellow, los = come, haus = drink, dej = water. Cua = wind, daj =
yellow, dub = black, muaj = have, zog = strength, heev = very or much, neeg = humans or
people, siab zoo = heart good, hais = say, lus = word, language, zoo = good. Neeg = people,
siab = heart, luv = short, ceev = fast, cia = let, peb = we, mus = go, noj = eat, mov = rice (or
food in general), nej = you (more than 2 persons), puas muaj = have, mov = rice, muag = sell,
fawm kib = noodle fried, kawm = learn, yooj yim = easy, yim = eight, lub suab = the pitches
or tones, tus kauv = a deer, pw hauv = sleep inside, daim teb = the farm.

Below please write the equivalent English for each Hmong word.

NO Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English


1 dej water dab ghost cuam fwj
2 dev dag hu hauv
3 hais daj kauv nees
4 koj dub liab paj
5 kuv haus miv pw
6 mov los neeg qav
7 muaj noj taub rauj
8 mus pab yooj yim sai
9 nej paub zaj xov
10 zoo tuaj zog yaj

Hmong words: hais lus (hai loo) = talk, speak; haus (hao) = drink; and pab (-pa) = help.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
40 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Vowels with Tones


To help speed things, I created a new word called “vitch” – vowel and tone (pitch).
phonics Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo Tod
1 (ah) aj as av am ag ab a ad
2 (ai) aij ais aiv aim aig aib ai aid
3 (ao) auj aus auv aum aug aub au aud
4 (er) awj aws awv awm awg awb aw awd
5 (ay) ej es ev em eg eb e ed
6 (eng) eej ees eev eem eeg eeb ee eed
7 (ee) ij is iv im ig ib i id
8 (ia) iaj ias iav iam iag iab ia iad
9 (aw) oj os ov om og ob o od
10 (ong) ooj oos oov oom oog oob oo ood
11 (oo) uj us uv um ug ub u ud
12 (oua) uaj uas uav uam uag uab ua uad
13 (ew) wj ws wv wm wg wb w wd
For teachers, please select one or more rows from the table above and then select your favorite
single consonants to go with these vitches. For example, row 12, and the letter “d + uaj” =
duaj, duas to the last vitch “uad.”
Tonal line → Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo Tod
English syllable/pitch Hey! Doe Sec- -yo -tion Yo- Re m+v
1 nah naj nas nav nam nag nab na nad
2 nai naij nais naiv naim naig naib nai naid
3 nao nauj naus nauv naum naug naub nau naud
4 ner nawj naws nawv nawm nawg nawb naw nawd
5 nay nej nes nev nem neg neb ne ned
6 neng neej nees neev neem neeg neeb nee need
7 nee nij nis niv nim nig nib ni nid
8 nia niaj nias niav niam niag niab nia niad
9 naw noj nos nov nom nog nob no nod
10 nong nooj noos noov noom noog noob noo nood
11 noo nuj nus nuv num nug nub nu nud
12 noua nuaj nuas nuav nuam nuag nuab nua nuad
13 new nwj nws nwv nwm nwg nwb nw nwd

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 41

Review the Hmong Tones and Vowels


Let's review the Hmong tones to make sure you really can say them correctly. First, you must
master the English pitches, the Hmong tonal words and then the tone markers, J, S, V etc...

Hmong tonal word English pitch Hmong word English meaning


1. Koj hey! hej, nej noj loj hey, you eat big
2. Mus doe nws los haus dej he/she come drink water
3. Kuv sec- dev los zov noj mov dog come wait eat rice
4. Niam -yo pom niam zom mov see mother grind rice
5. Neeg -tion noog dag neeg caum bird trick people chase
6. Siab yo- nej pab peb de dib you help us pick cucumbers
7. Zoo re koj ua zoo dua kuv you do better than me
8. Tod m+v koj mus tod you go there (over there)

Hmong Vowels + Tones


Practice reading by rows and then by columns

Tone pitch Hmong words


9. J hey! naj naij nauj nawj nej neej nij niaj noj nooj nuj nuaj nwj
10. S doe nas nais naus naws nes nees nis nias nos noos nus nuas nws
11. V sec- nav naiv nauv nawv nev neev niv niav nov noov nuv nuav nwv
12. M -yo nam naim naum nawm nem neem nim niam nom noom num nuam nwm
13. G -tion nag naig naug nawg neg neeg nig niag nog noog nug nuag nwg
14. B yo- nab naib naub nawb neb neeb nib niab nob noob nub nuab nwb
15. – re na nai nau naw ne nee ni nia no noo nu nua nw
16. D m+v nad naid naud nawd ned need nid niad nod nood nud nuad nwd

The following Hmong words have the equivalent tone of the musical note “re” pitch:

Hmong = English phonics


da = dah, dai = dai, dau = dao, daw = der, de = day, dee = deng, di = dee, dia = dia
do = daw, doo = dong, du = doo, dua = doua, and dw = dew (not doo, however).

Simple Hmong phrase


Da dej (dah day!) = Take a bath. Ib dia mov (ee dia maw) = One spoon of rice. Koj hais
dua (-kaw! hai doua) = You say again. Kuv da dej (-koo dah day!) = I take a bath.
Koj dag kuv (-kaw! dah -koo) = You lie to me. Kuv zoo siab (-koo zhong shia) = I am happy.
Los peb mus ua si (law -pay moo oua shee) = Come we go play. Koj puas xav noj?
(-kaw! -poua sah naw!) = You want to eat? (would you like to eat). Los peb kawm lus
Hmoob (law -pay -ker loo Hmong) = Come we learn Hmong. Kuv zoo siab heev (-koo
zhong shia heng) = I am happy much. Koj maj mam kawm (-kaw! ma! ma -ker) = You slowly
learn. Hais lus Hmoob (hai loo Hmong) = Speak Hmong. Los noj mov (law naw! maw) =
Come eat food or come eat. Koj paub lus Hmoob = You know language Hmong.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
42 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Simple Phrase with Single Consonants


No Hmong (phonics) English Hmong Example English (you is one person)
1 bua* (boua) pig Tus bua noj zaub. The pig eat vegetables.
2 cia let, allow Kuv cia koj mus. I let you go.
3 dawb (der) white Kuv lub ris dawb. My white pants.
4 faus (fao) bury Koj faus noob taum. You bury bean seeds.
5 gaum* (gao) hide Koj gaum hauv zos. You hide in town.
6 haus (hao) drink Koj haus dej. You drink water?
7 jaum* (jao) ant Kuv pom ib pab jaum. I see a colony of ants.
8 kub (-koo) hot Ib tais dej kub. One bowl water hot.
9 liab (lia) monkey Tus liab tom kuv tes. The monkey bite my hands.
10 miv (mee) cat Tus miv tom tus nas. The cat bite the squirrel.
11 noj (naw) eat Koj noj mov xwb. You eat rice only.
12 pw (-pew) sleep Kuv mus pw. I go sleep.
13 quaj cry Tus ab me quaj heev. The baby cries much.
14 rau six Koj muaj rau tus miv. You have six cats.
15 sau (shao) write Koj sau lus Hmoob. You write in Hmong.
16 teeb (-teng) light Pab tua lub teeb. Help turn off the light.
17 vau (vao) fall Koj vau los raug kuv. You fall on me.
18 xa (sah) send Koj xa daim duab. You send the picture.
19 yeem (yeng) agree Kuv yeem kawm lus Hmoob I agree to learn Hmong.
20 zoo (zhong) good Koj yog tug neeg zoo. You are a person good.
21 muab (moua) give Koj muab rau kuv. You give to me.
22 mus (moo) go Koj mus zaum. You go sit.
23 hu (hoo) call Kuv mam li hu koj. I will call you.
* Simplified consonants

Practice Reading

Cuam kau ua rau peb sawv los noj mov. Miv pom nas ces ua rau miv caum tus nas mus poob pas
dej. Koj yog ib tus neeg xav paub lus Hmoob. Koj puas paub hais lus Hmoob? Kuv paub. Hos koj
ne? Kuv paub sau xwb. Zoo heev li los mas. Maj mam kawm ces koj yeej yuav tau xwb.
Koj yeej meem kawm = You keep on learning. Mus zoo koj = Goodbye to you.
-kaw! yeng! meng -ker moo zhong -kaw!

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 43

Words with Single Consonants


No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English
1 av dirt, soil 29 loj big 57 pub feed, give free
2 ab baby, infant 30 los come (return) 58 qaib chicken
3 aub dog 31 lees admit 59 quaj cry
4 ci shine 32 muam sister 60 qaub sour
5 cuam gibbon 33 muaj have 61 qe egg
6 coob many 34 muag sell 62 qee to save some
7 dab ghost 35 muab give 63 rau to, for
8 dag tease or lie 36 maj hurry 64 riam knife
9 daj yellow 37 mus go 65 ru roof
10 dej water 38 niam mother 66 rooj table
11 dev dog 39 neb you two 67 roj oil
12 dub black 40 nej you all 68 ruaj sturdy
13 fwj a bottle 41 nab snake 69 raj bottle
14 faib divide 42 nag rain 70 sai fast, soon
15 faus bury 43 noj eat 71 sab side, tired
16 hais speak, say, talk 44 no cold 72 sib light, not heavy
17 haus drink 45 nov this, here 73 sim try, test
18 haum fit, agree 46 o swell 74 seej tame
19 iab bitter 47 ob two 75 siv use
20 iav mirror 48 pab help 76 siav cooked
21 kab insect 49 pam blanket 77 siab tall
22 kam let, allow 50 pav to tie 78 sau write
23 kooj grasshopper 51 paj flower 79 tau got, have
24 koom join 52 peb we 80 tes hand, handle
25 kev way, path 53 piav explain 81 tuaj come (visit)
26 liab red, monkey 54 pom see 82 tuag die
27 liam accuse 55 paub know 83 teb answer, farm
28 laus old 56 pog grandmother 84 tos to wait for
Please note that some of these words do have multiple meanings.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
44 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Single Consonant Words Usage Example


1. Ib daim av = one piece dirt. 2. Me ab los pw = baby come sleep. 3. Kuv tus aub daj = my a
dog yellow. 4. Ci tus nas = bake a squirrel. 5. Kuv pom tus cuam = I see a gibbon. 6. Nej tuaj
coob = you come many. 7. Peb pom dab = we see ghost. 8. Koj dag kuv = you tease me. 9. Ib
tus dev daj = one a dog yellow. 10. Dev mus haus dej = dog go drink water. 11. Kuv muaj ob
tus dev = I have two a dog. 12. Ib daim av dub = one piece dirt black. 13. Ib fwj dej = One
bottle water. 14. Peb faib mov = we divide rice. 15. Kuv faus noob = I bury seed.16. Kuv hais
lus = I say words. 17. Koj haus dej = you drink water. 18. Wb hais haum = We (two) talk
agree. 19. Lub dib iab = a cucumber bitter. 20. Mus saib daim iav = go see piece mirror.

30. Los pw = come sleep. 31. Kuv lees paub = I admit know. 32. Kuv tus muam = my a sister.
33. Kuv muaj zog = I have strength. 34. Kuv muag paj = I sell flower. 35. Kuv muab rau koj =
I give to you. 36. Peb maj mus = we hurry go. 37. Koj mus hu = you go call. 38. Koj mus hu
kuv niam = You go call my mother. 39. Neb los pab kuv = you two come help me. 40. Nej los
nov = You all come here. 41. Nab tom nas = snake bite squirrel. 42. Nag los loj = rain come
big. 43. Peb mus noj mov = we go eat food. 44. Kuv no heev = I cold very. 45. Peb pw nov = we
sleep here. 46. Nws puas o? = Does it swell? 47. Kuv pom ob tus nab= I see two a snake. 48.
Koj mus pab lawv = you go help them. 49. Muab daim pam rau kuv = give piece blanket to me.
50. Peb pav paj = we tie flowers.

56. Peb pog paub koj = our grandmother know you. 57. Peb tuaj pub qaib = we come feed
chicken. 62. Peb qee ob lub qe rau koj = we save two eggs for you. 67. Neeg siv roj los kib zaub
= people use oil come fry vegetables. 70. Peb yuav mus sai sai = we will go soon soon. 78.
Kuv sau = I write. 79. Kuv tau tuav = I have touched. 80. Peb tuav tes = we hold hand (or
shake hand).
Practice Translation

No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English


1 mus go 11 Will go 21 flowers
2 come 12 Will come 22 sister
3 drink 13 Will eat 23 give
4 water 14 They know you 24 hurry
5 food 15 They call us 25 two
6 rice 16 We see them 26 cold
7 soon 17 humans 27 egg
8 we 18 black 28 sleep
9 I 19 have 29 eat
10 you 20 write 30 talk

Hmong words: peb (-pay) = we, noj (naw!) = eat, hais (hai) = talk or speak.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 45

Single Consonant Words Usage Example


Av = soil or dirt. Yog ib yam = is one kind. Uas neeg siv = that humans use. Los cog qoob
loo = for plant crops. Tabsis ab me = but baby. Los kov av = come touch dirt. Vim aub da
av = because dog bathe dirt. Nws ci mov rau peb noj = She/he bake rice for us eat. Cuam
coob los haus dej = Gibbon many come drink water. Vim dab dag liab daj = Because ghost
lie monkey yellow. Mus caum dev pem hauv zos = Go chase dog upper head town. Koj faib
fwj cawv dub = You divide bottle wine black. Rau peb haus = for us drink. Nas faus pob
kws tom teb = Squirrel bury corn at farm. Nws noj lub dib iab = She/he eat a cucumber
bitter. Ces mam li mus saib daim iav = And then go see piece mirror. Kooj yog ib hom kab
= Grasshopper is one kind insect. Nej puas kam kuv koom nej? = You do allow me join you?
Tus nab pw hauv kev = The snake sleep in way. Peb cog tau ib koog pob kws = we plant
have one section corn. Kuv laus dua koj = I older than you. Dab liam dev = Ghost accuse dog.
Tias nws dig muag = that he blind. Nees loj dua miv = Horse bigger than cat.

Ces miv los lees tias yeej yog tiag = And cat come admit that is true. Kuv muaj coob tus
muam = I have many a sister. Ces lawv muab mov rau kuv noj = And they give rice for me
eat. Lawv muag paj = They sell flowers. Los pab lawv niam = Come help their mother. Koj
maj mam mus pw = You gently go sleep. Nej niam hais lus zoo rau peb = Your mother say
word good to us. Neb puas pom nws tuaj? = Do you see he/she come? Nab los pw hauv kev
= Snake come sleep in way. Vim nws no = Because he cold. No no ua rau nas los noj pob
kws = Cold cold make squirrel come eat corn. Nov yog kuv pob su = This is my pack lunch.
Koj daim pam = Your a blanket. Pab ua rau peb sov = Help make us warm. Pog pav tau ib
daim pam = Grandmother wrap have one piece blanket. Tuaj pub peb = come give us. Vim
nws paub peb zoo = Because she know us well. Pog piav dab neeg rau nej = Grandmother
tell story to you. Lawv pub ob tug qaib rau peb = They give two a chicken to us. Coj mus
yug = Take go raise. Qaib qus qua zoo heev = Red jungle fowl crow very nice. Nws quaj vim
kev zoo siab. She/he cry because way happy. Peb sim seb cov mov puas tau siav = We try
to see if the rice is cooked.
Translating English into Hmong: Do you like me? = Puas koj nyiam kuv? You see the English
part is correct but the Hmong is incorrect. Below are some syntax comparisons.

No Hmong English
1 Koj puas + (u) verbs... Do you + (v) verbs...
2 Piv txwv: Koj puas paub? Example: Do you know?
3 Koj puas yog + tus neeg... Are you + a person, adjectives...
4 Piv txwv: Koj puas yog Lis? Example: Are you Lee?
5 Koj puas xav + (u) verbs... Would you like to + (v) verbs...
6 Piv txwv: Koj puas xav mus? Example: Would you like to go?
7 Koj puas tau + (u) verbs... Have you + (v) verbs...
8 Piv txwv: Koj puas tau pom? Example: Have you seen?

Koj puas paub? = Do you know? Koj puas mus? = Are you going?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
46 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

We can learn as much as we want, but without actually doing and/or putting our knowledge into
action, we won't remember things well. Therefore, let's see how much you have learned thus far.

Please write the Hmong vowel for each English phonics

English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
ah __a_ ai ____ ao au___ er _____ ay _____
eng ____ ee ____ ia _____ aw _____ ong _____
oo ____ uoa ____ ew _____ ung _____ ao _____
eng ____ e ____ ia _____ ah _____ ong _____
ai ____ ia ____ er _____ ao _____ oo _____

Please fill in the proper tone for each Hmong word below

Ko____ Mu____ Ku____ Nia____ Nee____ Sia____ Zoo____ To_____


you go my mother person heart good there

Ko__ no___ mo___. Ku____ mu___ pw____. Pe____ tua___ sai___ ne___.
you eat rice. I go sleep. we come visit you.
Ne__ pa___ ku___. Pe____ hu___ ko____. Ne____ po___ peb___ no___.
you help me. we call you you see us eat
Ku__ hai___ lu__. Ko____ da__ pe____. Nw____ hau___ de___ so___.
I say word. you lie us. he drink water warm.

Please fill in the missing Hmong word

Koj los ____ kuv. Nej ____ pab peb. Koj ___ kuv. _____ tuaj ______ nej.
You come help me. You come help us. You call me. We come visit you.

Koj ____ dej. Nej ____ noj ____. Koj ___ ___. _____ tuaj ______ _____.
You drink water. You come eat rice. You call me. We come visit me.

Koj los ____ ___. Nej ____ ___ ___. Kuv ___ ___. _____ ___ ____ _____.
You come see me. You lied us mus. I call you. they come visit you.

Koj ____ ____ ____. Nej ____ ____ ___. Koj ___ ____. _____ ____ nej ____.
You hurry go sleep. You come eat food. You know me. We know you come.

Koj ___ ____ mus. Nej ____ lus Hmoob. Koj ___ kuv. Nws _____ ___ ____.
You let us go. You know lie come help you.

Koj ____ ____ ____. Nej ____ _____ _____. Koj ___ ____. _____ ____ ____.
You let me go. You come call us. You see me. We come sleep.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 47

In the previous pages, you have learned the following Hmong words.
Below please translate the English words back into Hmong.

English Hmong English Hmong


Dog come sleep = Dev los pw. You older than me = ____ ____ ____ ____.
Because you know = ______ ____ _____. They give to me = ____ ____ ____ ____.
I chase dog = ______ ____ _____. I want eat rice = ____ ____ ____ ____.
Grandma tell you = ______ ____ _____. I have one bottle = ____ ____ ____ ____.
I sell flower = ______ ____ _____. They want go plant = ____ ____ ____ ____.
Ghost accuse dog = ______ ____ _____. I lie monkey yellow = ____ ____ ____ ____.
Mother come eat = ______ ____ _____. She cry cry and = ____ ____ ____ ____.
I slowly go = ______ __ __ ____. They call me go = ____ ____ ____ ____.

Dirt is = av yog one kind = ib yam humans use = neeg siv . But baby __ ________come touch
________. She bake _________ rice for us eat______________. Gibbon many ____________ drink
water _________. Ghost lie monkey _____________. Go chase dog _________. You divide bottle
____________us drink _______. He eat cucumber_____________. And then go sleep_____________
___________. You allow me _____________. Snake sleep in way _____________. We plant corn
___________. I older than you _____________. Ghost accuse you ______________. Horse bigger
than cat _____________. And cat come drink water___________________. I have many a sister
_______________. They give food to me __________________. They sell flowers _______________.
You help your mother_______________. I gently go sleep _______________. Your mother eat rice
_________________. Do you see me? _______________? Snake come sleep ____________. Because
he cold ___________. This is my pack lunch __________________. Your a blanket help us
_______________. She know us well _____________. I give two a chicken to you
___________________. We have dog many _________________.
You cry___________ because _________ you happy _________. They call me ___________ come
help you _____________. I want to eat ______________. But have no money ______________. Do
you sell rice? ___________________. How about water? _______________. I want to
eat___________. One chicken ____________. This is my dog ____________. He is cold ________.
Do you know? ______________________. I buy one piece ___________________. I go _____.
I come _______. I come home ______________. I want to ___________. I have _________. I have
many cows _____________. I want to drink ______________. I don't know_____________. I know
you well___________________. I see you _______________. Come help me. ______________.

Now Translate Hmong into English

Kuv xav noj mov I want to eat rice. Koj puas muaj? ___________? Pes tsawg? ____________?
Kuv xav haus dej _________________ Pes tsawg? ______________? Koj muag mov. _________
Kuv mus ua si ___________________ Koj puas mus? _____________ Hais lus ______________
Maj mam hais lus _________________ Koj niam tuaj ______________ Saib peb ______________
Kawm lus Hmoob ________________ Puas nyuaj? _______________ Thiab ________________

Kuv xav paub = I want to know. Kuv xav kawm = I want to learn.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
48 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Practice Reading Hmong with English Translations


Kuv pom koj = I see you. Tuaj kawm = come learn. Lus Hmoob = language Hmong. Kuv
zoo siab = I am happy. Vim koj = because you. Xav paub = want to know. Lwm hom lus =
other kind language. Yog li = therefore. Zoo heev = Good very. Kuv yuav = I will. Pab qhia
koj = help teach you. Kom koj paub = so you know. Hais lus Hmoob = speak language
Hmong. Zoo li zoo tau = good as good possible – as good as possible. Tabsis = but. Koj yuav
tau = you have to = siv zog kawm = use energy learn (study hard). Koj thiaj li = you will then.
Tau = have or achieve. Kuv qhia koj hais = I teach you say.
Kuv qhia koj sau = I teach you write. Koj maj mam = you slowly. Kawm ib lo = learn one
word. Mus rau ib lo = go to one word. Koj twb paub = you already know. Zoo lawm = good
already. Cia peb kawm = let us learn. Ib co lus yooj yim = one some word easy. Kuv = I,
my, me, mine. Koj = you, your, yours. mus = go, los = come, noj = eat, haus = drink, dej =
water, mov = rice or food. Xav = would like or want to. Yog li = therefore. Vim = because. Vim
tias = because. Li cas = how. For example: Noj li cas? = eat how? Mus li cas? = go how? hu li
cas? = call how or what? peb = we, no = cold, sov = warm, pab = help, pom = see, pub rau =
give to (free), cuam = throw or gibbon, cuam mus = throw go (cast away), tus cuam = a
gibbon, cuaj = nine, caum = chase, cev = give or hand to, paub = know, pog = grandmother,
deb = far, dev = dog, dag = tease or lie, dab = ghost, daj = yellow.
Let's learn words in phrase. Kuv haus dej = I drink water. Koj los nov = you come here. Wb
noj mov = we (2) eat rice. Peb mus pw = we go sleep. Koj tuaj pab kuv = you come help me.
Maj mam kawm = slowly learn. Yooj yim heev = easy very. Koj pom kuv = you see me.
Kuv dag koj = I tease you. Koj hu li cas? = You call how? (you are called what?) – What is your
name that is. Kuv niam = my mother. Kuv niam pom koj = my mother see you. Muab rau
kuv niam = give to my mother. Liab = red, daj = yellow, dub = black. Kuv pom ib tus dev
dub = I see one a dog black. Nws los haus dej = It come drink water. Kuv muaj coob tus
dev = I have many a dog. Neeg tu dev los tom dab = humans raise dog come bite ghost. Koj
puas muaj dev? = You do have dog? – do you have dogs that is.
Peb sau lus Hmoob = we write language Hmong. Peb paub lus Askiv = we know
language English. Peb sau ua ke = We write together. Zoo li ib hom lus xwb = Like one kind
language only. Muam = sister, nus = brother, muag = sell, muaj = have, muas = buy.
For example:
Kuv muaj peb tus muam = I have three a sister. Lawv muaj peb tus nus = They have three
a brother. Peb muaj paj = We have flowers. Koj muag mov = You sell rice. Koj muaj niam =
You have mother. Kuv muaj zog = I have strength.
Kuv muas koj puas tau? = I buy you is possible? In other words, can I buy you?
Los peb mus ua si = Come we go play. Los peb noj mov = Come we eat (let's eat). The
Hmong word “los” using as the first word, i.e., Los peb mus = Let us go. Los peb ua = Let us
do. Another important Hmong word is “twg” and it means which, what, when, where.
For example:
Mus twg? = Go where? Leej twg = Person who or anyone. Tus twg? = One which?
Thaum twg? = At when? Xyoo twg? = Year what? Nyob twg? = Live where?

Kuv tsis paub leej twg li = I don't know anyone at all.


Leej twg tuaj? = Who comes? Leej twg paub? Who knows?
Leej twg los tau = Anyone is okay. Leej twg li? Whose item?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 49

Vocabulary and Translation Review


Please translate the following English words into Hmong.

1. I see you ___________ Come here _________ I am happy ________ Because you __________
2. Want to know _______ Other kind _________ Therefore _________ Good very _____________
3. I have you __________ Help me___________ You have to ________ You teach us __________
4. Gently go __________ Sleep _____________ You want to _________ I know you____________
5. Easy ______________ You drink__________ What ____________ We go eat ______________
6. Go chase___________ Dog see___________ Go sleep__________ You tease me ___________

Please translate the following Hmong words into English

1. kuv mus ___________ koj paub __________ kuv noj___________ vim koj ____________
2. xav pom ___________ dev dub ___________ tuaj pab ___________ tau mus _____________
3. kuv dag ___________ koj muaj ____________ los haus dej_____________ los pw _________
4. lees paub __________ pab hu_____________ paub zoo____________ zoo heev___________
5. yooj yim _____________ mus caum__________ noj mov__________ we eat food____________
6. tau ua_____________ tau mus______________ tau noj____________ tau hais ____________
7. tau ua tiag__________ tau mus noj________________ Koj tau hais li_____________________

Please translate the following English into Hmong

pig: ______ gibbon: ______ dog: _____ bottle: ______ boat: ______ drink: _____ fish: _______
deer: _______ monkey: _____ cat: ______ horse: ____ flower: _____ frog: ________
hammer: ______ mountain goat: ________ pumpkin: _____ turtle: ______ threads: ________
sheep: _______ dragon: _______

Please write the Hmong eight tones

______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______


you go my mom person heart good there

Please list the 13 Hmong vowels

____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____

Please write the equivalent Hmong vowel for each of the English word below
__e__ _i___ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
day he her Lao paw lee Thai zoo sure new kia law ma
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
mai see how he lie her boua may long awe you saw who

Pom dua tsis cuag ua dua – Have seen it is not as good as have done – Hmong proverb.
Lus mos lus tuaj pos – sweet words mean thorny heart – Hmong proverb.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
50 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Double Consonants
The Hmong double consonants phonology follows the same English methodology. For example,
when you combine d + r = dr for word such as “drive”, p + l = pl for play, and t + r = tr for
tray etc... Of course, Hmong have different phonics, but the logic is the same. To help you learn, I
even included some beautiful pictures, :(), so you can remember things better. Unlike English,
Hmong has consonants that have “H” prefix* and suffix, and they exist for a good phonetic
reason. Consonants with “h” prefix mean they are nasal-aspirated consonants like the English
word “hmm.” For example:

1 Hma Aspirating the “H” through your nose before uttering the “ma” H + ma = hma
2 Hna Aspirating the “H” through your nose before uttering the “na” H + na = hna
3 Hla* Puffing the “H” through your mouth before uttering the “la” H + la = hla
Let's put the above examples in a slow motion. The word “hma” is really being pronounced like
this: Hmm... ma, and the word “hna” is like hmm... na. To say “hna”, form your tongue as if you
are going to say the word “na” and hold your tongue there then exhale through your nose – a
heavy breathing sound similar to how you say the word “hmm” and then finish uttering the “na.”
The word “hla” is easy because it is a mouth-aspirated. So try to say “ha la” very fast but make
sure you really puff out the “ha” loud and then softly ending it with the “la.” Another method is to
form your mouth as if you're going to say the word “la.” While pressing the tip of your tongue
against the back of your upper teeth, blow or puff some air out from both sides of your tongue to
create the “ha” sound effect then utter the word “la.” And when you don't see any “H” prefix it
means uttering through your mouth. For example:

4 Ma M as in mom, and a as in about – English phonics (ma)


5 Na N as in no – English phonics (nah)
6 La L as in law – English phonics (la)
7 Pa P as in spa – soft P as in the sound segment of the word “s-pa”
8 Ka k as in ska – soft K as in the sound segment of the word “s-ka”
What about the “H” suffix? Good thing you remember, Grasshopper! If an “H” is placed after a
consonant, it is called a mouth-aspirated consonant, i.e., like the English words “Thai and Chat.”
Make sure you really puff out the “h” sound otherwise words such as “khau and kau” might
sound the same to some people. The word “khau” sounds like the English word “cow”, and the
the Hmong word “kau” sounds like “-kao” as in word “skao” – soft K. Below are some
consonants with the “h” suffix:
Like English word Hmong word English phonics
9 Kh as in key – English hard K, i.e., Kay, Kia. khij khia khu key kia khou
10 Ph as in paw – English hard P, i.e., pay, pie. phaj phau phos pah! pow paw
11 Th as in Thai – English hard T, i.e., tie. thoj thau thuj taw tao too!
The “Th” in Hmong does not sound like the “th” as in English thigh, but exactly like “Thai – tie.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 51

Double Consonants
There are 26 double consonants. However, four of them are new and/or used by some people.
These double consonants were put/combined together based on the Hmong phonics of each of the
single consonants, i.e., tos + hos = thos →English phonics -taw + haw = thaw (as in Thai).
No How to combine Consonant Hmong word Equivalent English
1 b+h bh* bhoo / nphoo to shake, i.e., shaking peppers or salt
2 b+l bl* blooj / nplooj leaf. Exactly like the English “blaw”
3 c+h ch cheb to sweep
4 d+h dh dhia to jump

5 g+h gh* ghaus curvy, crooked


6 h+l hl hlua rope – this is a mouth-aspirated.
7 h+m hm hma fox – this is a nasal-aspirated.
8 h+n hn hnub sun – this is a nasal-aspirated.
9 j+h jh* jhiab / ntshiab clear, like a clear bottle of water.
10 k+h kh khau shoe. This is the English hard k, i.e., kao.
11 m+l ml mluav dented in
12 n+c nc nceb mushroom
13 n+k nk nkoj boat. This “nk” sounds the same as “gaw.”
14 n+p np npua pig. This is just like the English baw
15 n+q nq nquab pigeon
16 n+r nr nraj pheasant
17 n+t nt ntoo tree. Like “the” but tongue is behind the teeth
18 n+y ny nyuj cow. Like the English word ca-nyon
19 p+h ph phom gun. This is the English hard p, i.e., paw.
20 p+l pl plas owl. Like the -play of the word dis-play
21 q+h qh qhiav ginger
22 r+h rh rho to pull, like pulling weed.
23 t+h th thoob bucket. This is the English hard t, i.e., taw.
24 t+s ts tsov tiger
25 t+x tx txiv fruits
26 x+y xy xyoob bamboo
* Simplified version – bh = nph, bl = npl, g = nk, jh = ntsh

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
52 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

How to Pronounce the Hmong Double Consonants


The Hmong double consonants follow a similar English phonetic letter combining methodology.
For example, if we take the English letters “c + h” it would be ch, for child, and letters “t + h”
would be th, for Thai, and letters “b + l” = bl, for blue etc... However, you must have mastered
the Hmong single consonants in order to properly combine more consonants in a phonetic way.
The consonant Ch
This consonant is very close to the “C” you have learned
previously except it has the mouth-aspirated “h”. Try saying
the English word “itch” but make sure when you utter
the “ch”, the tip of your tongue is outside of your teeth as
shown on the left. If not, you might be saying the English
“ch” as in “child” or the Hmong consonant “tsh” instead.

The consonant “Ch”, pronounced “chos”, is the “C + h”, a mouth-aspirated consonant. So let's try
this. Say the “Cos” firmly and then form your tongue as shown above, and try to thrust the tip of
your tongue, at point A, forward with a slight puffing, almost like spitting, to create the “h” sound.
Make sure you say the “Cos” in Hmong and not like English “see.” This “chos” sound is very close
to the English “chaw”, except the utterance is happening at the tip and on top of your tongue by
pressing it against the back of your upper teeth like point A above. Therefore, cos + hos = chos.

The consonant “Dh”, pronounced “dhos”, is easy. Practice this word by saying the English phonics
“daw haw” but say it fast. Another word is the English word “Thai” but replace the “T” with a “D”
so the new word is “Dhai” instead. Therefore, dos + hos = dhos.

The consonant “Hm”, pronounced “hmos”, is a phonetic combination of the “h + m” and it is


exactly like the English “hmm.” So saying the word “Hmong” is nothing more than saying
“hmm + mong”, but uttering them in one utterance and not like “ha + mong”. To say the word
“Hmong” correctly, you would exhale about 30% through your nose to create the nasal sound “h”
prior to uttering “mong” in one utterance. If you pinch your nose tight, no nasal-aspirated “h”,
you can't utter the word “Hmong.” All you can say is either “mong” or “mmm + hong.”
Therefore, hos + mos = hmos – English phonics: hmmaw.

The consonant “HL”, pronounced “hlos”, is a phonetic combination of


the “h + l” – English phonics: haw-law. First, make your tongue, teeth
and mouth look like the image on the left. Then puff some air on both
sides of your mouth, small b, while keeping the tip of your tongue
intact with the upper front part of you mouth and then utter the “L” like
the English word “law.” This is a mouth-aspirated consonant even
though the “h” is before the “l”. In other words, even when you pinch
your nose tight, you can still say the word “hle” correctly. Therefore, hos
+ los = hlos.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 53

The consonant “Hn”, pronounced “hnos.” This is a nasal-aspirated


consonant. First, start saying the word “hmm” a few times. Now say
“hmm naw” a few times. Now place your tongue in the N position like
the picture on the left and exhale about 30% through your nose to create
the “h” nasal sound prior to uttering the word “naw.” If you pinch your
nose tight, you can't say this word. For example, the word hna would
sound like na only. The equivalent English phonics for this Hmong word
“hnos” is “hnaw.” Do not say this word like “ha naw” because that is
not correct. Therefore, hos + nos = hnos.

The consonant “Kh”, pronounced “khos”, is the English hard K as in key. So try to say “key” and
then replace the “-ey” with “-aw” so your new English word is “kaw” – hard K, and that is how
the Hmong consonant “khos” sounds like. Therefore, k + h = kh.

The consonant “ML”, pronounced “mlos”, is a phonetic combination of the “m + l.” Here is the
English phonetic: Maw + Law = mlaw. The “m” is just a way to close your mouth before saying
the “law.” Try to say “mmm law” very fast and that is “ml.” Therefore, m + l = ml.

The consonant “Nc”, pronounced “ncos”, is a phonetic combination of the “n + c.” What that
means is you start your mouth at the “n” position and then utter the “c”. Do not puff any air
forward otherwise you would be saying the consonant “nch” instead. Therefore, n + c = nc.

The consonant “Nk”, pronounced “nkos”, sounds like the English “gaw.” G as in word “go” that
is. Do not puff any air forward otherwise this would become the consonant “nkh” instead.
Therefore, n + k = nk.

The consonant “Np”, pronounced “npos”, sounds like the English “baw.” So if you can say “bee
or baw” then you can easily say “np” in Hmong. Do not puff any air forward otherwise you would
be saying the consonant “nph” or “bh” instead. Therefore, n + p = np.

The consonant “Nq”, pronounced “nqos”, is a combination of the


phonetic consonants “n + q.” See image on the left. First, place the tip of
your tongue and make it look like point B, and then close your throat so
the back of your tongue is touching both sides of your throat like point
A. Say this consonant like how you say the Hmong “Q” but instead of
merely opening and closing your tongue at point A, you need to thrust
out your tonque at point C like pushing something from entering your
throat between point C and A, but without puffing or coughing. In other
words, it is almost like saying “mm + qos” but it has the “n – naw”
built-in and has more force thrusting outward in the tonque area between C and A. Meaning it
is similar to gagging and not like coughing that is. If you say this consonant like coughing, then it
would sound like the Hmong consonant “nqh” instead. Meaning the ending “h” is the “puffing” or
“coughing” sound effect. Therefore, n + q = nq.

Pom ntawv pom duab los tsis npaum li hnov suab.


If you were taught wrong, you only know that wrong is right.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
54 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

The consonant “Nr”, pronounced “nros”, is a combination of the phonetic consonants “n + r”, and
it is very close to the English word “draw”; however, the tip of your tongue is placed at the “nos”
position, and curl the tip of your tongue just behind the alveolar ridge (the area right behind your
top teeth) – thanks to Dr. Nick Poss for this, then utter “nos + ros” as one utterance. It is almost
like if you are saying the English “naw + draw” but stressing just one beat of the “raw” sound.
Therefore, n + r = nr.

The consonant “Nt”, pronounced “ntos”, is similar the English word “the”, but place your tongue
like the picture below and not like how you say the normal “the” in English. However, don't stick
out your tongue past your teeth, but just enough to form the beginning sound of “the” only. Do
not puff or thrust any air forward otherwise this would sound like the consonant “nth” instead.
Therefore, n + t = nt.

Try this. Bite your teeth together tightly like the image
on the left and press the tip of your tongue firmly behind
both teeth and then utter the English word “the”, and this
sound should be very close to the Hmong word “ntawm”
indeed. Again, you must keep your tongue behind both
teeth and utter it without any puffing sounds.

The consonant “Ny”, pronounced “nyos”, is a phonetic combination of the “n + y”, and its phonics
is similar to the “ny” of the English word “canyon” – thanks to Sarah Gore for this word. Now let
us replace the English word “canyon” with “canyaw” and the “nyaw” of English phonics is
exactly the same as the Hmong “nyos.” Another English word that has this “ny” sound is onion.

Another English word which has the “ny” is the


word “union.” So if you replace “union” with
“unaw” and mute the “u” you should have the
Hmong phonics “nyos” as well.

So to say the Hmong “nyos”, you would not aspirate or let any air through your nose, like “hmm”
or you will be saying the Hmong consonant “hny” instead. Again, utter the English phonics “naw”
and “yaw” a few times and then put your tongue as shown above then say the word “nyos.” Again,
pay close attention to your tongue when you say the “nos” because by dropping the tip of your
tongue to create the “yos” sound is going to phonetically create the “nyos” sound.
Therefore, n + y = ny.

The consonant “Ph”, pronounced “phos” and this sound is like the English word “paw” – hard P
– like the cat's paw. Therefore, the Hmong word “phos” and English “paw” do have the exact
phonics. So you don't need a picture for this consonant; just remember that the Hmong “ph” is
the English hard p, and not like the ph as in “phone” because this word sounds like “fone”
instead. Therefore, p + h = ph.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 55

The consonant “PL”, pronounced “plos”, is easy to learn because English has that already.
However, you must do exactly as I tell you and not like what you are used to. The “PL” as in the
English word “disPLay” is the exact sound I want you to utter whenever you see the “PL” in
Hmong. Now say my new English word, “dis-Plaw”, aw as in law. Now mute the “dis-” and only
say the “-Plaw” – don't you sound like English the word “play” game because that is incorrect –
it has the aspirated “h” like “phlay” instead. In other words, P in Hmong is a soft P as in spy,
spade. Make sure you don't puff any air because that would sound like the Hmong word “phlos”
instead. The Hmong word “phles” has the same phonics like the English word “play.”
Therefore, p + l = pl.

The consonant “Qh”, pronounced “qhos”, is a phonetic combination of the


“q + h” and you have learned the Hmong Q already. So what is left is the
puffing or aspirated sound of the “h” suffix. See image shown on the left.
Meaning that you say the “qos” first and then the “hos” sound like
coughing or pushing forward at point A and you have it. In other words, if
you say the Hmong word “qos” with a puff from behind point A – similar
to gagging with a friendly cough. Therefore, q + h = qh.

The consonant “Rh”, pronounced “rhos”, is a combination of the phonetic


“r + h” and you have learned the R already. So the “h” is nothing more than
the puffing sound uttered after the “R”. The “rh” pronunciation is very close
to the English “tr” as in try or “traw”, but the utterance happens more at the
tip of your tongue and at the “ros” position, and it is without the tongue
vibration as in the English word “ring.”
Therefore, r + h = rh.

The consonant “Th”, pronounced “thos” is a phonetic combination of the “t + h” – the English
hard T, and this is another easy one to learn. If you can say the English word “Thai” or “tie” then
it is the same thing. And if you don't know the word “Thai” sounds like then you definitely need to
travel to Thailand or go try some Thai noodle pho. So the English word “taw” sounds like or
exactly like the Hmong word “thos” that is → with the “Doe” pitch

The consonant “Ts”, pronounced “tsos”, is a combination of the phonetic


“t + s”, and it is very close to the English “Ch” as in chat and chaw; however,
without puffing the “h”. In other words, it almost seems like you're saying the
“jaw” but with the word “chaw.” To start, bite your teeth while press the tip
your tongue behind your top teeth, hard, like the image on the left. Now just
utter the word “chaw” by dropping the bottom jaw without puffing the “h”
sound, however. Therefore, t + s = ts.

The Hmong consonant “tsh”, pronounced “tshos” has a very close or exact phonics as the English
“chaw.” For example, the Hmong word “tshiab” – English phonics “chia” with a “b” tone –
“YO-” pitch means new, and the Hmong word “tshuaj” – English phonics “choua!” means
medicines.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
56 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

The consonant “Tx”, pronounced “txos”, is a combination of the phonetic


“t + x”. Perhaps the closest English word that has this sound is the
“dad's” – thanks to Sarah Gore for this suggestion. Indeed the ending
sound of “d's” is very close to the Hmong word “txis.” Sarah also
mentioned that this “tx” is like the sound of air leaking from a tire. If you
form your mouth and tongue as illustrated left, you should be able to
utter the Hmong “txos.” Notice the tip of your tongue must press against
the top teeth more than the bottom one prior to uttering.

Now begin to place your tongue at the “tos” position as shown above. Now mix the Hmong “tos”
with the English “siss” sound and then uttering the English word awe. This should give you the
pronunciation of the Hmong “txos.” Do not puff any air or you will be saying the Hmong “txhos”
consonant instead. Therefore, t + x = tx.

The last consonant “Xy”, pronounced “xyos”, is a phonetic combination


of the “x + y.” Make sure the tip of your tongue is placed at the bottom of
your lower teeth and bending it forward so a part of your tongue is
touching the top teeth. However, you need to leave a little room above
your tongue, see arrows, so you can puff a little air to create the “hiss”
sound before uttering the word “xyos.” The tip of your tongue barely
moves while uttering words with this consonant. Now place your tongue
as shown on the right and say the English phonics “see + yaw or even
saw + yaw” – through the opening indicated by the arrows without moving your tongue, and
open your mouth slightly only for the “yaw.” Now say the English phonics “syaw” very fast but
with same tongue position mentioned above and this sound should be very close to the Hmong
xyos. Therefore, the Hmong phonics is x + y = xy. Another way to learn this “xyos” word is
perhaps try the English word “thaw.” Now replace the “t” with a “y” so your new word is “yhaw”
instead. In other words, the “Y” or “yaw” is your starting point and then puff the “h” ending
mouth-aspirated sound which is similar to the word “thaw” as in Thai. Again, make sure you are
able to pronounce each of the single consonants correctly before learning the double consonants.

Below are some Hmong words with double consonants

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English
cheb sweep dhia jump hlub love hma fox hnub sun
kho fix mloog listen nce climb nkaum hide npaj prepare
nqa bring nruas drum ntog fall nyob live phim match
plaub hair qhia tell rhiab ticklish them pay tsev house
txaus enough xyaum practice hluas young hmoo luck hnav wear
choj bridge dhau past khau shoe ncaj straight nka skinny
plas owl qhuas admire theem stop tsau full tsav drive

Kev hlub muaj los ntawm kev ntxub; kev ntxub muaj los ntawm kev hlub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 57

Review Double Consonants


Let's make sure you understand how to pronounce the double consonants.

No
1 bh* First, I assume you already know how to pronounce each character correctly. The
purpose of the h-suffix is to make a puffing sound, i.e., like the word “Thai” that
2 ch
is. Now let's practice something new. Let's say the English word “stay” a few
3 dh times. Take note that the “-tay” is a soft, non-puffing t, sound that is. Now let's
add an “h” to the word “stay” so it is now “s-thay” instead. Now say “-thay”
4 gh*
exactly like the English word “tay” – hard t. For example, ski now can be written
5 jh* like “s-khi” to make it sounds like “key” that is, and “spy” can be written “s-
phy” and it sounds like “pie” etc... I know English is strange because “ph”
6 kh sounds like “ f ”,i.e., phil sounds like fil. Meaning the h-suffix signifies a puffing
7 ph sound, i.e., the Hmong word khij sounds like the English word key, and kaij
sounds like -ky of the English word sky.
8 qh For example, the Hmong word “dia” is soft and clear, but the Hmong word
9 rh “dhia” has a puffing sound and it is really a sequence of “da + hia” or “dee +
hia” but is spoken as one sound or phoneme. Therefore, the Hmong words
10 th “thais” sounds like the English word “tie” or Thai, the Hmong word “khij”
sounds like the English word “key”, and the Hmong word “phais” = the English
word “pie” or the word “pai” of the Chinese game called Pai gow.
11 hl
12 hm What about the “h” prefix? Good question my inquisitive grasshopper! There are
only three consonants that have the h-prefix: hl, hm, and hn. For example, the
13 hn
Hmong word “hle” is a combination of the sounds “ha + lay” or “he + lay” in
English phonics. Now when you say these words very fast, it then becomes “hle.”
The “hm” and “hn” are considered nasal-aspirated consonants. Meaning you
can't say them if you pinch your nose tight. For example, the word “Hmong” is
“hmm + mong” and not “ha + mong” that is. The same is true for the Hmong
word “hnoos” is “hmm + nong” and not “ha + nong.”
14 ml
The “ml” is a combination of the English phonics “maw + law” sounds. To utter
this consonant correctly, try sounding “mmm + law” as fast as you can.
15 pl
The “pl” is really a soft “p” plus the English “law” sound. In other words, utter the
“pl” exactly like the “pl” in the English word “dis-play.” For example, if you omit
the sound “dis-” then “-play” sounds just like the Hmong word “ples”, and the
English word “dis-plaw” without the “dis-” is equivalent to the Hmong word
“plos.” The Hmong word “plas” – English phonics “-plah” means an owl.
* Simplified version: bh = nph, gh = nkh, jh = ntsh.

Txhua leej xav noj qab, tabsis tsawg leej xav lauj npab.
Coob leej ua npau suav, tabsis tsawg leej ua tau tuav.
Ruam ntshai neeg thuam; ntse ntshai poob qab ke.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
58 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Double Consonants with Pictures


Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Bhoo hwj txob rau kuv tais fawm.
Shake black peppers on my pho.
bh + oo
Bh* Bhoo Practice Words
bhos
(bhong!) bha bhai bhau bhaw bhe bhee bhi
bhia bho bhoo bhu bhua bhw.
Bhoo / Shake

Koj muaj daim blooj.


Bl* bl + ooj You have a leaf.
blos Blooj bla blai blau blaw ble blee bli blia blo
(blaw) (blong!)
bloo blu blua blw.
Blooj / Leaf

Koj cheb av.


ch + eb You sweep dirt.
Ch Cheb cha chai chau chaw che chee chi
chos (chayb) chia cho choo chu chua chw.
ay as in day cheem = stop, chav = room,
Cheb / Sweep choj = bridge, chim = upset.

Tus kangaroo no dhia siab heev.


The kangaroo here jumps high very.
Dh dh + ia
dhos Dhia dha dhai dhau dhaw dhe dhee dhi
dhia dho dhoo dhu dhua dhw.
dhau = past, dhuav = sick of.
Dhia / Jump
* Some people use “bl” in place of of the “npl” consonant, i.e., “blooj” instead of “nplooj.”

Kauv dhia los ze peb = Deer jump come near us. Kuv pab koj cheb = I help you sweep.
Kuv chim = I am mad or upset. Vim li cas koj chim? = Why are you mad?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 59

Double Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Koj muaj hlua.
You have ropes.
hl + ua
Hl Hlua hla hlai hlau hlaw hle hlee hli hlia hlo
hlos hloo hlu hlua hlw. hli = moon,
(hloua) Hlua / Rope hlais = cut, hle = take off,
hlub = love, hloov = change.

Tus hma xav haus dej.


hm + a The fox wants to drink water.
Hm Hma
hmos hma hmai hmau hmaw hme hmee
(hma) hmi hmia hmo hmoo hmu hmua
Hma / Fox hmw. hmo = dinner, hmoo = luck.

Kuv pom lub hnub tuaj.


hn + ub I see the sun come (rise).
Hn Hnub
hnos hna hnai hnau hnaw hne hnee hni
(hnoob) hnia hno hnoo hnu hnua hnw.
Hnub / Sun hnav = wear, hnoos = cough.

Koj muaj ib sab khau xwb.


Kh kh + au You have one side shoe only.
khos
(kor)
Khau kha khai khau khaw khe khee khi
(kao) – hard k khia kho khoo khu khua khw.
Khau / Shoe kho = fix, khi = tie, khiav = run

Practice Reading

Hma hla dej los tom qaib. Kuv pom lub hnub ci puag tim lub roob tuaj. Koj muaj ib sab khau
xwb. Koj puas pom ib tus hma los nov. Kuv pom ib tus hma los kwv sab khau khiav rau tom
hav zoov lawm. Cia koj los da dej tag es koj mam li rov mus ua num. Yog koj kawm tiag ces lus
Hmoob kuj yooj yim heev nawb. Cuam kau ua rau peb kho siab heev.

Koj puas pom tus hma? Did you see the fox? Kuv siv hlua los khi tus hma. I use ropes to tie the fox.
Ib nkawm khau. One pair of shoes. Lub hnub tawm tuaj. The sun comes up or rises.
Koj puas xav kawm lus Hmoob? Do you like to learn Hmong?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
60 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Double Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Lub hwj kais mluav.


The kettle was dented.
ml + uav
Ml
mlos Mluav mla mlai mlau mlaw mle mlee mli
mlia mlo mloo mlu mlua mlw.
mloog = listen, obey.
Mluav / Dent

Neeg de nceb los muag.


People pick mushroom come sell.
nc + eb
Nc nca ncai ncau ncaw nce ncee nci
ncos Nceb ncia nco ncoo ncu ncua ncw.
nce = climb, ncaj = straight,
Nceb / Mushroom nco = to think of, ncaws = kick.

Neeg siv nkoj mus hauv dej.


People use boats go in water.
nk + oj
Nk
nkos Nkoj nka nkai nkau nkaw nke nkee nki
nkia nko nkoo nku nkua nkw.
(gaw) (gaw!)
nkees = tired, nkag = crawl,
nkawv = the two of them.
Nkoj / Boat

Practice Reading

Neeg siv nkoj mus hauv dej. Nceb liab noj ces tuag xwb nawb. Ua zoo koj ua raug kuv lub hwj
kais mluav nawb. Kuv caij nkoj ces nws ua rau kuv xeev siab. Hma mag neeg muab hlua khi.
Lub hnub ci ua rau kuv sawv los noj mov. Leej twg lub nkoj no? Koj puas xav haus dej?
Koj puas muag dej? = Do you sell water?

No Hmong English
1 Lub nceb liab qaij mus rau lub nkoj. The red mushroom leans toward the boat.
2 Lub hwj kais mluav sab xis. The kettle was dented on the right side.
3 Kuv caij lub nkoj mus hauv dej. I ride on a boat to go in the water.
4 Lub nkoj muaj ib cov pa dub dub. The boat has some very black smoke.
5 Neeg mus de nceb los muag. People go pick mushrooms to sell.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 61

Double Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Tus npua los noj pob kws.


The pig comes eat corn.
Np np + ua
npos Npua npa npai npau npaw npe npee npi
(baw) (boua) npia npo npoo npu npua npw.
npaj = prepare, npau = upset,
Npua / Pig npog = cover, npe = name.

Nquab muaj peev xwm ya ceev.


Pigeons can fly fast.
Nq nq + uab
nqa nqai nqau nqaw nqe nqee nqi
nqos Nquab nqia nqo nqoo nqu nqua nqw.
nqa = bring, nquag = ambitious,
Nquab / Pigeon nqos = swallow.
Tus nraj no zoo nkauj heev.
This pheasant is very pretty.
Nr nr + aj
nra nrai nrau nraw nre nree nri
nros1 Nraj nria nro nroo nru nrua nrw.
nrau = plow, nroj = weed, nres =
Nraj / Pheasant stop, nraim = hide, nrog = drip
* Some people use “b” in place of the “np”, for example, bua instead of “npua.”

Practice Reading

Nquab pom tus npua ua rau nws ya ceev heev mus piav rau tus nraj kom nws khiav mus nkaum.
Nraj li nraj xav mus noj kooj xwb. Neeg xav noj nqaij npuas ci nrog mov blaum. Nraj pom
npua ua rau nraj khiav mus nkaum. Tus nquab ya los noj blej. Koj puas pom ib tus npua khiav
los nov. Kuv yeej paub tias tus npua loj dua tus nraj. Npua li npua xav da av tas hnub xwb. Koj
xov tau ib lub nkuaj los kaw koj cov npua. Kuv ua tau ib lub cooj los kaw kuv cov nquab. Kuv
pom ib tus nraj los noj kab puag tim roob.
Peb npaj = We prepare. Kuv npau = I am upset. Koj nqa tuaj = You bring come.
Kuv nrog koj mus = I with you go. Nraj hu nquab = Pheasant call pigeon.
Koj lub npe hu li cas? = What is your name?
Koj puas kam tuaj pab kuv? = Do you mind come to help me?
Koj puas paub hais lus Askiv? = Do you know how to speak English?
Kuv paub me me xwb. = I know very little only.

Tus neeg ua zoo Vajtswv hlub; tus neeg ua pub Vajtswv qhuas.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
62 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Double Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Koj muaj ob tus* ntoo.


You have two trees.
Nt nt + oo
nta ntai ntau ntaw nte ntee nti
ntos Ntoo ntia nto ntoo ntu ntua ntw.
ntau = many, ntev = long, ntog = fall
Ntoo / Tree down, ntub = wet.

Nyuj muab mis rau neeg haus.


Cows give milk for humans drink.
Ny ny + uj
nyos Nyuj nya nyai nyau nyaw nye nyee nyi
(nyaw) (nyoo!) nyia nyo nyoo nyu nyua nyw.
Nyuj / Cow nyob = stay, nyiaj = money,
nyiam = like, nyuaj = difficult.

Neeg siv phom thaum muaj rog.


ph + om People use guns when have wars.
Ph Phom
phos pha phai phau phaw phe phee
(pawm) –
(paw) phi phia pho phoo phu phua phw.
hard p - paw
Phom / Gun phuaj = raft, phuam = towel,
phaj = plate, phau = book.
Plas pom kev hmo ntuj.
pl + as Owls can see at night.
Pl Plas
plos pla plai plau plaw ple plee pli
plia plo ploo plu plua plw.
(-plaw) (-plah) Plas / Owl plaub = hair, ploj = disappear,
pluag = poor, plab = stomach.
* The proper classifier is “tsob” instead of “tus”

Practice Reading
Tus plas plam taw ces nws poob los rau hauv pem teb ua rau tus nyuj dhia los nyob hauv qab
ntoos. Nws nkaum hauv ib pliag ces Hmoob tua phom nrov tim roob tuaj ua rau nyuj ras los
hem plas poob plig tas li lawm. Plas xav mus tom nas los noj xwb. Lo lus neeg ces yog leej
tibneeg xws li koj thiab kuv. Nyob rau lub caij ntuj nag mas ua rau tej nroj thiab ntoo hlav blooj
thiab tawg paj zoo nkauj heev. Tabsis dhau mus rau lub caij ntuj no ces ho ua rau tej nroj los yog
ntoo zeeg blooj tag li lawm. Kawg no, zoo siab uas koj xav kawm lus Hmoob.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 63

Double Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Koj puas xav noj qhiav?
You do want to eat ginger?
Qh qh + iav
qha qhai qhau qhaw qhe qhee qhi
qhos Qhiav qhia qho qhoo qhu qhua qhw.
qhia = tell or teach, qhuav = dried,
Qhiav / Ginger qhuas = admire, qhov = hole.

Koj rho cov nyom.


You pull the grass.
rh + o Pull, like pulling weed.
Rh Rho
rhos rha rhai rhau rhaw rhe rhee rhi rhia
(traw)
rho rhoo rhu rhua rhw.
Rho / Pull rhiab = ticklish, afraid

Ib thoob dej xiav.


th + oob A bucket blue water.
Th Thoob tha thai thau thaw the thee thi thia
thos (tongb) – hard tho thoo thu thua thw. thiab = and,
t thov = beg, theem = stop, tham =
chat, theej = exchange.
Thoob / Bucket

Practice Reading
Ua ntej koj yuav tau qhiav los noj, koj yuav tau muaj ib daim teb, thiab muaj ib lub thoob uas
yog siv los nqa dej mus ywg rau cov qhiav kom lawv thiaj li loj thiab hlob taus tuaj. Thaum ywg
dej tag rau daim av ces nws yuav muaj nyom tuaj thiab. Yog li, koj yuav tau rho thiab dob tej
nyom tawm mas koj tej qoob loo thiaj li yuav zoo taus. Yog li, ua ntej koj yuav noj ib yam khoom
twg, koj yuav tau kawm kom koj paub tias nws cog thiab tu nyuaj npaum li cas. And when you
know this. Ces thaum koj paub li no.
You then know how hard the growers had worked. Koj thiaj li paub tias cov neeg cog tau khwv
npaum li cas. Ua cas koj muab lus Askiv sau nrog lus Hmoob lawm? Why did you write English
with Hmong? Vim kuv xav kom koj paub txhais lus Hmoob mus ua lus Askiv. Because I want
you to know how to translate Hmong into English. Vim li cas koj ho xav kawm lus Hmoob?
Why do you want to learn Hmong? Rau qhov hais lus Hmoob ces yus tsis tas kaw yus lub qhov
ncauj li. Because speaking Hmong one does not have to close his mouth. Tabsis ceev faj mov dhia
tawm mus rau lwm tus neeg lub phaj nawb = But be careful rice might jump out into another
person's plate. Koj thiab kuv mam li tham dua lwm zaus = You and I will chat again next time.
Kuv hlub koj = I love you. Hos koj ne? = How about you? Tej zaum = Maybe.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
64 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Double Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Tsov nyiam noj nqaij nyoos.


Tigers like eat meat raw.
Ts ts + ov
tsa tsai tsau tsaw tse tsee tsi tsia
tsos Tsov tso tsoo tsu tsua tsw.
tsev = house, tsau = full, tsum = stop,
Tsov / Tiger tseg = save, tsoo = hit or crash.

Kuv nyiam noj txiv.


I like eat fruits.
Tx tx + iv
txa txai txau txaw txe txee txi txia
txos Txiv txo txoo txu txua txw.
txiv = father, txaus = enough, txog =
to, txiav = cut, txiab = scissors
Txiv / Fruits

Neeg siv xyoob los ua tsev.


People use bamboo to build houses.
Xy xy + oob
xya xyai xyau xyaw xye xyee
xyos Xyoob xyi xyia xyo xyoo xyu xyua xyw.
xyoo = year, xya = seven, xyaum =
practice, xyuas = visit or see.
Xyoob / Bamboo
Practice Reading

Puag thaum ub Hmoob tseem nyob rau pem tej toj roob thiab hav zoov mas muaj tsov los tom
lawv tej tsiaj heev li. Tsov yog ib hom tsiaj uas muaj nyob rau tom hav zoov xwb vim lawv txawj
mus caum lwm hom tsiaj thiab tom los noj. Thaum tsov nkees ces tsov mus pw hauv tej qhov
chaw uas muaj xyoob thiab ntoo ntau kom neeg tsis pom. Nyob rau teb chaws yaj sab, bucolic,
mas muaj ntau hom txiv hmab thiab txiv ntoo. Tsis tag li, tseem muaj ntau hom tsiaj qus uas
xws li liab, cuam, kauv, thiab hma ltn...
Peb ua neeg nyob, peb yuav tsum paub hlub tsis yog tsiaj xwb, tabsis xyoob ntoo mus rau ntau
hom tsiaj nyob rau hauv dej huv tib si. Tej no puav leej yog Tswv Ntuj tsim thiab lawv yeej muaj
nqis tib yam nkaus li tib neeg. Yog li, peb yuav tau xyaum cog xyoob, ntoo thiab pab txuag tej
txiv hmab, txiv ntoo kom tej tsiaj qus thiaj li tau chaw nyob vim lawv tsis paub cog thiab ua
tsev li tib neeg nawb mog.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 65

Double Consonants with Pictures


The “jh” consonant is not listed here. See also the triple “ntsh” later on.

Bh Bl Ch Dh

Bhoo / Shake Blooj / Leaf Cheb / Sweep Dhia / Jump

Hl Hm Hn Kh

Hlua / Rope Hma / Fox Hnub / Sun Khau / Shoe

Ml Nc Nk Np

Mluav / Dented Nceb / Mushroom Nkoj / Boat Npua / Pig

Nq Nr Nt Ny

Nquab / Pigeon Nraj / Pheasant Nyuj / Cow


Ntoo / Tree

Ph Pl Qh Rh

Phom / Gun Plas / Owl Qhiav / Ginger Rho / Pull

Th Ts Tx Xy

Thoob / Bucket Tsov / Tiger Txiv / Fruits Xyoob / Bamboo


Make a copy of this page and erase the Hmong words, and give each student a copy. Now you read
the English words and have your students write down the equivalent Hmong words. Then read the
Hmong words and have your students write down the English words.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
66 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Words with Double Consonants


No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English
1 cheb sweep 29 khoo to control 57 ntog fall down
2 chav room, hall 30 kheev to allow, let 58 ntes capture
3 chim mad, upset 31 kheej round 59 ntiab evict
4 choj bridge 32 kho fix 60 ntab float
5 cheem stop 33 mloog listen, obey 61 ntau much
6 dhia jump 34 mluav dented in 62 ntoo tree
7 dhau over, much 35 thau to pull (out) 63 nyuj cow
8 qhuas admire 36 nco to think of 64 nyuaj difficult
9 hla skip 37 nce to go up, climb 65 nyem squeeze
10 hlau metal 38 ncab to stretch 66 nyeem read
11 hlua rope 39 nceb mushroom 67 phim fit, match
12 hlub love 40 ncu to steam 68 tsau full, satiate
13 hloov change 41 nkoj boat 69 phuam towel
14 hli moon 42 txias cold 70 plab stomach
15 hmo night 43 nkees tired 71 ploj disappear
16 hmuv spear 44 nkaum to hide 72 plig spirit
17 hma fox 45 npua big 73 qhia tell, inform
18 hmoov ash, powder 46 npaj to prepare 74 qhov hole, which
19 hnav wear 47 npau upset, mad 75 qhuav dry
20 hnoos cough 48 npog to cover 76 rho pull
21 hnub sun, day 49 nqaij meat 77 them pay
22 xyeej reject 50 nquab pigeon 78 theem stop, step
23 hneev bow arrow 51 nqa to take, bring 79 tsev house
24 hnab bag 52 nqaim narrow 80 tseem still, genuine
25 khau shoe 53 nquag ambitious 81 txiav cut
26 khiav run, leave 54 nres stop, yield 82 txav move
27 khi to tie 55 nrawm fast, quick 83 xyoo year
28 khuam stuck 56 nrog drip, with 84 xyaum practice
Please note that some of these words do have multiple meanings.

Tus txawj tsis nco los qhia; tus ntsia tsis nco los pab.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 67

Simple Phrase with Double Consonants


The Hmong double consonants are a bit confusing at first, but once you fully understand its
phonology, you will always remember them. Here are some simple phrases with double
consonants.

No Word English Hmong example English transliterated


1 bh* bhoo shake Bhoo hwj txob. Shake black peppers.
2 bl* blaum sticky Ib tais mov blaum. One bowl rice sticky.
3 ch chais peel Koj chais lub txiv. You peel the fruit.
4 dh dhia jump Kuv dhia tsis siab. I jump not high.
5 gh* ghaus crooked Txoj kev ghaus heev. The road is crooked very.
6 hl hlub love Koj hlub kuv heev. You love me much.
7 hm Hmoob Hmong Koj yog Hmoob. You are Hmong.
8 hn hnub sun, day Hnub twg koj tuaj? What day you come?
9 jh* jhai fear, afraid Koj jhai tsov dhau. You fear tiger much.
10 kh khau shoe Yog kuv nkawm khau. It is my pair shoes.
11 ml mluav dent, as dented in Koj tsoo thiaj mluav. You hit then dented.
12 nc nce climb Koj nce tus ntaiv. You climb a ladder.
13 nk nkaum hide, stay Kuv nkaum hauv tsev. I hide inside house.
14 np npua pig Koj pom tus npua. You see a pig.
15 nq nqos to swallow Koj nqos lub noob. You swallow the seed.
16 nr nres stop, pause Koj nres nov tso. You stop here first.
17 nt ntub wet Nag ntub koj tag. Rain wet you all.
18 ny nyob stay, live Koj nyob nov los? You live here eh?
19 ph phom gun Koj puas muaj phom? You do have guns?
20 pl plas owl Plas pw nruab hnub. Owls sleep during days.
21 qh qhia tell, inform Thov koj qhia kuv. Please you tell me.
22 rh rho pull Pab rho cov nyom. Help pull the grass.
23 th thiab and Koj thiab kuv mus. You and I go.
24 ts tsov tiger Kuv pom ib tus tsov. I see one tiger.
25 tx txaus enough Koj noj txaus lawm You eat enough already.
26 xy xyuas visit, see Koj tuaj xyuas kuv. You come visit me.

Hais lus hlub ces sib tshua; hais lus ntxub ces sib tua.
Tus yus hlub yus tsis pom nws qhov dub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
68 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Simple Greeting and Simple Phrases


Basic greeting and conversation between Nraug Zaj and Nkauj Paj.

Nraug Zaj Nkauj Paj


1. Nyob zoo ohs Paj. 2. Nyob zoo ohs Zaj.
3. Koj tuaj ua si thiab los? 4. Aws, kuv tuaj ncig ua si thiab los mas.
5. Ua ab tsi lawm xwb ohs, Paj? 6. Tseem niaj hnub ua hauj lwm thiab xwb.
7. Kuv los tib yam thiab. 8. Zoo los mas, Zaj. Rau siab ua hauj lwm es yus thiaj
li muaj nyiaj los siv ohs.
9. Yeej yog li los mas. 10. Mus zoo koj ohs.

Practice Reading
No. Hmong English
1. Kuv xav haus dej. I would like to drink water.
2. Koj yog leej twg? Who are you?
3. Lo lus no nyeem li cas? How do you read this word?
4. Thiab sau li cas? And how to write?
5. Koj sau rau kuv. You write for me.
6. Koj puas paub lus Hmoob? Do you know Hmong? Hmong = English
7. Kuv paub me me xwb. I know very little only. xav = would like to
leej twg = who
8. Hais lus Askiv xwb. Speak English only. li cas = how
9. Ua tsaug ntau. Thank you much. pes tsawg = how much
10. Ib yam pes tsawg? How much is each item? ntau = much, a lot
11. Koj muag pes tsawg? You sell for how much? npaum cas = how much
12. Ob duas xwb ohs. Two dollars only. twg = which, what, where
puam chawj = never mind
kav liam = never mind
Odds but Useful

No Hmong English Remark


13. Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? You have how many years? Transliterated!
How old are you? Proper English
14. Koj lub npe hu li cas? Your a name call what? Transliterated
What is your name? Proper English
15. Koj yuav mus qhov twg? You will go where? Transliterated
Where are you going? Proper English
16. Koj hais yog. You say correct . Koj yog = you are correct!
17. Koj ua yog. You do correct or right.
18. Thov zam txim. Please forgive.
19. Tsis ua li cas. No problem or not a problem. It is okay that is.
20. Kuv tu siab heev. I am very sorry.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 69

Odds but Useful


1. Koj twb los tsev lawm los? You come home already? 2. Koj tuaj los. You come ha. 3.
Ua li los. Do like that ha. 4. Koj tsis paub los? You don't know ha? 5. Kuv tsis paub as.
I don't know okay. 6. Kuv tsis paub nawb. I don't know okay. 7. Koj los kua muag. You
come tear. Your shed tears. 8. Los nag ib hnub nkaus. Rains all day. 9. Kuv ua ntag. I
do it. 10. Kuv ua kiag li. I do it like so. 11. Ua kiag xwb. Just do it. 12. Cia li mus. Just
go. 13. Cia li tsum kiag. Just stop it. 14. Tsum kiag tam sim no. Stop right now. 15.
Kuv ua hos. I do too. 16. Tsis paub li tiag. Don't know for real. 17. Tsis paub li loej.
Don't know at all. 18. Yuav ua li cas loej? Will do how? 19. Koj ua abtsi naj? What are
you doing? 20. Nab, nov yog koj li. Here, this is yours. 21. Koj pheej noj. You keep on
eating. 22. Koj pheej hu kuv. You keep on calling me. 23. Koj txhob ua li. You don't do
like that. 24. Txhob txawj kiag. Don't worry. 25. Mob kuv siab ua luaj li. Hurt my
feeling so.

26. Ua siab ntev. Be patient. 27. Tsis pom li lawm tiag. Don't see at all. 28. Tsis pom li
lawm thiab. Don't see, too. 29. Tsis paub li lawm es. Don't know alright. 30. Tsis paub
yuav ua li cas li ohs, Paj. Don't know what to do, Paj. 31. Tsis hnov koj moo. Don't
hear from you. 32. Nyuaj siab tag npaum li no. Worrying so much like this. 33. Nco koj
tas mus li. Think of you always. 34. Kho siab ua luaj no. Feeling lonely and/or being
homesick. 35. Tu siab kawg li. Feeling regret or very sad. 36. Eb, yuav ua li cas ni? Eh,
what should I do? 37. Eb, ua cas yuav kho siab ua luaj. Eh, why am I so homesick –
feeling lonely that is. 38. Ab, cia wb mus tsev. Ah, let us go home. 39. Ab, xyov kuv
yuav hais li cas ni? Ah, what should I say? 40. Koj pab kuv los mas yom? You help me
please? 41. Thov los mas. Please or I beg you. 42. Cia peb mus los mas. Let us go
please. 43. Ua zoo nawb mog. Do good okay. Be good okay. 44. Kuv hlub koj heev
mog. I love you much okay. 45. Thov kawg lawm tiag. Beg as much as possible. 46. Peb
lam tham ua si. We just chat for fun. 47. Koj siab zoo heev li. You are very kind. You
are very generous. 47. Kuv tsis tau ua li nas. I did not do like that.

Below are some phrases in Hmong:

Ua li hos; nco kuv thiab laiv; hu kuv nawb mog; tuaj los mas; nco koj tiag; nco koj heev li;
pheej nco txog koj naj; tseg tsis taus li lawm; koj ib leeg xwb; xyov li loej; hos koj ne; wb
mus tsev yom; tau kawg los mas; hlub koj tag npaum li no; tsis ua li cas nawb mog; zoo
kawg li yom; txhob tu siab ohs; tsis paub li ne; leeg twg naj? Twb yog kuv los mas; puas yog
tiag maj; yog tiag tiag li hos; koj nyob li cas lawm xwb ohs; peb nyob zoo thiab los mas. Nej
kawm lus Hmoob puas nyuaj thiab nab; peb kawm nyuaj heev li hos. Koj lub npe hu li cas
ohs? Kuv hu ua Zaj xeem Xyooj no. Hos koj ne? Kuv hu ua Paj xeem Lis. Zoo siab uas kuv tau
nrog koj txuas lus. Nws hais lus luag ntxhi xwb. Nws hais lus dub muag txig rau kuv. Ntev
loo los lawm; cuag nkaus tsis tau noj dua; npaum nkaus li tsis tau pom; kheev lam yog muaj
tseeb; es yog tiag los dag; xyov thaum twg peb mam li rov sib ntsib dua; nyob zoo koj mog.

Lus mos lus tuaj pos – qub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
70 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Double Consonants Words With Translations


The Hmong parts are correct and each English word translation, too. However, the English
sentence might not be logical to English speakers. But the purpose here is for you to learn the
Hmong syntax and each word meaning as well as the English equivalent word translation.
For example:
Kuv lub tsev loj = My the house big and not my big house. Because Kuv = My,
lub = classifier (the), tsev = house, loj = big.

Kuv lub tsev muaj ntau chav = My house has many rooms. Koj pab kuv cheb tsev = You
help me sweep house. Peb cheem koj nyob ib hnub = We stop you stay one day. Lawv
mus tus choj qub = They go the bridge old. Kuv mus dhau koj lub tsev = I go pass your the
house. Kauv dhia los hla txoj kev = Deer jump come cross the road. Kuv tsuj daim hlau
mluav = I step piece metal dented. Lub hli ci tsis npaum lub hnub = The moon shine not
much the sun. Koj pab hloov kuv daim pam = You help change my piece blanket. Neeg siv
hlua los khi hma = People use rope come tie fox.
Kev hlub tsis yooj yim = Way love not easy. Hmo no peb mus tsev = night this (tonight)
we go home. Lub tsev muaj hmoov av ntau heev = The house has ash dirt much very. Kuv
muaj ib hnab khau = I have one bag shoe. Hnub no koj hnav lub ris liab = Day this you
wear a pants red. Koj hnoos vim koj mob = You cough because you sick. Kuv tsis paub
tias lub ntiaj teb kheej = I don't know that the world round. Peb khoo nws kho lub tsev =
We control him fix the house. Peb khiav los mloog nej tham = We run come listen you
talk. Npua mus pw hauv lub nkoj = Pig go sleep in the boat.
Nws nkaum hauv tsob ntoo = He hide in the tree. Kuv nkees vim kuv tsis tau pw = I tired
because I not have sleep. Kuv npau vim nej cem kuv = I upset because you yell me. Peb
npaj tos nej xwb = We prepare wait you only. Nej nqa nqaij ci tuaj rau peb noj = You bring
meat fried come for us eat. Nquab nrog nyuj mus noj nyom = Pigeon with cow go eat
grass. Koj hais lus nrawm dhau = You speak word fast very. Peb mus ntiab dab tawm = We
go cast ghost out. Koj sau thiab nyeem = You write and read.
Nyuj ntog hauv kev = Cow fall in road. Cov nyiaj ploj thaum twg? = The money disappear
at when? Thov qhia rau peb paub = Please tell for us know. Lub qhov dej qhuav = The hole
water (well) dried. Peb tseem rho nyom = We still pull grass. Ib tus neeg muaj ib tus plig =
One a person has one a spirit. Peb tuaj them koj tus qaib = We come pay your a
chicken. Kuv noj tsau lawm = I eat full already. Xyoo no yog koj xyeej thov tuaj saib kuv =
Year this if you available come visit me. Peb txav mus nyob lub zos tshiab lawm = We
move go live the city new already. Zoo siab koj xav kawm lus Hmoob = Happy you want
learn language Hmong. The Hmong word “lus” has two meanings. First, it means a
“language”. For example:
Koj paub hais lus Askiv = You know say language English. The second meaning is “word.”
For example: Koj hais lo lus no tsis yog = You say this word not correct. Another example: Xaiv
cov lus zoo los siv xwb = Choose the words good come use only. The Hmong word “hais” means
to utter, to talk, to speak, and to say. The other meaning of the word “hais” means to scoop or
get. For example: Koj hais mov los rau peb noj = You scoop/get rice come for us eat. Meaning
you go bring or get the rice (cooked) for us to eat. Mus hais zaub los = go get vegetables (to serve
more vegetables that is).

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 71

Practice Translation
Please translate the Hmong phrase into English.
Again, you must translate word-for-word and not by phrase. For example: Txaus peb noj =
Enough us eat or enough we eat – not it is enough for us to eat.

No Hmong English No Hmong English


1 Ib pob mov 27 Ib pob mov tshiab
2 Noj su 28 Peb noj su lawm
3 Chais lub txiv 29 Pab chais lub txiv
4 Dhia siab 30 Koj dhia siab
5 Ntoo ghaus 31 Ib tsob ntoo ghaus
6 Hlub koj 32 Kuv hlub koj
7 Yog Hmoob 33 Koj yog Hmoob
8 Hnub no 34 Kuv tuaj hnub no
9 Jhai koj 35 Peb jhai nej
10 Khau qub 36 Ib nkawm khau qub
11 Tais mluav 37 Lub tais mluav
12 Nce roob 38 Kuv nce roob siab
13 Nkaum hauv 39 Mus nkaum hauv
14 Npua me 40 Yuav tus npua me
15 Nqos noob 41 Koj nqos lub noob
16 Nres nov 42 Kauv los nres nov
17 Ntub nag 43 Kuv ntub nag tas
18 Nyob zoo 44 Peb tseem nyob zoo
19 Phom loj 45 Ib rab phom loj
20 Plas dub 46 Pom plas dub ya
21 Qhia koj paub 47 Kuv qhia koj paub
22 Rho tus ntoo 48 Koj pab rho tus ntoo
23 Koj thiab kuv 49 Koj thiab kuv paub
24 Tsov tom nws 50 Nws dag tsov tom
25 Txaus peb noj 51 Mov txaus peb noj
26 Xyuas kom zoo 52 Peb xyuas kom zoo

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
72 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Challenge Yourself
Now let's see if you can write a simple letter in Hmong.

English Transliterated
Hello,

I tell you know that I every day go learn language Hmong. Not long I will learn finish
already. I like to learn Hmong, but the tones are not easy for me. When I learn complete, I
will write come tell you know. I am very happy.

Now please translate the above into Hmong

________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________

Please translate the following English letter into Hmong

Hello Jay,

Thank you for writing this book because it is very helpful. I have used it and it helped me
a lot, and thank you for the pictures, too

I also like the audio files you provided on www.hmongdictionary.com/learnhmong because


they are very helpful indeed. I listen to them every day.

This is my first time learning Hmong so it is not easy; however, using your book
I have learned enough to write you this letter.

If you have time, please help check my translation to see if they are correct.

Thank you.

Your name goes here.

Kev thuam yooj yim kev tsim tsis paub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 73

Please Translate the English Words into Hmong

No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English


1 mushroom 29 to sweep 57 rope
2 to steam 30 room, hall 58 to love
3 boat 31 mad, upset 59 to change
4 cold 32 bridge 60 moon
5 tired 33 to stop 61 night
6 to hide 34 to jump 62 spear
7 big 35 over, much 63 fox
8 to prepare 36 to admire 64 ash, powder
9 upset, mad 37 to skip 65 to wear
10 to cover 38 metal 66 to cough
11 meat 39 full, satiate 67 to control
12 pigeon 40 towel 68 to allow, let
13 to fall down 41 stomach 69 round
14 to capture 42 disappear 70 fix
15 to evict 43 spirit 71 listen, obey
16 float 44 tell, inform 72 dented in
17 much 45 hole, which 73 to pull (out)
18 tree 46 dry 74 to think of
19 cow 47 to pull 75 to go up, climb
20 difficult 48 to pay 76 to stretch
21 to squeeze 49 stop, step 77 big
22 to read 50 house 78 to prepare
23 fit, match 51 still, genuine 79 upset, mad
24 to take, bring 52 to cut 80 to cover
25 narrow 53 to move 81 meat
26 ambitious 54 year 82 pigeon
27 stop, yield 55 to practice 83 to fall down
28 fast, quick 56 to reject 84 to capture

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
74 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Triple Consonants
The triple consonants are nothing more than taking the double consonants and add the third
consonant to the end. For this reason, I will not provide my “zoo nraug” – handsome, picture with
the ugly tongue any more. However, I want you to truly understand its phonics methodology.
Therefore, let's decipher the Hmong word “hmos.” In the slowest utterance, you must follow
these steps:
1. Close your mouth
2. Exhale through your nose to aspirate the “h” about 30% then
3. Uttering the mos. The equivalent English phonics is “hmmaw.” Don't say this word like
“ha maw”, but instead like “hmm maw.”

Now let's look at the word “Hmlos”, and the English phonics is “hmlaw.” Now how do we pronounce
this word? Well, try uttering the, “hmm law” as fast as you can and that is the correct pronunciation.
1. Close your mouth
2. Exhale through your nose to aspirate the “h” about 30% then
3. Utter the “mos” and then
4. Utter the “los”. In other words, English phonics, say “hmm law” as one utterance.

The word “hmlos” is considered a nasal-aspirated word. Meaning the air escapes 30% through
your nose, and 70% through your mouth. On the other hand, the “h” suffix consonants are
considered the mouth-aspirated consonants, i.e., kh like the word key which has a puffing sound
through the mouth. To help you understand what I am talking about, let us look at two wave
graphs I recorded below.

nyav h nyav

The graph above was a single recording wave file of the words “nyav” and “hnyav.” The graph on
the left is obviously different than the one on the right, but there is a pattern that is very similar
for both – “nyav” that is. The one on the right has a preceding “h” sound aspirated through your
nose prior to uttering the word “nyav” that is all. The say the word “hnyav” correctly, just press
the tip of your tongue tightly against your palate – the roof of your mouth near the teeth, like you
are going to say the “ny”, then aspirate through your nose and then utter the word “nyav.” The
Hmong word “hmlos” is nothing more than uttering the “hmm + los” or “hmm + law” in English
phonics. The Hmong word “hnyos” is nothing more than uttering “h + nyos” or “h + nyaw” in
English phonics. The Hmong word “tshos” is a combination of “ts + hos.” The Hmong word
“nplos” is a combination of “np + los” which is similar to the English word blaw – “b + law.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 75

Triple Consonants
There are fifteen triple consonants, and I will show you phonetically how the third consonant
is being added to the end of each of the double consonants you have learned. One thing to
remember is that you must pronounce each consonant in the Hmong phonics way, i.e.,
“hos + mos + los” = hmlos. If not, none of these will make sense to you. The Hmong “os”
sounds exactly as the English word “awe” or aw as in the word law.

No How to combine Consonant Word example English meaning


1 bh + l bhl* bhlaib/nphlaib ring, like a diamond ring.
2 h + ml hml hmlos dented in.
3 h + ny hny hnyav heavy, like too much weight.
4 nc + h nch ncho smoke, like the smoke from a fire.
5 nk + h nkh nkhaus crooked, curve – not straight.
6 np + h (bh**) nph nphau to flip or tip over.
7 np + l (bl**) npl nplua slippery
8 nq + h nqh nqhuab dry, like a drying pond.
9 nr + h nrh nrhoob stocking
10 nt + h nth nthe to yell
11 n + ts (like jaw) nts ntsaum ants. nts as in jam
12 n + tx ntx ntxub to hate
13 ph + l (plh) phl* phlu face, the face of person.
14 ts + h tsh tshiab new, as not old
15 tx + h txh txhiab thousand
* I believe “plh” should be “phl” so it follows the standard English phonics of “pl”, i.e., play
would be written in Hmong phonics like “phles – ph+les” instead of “pl + hes” that is.

Again, you can memorize these consonants, but my recommendation for you is to know how
each of the consonants sounds like, and when combined with others, you can still pronounce
them in a phonetical way. This phonology is similar to English, i.e., s + p + l = spl for the
word split, and sh + r = shr for the word shrink etc... The proper way to look at these two
English triple consonants would be “s + pl” and “sh + r” and not “sp + l” and “s + hr”. With
that said, the Hmong consonants combination follows the same logic. For example:
hos = (haw in English phonics)
hmos = hm + os (hm + aw in English phonics) => not h + mos or ha + mos that is.
hmlos = hm + los (hm + law in English phonics) => not h + mlos or ha + mlos
hnyos = h + nyos (hm + nyaw in English phonics) => not hn + yos
phles = phles and ples sound similar/exactly like the English words play and dis“-play.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
76 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

More Detailed of the Triple Consonants


No Combine Consonant How to pronounce
1 bh + l bhl** The “bh” is nothing more than the b + a puffing sound and then
ending with the “l” – bh + l (bh...law that is).
2 h + ml hml This is a nasal-aspirated “h” so this means you will be exhale through
your nose, hmm, prior to uttering the “ml” – mlaw.
3 h + ny hny This is a nasal-aspirated consonant. First get ready to say the English
“nyaw” then exhale through your nose heavily prior to saying hnyaw.
4 nc + h nch Utter the “nc” with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
5 nk + h nkh Utter the “nk” with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
(gh**)
6 np + h nph Utter the “np” with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
(bh**) Exactly like the simplified “bh” – “baw haw.”
7 np + l npl Say this consonant exactly like the English bl as in blaw, blue
(bl**) Exactly like the simplified “bl” – “baw law.”
8 nq + h nqh Utter the “nq” with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
9 nr + h nrh Utter the “nr” with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
10 nt + h nth Utter the “nt” with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
11 n + ts nts Say this consonant exactly like the English J as in Jaw.
( j** )
12 n + tx ntx Learn from the image below.
13 ph + l phl This one is exactly like the English “pl”, i.e., play, plaw, plow etc...
14 ts + h tsh Like the English word “chaw.” Tshiaj = chia etc...
15 tx + h txh Utter the “tx”with the mouth-aspirated “h” – puffing sound.
** Some people use j in place of “nts”, bl in place of “npl”, and gh in place of “nkh.”
Notice that most of these triple consonants have the “h” suffix – mouth-aspirated.
To say this “ntx”, pronounced “ntxos”, you need to start the Hmong
consonant “nos” first. Once you have your mouth in the “nos” position,
you are now ready to add the “txos” so the result is “ntxos.” If this does
not work for you, try saying the “ntos + xos” = ntxos. Realistically, the
“n” is the base and the rest are being phonetically added to it.

For English phonetic this would be similar to the “n + t + s”,


as in the English word “ants or antz.” So if we create a new word
“antsaw” and mute the a, the “ntsaw” would have a similar phonics
like the Hmong word “ntxos.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 77

Triple Consonants with Pictures


Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Koj muaj ib lub bhlaib kub.


Bhl* bhl + aib You have a gold ring.
bhlos
(bhlaw)
Bhlaib Nej puas muag bhlaib kub?
Do you sell gold rings?

Bhlaib / Ring

Dent
Like a dented or sunk in surface.
You dented the kettle.
Hml hml + os Koj tsoo lub fwj kais hmlos.
hmlos
(hmlaw)
Hmlos hmlos hmluav hmliam hmlub
hmlab hmleem hmliav hmlom
hmla hmlaw hmlau hmlua
Hmlos / Dent

Lub pob zeb no hnyav heev.


This rock is very heavy.
Hny hny + av
hnyav hnyuv hnyeb hnyob
hnyos
(hnyaw)
Hnyav hnyuj hnya hnyooj hnyeem.
Hnya means squint
Hnyuv means intestine.
Hnyav / Heavy
• Some people use “bhl” in place of the “nphl” like “bhlaib” instead of “nphlaib.”
Practice Reading

Yog koj kawm los txog nov ces koj keej heev li lawm nawb. Kuv yuav tsis qhia txog kev nyeem,
tabsis piav txog peb lo lus saum toj xwb. Lub bhlaib lossis nphlaib ces yog lub ring. Lub bhlaib
nyob siab lossis saum toj ntawm lub fwj kais uas mluav ib sab. Lub nram qab kawg ces yog lub
pob zeb loj thiab hnyav heev. Tus poj niam no yuav nqa tsis tau vim lub pob zeb hnyav dhau.
Nyob rau hauv nruab nrab ces yog lub fwj kais uas hmlos ib sab lawm. Sab uas hmlos yog sab
xis, the right side.
Koj paub nyeem ntawv Hmoob zoo lawm. You know how to read Hmong well already. Yog li,
therefore, thov qhuas koj, want to congratulate you. Yog koj muaj sij hawm, if you have time,
thov koj sau ntawv tuaj qhia kuv paub, please write to let me know.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
78 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Triple Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Smoke – like the black smoke from


a fire that just get started.
The fire emits some black smoke.
Nch nch + o
Lub cub tawg ncho ib cov pa dub.
nchos Ncho
Thoob dej nchuav = the bucket of
water spill.
Ncho pa / Smoke

Txoj kev no nkhaus heev.


This road is very curvy.
Nkh nkh + aus Txoj kev nkhaus tsis muaj neeg xav
nkhos
(ghaw)
Nkhaus taug. Taws nkhaus tsiv rauv; neeg
laus tsiv tu.
Tus neeg siab nkhaus ces yog a
crooked person.
Nkhaus / Curve

Nphoo hwj txob rau kuv tais fawm.


Shake black peppers on my pho.
Nph nph + oo
Peb taug txoj kev nkhaus mus pom
nphos
(bhaw)
Nphoo ib lub cub tawg ncho pa dub nciab
puag tim roob tuaj. Lub roob pob
nphau nphwv los npog lub pas dej.
Nphoo / Shake

Practice Reading

Peb taug ib txoj kev nkhaus nkhaus mus pw tom hav zoov. Thaum mus txog ces peb mus rauv ib
lub cub tawg, fire place, uas peb siv los ua mov thiab ci nqaij, tabsis nws ncho pa heev. Thaum
peb pib noj su ces peb mam li nco tias peb tsis tau rau ntsev, salt. Yog li, peb thiaj li mam siv hwj
ntsev los nphoo rau ua ntej peb noj. Hmoov tsis zoo, peb tseem ua lauj kaub nqaij nchuav tag
vim kuv mus tsuj ib tus taws nkhaus. Vim li no Hmoob thiaj li muaj ib zaj lus hais tias, “Taws
nkhaus ces tsiv rauv; neeg laus ces tsiv yug.” Koj muab hwj txob los nphoo rau tais fawm. Lo lus
nchuav ces yog spill in English.

Neeg laus siab luv; neeg hluas siab puv – Hmong proverb
Ntse xav tag mam hais; ruam hais tag mam xav.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 79

Triple Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading
Tus kab kwv daim nplooj.
The insect carries a leaf.
npl + ooj
Npl Lub caij ntuj qhua ces ua rau ntoo
nplos Nplooj zeeg nplooj tag, tabsis lub caij ntuj
(blaw) (blong!) nag ces blooj ho rov hlav puv roob.
Ib nplooj siab ces yog a leaf of
Nplooj / Leaf heart – a piece of heart that is.

Dried up
Like a dried up pond.
nqh + uab The fish died because the pond
Nqh dried up. Cov ntses tuag vim lub
nqhos Nqhuab pas dej nqhuab. Tsis los nag ces
tej pas dej nqhuab tag. Did not
rain so ponds all dried up.
Nqhuab / Dried up

Root
Like growing roots.
This bamboo is rooting.
Nrh nrh + au Yav xyoob no nrhau cag.
nrhos Nrhau
Txiav xyoob los tsau dej kom nws
nrhau cag lawm ces koj mam li coj
mus cog thiaj li ciaj nawb.
Nrhau cag / Root

Practice Reading
Ib lub teb chaws twg ces yeej muaj ib daim av. Nyob rau hauv lub teb chaws ces tseem muaj
dej, xyoob thiab ntau hom ntoo. Tsis tag li, neeg tseem siv av los cog qoob loo, xws li pob kw,
nplej, dib thiab taub tej. Thaum lub caij ntuj qhua ces nws sov thiab kub heev. Yog li, tej pas
dej me thiaj li lau thiab nqhuab tag. Lub caij ntuj no nws ua rau tej nroj tsuag tuag thiab pib
zeeg nplooj zom zaws.
Tabsis lub caij ntuj nag rov tawm tuaj ces ho ua rau tej xyoob thiab ntoo rov nrhau cag,
growing roots, thiab hlav nplooj dua. Lo lus “zom zaws” means everywhere, as blooming
everywhere. Koj puas nqhis = Are you thirsty or hungry? Kuv nqhis dej = I am thirsty.
Kuv nqhis mov = I am hungry.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
80 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Triple Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Open
Like a flower that is opening or
blooming. The red flower opens
Nth nth + uav
very pretty. Lub paj liab nthuav
nthos Nthuav zoo nkauj heev. You yell too loud.
Koj nthe nrov dhau.
Nthuav / Open Koj nthee qe = you fry eggs.

In the ocean there are many


kinds of fish. Hauv dej hiav
Nts nts + es txwv muaj ntau hom ntses.
ntsos Ntses Neeg ntse hais lus tob; neeg
ruam hais lus chob. Ntsia kuv =
(jaw) (jay)
watch me. Ntsaum = ants
Ntseeg kuv = believe me.
Ntses / Fish
Fan
Like a small hand fan.
People use fans to cool them off.
Ntx ntx + uam
Neeg siv ntxuam los ua kom
ntxos Ntxuam lawv txias. Ntxias means to
entice. Ntxeev means turn or
Ntxuam / Fan flip over.

Practice Reading
Lub caij ntuj nag ces tej nag ua rau tej paj ntoos tawg nthuav zoo nkauj thiab ja iab nyob puv
roob thiab puv hav. Tej hav dej los loj thiab ntws huv si ua rau tej mi ntses zoo siab zoo ntsws
heev. Tabsis txog kiag rau lub caij ntuj so ces hnub los kub, huab cua los sov~ kawg li. Yog li, neeg
thiaj tsim tej kiv cua, fans, thiab ntxuam los siv rau lub caij ntuj so no. Tib neeg siv ntxuam los
ntxuaj cua kom laj.
Yog koj xav noj nqaij ntses ces koj yuav tau hais li nram qab no: Koj puas muag nqaij ntses?
Asking for a specific kind of fish. Koj puas muaj cov ntses tilapia? Kuv muaj los mas. I do have.
Ib tug pes tsawg ohs? Each one is how much? Rau duas xwb ohs. Asking for flowers. Koj muaj
pes tsawg hom paj ohs? Kuv muaj ntau hom nawb. I have many kinds. Koj xav yuav hom paj twg?
What kind do you like to buy? Kuv xav yuav hom hu ua lily no. Suab Hmoob yog “lib lim” no.
Muaj thiab los mas. Ib lub paj yog peb duas xwb. Pes tsawg? How much? Nej puas muag mov
(cooked rice)? Kuv muaj mov txua thiab mov nplaum. I have the non-sticky and sticky kinds. Kuv
yuav tsib duas cov mov nplaum. I want to buy five dollars of the sticky rice. Ua tsaug. Thank
you.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 81

Triple Consonants
Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Shell, eggshell
phl + aub Like the shell of an egg.
Phl* Phlaub Two eggshells.
phlos Ob daim phlaub qes.
(plow) Dib lub phlu daj heev.
Dee's face is very pale.
phlaub Qes / Eggshell
I have a yellow car.
Kuv muaj ib lub tsheb daj.
tsh + eb
Tsh Tsheb Koj muaj ib lub tsheb tshiab.
tshos You have one new car.
(chay) as in day
Kuv tshaib = I am hungry.
Tsheb / Car Koj tshem = you remove.

File
Like a metal file.
People use files to file other metals.
Txh txh + aum
Neeg siv txhaum los txhaum lwm
txhos Txhaum Txhaum / File yam hlau. Txhua = every
Txhua yam = everything.
Txhaum also means wrong.
* phl is the new version of plh. In other words, ph+lu is more correct in Hmong than pl+hu.

Txhaum is a metal file mainly use for filing other metal and wood surfaces. Another term which is
very close to this tool is called “txhuam” and it is a device or tool Hmong use for peeling the dried
corn seeds from the corncob. Additionally, this word “txhuam” can be a verb for “txhuam” pob
kws. Ref: From my mother Ntxhi Tsab Xyooj.

Practice Reading
Hais txog peb yam duab uas muaj nyob rau saum toj ces neeg siv li nram qab no. Cov qe yog ib
yam uas tib neeg nyiam noj tshaj. Ib txhia neeg lawv muab hau kom siav, tabsis ib txhia neeg lawv
nyiam muab kib xyaw mov. Tsis tag li, qe ces muaj ib daim phlaub – shell. Daim duab nruab nrab
ces yog ib lub tsheb tsuas, color, daj. Kuv hu color ua “tsuas” as stain in English. Peb nyiam caij
tsheb mus kav khw (shopping). Daim duab hauv qab lossis kawg nkaus ces yog rab txhaum, a
metal file.
Rab txhaum yog ib rab uas neeg siv los txhaum (to file) lwm yam hlau uas xeb, rusted, kom du
thiab tshiab tuaj. Tabsis rab txhaum no tsis muaj tus ko, handle, lawm nawb. Thiab rab
“txhaum” mas txawv rab txhuam. Rab txhuam yog ib daim ntoo muaj ib tus ntsia lossis hniav
uas neeg siv los txhuam cov ntsiav pob kws tawm ntawm tus txha pob kws, the cob or corncob.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
82 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Triple Consonants with Pictures


Every consonant has the English “awe” sound, i.e., hml is “hmlaw” or hmlos in Hmong.

Bhl Hml Hny

Bhlaib / Ring Hnyav / Heavy


Hmlos / Dented in

Nch Nkh Nph

Ncho / Smoke Nkhaus / Curve Nphoo / Shake

Npl Nqh Nrh

Nplooj / Leaf Nqhuab / Dried up Nrhau / Root

Nth Nts Ntx

Nthuav / Open Ntses / Fish Ntxuam / Fan

Phl* Tsh Txh

Tsheb / Car Txhaum / File


phlaub qes / Eggshell

* I believe phl is more correct in Hmong than plh, i.e., phlaub – ph + laub and not pl + haub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 83

Words with Triple Consonants


No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English
1 hmlos dented in 29 ntse smart 57 tsho shirt
2 hnyav heavy 30 ntseeb wasp 58 tshom to plow
3 ncha to be heard 31 ntseeg to believe 59 tshooj chapter
4 ncho emitting smoke 32 ntses fish 60 tshoom go up, rise
5 nchuav to spill 33 ntsia look, watch 61 tshua miss, think of
6 nkhaus crooked, curve 34 ntsuab green 62 tshuaj medicine
7 nkhib branch angle 35 ntsuag orphan 63 tshee shake, shiver
8 nphau to topple 36 ntxaum wet (thru) 64 tshuam intersect
9 nphav touch 37 ntxawg last son 65 tshwm appear
10 nplaig tongue 38 ntxawm last daughter 66 txha bone
11 nplaim blade 39 ntxias pacify 67 txhab bank, building
12 nplaum sticky 40 ntxi to open 68 txhais one side (of a pair)
13 nplej rice with chaff 41 ntxig to insert 69 txham sneeze (wrong pipe)
14 nplij to appease 42 ntxiv add 70 txhaum to wrong
15 nplua slippery 43 ntxo bite, allege 71 txhawj worry, concern
16 npluag chaff 44 ntxoov cloudy 72 txheej generation, level
17 nqha clear 45 ntxov early 73 txheev to call
18 nqhis thirst, hungry 46 ntxuaj to flap 74 txhem remove unwanted parts
19 nqhuab land, dried up 47 ntxuam fan 75 txhia some
20 nrhab to spread 48 ntxuav wash 76 txhiab thousand
21 nrhau to root 49 ntxub hate 77 txhim to fix
22 nrhiav to seek, search 50 phlaub shell 78 txhob to urge
23 nrhoob stocking 51 phlu face (noun) 79 txhoj naughty, mischievous
24 nrho instantly 52 tsham chat 80 txhoov to chop
25 nthe to yell, scream 53 tshem remove 81 txhua every
26 nthos grab 54 tshiab new 82 txhuam to rub, wash
27 nthua to pull weeds 55 tshiav touch 83 txhuas lead (metal)
28 ntsaum ants 56 tshis goat 84 txhuv rice (without chaff)
Please note that some of these words do have multiple meanings.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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84 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Triple Consonants Words Usage Example


Nws tsoo daim hlau hmlos. Ib lub pob zeb hnyav heev. Tus neeg tuag lub npe ncha mus thoob
lub zos. Cov pa taws ncho mus siab heev. Lauj kaub nqaij nchuav tag vim nws tsuj yav taws
nkhaus uas muaj ntau nkhib. Nws niam nphau tsu mov. Nws ntshai tsam nws nphav cov
nplaim taws. Ib thooj mov nplej tshiab nplaum dev tus nplaig. Peb nplij nws kom nws zoo
siab. Txoj kev nplua heev. Cov txhuv ces yog tawm los ntawm cov npluag. Thaj hav zoov nqha
vim tsis muaj ntoo ntau lawm. Kuv nqhis dej vim kuv pom ib lub pas dej nqhuab. Koj nrhab ob
txhais ceg. Los nag ua rau tsob ntoo nrhau cag.
Tus ntse nrhiav kev hlub ntawm nws taw tsuj; tus ruam mus nrhiav thoob ntuj. Lub caij ntuj
no poj niam rau nrhoob, tabsis thaum daus tu nrho ces lawv hle hlo pov tseg. Peb nthe nrov~
vim tus tsov los nthos nkaus tus npua. Peb mus nthua teb tabsis muaj ntsaum ntau dhau. Tus
neeg ntse tsis nyiam ntseeb, tabsis qhov tseeb tsis muaj neeg ntseeg vim lawv yuav tsum ntsia
kom lawv pom kiag. Los nag ua rau cov nplooj ntoo ntsuab. Tsis muaj leej twg xav ua ntsuag.
Los nag ntxaum daim teb tag. Nws yog tus tub ntxawg ces nws thiaj mus yuav Ntxawm vim
Ntxawm ntxias tau nws yuav. Koj ntxi koj lub qhov ncauj es thiaj li zoo ntxig rab diav rau
hauv. Nws ntxiv daim tiab vim ntuag tag. Nws ntxo tsis tau daim nqaij nyuj. Tag kis yuav
ntxoov thaum sawv ntxov tabsis tav su yuav tshav ntuj. Tus noog ntxuaj tis zoo li ib rab
ntxuam. Ua tsaug koj pab ntxuav cov phlaub qes pov tseg.
Tibneeg ntxub dab lub phlu. Nej tuaj tsham peb ua ntej peb tshem lub rooj tshiab mus
muag vim tshis niaj hnub los tshiav. Kuv nyiam lub tsho dawb vim thaum mus tshom av
tshav ntuj thiaj tsis kub. Phau ntawv no muaj ntau tshooj. Tus noog ya thiab tshoom mus siab
heev. Thaum nyob deb ces sib tshua, tabsis thaum nyob ua ke ces ho sib ntxub vim kev sib nrug
yog tshuaj hlub. Thaum no ua rau kuv tshee. Peb los tshuam ib txoj kev loj thaum peb los
tshwm ntawm Hmoob lub zos. Tibneeg muaj kaum ob yas txha. Peb muaj ib txhab nplej txua.
Ib tus neeg muaj ob txhais tes. Nws haus dej txiag ua rau nws txham vim cov dej mus txhaum
txoj kab ces ua rau peb txhawj.
Txheej nim no ces coj txawv txheej thaum ub lawm. Nws txheev nws cov dab neeb. Koj pab
peb txhem ib txhia zaub vim peb muaj ib txhiab thoob. Lawv tuaj txhim thiab kho lub tsev
qub. Nej txhob kom nkawv sib ceg. Ua neeg nyob tsis txhob xyaum thuam thiaj li muaj kev vam
meej. Cov me nyuam tub txhoj tshaj. Koj pab tuaj txhoov nqaij thiab txhem zaub kom peb tau
noj txhua hnub. Nws tsav lub tsheb mus txhuam tsob ntoo ces ua rau hnab txhuv nchuav tag
mus lo cov txhuas. Yog yuav muab sau kom txhij thiab txhua mas tsis yog ib phab ntawv xwb,
tabsis ib tshooj.
Kev nyuaj siab also means “anxiety” and/or “worry/concern” about matters. Koj pheej
nyuaj siab dab tsi naj? What are you worrying about? Koj hais li es txhais li cas? You said
that what does it mean? Koj tsis txhob txhawj. You don't worry. Txawm yus txhawj
npaum li cas los nws yeej hloov tsis tau tej kev yuav tshwm sim hlo li. Even if one worries
how much it can not change the way will happen at all – transliterated. Thaum hluas
muab zog mus pauv nyiaj; thaum laus rov muab nyiaj mus pauv zog = when young use
strength go trade money; when old then take money go trade strength. Coob leej
neeg txawj, tabsis tsawg leej neeg tsim = Many people know, but a few people create. Coob
leej neeg kawm, tabsis tsawg leej neeg qhia = Many people learn, but a few people teach.

Ntse hais kom raug ntsiab ruam hais kom txaus siab.
Ruam tsis paub hlub ntse tsis paub ntxub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 85

Simple Phrase With Translation


I use the articles “a, the” to represent the Hmong classifiers

Cia peb los kawm lus Hmoob = Let us come learn language Hmong. Kuv paub zoo tias koj
kawm tau zoo lawm = I know well that you learn have good already. Tabsis tseem tshuav
cov lus Hmoob nyuaj = But still have those word Hmong difficult. Txawm yog li = Even is
so. Tsis txhob txhawj = Do not worry. Rau qhov = because. Koj kawm = you learn. Yuav
tsum = ought to. Tau xwb = get only. Tsis txhob txaj muag = Do not shy. Maj mam xyaum ib
los zuj zus = Slowly practice one word a time.
Tsis ntev ces koj yeej paub hais thiab sau lawm = Not long and you should know say and
write already. Koj muaj zog = you have strength. Ces koj thawb tau lub pob zeb loj thiab
hnyav. Then you push able a rock big and heavy. Koj puas nyiam mloog kuv tham? = You
do like listen I talk? Peb tham txog lus Hmoob = We talk about language Hmong. Nej
tuaj txog thaum twg? = You come to at when? Yog koj xav paub = If you want know. Lus
Hmoob zoo = Language Hmong well. Koj yuav phau ntawv no = you buy the book here.
Ntawm nej lub zos puas muaj neeg coob? = At your a city do have people many? Sau
ntawv Hmoob tsis nyuaj = Write letter Hmong not difficult. Tabsis nyeem = but read. Mas
nyuaj heev = then difficult much. Koj puas paub dhia hlua? = You do know jump rope?
Hma dhia los daig txoj hlua khau = fox jump come stuck a string shoe. Npua khiav los tsoo
lub tsheb mluav = Pig run come hit a car dented. Plas pw saum tsob ntoo ib hmos = owl
sleep up the tree one night. Tseg ib tais mov rau kuv noj = Save one plate rice for me eat.
Vim kuv tshaib heev = Because I hungry very. Koj mus yuav mov rau wb noj = You go buy
food for us eat. Thiab yuav dej = And buy water. Koj puas tshuav nyiaj? = You do have
money? The word “tshuav” means “still some left”, and the word “muaj” means “have.”
Lo lus “puas” txhais tau ntau yam = The word “puas” means can many things – can
mean many things. Yog siv tom qab lo lus tswv = If used after a word pronoun. Nws yog ib
zaj lus nug = It is one phrase question – a questioning sentence. Piv txwv = For example. Koj
puas... = Do you... Xws li = such as. Koj puas nyiam kawm? = Do you like to learn? Koj
puas nyiam kawm li no? = You do like to learn like this? Qhia li no nws pab tau koj ob yam =
Teach like this it help you get two things. Yam ib = Thing one. Yog paub siv thiab sau. Is know
use and write. Yam ob = Thing two. Yog koj paub cov lus thiab = Is you know the words
too. Yog li, kuv thiaj li sau thiab txhais li no =Therefore, I then write and translate like
this. Tsis yog li = not like that. Koj paub lo lus = you know the word. Tabsis koj tsis paub siv
= But you don't know use.

Okay, this is way too confusing indeed. However, I sincerely hope that you will learn better this
way. Once you understand the Hmong part well, you can translate into the proper English form.

For example:
Koj puas nyiam phau ntawv no?
You do like the book this? →English transliterated
Do you like this book? →Proper translation

Txuj ci ces zoo nkaus li lub hnub: Koj nthuav ua rau ntiaj teb kaj; koj npog ua rau ntiaj teb tsaus.
Ib leeg qhia ib los tsis ntev paub thoob zos.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
86 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Triple Consonants Words Usage Example


Kuv tsuj lub tais hmlos = I step the plate dented. Lub pob zeb hnyav heev = The rock
heavy very. Lub moo phem ncha mus thoob zos = The news bad echo go through city. Lub
cub tawg ncho pa siab heev = The fireplace emit smoke high very. Nws ua lauj kaub mov
nchuav = He made pot rice spill. Ib txoj kev nkhaus = One a road curvy. Tus ceg ntoo muaj
ntau nkhib = The branch tree have many angles. Nws nphau tsu mov = She turn (flip)
steamer rice. Koj los nphav kuv = You come bump me. Ib tus neeg muaj ib tus nplaig =
One a person have one a tongue. Cov nplaim taws kub heev = The flame fire hot very. Ib
thooj mov nplaum = One clump rice sticky. Peb muaj ib hnab nplej = We have one bag rice
(with chaff). Leej niam nplij cov me nyuam = The mother appease the children. Txoj kev
nplua heev = The road slippry very. Cov npluag qhwv cov txhuv = The chaff cover the rice.

Thaj zoov nqha vim lawv ntov cov ntoo loj tag = The wood clear because they chop the
trees big gone. Peb nqhis ib tais fawm = We hungry one bowl noodle. Lub pas dej nqhuab
vim sov heev = The pond dried because hot very. Peb los nrhiav koj = We come find you. Koj
nthe nrov dhau = You yell loud very. Kuv tsis ntse = I not smart. Koj ntseeg kuv hais =
You believe I say. Kuv ntsia koj mus = I watch you go. Kuv nyiam lub tsho ntsuab = I like
the shirt green. Koj yog tub ntxawg = You are son last. Koj ntxiv lub ris = You fix/sew the
pants. Tag kis yuav ntxoov = Tomorrow will overcast. Tseem ntxov heev = Still early very.
Koj pab ntxuav cov tais = You help wash the plates. Tib neeg ntxub dab = Humans hate
ghost. Ntxuav koj lub phlu = Wash your a face. Peb tuaj tsham koj = We come chat you.

Nws ua rau kuv tshee = It make for me shake. Kuv xav tau lub tsev tshiab = I want have a
house new. Koj los tshiav kuv = You come rub me. Kuv hnav lub tsho = I wear a shirt. Siv
tsheb mus tshom kev = Use car go plow road. Koj puas tshua kuv? = You do miss me? Noj
tshuaj pab = Eat medicine help. Koj hais txhaum = You say wrong. Koj txhawj dab tsi? =
You worry what? Nej puas muaj txhuv nplaum = You do have rice sticky? Zoo heev li
lawm = Good very indeed. Yog koj kawm thiab paub tag tej lus kuv qhia no = If you learn
and know all the words I teach here. Ces koj yeej paub lus Hmoob zoo = Then you should
know language Hmong well. Qhov tseem ceeb = The importance. Koj yuav tau hais txhua
hnub = You have to say every day. Kom koj swm xwb = So you are used to only.

Tshav ntuj = sunny or sun shine. Tshawb ntsuam = research. Ntsuam = examine, evaluate.
Tshawv = harsh, mean. Tshem = move or remove. Tshua = to think of or missing someone.
Tshoob = wedding. Tshuav = have, available. Txho = gray. Txhua = every or enough for
everyone. Tag kis yuav tshav ntuj = Tomorrow will be sunny. Neeg tseem niaj hnub
tshawb ntsuam txog kev mob nkees = People still every day research about illness. Koj
hais lus tshawv dhau = You say words harsh very. Pab kuv tshem kuv lub tsheb = Help
me move my the car. Ib lub tsev txho = One a house gray. Peb kawm txhua hnub = We
learn (study) every day.

Cov ntoo tuaj pos yog cov tawg paj zoo nkauj.
Ntoo me tawg paj loj; ntoo loj tawg paj me.
Lus mos lus tuaj pos – qub.
Zam tsis tuag pub tsis pluag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 87

Testing Your Skills


Please fill in the missing words.

1. Koj muab rau kuv = You give to me. 21. Kuv lub tsev tshiab = My new house.

2. Koj los pab ___ = You come help them. 22. Kuv ___ lub tsho liab = I wear a shirt red.

3. Koj puas ____ ____? = Do you know me? 23. Noj _____ pab = Take medicine help.

4. Koj hais ___ ____ ? = You say what? 24. Koj mus _____ = You go where?

5. Zoo ____ lawm = Very good indeed. 25. Koj ____ lus Hmoob = You speak Hmong.

6. Koj yog _____ ___? Who are you? 26. Koj tau ______ = You have said.

7. Lub pob zeb ____ = The rock is heavy. 27. Peb ____ ____ nej = We come help you.

8. Koj _____ kuv hais = You believe I say. 28. Kuv ____ koj mus = I see you go.

9. Tseem ____ heev = Still good very. 29. Koj ____ nyiaj = You have money.

10. Peb yuav mus = We ____ _____ 30. Lawv los qhia peb = _______________.

11. ____ xav mus _____= I want to go too. 31. Nej los pab ____ = You come to help us.

12. Peb _____ ntawv = We write letter. 32. Koj ____ kuv = You call me.

13. Nws haus ____ = he drink water. 33. Peb _____ mov = We eat food.

14. Kuv _____ ___ = I joke only. 34. Koj _____ peb _____ = You tell us do.

15. Los ______ mus ua si = Come we go play. 35. Kuv _____ ______ dej = I want drink water.

16. Kuv los pab koj = I come help ______ 36. Kuv niam tuaj = ____ mother come.

17. _____ ____ = Very good. Leej twg tuaj? = ______ come? 37. Tuaj pab peb = ____ ____ ___

18. Koj hais leej twg? ___________________? 38. Kuv tsis paub = ______________

19. Koj puas pom? ___________________? 39. Koj puas xav pom? ________________

20. I am happy = ________________ 40. I like you = ___________________

Yus tsim kev zoo es tej zaum Vajtswv thiaj yuav foom koob hmoo.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
88 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Quadruple Consonants
These quadruple consonants are easy to learn because you already have learned the triple
consonants along with many of the mouth-aspirated “h” consonants. Again, make sure you really
puff to a point that you can hear the “h” sound clearly.

No How to combine Consonant Word example English meaning


1 nph + l nphl* nphlaib or bhlaib Ring, like a diamond ring.
2 nts + h ntsh ntshai or jhai Afraid, fear, scare
3 ntx + h ntxh ntxhw Elephant
* I believe nphl is more correct in Hmong than nplh, i.e., nph + laib rather than npl + haib.

The consonant “nphl” can be pronounced as “bhl” with the mouth-aspirated “h”. Say this
consonant like this: bhos + los = bhlos or nph + los = nphlos. English phonics: bhlaw.

The consonant “ntsh” is easy. The “nts” is pronounced like the English “jaw.” Therefore, the
“ntsh” is like “jos + hos = jhos” or “ntsos + hos = ntshos.” Try to say my name with a big cough
– Jhay! And this word has the same phonics like the Hmong word “ntshej.” Therefore, ntsos +
hos = ntshos.

The last consonant “ntxh” is for the King of the jungle, ntxhw – the elephants. And I think you
deserve to have a picture to help you out.

How to pronounce the “ntxh” consonant


This consonant is a phonetic combination of the “nos + tos = ntos”. Then
“ntos + xos = ntxos”, and then the “ntxos + hos = ntxhos.” To say this
consonant right, you do as follows:

1. Bite your teeth together like the image on the left.


2. Place the tip of your tongue by forming the “nos” like the picture
illustrates. Make sure you press your tongue more on the top
teeth so you will have enough force to puff out the “h” – “haw”
English phonics sound.
3. Now say the “ntxos” by opening your teeth with a puffing sound
– the “hos” that is. Remember the ending “h” indicates a “puffing sound” – hard
pronuncation in English.

Practice uttering in slow motion: Bhaw + law = bhlaw. In other words, you begin uttering the
“bh”, but end it with the “law” sound. The “bhl” is a simplified version of the “nphl” consonant.
Let's look at the word “Thailand.” If we take out the “ai” after the “th” then it would be like
“thland” – th+land that is. And if we use this same logic with the English word “play” then the
Hmong phonics should be “phas-les” or phles instead of “plas-hes” or plhes.

See that was easy! By the way, how many tones does the English word “easy” have?
Two, very good, and here they are: Eab-sym.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 89

Quadruple Consonants with Pictures


Consonant Word Picture Example & Practice Reading

Koj muaj ib lub nphlaib kub.


You have one ring gold.
Nphl* nphl + aib
You have a gold ring that is.
nphlos Nphlaib
Nphlaib / Ring

Clear
Like a clear and clean bottle of water.
Ntsh ntsh + iab This is a clear bottle of water.
ntshos Ntshiab Nov yog ib fwj dej ntshiab.
Kuv ntshai means I am afraid.
Ntshaw means desire to.
Ntshiab / Clear

People use elephants to pull logs.


Neeg siv ntxhw los cab cav.
Ntxhais pab ntxhua khaub ncaws.
Ntxh ntxh + w
Daughters help wash clothes.
ntxhos Ntxhw Tub kam ntxuav tais thiab diav.
Sons agree to wash bowls and spoons.
Ntxhw / Elephant Ntxhe = echo, ntxhab = slope.

* nphl is the new version of nplh. nphl is more correct in Hmong than nplh,i.e., nph+laib not npl+haib.
Practice Reading
Nphlaib yog ib yam uas tib neeg siv los coj rau ntawm lawv tej ntiv tes. Ib txhia lawv kuj siv los
ua kev cog lus rau lub caij lawv sib yuav thiab. Txhua tus tib neeg yeej xav haus cov dej ntshiab
thiab huv xwb vim lawv tsis xav kom muaj kab mob. Txawm yog tej tsiaj qus li ntxhw kiag los
lawv yeej xav tib yam nkaus.
Kuv nrog koj zoo siab heev. I am very happy for you.
A big congratulations to you my tenacious and sagacious Grasshopper. You have now learned all
the Hmong consonants. However, this is just the beginning of your Hmong learning journey, and
without practicing on a regular basis, your tongue will naturally go back to where it is used to –
your native language. Therefore, you must incorporate these new tongue movements into your
daily life if you want to speak Hmong well. And remember, the only limit to learning is the limit
you put on yourself – not your tongue nor your ability. Just remember, you are a musical
instrument where you can choose to play only one kind of music or blend it with others, and each
type of melody creates a different mood and activates different hearing nerves not only in your
heart but also in your soul.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
90 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Consonants, Vowels and Tones Chart


Single poly-consonants
B* bh bl bhl
C ch
H prefix means nasal-aspirated, i.e., hma, hnub
D dh except the “hl”, i.e., hle, hla.
H suffix means mouth-aspirated, i.e., ch, dh, kh, th
F
G* gh
hl
H hm hml
hn hny Vowels
J* jh
Tones Example
K kh
L
a
M ml ai
nc nch au J
nk nkh Peb
aw S Kawm
np nph
e V Sau
npl nplh
nq nqh nphl** ee M Hmong Thiab
N i G
nr nrh Words Nyeem
nt nth ia B Lus
nts ntsh o _ Hmoob
ntx ntxh oo D
ny
u
** Personally, I think the consonant “plh”
P ph phl** → ua should be “phl” instead. In other words,
pl plh w English Hmong phonics
h* pea phis
Q qh
plea phlis not plhis.
R rh In other words, it is ph + lis and not
pl + his. Likewise, nplh should be nphl.
S
th These are all the words combination in the Hmong language so if
T ts tsh
tx txh
you can read any of these consonants, vowels, and tones, you
should not have any problems reading and writing Hmong.
V
* h is also a silent vowel used for words such as ohs, ohm,
X xy, xz1 ahm. This is a new vowel that I invented.
Y 1 New consonant for English “z” as in the word “zip”
Z
* Some people use a “B” in place of “np”, “G” in place of “nk”, and “J” in place of “nts.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 91

Consonants, Vowels and Tones Chart Exercise


There are three types of pronunciations in Hmong:
Single poly-consonants
1. Nasal aspirated: hma, hmoo → hmm + ma, hmm + mong
B 2. Mouth aspirated: hle, hla → ha + le, ha + la
C tha, thau → tah, tao (hard t in English)
khau, phau → kao, pao (hard k, p)
D
3. Clear/simple: me, moo → may, mong (English phonics)
F de, te → day, -tay (soft t like stay)
G po, no → -paw, naw (soft p like spaw)

H Vowels
Tones
J
K
L
M

Hmong
N Words

Q
R Consonant + vowel + tone = word
S n+ o +j = eat
n+ e +b = you two
T n + ia + m = mother
+ + = we
+ + = go
V
+ + = learn
X + + = Hmong
Y
Z

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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92 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Pronouns
Hmong pronouns are similar to English; however, unlike English, there are no objective nor
possessive pronoun forms – just subjective pronouns. For English, the first “person” pronoun has
four forms (I, me, my, mine), but Hmong has only one form – kuv. So let's look at the difference
between the first and second pronouns between these two languages.
Subjective Objective Possessive Possessive
1st person - English I Me My Mine
Hmong Kuv (-koo) Kuv Kuv Kuv
2 person - English You
nd
You Your Yours – one person only
Hmong Koj (-kaw!) Koj Koj Koj
Notice that the English first person pronoun has four different forms, I, me, my and mine.
However, the Hmong form has only one form called “kuv.” Likewise, the English second person
pronoun has three different forms, you, your and yours while the Hmong has one form called
“koj.” So what does this mean to English speakers? Well, let me answer you with this question.
Would you rather learn four different forms to mean “You” or just one? In other words, “I, me,
my, mine” are all referring to the same person, “I”, that is! Therefore, the single form is simple
and it is more consistent with all other nouns, i.e., cow, fish, river etc... What I am trying to say
here is that some languages only have one form for each pronoun, and the Hmong language is one
of them. For example:

No Hmong English transliterated Proper English


1 Kuv nyiam koj. I like you. I like you.
2 Koj nyiam kuv. You like I. You like me.
3 Koj nyiam koj. You like you. You like yourself. (koj tus kheej)
4 Kuv lub tsev liab. I a house red. My red house.
5 Nov yog kuv li. This is I thing. (my belongings) This is mine.
Number 1 is syntactically the same for both Hmong and English.
Number 2 is different and the difference is the word “me” in English.
Number 3 is not proper in English because of you – not yourself – got it?
Number 4 is different between “Kuv” and “My.”
Number 5 is different between “Kuv” and “mine.”

If you are confused, just remember that only “Koj thiab Kuv”, “You and I.” Of course, the proper
order of where to place pronouns is still very much the same in both languages – subjective
pronouns are always at the beginning of a sentence and possessive pronouns are at the end. If
either a noun or a classifier is placed right after a pronoun, then that pronoun is most likely a
possessive pronoun. For example: Kuv lub tsev = my house. Koj tsev neeg = your family. Kuv
niam mus tsev lawm = my mother went home already etc...

Ruam xaiv tus zoo nkauj; ntse xaiv tus tsis nrauj.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 93

Below are some Hmonglish, English but speak like the Hmong way.

No English Remarks
1 I like you. I is a subjective pronoun and like is a verb, and you, in this position is at the
end of the sentence so it is an objective pronoun. Now if you reverse this
sentence around, it would look like the example number 2 below.
2 You like I. This is strange for English speakers but the “I” here should stay the same like
the pronoun “you” above, and that is how the Hmong language works.

In other words, any pronouns that you place after the verb like is being liked
by the pronoun in front of that verb. For example:
I like you and you like I. And not “you like me.”
Kuv nyiam koj thiab koj nyiam kuv.
Again, the order or position of where the pronoun is being placed is very similar in both
languages. For example: Kuv hlub kuv niam vim nws hlub kuv heev.
I love my mother because she loves me much.

As you already know, you, your, yours are still referring to the same person – you. At a first
glance, the Hmong way seems strange, but I can assure you that once you know the Hmong
language, you will be able to speak it well without carrying too many exceptions and extra words.

No Hmong English Hmong Example English transliterated


1 kuv I, my, mine, me. Kuv kawm lus Hmoob. I learn language Hmong.
2 phau ntawv a book. Phau ntawv no yog kuv li. This book here is I thing.
Kuv li = mine. Kuv = I or me. The book here is mine.
3 rau to Muab rau kuv. Give to me.
4 qauv siv usage example. Qauv siv phau ntawv no. Example use a book this.
5 no this Phau ntawv no yog kuv li. The book here is I thing.
6 yog is or belong to Phau ntawv no yog kuv li. The book here is I thing.
7 li A possessive Phau ntawv no yog kuv li. This book here is I thing.
word.
8 thiab and, too, also Koj thiab kuv. Kuv mus You and I. I go too.
thiab. Kuv thiab. I too (me too that is).
The purpose of these little exercises is to familiarize you with the similarity of the two languages
even though the Hmong word stays the same, but pragmatically the word moves to its proper
positions similar to English. So when you try to understand the English on the last column, you
won't because it does not make English grammatical sense. However, when you read the Hmong
column, it makes sense to the native Hmong speakers. The word “li”, pronounced “lee” is a
possessive word or form, and it is generally placed after the pronouns to signify its ownership. For
example, “Phau ntawv no yog leej twg li?” means “This book here belongs to whom?” Qhov nyiaj
no yog Paj li. This money here is Paj's. Puas yog koj li? Is it yours? Yog mas. Yes, it is.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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94 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

So far we have covered only two pronouns: You and I or Koj thiab Kuv. Now we are ready to
learn the rest of the pronouns.

No Hmong English objective and possessive pronouns


1 Kuv I my me mine
2 Koj – one person You your yours Even though Hmong has
only one pronoun for each
3 Neb – two persons (you two) You your yours
form or person, the order
4 Nej – more than two persons You your yours of placement is similar to
5 Nkawv – exactly two persons They their them theirs English in many ways.
For example:
6 Lawv – more than two persons They their them theirs Hmong English
7 Wb – two persons (we two) We our us ours Muab rau kuv. Give to me.
8 Peb – more than two persons We our us ours Xa rau koj. Send to you.
Koj pab kuv. You help me.
9 Nws He his him Kuv lub tsev. My house.
10 Nws She her hers Kuv niam. My mother.
11 Nws It its Kuv zoo siab. I am happy.
Once again, the English pronouns change from subjective to possessive and objective, but the
Hmong pronouns remain the same through out. However, when the Hmong use pronouns as
possessive pronouns, they will generally end the possessive pronouns with either the object names
or their classifiers, For example:

English Hmong
This book is mine. Phau ntawv no yog kuv phau or Phau ntawv no yog kuv li.
This is my book. Nov yog kuv phau ntawv. Or phau ntawv no yog kuv li.
The word li is a general term used mostly in place of the object and in this
case is “phau” – a book-like object. For example, Nov yog kuv li.

For the most part, Hmong generally place the classifier at the end of a
sentence to indicate the ownership of an object. For example:
Lub Li
This car is mine. Lub tsheb no yog kuv lub. Lub tsheb no yog kuv li.
This knife is mine. Rab riam no yog kuv rab. Rab riam no yog kuv li.
This house is yours. Lub tsev no yog koj lub. Lub tsev no yog koj li.

English Hmong
Pronoun Verb Past tense Pronoun Verb Past tense
You go → went. Koj mus → mus.
I go → went. Kuv mus → mus. Hmong verbs
We go → went. Peb mus → mus. stay the same.
She goes → went. Nws mus → mus.

Nyob luag taw yus ho yuav; nyob yus tes yus ho dhuav.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 95

Practice
Please fill in the Hmong equivalent pronouns on the right of each English pronoun.
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
You koj He You two
I She We two
We Us Our
They Them His

No English Translate into Hmong


1 I go home. ____ mus tsev.
2 You come here. ____ los nov.
3 We go with you. ____ mus nrog _____
4 You drink water. _____ haus dej.
5 You help me. _____ pab ______
6 They call us. _____ hu _______
7 We know you. _____ paub _______
8 You eat rice. _____ noj mov.
9 He likes you. _____ nyiam _____

No Hmong English Hmong English


10 Kuv mus tsev. I go home. Koj haus dej. You drink water.
11 Koj mus tsev. You go home. (one person) Nej pab kuv. You help me.
12 Nej mus tsev. You go home. (you all) Koj los nov. You come here.
13 Peb mus tsev. We go home. (we all) Wb mus noj mov. We go eat rice.
14 Lawv mus tsev. They go home. Nej los noj mov. You come eat rice.
15 Nws mus tsev. He/she goes home. Nws paub koj. He/she knows you.
16 Paj mus tsev. Paj goes home. Koj hais ab tsi? You say what?
Notice that the verb “go” in English changes to “goes” for the pronouns “he, she and it”, but the
verb “mus” of the Hmong stays the same. Also, in Hmong, there is no pronoun for he or she.
Instead Hmong uses the word “nws”, and it is analogous to the English word “it.” Additionally,
the Hmong word “noj mov” means “eat rice”, but under most general use, it means “eat food.”
For example:
Los nrog peb noj mov ohs means come eat with us. However, “noj nqaij” means “eat meat”
and “noj zaub” means “eat vegetables.” Therefore, the Hmong words “noj mov” means eating,
eat rice, or eat food in general. Peb mus noj mov yom? We go eat okay?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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96 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Sometimes the Hmong people use the pronoun “nws” to represent the mentioned pronoun that is
in the same sentence as to not keep repeating that same pronoun, and it is less direct as well. For
example:
Koj ua neeg siab ncaj nawb es nws thiaj li tsis txom nyem mog.
Nws tsis txhob ua neeg phem mog. This is talking indirectly to the second pronoun, koj.

Below are Hmong verbs and words that are similar to the English “-ing, -ed” verbs:
No Hmong English
1 Koj mus tsev lawm. You went home already.
2 Koj mus tsev. You go home.
3 Koj mus tsev. You are going home.
4 Koj twb mus tsev. You have gone home. Or you already went home.
5 Koj twb mus tsev lawm. You had gone home already.
6 Koj tab tom noj. You are eating. Tab tom means “in the process” of.
7 Koj sau tau ntau phau ntawv. You have written many books.
8 Kuv nyiam koj. I like you.
9 Peb twb noj hmo lawm. We ate dinner already.
10 Kuv twb noj mov tag lawm. I ate already finish.
11 Vim li cas koj tsis tau ua? Why you have not done?
12 Rau qhov kuv tseem kawm ntawv. Because I am still studying.
13 Koj muag qaib. You sell chickens.
14 Peb ua teb. We do farming or we farm.
15 Koj mus qhov twg? You are going where?
16 Peb mus taj laj xwb. We go shopping only. Taj laj is a Lao word.
17 Koj puas muaj mov? Do you have rice?
18 Ib phaj pes tsawg? A plate is how much?
19 Rau duas ohs. Six dollars.
20 Ua tsaug. Thank you.
21 Tsis ua li cas. Tsis ua cas. Not a problem. No problems.
22 Mus zoo. Go good (goodbye that is)

The word “twb” means “already” or “done” in English. For example: Kuv twb ua tas = I
already did finish. And the word “tab tom” means “in the process of.” For example: Kuv tab
tom noj mov = I am in the process of eating. The word “tseem” means “still.”
For example: Kuv tseem noj mov = I still eat or I am still eating.
Kuv tseem tab tom noj mov = I am still in the process of eating.
Kuv tseem yuav noj mov = I still will eat.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 97

Practice Hmong Pronouns


1. You come help me = ____ los pab ____. I help you = ____ pab ____. You and I = ___ thiab ____.
2. Let him go = Cia ____ mus. I call you = ___ hu ____. We have money = ____ muaj nyiaj.
3. They don't know = _____ tsis paub. I will tell you two = ____ mam li qhia _____.
4. When are you coming? = Thaum twg ___ tuaj? We go help them = ____ mus pab _____.
5. He comes drink water = ____ los haus dej. We two want to eat = ____ xav noj. Their = ______.

6. Who calls you? = ___ ___ hu ____? Let us go play = Cia ___ mus ua si. We = ____.
7. They speak English = _____ hais lus Askiv. We give to them = ____ muab rau ______.
8. I give to her = ____ muab rau ____. Her mother knows me = ____ niam paub _____.
9. My mother and father = ____ niam thiab txiv. Our house = ____ lub tsev.
10. Give it to you = Muab nws rau _____. The two of them = ______. Everyone = ______ leej.

11. Come I help you = Los ___ pab ____. Let me talk = Cia ___ hais lus. You two eat = ____ noj.
12. We fix our house = ____ kho ____ lub tsev. He ask his mother = ____ nug ____ niam.
13. I call my father = ___ hu ____ txiv. We are inside his house = ____ nyob hauv ____ lub tsev.
14. Do you know me? = ___ puas paub ____? How old are you? _____ muaj pes tsawg xyoo?
15. What is your name? ____ lub npe hu li cas? You are a good person = ____ yog ib tus neeg zoo.

16. I, my, me, mine = ____ in Hmong. You, your, yours (one person) = ____ in Hmong.
17. You two = ____ in Hmong. You all = ____ in Hmong. They and us = _____ thiab ______.
18. They, them, theirs = ____ in Hmong. We, our, ours = ____ in Hmong.
19. He, she, it = ____ in Hmong. The two of them = ______________. We two = __________.
20. Oneself = ny_____ or y____. Others = L_________. Who = _____ _______.

21. I am the father = _____________. My dad loves me = _________________________.


22. You buy food for us = ________________. We like your house = ___________________.
23. This is yours = __________________. You two come to sleep = ______________________.
24. They come help her = ____________________. We go help them = ____________________.
25. I want to see you = ______________________. You know English = __________________.

26. How are you? = ____________________. How old are you? ____________________.
27. Where are you from? ________________. What country? ______________________.
28. How many years? ___________________. When did you come? ______________________.
29. Why did you come? _________________. When will I know? ______________________.
30. Do you have food? __________________. Can you tell me? ________________________.

31.Where = __________. When = ___________. What = ___________. Want to = ___________.


32. Do you = _________. How = ____________. Help = _____. Love = _____. Come = _______.
33. Lie = ______. See = ________. Big house = __________. Learn = __________. Drink = ______.

Believing is good, but achieving is better.


Txawj tsis ua ruam tsis paub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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98 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Let's recap the Hmong pronouns

No Hmong English
1 Kuv I, my, me, mine.
2 Koj You, your, yours – singular or for one person only.
3 Lawv They, their, theirs, them – for more than two persons only.
4 Neb You (two persons) – you two.
5 Nej You (more than two persons) – you all.
6 Nkawv The two of them as a third person.
7 Nyias One as one should be happy with himself or herself – oneself.
8 Nws He/she/it.
9 Peb We, our, ours, us – more than two persons only.
10 Wb We (two persons)
11 Yus One as oneself
12 Luag Others, like other people or person. This can be singular or plural.
13 Yawg He or that man. Tus yawg hnav lub ris liab. The man wears the red pants.
14 Pog She or that woman. Tus pog uas laus tshaj. The woman that is oldest.
Don't worry about my, mine and me at this point because we will be learning the differences
plentifully later on. For now, all you need to understand is that “koj” means “you”, and “kuv”
means “I” and the rest, i.e., my, me, mine are going bye-bye.

Let's look at some more examples

No Hmong English transliterated Proper English Translation


1 Koj ntseeg kuv. You believe I. You believe me.
2 Cia kuv qhia koj. Let I tell you. Let me tell you.
3 Phau ntawv no yog kuv li. This book is I thing. This book is mine.
4 Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? You have how many years? How old are you?
5 Koj muab rau kuv. You give to I. You give to me.
Strange? No, only your eyes and ears. If you were taught to speak like the Hmong way, you
wouldn't even notice the strangeness at all. For most people, different means strange. In other
words when we say, “Joe gives to John, You give to I, and I give to Joe” are understandable
already. Now to call this right and wrong or proper grammar is another story. For instance, the
pronoun “you” can be used as both nominative (subject) and objective which is similar to the
Hmong pronoun “kuv”; however, for the pronoun “I” it changes to “me” for objective. For
example: I give to you, and you give to me.

Yuav tub yuav ki los yuav tau saib niam saib txi.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 99

Verbs and Adverbs


Verbs are the action of any language, and it gives specific instructions. Unlike English, Hmong
verbs don't change and do not have “-ed, -ing and -s” such as English words “wanted, wanting
and wants” – no verb conjugations that is.

Hmong verbs don't change except for times, locations, and pronouns.

No Hmong English transliterated


1 Kuv nyiam koj. I like you.
2 Koj paub kuv. You know me.
3 Kuv paub koj. I know you.
4 Koj muaj nyiaj. You have money. As you can see, these verbs are
very similar in both languages.
5 Kuv haus dej. I drink water.
6 Koj pab kuv. You help me.
7 Kuv mus tsev. I go home.
8 Koj los nov. You come here.
Just remember that there is no “s” added to any verbs or nouns in Hmong.

Present Tense Past Tense


1 He likes me. Nws nyiam kuv. 4 He liked me. Nws nyiam kuv.
2 You like me. Koj nyiam kuv. 5 You liked me. Koj nyiam kuv.
3 They like me. Lawv nyiam kuv. 6 They liked me. Lawv nyiam kuv.

Adverbs
Hmong adverbs are similar to English; however, the order might be different. Generally,
adverbs are placed after the verbs, i.e., Kuv hlub koj heev means I love you much. Here
are some examples:

No Hmong English Proper English


1 Kuv nyiam koj heev. I like you much. I like you a lot.
2 Koj maj mam mus kev. You slowly walk. You walk slowly.
3 Koj muaj nyiaj ntau. You have money much. You have a lot of money.
4 Kuv pab koj heev. I help you much. I help you a lot.
5 Kuv nyiam koj dhau. I like you much. I like you a lot.
6 Kuv nyiam koj heev dhau. I like you very much. I like you very much.
7 Koj kav tsij ntxiv. You keep on learning more. kav tsij = keep on, continue on

Learning a new language is like learning new synonyms.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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100 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Past Tense Verbs


No English Hmong
1 Yesterday I ate lunch. Nag hmo kuv noj su.
2 I came to see you before. Kuv tuaj saib koj puag ta.
3 Yesterday we saw you. Nag hmo peb pom koj.

4 I cut the grass yesterday. Kuv txiav nyom nag hmo.


5 He wanted to sleep. Nws xav pw.
6 She cooked dinner. Nws ua hmo.
Nag hmo = yesterday. Lawm and twb means done or in the past.

Present Tense Verbs

No English Hmong
1 Today I eat lunch. Hnub no kuv noj su.
2 I come to see you today. Kuv tuaj saib koj hnub no.
3 Today we see you. Hnub no peb pom koj.
4 I cut the grass today. Kuv txiav nyom hnub no.
5 He wants to sleep. Nws xav pw.
6 She cooks dinner. Nws ua hmo.
Hnub no = today, but realistically it means as follows: Hnub = day, no = this or here.

Future Tense Verbs


No English Hmong
1 Tomorrow I will eat lunch. Tag kis kuv yuav noj su.
2 I will come to see you tomorrow. Kuv yuav tuaj saib koj tag kis.
3 Tomorrow we will see you. Tag kis peb yuav pom koj.

4 I will cut the grass tomorrow. Kuv yuav txiav nyom tag kis.
5 He will want to sleep. Nws yuav xav pw.
6 She will cook dinner. Nws yuav ua hmo.
Tag kis = tomorrow, yuav = will. Mam li also means will, i.e., Kuv mam li mus = I will go.

As you can see from the above examples, both languages are very similar except for the verbs of
the English past tense, i.e., ate, saw, wanted etc...

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 101

More Examples
No Hmong English
1 Kuv noj kuv pluas su. I ate my lunch.
2 Kuv noj kuv pluas su. I eat my lunch.
3 Kuv yuav noj kuv pluas su. I will eat my lunch.
4 Koj hu kuv nag hmo. You called me last night.
5 Koj hu kuv thaum koj mus txog tsev. You call me when you get home.
6 Nws noj ntau heev. He eats too much.
7 Lawv noj ntau heev. They eat too much.
8 Nws tab tom haus dej. He is drinking water now.
Perhaps you may not quite understand and/or like how the Hmong syntax works, but let me
compare the Hmong verbs to some of the English verbs and words that are very similar.

No Hmong English
9 Kuv txiav kuv cov nyom nag hmo. I cut my grass yesterday.
10 Kuv txiav kuv cov nyom hnub no. I cut my grass today.
11 Kuv yuav txiav kuv cov nyom tag kis. I will cut my grass tomorrow.
12 Kuv tso saum lub rooj ntev los. I put on the table long ago.
As you can see, Hmong verbs work exactly like English verbs cut and put without ever
changing – no conjugations that is. So how do you know when certain action was done?

Well, a typical question most people want to know is as follows:


1. Who? – which pronoun.
2. Does what? – what verb. The question is: When, how many or how much of what?
3. Where?
4. When? Yesterday means in the past so we don't need to use a past tense verb. Doing so it
is like having two negatives or past tense words. So yesterday I eat is as logical as
yesterday I cut or put.
5. How many or how much? Numbers already tell you how many, i.e., 5 book not 5
books. Which is similar to the English structure one deer and 5 deer.

And when we can answer these questions then we do not need to change the verbs, for example:
Do, does to did and done
Eat, eats to ate and eaten The Hmong verbs are similar to the past tense verb “did”
Walk, walks to walked of the English, i.e., I did, he did, it did, and they did etc...

And definitely Hmong has no such a verb like “read – reed” and “read – red” either.

Each human language has its own exceptions.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
102 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Grammar and Syntax


Before we dive into grammar, let's review the keys I used in my Hmong Dictionary:

No English Abbreviation Hmong Luv


1 pronoun pro tswv t
2 adverb adv piav ua pu
3 verb v ua u
4 conjunction conj txuas tx
5 adjective adj piav yam (piav txog) p
6 noun n yam y
7 interjection interj or int nthe nth
8 preposition prep rau r
9 classifier cl. or cla. hom h
10 article (a, an, the) art [number] + classifier, i.e., ib lub

Below is a simple syntax structure between English and Hmong.

Pronoun Verb Article Adjective Object Adverb


English I like a red car a lot

Pronoun Verb Quantity Classifier Object Adjective Adverb


Hmong Kuv nyiam ib lub tsheb liab heev.
Here is the translation breakdown of the above sentences:
I = Kuv, like = nyiam, a = ib lub, red = liab, car = tsheb, a lot = heev.

Perhaps the English line could have been written to match the Hmong line as follows:
I like one classifier/a car red much.
Since Hmong does not have articles, i.e., a, an and the, there will always a number plus a classifier.
For example:
Kuv muaj ib lub tsheb = I have one car. In this case, we could write, “I have a car.”

Another difference is adjectives. For English, adjectives go before objects, but for Hmong, the
adjectives go after, mostly. Also, there is no “to-be” verbs in Hmong. For example:
English: I want to eat. I want to be a teacher. I am mad.
Hmong: Kuv xav noj. Kuv xav ua ib tug xibfwb. Kuv chim.

Thaum hluas muab zog pauv nyiaj; thaum laus muab nyiaj pauv zog.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 103

How To Use Hmong Words


One of the problems when learning a new language is how to apply and/or use a new word even
once we know its meaning. For this reason, an example is worth more than a page of explanation
sometimes. However, before we can properly apply/use the new word, we must also know what
type of word, i.e., verb, noun, adjective etc... With that said, I want to remind you of what I
assigned each Hmong word in my Hmong Dictionary.
English Pronoun Adverb Verb Classifier Object/Noun Adjective
Word Tswv Piav Ua Ua Hom Yam Piav
key (t) (pu) (u) (h) (y) (p)

So, let's say you see a Hmong word “nej” and you want to know what it means. First, you go look
it up in your favorite dictionary. For the sake of this example, I am going to use my own
dictionary, www.hmongdictionary.com:

Lo Lus / Word Txhais / Definition Askiv / Equivalent English


nej(t) Cov neeg uas yus hais losyog tham lus rau:Nej hais lus zoo heev. (pron) You, your, yours and used for
more than two persons.
The first column on the left is (t), pronoun. The second column is definition and example. And on
the far right is the equivalent English for the word “nej.” So in this case, you can only put this
word “nej” in two places: At the beginning, known as subjective pronoun, and it is equivalent
to the English word “you.” The second option is at the very end of your sentence, known as
objective pronoun, and it is equivalent to the English word “you” – plural form, however.
For Example:
Nej pab kuv. Nej is a subjective pronoun (t). Pab is a verb (u), and kuv is a objective pronoun.
Kuv pab nej. Kuv is a subjective pronoun (t). Pab is a verb (u), and nej is a objective pronoun.

Now let's look up the word “pab” from www.hmongdictionary.com:

Lo Lus / Word Txhais / Definition Askiv / Equivalent English


pab(u) Mus nrog ua; mus koom ua; cawm: Nws pab kuv ua teb. (y) Muaj (v) Help, assist, aid. (n,cl) Group, team,
ntau tus los nyob uake; pawg: Hmoob muaj ntau pab. (h) Pawg, gang.
pab: Ib pab neeg; ib pab dev; ib pab npua ltn...
Now you see the word “pab” as a verb – (u), and so it has to be placed after a subject or other
subjective pronouns. The next type is (y) – noun, and the last type is (h) – hom or a classifier. So
if you want to use this word “pab” as a noun (y) then it would be something like this:
Koj nyiam pab nyuj dub. = You like herd cows black. →You like the herd of black cows.
The last one (h) is a classifier and it is very similar to the English word “group.” For example, ib
pab neeg, ob pab nyuj →one group of people, two herds of cows. Notice that the Hmong way is
very direct and you put classifiers directly in front of the objects or nouns. For example,
Ib pab yaj, ib lub tsev, ib res paj, ib phau ntawv, coob tus neeg, ib pob mov etc...

Tus neeg hlub yog siab ncaj; tus neeg pub yog siab zoo.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
104 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

More Grammar
Let's look at the basic subject-verb-object structure.

No Subject Verb Object Equivalent transliterated


1. Kuv mus tsev. I go home.
2. Koj noj mov. You eat food.
3. Peb los tsev. We come home.
4. Koj hais kuv. You mention me. You talk about me.
5. Dev haus dej. Dog drinks water.
6. Nab tom nas. Snake bites squirrel.

The above sentences are very general and without any classifiers. So let's add some classifiers to
the first three sentences.

No Subject Verb Classifier Object English Translation literal translation


7. Kuv mus lub tsev. I go to a house. (you go a house)
8. Koj noj tais mov. You eat a bowl of rice. (you eat bowl food)
9. Peb los lub tsev. We come to a house. (we come a house)

Now let's add adjectives to the above examples.

No Subject Verb Classifier Object Adjective English Translation


10. Kuv mus lub tsev loj. I go to a big house.
11. Koj noj tais mov nplaum. You eat a bowl of sticky rice.
12. Peb los lub tsev me. We come to a small house.

For more general sentence structure, most complete sentences will have the following syntax:

No Subject + verb + qty + classifier + object + adj English


13. Koj noj peb tais mov txua. You eat three bowls of non-sticky rice.
14. Koj haus tsib fwj cawv dawb. You drink five bottles of white wine.
15. Koj noj ntau daim nqaij qaib. You eat many pieces of chickens.

Simple phrase
pronoun + verb

No Pronoun Verb English


16. Kuv kam. I allow. I let or I permit.
17. Kuv paub. I know.
18. Kuv hnov. I hear.
19. Kuv nyiam. I like.

Kuv kam koj mus tsev = I allow you to go home. Kuv hnov nws hais lus = I hear him talk.
Kuv paub nws zoo = I know him well. Nws nyiam noj mov = He likes to eat food.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 105

Simple Phrase with “tsis”


No Pronoun Tsis Verb English transliterated Proper English
1. Kuv tsis kam. I not allow. I do not allow.
2. Kuv tsis paub. I not know. I do not know.
3. Kuv tsis hnov. I not hear. I do not hear.
4. Kuv tsis nyiam. I not like. I do not like.

Perhaps the Hmong word “tsis” is analogous to the English word “don't” or “dis-” as in disallow.
No Pronoun Tsis Verb Verb English Proper English
5. Kuv tsis kam mus. I not allow go. I don't want to go.
6. Kuv tsis paub hais. I not know say. I don't know how to say.
7. Kuv tsis hnov cem. I not hear yell. I didn't hear yell.
8. Kuv tsis nyiam ua. I not like do. I don't like to do.

No Pronoun Tsis Verb Verb Verb English Proper English


9. Kuv tsis kam mus pab. I not allow go help. I don't want to go help.
10. Kuv tsis paub hais zoo. I not know say good. I don't know how to say good.
11. Kuv tsis hnov cem phem. I not hear yell bad. I did not hear bad yell.
12. Kuv tsis nyiam ua dog dig. I not like do so so. I don't like to do so so.

Future Tense
No Pronoun Yuav Verb English
13. Koj yuav kam. You will allow or let.
14. Koj yuav paub. You will know.
15. Koj yuav hnov. You will hear.
16. Koj yuav nyiam. You will like.

Future Tense with “tsis”


No Pronoun Yuav Tsis Verb English
17. Koj yuav tsis kam. You will not allow.
18. Koj yuav tsis paub. You will not know.
19. Koj yuav tsis hnov. You will not hear.
20. Koj yuav tsis nyiam. You will not like.

Other words and phrases that Hmong like to use.


No Hmong English
21. Kuv tsis lam hais lus. I don't just talk. Lam means not for real or without best effort.
22. Kuv tsis tshua nyiam ua. I don't really like to do.
23. Koj lam taus lam hais. You just say without thinking, to ramble.
24. Kuv xub noj. I first eat or I eat first.
25. Koj noj tom qab kuv. You eat after me.
26. Koj noj ua ntej kuv. You eat before me.
27. Koj yog tus kawg. You are the last.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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106 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Please fill in the English words


No Pronoun Tsis Verb English transliterated
1. Kuv tsis kam. I not allow.
2. Kuv tsis paub. I not _______.
3. Kuv tsis hnov. I not _______.
4. Kuv tsis nyiam. I not _______.

Perhaps the Hmong word “tsis” is analogous to the English word “don't” or “dis” as in disallow.
No Pronoun Tsis Verb Verb English
5. Kuv tsis kam noj. I not allow _____.
6. Kuv tsis paub dag. I not know _____.
7. Kuv tsis hnov hais. I not hear _____.
8. Kuv tsis nyiam mus. I not like _____.

No Pronoun Tsis Verb Verb Verb English


9. Kuv tsis kam mus pab. I not allow ___ _____
10. Kuv tsis paub hais zoo. I not ____ _____ _____
11. Kuv tsis hnov cem phem. I not ____ _____ _____
12. Kuv tsis nyiam ua phem. I ___ ____ ____ _____

Future Tense
No Pronoun Yuav Verb English
13. Koj yuav paub. ______________________
14. Koj yuav pab. ______________________
15. Koj yuav noj. ______________________
16. Koj yuav nug ______________________

Future Tense with “tsis”


No Pronoun Yuav Tsis Verb English
17. Koj yuav tsis mus. _____________________
18. Koj yuav tsis pab. _____________________
19. Koj yuav tsis mloog. _____________________
20. Koj yuav tsis kawm. _____________________

Other words that Hmong like to use


No Hmong English
21. Kuv tsis lam hais lus phem. _________________________________________
22. Kuv tsis tshua nyiam dag. _________________________________________
23. Koj lam taus lam cem. _________________________________________
24. Kuv xub noj. _________________________________________
25. Kuv noj tom qab koj. _________________________________________
26. Koj noj ua ntej peb. _________________________________________
27. Koj yog tus kawg. _________________________________________

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 107

More Grammar
No Hmong English
1 Koj puas + verb... Do you + verb...
2 Piv txwv: Koj puas nyiam? Example: Do you like?
3 Koj puas yog + tus neeg... Are you + a person, adjectives...
4 Piv txwv: Koj puas yog Lis? Example: Are you Lee?
5 Koj puas xav + verb... Would you like to + verb...
6 Piv txwv: Koj puas xav haus? Example: Would you like to drink?
7 Koj puas tau + verb... Have you + verb...
8 Piv txwv: Koj puas tau ua? Example: Have you done?
The word “Koj” above can be any pronouns.

No Hmong interrogative structures Example


9 Puas yog + pronoun/noun + verb...
10 Example: Puas yog koj + mus, tuaj, muaj etc... Puas yog koj tuaj...
11 Example: Puas yog koj mus tsev lawm?
12 Puas yog + pronoun/noun + verb + verb . . .
13 Example: Puas yog koj + tuaj + saib . . . Puas yog koj tuaj saib...
14 Example: Puas yog koj tuaj saib kuv?
15 Puas yog + pronoun/noun + tau + verb + verb. . .
16 Example: Puas yog koj tau + mus cem lawv? Puas yog koj tau mus cem...
17 mus pab lawv? Puas yog koj tau mus pab...

Koj puas vs puas yog koj


The first one, “Koj puas” is equivalent to the English “Do you or are you” etc... For example:
Koj puas zoo siab? Are you happy?
Koj puas mus? Are you going?

The second form, “Puas yog” is equivalent to the English, “Have you, did you” etc... In other
words, the person you are asking is already living in that state or situation. For example:
Puas yog koj zoo siab? Have you been happy? More like, is it true you are happy?
Puas yog koj dag? Have you been lying? More like, is it true you are lying?

Of course, you can use any other pronouns or nouns to replace the word “koj” above. For
example:
Puas yog tus dev tuag? Did the dog die?
Puas yog lub tsev vau tiag? Did the house really fall?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
108 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Testing Your Hmong Verbs


Please translate the English phrase into Hmong.

1. I eat lunch. __________________________________________________


2. I ate lunch already. ____________________________________________
3. I cut my grass this morning. ______________________________________
4. Yesterday I went home. __________________________________________
5. I knew you for a long time. ______________________________________

6. I go home today. _______________________________________________


7. I am going home today. __________________________________________
8. I see you come. ________________________________________________
9. I sleep all day. ________________________________________________
10. I am learning Hmong. __________________________________________

11. I will go home now. ___________________________________________


12. I would like to see you tomorrow. ___________________________________
13. I want to go home tomorrow. ______________________________________
14. I don't want to go now. __________________________________________
15. I will have my car tomorrow. _______________________________________

16. He ate already. _________________________________________________


17. We went home too late last night. ____________________________________
18. You called us many times already. ____________________________________
19. When you called, I was sleeping. ____________________________________
20. Who calls you? _________________________________________________

21. He did his job well. ________________________________________________


22. He did not do his work. ____________________________________________
23. He wants to have a new house. ______________________________________
24. He would like to see you soon. ______________________________________
25. He will be calling you soon. ________________________________________

26. We are happy to see you. ___________________________________________


27. We will be happy to see you. ________________________________________
28. We shall not go at all. _____________________________________________
29. We agree to help you. _____________________________________________
30. We are happy to come home. ________________________________________

Hmong words that indicate something have been completed are: Twb, tas, and lawm.
Pronoun + twb + verb. Example: Kuv twb noj = I did eat.
Pronoun + verb + tas. Example: Kuv noj tas = I eat finished.
Pronoun + twb + verb + tas lawm. Example: Kuv twb noj tas lawm = I did eat already.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 109

Interrogative Sentence
No Subject + verb + classifier + noun Where, when, who, what, whom
1. Koj + mus + leej + twg? You go to whom?
2. Koj + yuav + txoj + twg? You buy which one?
3. Koj + noj + lub + twg? You eat which one?

No Subject + verb + verb + verb + object English


4. Koj + puas + xav + mus + tsev? Would you like to go home?
5. Koj + puas + xav + yuav + mov? Would you like to buy rice?
6. Koj + puas + xav + noj + mov? Would you like to eat rice?
Puas = would, xav = like to, mov means cooked rice or food.

Unlike English, Hmong can place the adverb or questioning words either at the front or at the end
of a sentence. So any time you see the interrogative or question words, i.e., twg, ab tsi, puas,
then you know it is an interrogative sentence. However, let's standardize it by always putting
them at the end!

No Hmong English transliterated


7. Koj mus tsev hnub twg? You go home what day?
8. Hnub twg koj mus tsev? What day you go home?
9. Koj xav kom kuv pab ab tsi? You would like me to help what?
10. Koj xav kom kuv pab koj li cas? You want me to help you how?
11. Koj puas xav pab tiag maj? You would like to help for real?

However, the following structure is not too common:


No Uncommon Hmong Proper Hmong English
12. Ab tsi koj noj? Koj noj ab tsi? What are you eating?
13. Leej twg yog koj? Koj yog leej twg? Who are you?
14. Qhov twg koj mus? Koj mus qhov twg? Where are you going?
15. Qhov twg yog koj li? Koj li yog qhov twg? Which one is yours?

One thing to keep in mind is that there were very few written Hmong scripts, and so to say that
certain syntax is correct and/or incorrect is going to be a tough debate. However, most people
would agree that the logical way is the way how most native speakers use their language.
Additionally, I believe you will learn Hmong the most by providing the literal, transliterated,
translations. Otherwise, it would be something like the following:

Hmong English
Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? How old are you?
You have how many years? Laus pes tsawg koj? →Transliterated for both lines above.

Both lines have similar meaning but word-for-word they are different. So first try to understand
the words and then its contents once you have learned both languages well.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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110 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

General Interrogative Phrase

No Hmong Equivalent English Translation


1. Koj puas paub lub zos no hu li cas? Do you know this city is called?
2. Koj puas kam peb mus ua si? Do you let us go play?
3. Koj puas nco qab thaum peb tuaj? Did you remember when we come?
4. Koj puas tseem hlub kuv? Do you still love me?
5. Koj puas ntseeg tias kuv niaj hnub mus? Do you believe that I go every day?
6. Koj puas hnov tias lawv khiav lawm? Did you hear that they moved already?
7. Koj puas paub tias kuv nyiam koj heev? Do you know that I like you a lot?
8. Koj puas xav kawm lus Askiv? Do you want to learn English?
9. Koj puas paub sau ntawv Hmoob? Do you know how to write Hmong?
10. Koj lub npe hu li cas? What is your name?
11. Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? You are/have how many years?
12. Koj niam thiab txiv yog leej twg? Who are your mother and father?
13. Koj puas muaj kwv tij? Do you have brothers?
14. Hos muam ne, puas muaj thiab? How about sisters, do you have too?
15. Koj puas nkees? Are you tired?
16. Koj puas xav haus dej? Do you want to drink water?
17. Koj puas tshaib plab? Are you hungry?
18. Wb tsum li no yom? We stop here okay?
19. Koj puas sab? Are you tired?
20. Koj puas yog ib tus neeg ncaj ncees? Are you an honest person?
21. Kuv nug koj chaw nyob puas tau? Can I ask for your address?
22. Koj nyob hov deb ntawm no nab? How far do you live from here?

No Hmong English No Hmong English


1. Koj puas noj? Do you want to eat? 7. Koj puas xav haus? Would you like to drink?
2. Koj puas mus? Do you want to go? 8. Koj puas xav nyob? Would you like to stay?
3. Koj puas hnov? Do you hear? 9. Koj puas xav pw? Would you like to sleep?
4. Neeg puas nyiam? Do people like? 10. Koj puas xav so? Would you like to rest?
5. Koj puas hlub? Do you love? 11. Koj puas xav paub? Would you like to know?
6. Nws mob qhov twg? Where does it hurt? 12. Koj puas nco qab? Do you remember?

Let's just speak freely like a real Hmong speaker.

Nyob zoo. Zoo siab uas kuv tau tuaj pom nej hnub no. Tsis muaj ib yam yuav ua rau kuv zoo siab
tshaj qhov tau tuaj pom nej sawv daws li no. Kuv xav tias ntshe tiam no peb yuav tsis muaj txoj
hmoo rov los sib pom li no lawm. Tab sis ua tsaug rau Tswv Ntuj vim nws tseem hlub peb txhua
leej, thiab tsom kwm peb zoo heev; yog li, peb thiaj li muaj txoj hmoo zoo sib ntsib dua. Ua tsaug
Vajtswv.

Hello. Happy that I have come to see you today. There is nothing that would make me more
happy than which have come seeing you all like this. I thought that perhaps in this life we would
not have the fortune to see each other like this again. But thanks to God because he still loves us
all, and looks upon us very well; therefore, we then have this good fortune to meet again. Thank
you God.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 111

To comprehend the Hmong grammar, it will take more than just these few pages, but I certainly
hope you have learned enough to start speaking like most two year old children.

I believe there are three types of conversation structures


1. Asking questions, what, where, when, who, and how etc...
2. Answering the questions
3. General conversation

So let's recite some of the common Hmong questioning words. These words become more like
nouns. For example: You go where. You go when etc...

Hmong English Hmong English


twg which Tus twg? Which one?
what Leej twg? What person or which person or plainly “who?”
who Hnub twg? What day or which day?
when Thaum twg? At when?
where Tiam twg? Which generation or what generation?
Koj mus twg? You go where?
ab tsi what Ab tsi nyob ntawv? What is over there?
abtsi why Koj noj ab tsi? You eat what?
dab tsi Koj tuaj ab tsi? You come for what?
dabtsi Koj mus ab tsi? You go for what? Mus qhov twg = go where.
ua cas why Ua cas koj tsis qhia peb? Why you did not tell us?
ua li cas Ua li cas koj ho tsis pab? Why didn't you help?
pes tsawg how much Koj muaj pes tsawg tus me nyuam? You have how many kids?
npaum li cas how many Koj xav yuav npaum li cas? How much do you want to buy?
Koj muaj pes tsawg lub tsev? You have how many houses?
Koj hlub kuv npaum li cas? You love me how much?
vim li cas why Vim li cas koj tsis qhia kuv? Why didn't you tell me?
tim li cas how come Tim li cas koj ho mus? Why did you go?
yog li cas Yog li cas koj ua li? Why did you do that?
puas does/do Koj puas nyiam kuv? Do you like me?
puas xav is/are Koj puas mus tsev? Are you going home?
would Koj puas tshaib plab? Are you hungry?
woud like Koj puas xav noj? Would you like to eat?
Puas as a verb means broken or damaged. Lub tsheb puas lawm.
xav would Kuv xav mus tsev. I would like to go home.
would like Kuv xav mus pw. I like to go sleep.
want to Kuv xav noj mov. I want to eat.
Xav also means to think, i.e., cia kuv xav means let me think.
As you can see from these examples, Hmong generally will put the pronouns first, the doer,
followed by the verbs and then the questioning words to construct a question or an interrogative
sentence, for example: Koj mus qhov twg? = You go where?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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112 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Answering Questions
rau qhov because Vim li cas koj tsis qhia kuv? Rau qhov kuv tsis paub. Because I don't
vim tias know. Ua cas koj tsis tuaj? Vim tias kuv tsis xyeej. Because I am not
twb yog available. Ua cas koj mus tsev? Twb yog kuv muaj hauj lwm. Because
I have work.

Practice
Please fill in the missing Hmong words on the left that are equivalent to the English on the right.

No Hmong English
1 Koj _______ xav noj? Would you like to eat? puas
2 Nej ________ paub nws zoo? Do you know him well? puas
3 Koj ________ mus qhov twg? Where would you like to go? xav
4 Koj ________ mus qhov twg? Are you going anywhere? puas
5 ____ _____ koj tsis hu kuv? Why didn't you call me? Ua cas
6 ______ yog koj chim? Are you mad? puas
7 Koj muaj nyiaj _______ _____? How much money do you have? pes tsawg
8 Koj yog leej _____? Who are you? twg
9 Koj _____ kam pab kuv? Can you help me? puas
10 Koj xav noj _______ ____? What do you like to eat? abtsi
11 ____ ____ ua rau koj chim? What made you angry? abtsi
12 Koj chim rau leej _______? Who are you upset with? twg
13 Hnub ______ koj mus tsev? What day are you going home? twg
14 Nej ________ muag ntses? Do you sell fish? puas
15 Leej ________ hu koj? Who called you? twg
16 Koj yuav mus ____ ____? Where are you going? qhov twg
17 Koj yuav mus _______? What are you going? abtsi
18 Koj ___ ___ noj? Would you like to eat? puas xav
19 Koj yog leej ____? Who are you? twg
20 Koj ____ _____ hais lus Hmoob? Do you know how to speak Hmong? puas paub
21 Mus ___ ___? Go where? See line 16
22 Koj yog Hmoob ______? What kind of Hmong are you? See line 17
23 Koj ______ paub? Do you know? See line 6
24 ___ yog koj li? Is it yours? See line 6

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Common Hmong Verbs


Using Hmong verbs is easy, use any pronouns, koj, kuv, peb plus any verbs, i.e., kuv mus tsev.

No Hmong English Hmong Example No Hmong English Hmong Example


1 ua** do Koj ua mov. 28 mob hurt Nws mob tes.
2 noj eat Koj noj mov. 29 txiav cut Kuv txiav tus pas.
3 haus drink Kuv haus dej. 30 xaws sew Nws xaws lub ris.
4 mus go Wb mus tsev. 31 ntub wet Los nag ntub peb.
5 pw sleep Nej mus pw. 32 tsav drive Peb tsav tsheb mus tsev.
6 zaum sit Wb zaum nov. 33 yuav buy Koj yuav mov rau peb noj.
7 sawv stand Nws sawv nov. 34 quaj cry Tus ab me quaj heev.
8 los come Nej los ntawm no. 35 luag smile Nws luag rau koj.
9 zoo good* Koj zoo dua nws. 36 chim mad* Peb chim rau nws.
10 phem bad* Nws phem heev. 37 qaub pull down Kuv qaub tsob ntoo.
11 ceev fast* Koj ceev dhau. 38 yeem agree Kuv yeem ua li nws hais.
12 qeeb slow* Nws qeeb dhau. 39 pub give Lawv pub mov rau peb noj.
13 hlub love Kuv hlub koj. 40 muab take Nws muab lawv rab pas.
14 nyiam like Nej nyiam peb. 41 nqa bring Koj nqa rab rauj tuaj pab.
15 ntxub hate Neeg ntxub dab. 42 dag lie, trick Nws dag peb xwb.
16 me small* Koj me dua nws. 43 nyiag steal Nws nyiag lawv nyiaj.
17 loj big* Nws loj dua koj. 44 pom see Leej twg pom nws ua?
18 tuag die Tus tsov tuag. 45 tsoo crash Lub tsheb tsoo tus ntoo.
19 ciaj live Nws ciaj rov los. 46 ntaus hit Nws ntaus tus dev.
20 huv clean Khob dej huv. 47 liam accuse Lawv liam peb xwb.
21 hais talk Koj hais lus zoo. 48 khiav run Peb khiav mus ua si.
22 hem scare Dab hem peb. 49 poob fall Lawg poob los raug peb.
23 pab help Nej pab peb ua. 50 kub burn Dej kub nws tes.
24 hu call Koj hu rau kuv. 51 ziab dry, tan Nws pw ziab tshav.
25 teb answer Koj tsis teb kuv. 52 vwm crazy Koj vwm. You're crazy!
26 sau write Kuv sau lus Askiv. 53 sov hot Peb sov heev li.
27 so rest Peb so nov tso. 54 tuav hold Kuv tuav nws tes mus kev.
* Adjectives in English can be used as verbs and adjectives in Hmong.
** ua means do, i.e., to work, to cook, to do, and to “be” etc...

Hmong words: vam = hope, vim = because, Vaj = King, Vajtswv = God

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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114 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

More Hmong Verbs


No Hmong English Hmong English
1 nov qab forget cheb to sweep
2 txaj muag shy chim being mad, angry, upset
3 txhawj worry, concern thuam to disparage, belittle, criticize
4 txawj know how lees to admit, confess
5 nco to think of nplua to fine (as a fee), slippery
6 laub, hliv to pour nyiam like

7 yuam to force tub sab to steal


8 yuav to buy, purchase dhuav being tired of
9 thov to beg qias being filthy
10 tho to drill (a hole, for example) tsuas to produce a stain.
11 ev to carry on the back tsuag being saltless, tasteless. No flavor.
12 thauj to take, carry (in your car) daw salty, too much of.
13 txawb 1. to throw. 2. to put poog to join, to live with, mix with
14 txhawb to support poob drop, fail, fall
15 txo 1. to put down. 2. to cut thim to back off, to return or refund.
16 txias cold them to pay, reimburse
17 deev to have sexual intercourse txhem to trim, to rid off unwanted portions
18 xeeb (tub) being pregnant tsw having an odor or smell
19 plam disconnect, break tsav to drive
20 pluam being separated, disjointed txhuam to scratch or rub against
21 tu break, as broken txhaum to file, like using a metal file
22 to having a hole, punctured rhais to hang, to place
23 tog to sink (in water) rhiab afraid, ticklish
24 tov to mix, there ntshai to fear, scare
The Hmong word
25 toob to trick, to scam rub to pull “tuaj” means to go
26 ntes to arrest, capture kov to touch to other people's
27 tom to bite thawb to push place or home.
28 cheem to stop, prevent khawb to scratch
The Hmong word “los” means to return to one's own home, and “tuaj” means coming to other's place.
The word “los” also means “to come”, i.e., Koj los nov = You come here. One word or line that
Hmong use for having a period, menstrual cycle, is called, “coj khaub ncaws.” For example: Nws
coj khaub ncaws. Nws tsis coj khaub ncaws. Koj puas tseem coj khaub ncaws?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 115

Again, it might seem weird when you are comparing Hmong grammar to English because you are
used to English and not Hmong. I truly believe most words can be directly translated, but some
words, if you can describe or define it then you are very good. For example:
Koj siab zoo = You are kind.

Let's look at some examples in more details.

No Hmong English Remarks


1 Kuv no. I am cold. The missing word is “am”, but when you look
Koj sov. You are hot. at the Hmong phrase, you understand that I am
Koj pw. You sleep. cold. In other words, the way the Hmong language is
Koj paub. You know. spoken is as if there is no “to be” verb. This is the
Koj muaj. You have. reason why some foreigners speak as follows:
Koj los. You come. I bad. Means I am bad.
Koj mus. You go. You no good. Means you are no good.
We very happy. Means we are very happy.
2 Hnub no tshav Today is sunny. Today = Hnub no, and the verb “is” is missing in the
ntuj. Hmong. Sunny got translated into:
Tshav means sunny and ntuj means world.
Therefore, sunny world is equivalent to “is sunny.”
3 Koj siab. You are tall. You = koj, and siab means is tall.
4 Koj nrawm heev. You are very fast. You = koj and is fast = nrawm, and heev = very.
5 Koj phem heev. You are bad very. You are very bad that is. heev means very or much.
6 Koj phem dhau. You are bad much. You are too bad that is. dhau means overly or much.
I believe that, for the most part, human languages are very similar but 25 – 30 % are very
distinctive or unique, and these you can only provide a summary or descriptive translation. This
then is why I came up with the following metaphor:

A person without his native language is like a fruit without its native juice.

We are all human beings, like apple and pear trees, living and growing up in the same land, but yet
distinctively we produce our own juice, and speak our own language. The real question human
beings must ask themselves is: Do we want to make all different kinds of fruits to produce the
same juice? Perhaps not! Even computer programming languages we still have more than one
language when we are programming within the same computer operating system. This then
proves that each language has its own unique way of searching and retrieving information
whether it be computers or humans. Here is another quote of mine about knowing another
language:

Knowing another language is like knowing a another cooking recipe.

One of the most common Hmong dish is called the “zaub tsuag.” Zaub means vegetables and
tsuag means “no flavor” and just plain water use for boiling the vegetables. The word “tsuag”
also means hurry, i.e., Peb mus tsuag tsuag. We go hurry. Noj tsuag tsuag = Eat hurry.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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116 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Perhaps you already know that the Latin-based language is widely known and popularly used
throughout the world. However, the confusion is that the writing might look the same but it has
different meanings with different pronunciation in different language. For example, the English
word “zoo” means a place where people keep many wild animals, but the same spelling in
Hmong “zoo”, pronounce zhong, means good or well.

No Hmong Hmong Example English No Hmong Hmong Example English


1 ntshaw Kuv ntshaw ib lub tsev longing for or 13 tsuav Koj pab tsuav cov chop
tshiab thiab loj. desire to have zaub los kib.
2 ntsuas Koj ntsuas kom yog. measure 14 ntxuav Koj pab ntxuav tais. wash
3 tau Wb tau mus thiab mas. had, did 15 saib Nws saib peb noj. watch
4 xa Koj xa duab tuaj send 16 cem Lawv cem nws phem yell
nawb.
5 txais Peb txais tau lawm receive, get 17 thawb Koj thawb kuv ntog. push
ohs.
6 txiav Nws txiav txoj hlua. cut, chop 18 ntog Nws ntog vim yog fall
koj thawb.
7 hloov Peb hloov lub chaw. replace, change 19 pw Peb pw ib hmos. sleep
8 phais Tus kws kho mob phais operate, cut 20 sawv Nej sawv los noj wake up
nws lub plawv. (incision) mov.
9 zoo Nws zoo lawm ohs. heal, well 21 haus Peb haus dej xwb. drink
10 lwj Lub dib lwj tag lawm. rot 22 tsoo Nws tsoo lub tsheb. crash
11 do Koj pab do lauj kaub stir 23 kho Peb kho lub tsheb. fix
zaub.
12 kiv Lub log tsheb kiv ceev. spin 24 co Koj co tsob ntoo. shake

Negatives in the Hmong, tsis, is very simple, and it is equivalent to the English “no or not”, and
somewhat it is similar to the English “dis-” verb prefix, i.e. dislike, disagree, disapprove etc...
For example:

No Hmong English translated Proper English


25 Kuv tsis tau ua. I don't have do. I have not done. Or I did not do.
26 Kuv tsis tau pom koj. I don't have see you. I have not seen you.
27 Kuv tsis hnov koj hu. I didn't hear you call. I didn’t hear you call.
28 Kuv tsis paub koj. I don't know you. I don't know you.
29 Kuv tsis tos koj. I don't wait you. I don't wait for you.
30 Kuv tsis dag. I don't lie (or kid) I don't lie or I am not kidding.

Tsis mus = don't go. Tsis paub = Don't know. Tsis ua = Don't do.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 117

The following Hmong words are considered negatives when used in front or before verbs.

No Hmong English Hmong example. English


1 tsis not or no Peb tsis mus nawb. We don't go okay.
2 tsis txhob do not, are not, should not Peb tsis txhob mus nawb.
We don't go okay.
3 txhob not or no. This word “txhob” is Peb txhob mus nawb. We don't go okay.
being used interchangeably with the A another word that is similar to “txhob”
word is txhawb and it means to support or to
“tsis” as well as after the word encourage.
“tsis”, i.e., tsis txhob mus = don't go.
4 thab not or no Kuv thab mus = I didn't go.
thab nim Kuv tham nim mus = I didn't go.

The word “tsis” means “not” and the word “txhob” means “to encourage or urge” to do more. So
personally, I think the proper grammar is only use the word “tsis” and not “tsis txhob” or
“txhob.” The words “tsis txhob” means “not to urge or not to encourage.” The word “thab” also
means to bother; however, some people use it to mean “not or no.” For example:
Kuv thab kam = I did not allow.

Here are some examples of the negative words mentioned above.


No Hmong English
5 Koj tsis paub hais lus Askiv. You don't know how to speak English.
6 Koj tsis ua li peb hais. You did not do according to what we said.
7 Koj tsis txhob mus. You do not go.
8 Peb txhob cem lawv. We do not yell at them. We do not badmouth them.
9 Koj tsis txhob noj. You do not eat. You should not eat.
10 Koj txhob noj. You do not eat. But it is more like “you not eat.”
11 Kuv thab nyiam mus. I don't like to go.

Hmong Adverbs

Perhaps you already know that most highly educated people do talk differently than the less
uneducated – more succinct words with a lot of adverbs and colorful adjectives.

Hmong Verb Meaning Changing to Adverb English Adverb


maj hurry maj nroos hurriedly, hastily.
tshiab new tshiab khiv newly
rua open rua plias openly
nruj tight nruj nreem tightly

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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118 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Below are some Hmong adverbs

No Hmong English Hmong example English transliterated


1 maj mam slowly Koj maj mam noj. You slowly eat.
2 nrawm hastily Nws mus kev nrawm He walks hastily.
nroos nroos.
3 txhob txwm purposely Koj txhob txwm dag. You purposely lie.
4 tab meeg openly Koj tab meeg hais. You openly say.
5 nyuam just (like just go) Koj nyuam qhuav mus. You just went.
qhuav
6 dhau much or a lot Koj nyiam kuv dhau. You like me much.
7 heev very, serious Koj phem heev. You are very bad.
8 khov kho solidly, sturdy Nws ua tau khov kho. He built it solidly.
9 yog li therefore Yog li, peb yuav ua li cas? Therefore, what should we do?
10 txawm* even though Txawm koj mus los kuv nyob. Even you go I still stay.
* Mostly, Hmong use this word with other words, i.e., “txawm tias, txawm yog, txawm ho” etc...

Actually, there is not much of a difference between Hmong and English when it comes to adverbs.
However, the order or position is very important. For example:
Nws phem heev is not the same as nws heev phem, and this is not any different than
English. For example: He is very bad is not the same as he is bad very.

For some adverbs, you can place them anywhere and it still makes sense. However, for some, they
are in a specific order, and this is true for both languages. Again, each language has its own syntax
or grammar, and you will learn them once you know enough words and verbs to put them into
phrases and sentences. Like I said in the beginning, the first thing to master is the ability to read
and understand some of the basic words, i.e., pronouns, verbs and a few lovely words that you like
the most. For example:

No Pron + verb + verb + verb + Object = English English transliterated


11. Kuv mus pw. = I go to sleep. I go sleep.
12. Kuv mus noj mov. = I go to eat food. I go eat food.
13. Kuv xav mus noj mov. = I want to go eat food. I want go eat food.
14. Peb xav yuav tsheb. = We want to buy cars. We want buy car.
15. Koj los haus dej. = You come to drink water. You come drink water.
16. Kuv los pab koj. = I come to help you. I come help you.
17. Koj puas xav mus noj mov? = Do you want to go eat? You want go eat food?

Now looking at the Hmong and English syntax, both are very similar. Properly, the things that
were missing are the articles in the English. However, the Hmong examples are very
acceptable and proper but not some of the English sentences, i.e., we drive cars or we drive a car
would be more correct.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 119

Adjectives, Conjunctions and Prepositions


Adjectives play an important role in our daily conversations because it adds colors and
characteristics to objects; therefore, without adjectives objects would be formless and
colorless. Hmong adjectives mostly go after the objects or nouns, i.e., lub tsev loj.

No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English


1 zoo good 24 phem bad 47 muag soft, tender
2 loj big 25 me small 48 tawv hard, tough
3 ntev long 26 luv short 49 ruaj sturdy, solid
4 deb far 27 ze near 50 nkees tired
5 siab tall 28 qes short 51 qub old
6 dawb white 29 dub black 52 tshiab new
7 tob deep 30 ntiav shallow 53 nplaum sticky
8 dav wide 31 maj hurry 54 no cold
9 nqaim narrow 32 qeeb slow 55 txoom wrinkle
10 chim mad 33 zoo siab happy 56 xos liam dirty, filthy
11 ncaj straight 34 hluas young 57 huv clean
12 rog fat 35 yuag skinny 58 liab red
13 zoo nkauj pretty 36 dab tuag ugly 59 ntsuab green
14 pluag poor 37 nplua nuj rich 60 daj yellow
15 zoo nraug handsome 38 txaj muag shy 61 tseeb real, true
16 cuaj khaum stingy 39 chim upset, mad 62 cuav fake
17 huv clean 40 qias dirty 63 kheej round
18 tshav ntuj sunny 41 pos huab cloudy 64 pluav flat, dented
19 laus old 42 siav cooked, ripe 65 tiav complete, done
20 sov warm 43 kub hot, gold 66 ntsim spicy, hot
21 tub nkeeg lazy 44 nquag ambitious 67 qhuav dry
22 nrov loud 45 ceev fast 68 ntub wet
23 kim expensive 46 pheej yig cheap 69 tiaj even , flat

Keep in mind that most Hmong adjectives can also be used as verbs. For example: Koj siab dua
kuv means you are taller than me. Kuv no heev means I am very cold. The words “zoo nkauj”
means “pretty girl”, and “zoo nraug” means “handsome guy.” The word “siab ncaj” means
“heart straight” which means not wicked or not crooked. And “siab phem” means “heart bad”
which means wicked heart that is. For example: Koj siab zoo means you are kind-hearted.
Koj muag kim dhau = You sell expensive much. Nws kim dhau = It is expensive much.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
120 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Adjective Examples

No Hmong Hmong Example English Equivalent English


1 phem Peb muaj ib lub tsheb phem. bad We have a bad car.
2 me Nws nyiam lub tsev me. small She likes a small house.
3 luv Koj cov plaub hau luv. short Your hair is short.
4 ze Koj nyob ze heev. near/close You live very near (or close).
5 qes Tsob ntoo qes. short A short tree.
6 dub Peb muaj ib tus nees dub. black We have a black horse.
7 ntiav Lub pas dej ntiav heev. shallow The pond is very shallow.
8 laus Koj muaj ib daim teb laus. old You have an old farm.
9 qeeb Koj khiav qeeb dua kuv. slow You run more slow than me.
10 zoo siab Neeg zoo siab hais lus mos. happy Happy people talk soft (friendly).
11 siab phem Neeg siab phem hais lus phem. wicked Wicked people talk bad.
12 yuag Tus nyuj yuag mus kev qeeb. skinny A skinny cow walks slow.
13 dab tuag Nws dab tuag dhau. ugly It is very ugly.
14 nplua nuj Tsawg leej neeg nplua nuj. rich A few people are rich.
15 xos liam Nws lub tsev xos liam heev. dirty His house is very dirty.
16 npag Lawv yog neeg npag. chubby They are chubby people.
17 nka tawv Koj nka tawv dhau. slender You are very slender (skinny).
18 pos huab Hnub no pos huab heev. cloudy Today is very cloudy.
19 hluas Koj hluas tshaj kuv. young You are more young than me.
20 no Kuv no heev. cold I am very cold.
21 siav Kuv nyiam noj nqaij siav xwb. cooked I like to eat cooked meat only.
22 nyoos Koj puas nyiam noj nqaij nyoos? raw Do you like to eat raw meat?
23 qub Kuv muaj ib lub tsev qub. old I have one old house.
24 tshiab Koj muaj ib lub tsheb tshiab. new You have one new car.
25 txawv Txawv neeg ces txawv siab. different Different person has different heart.
26 tib yam Kuv nyiam koj tib yam. same I like you the same.
27 tsau Kuv noj tsau lawm. full I eat full already. → am full.
28 tshaib Tus neeg tshaib noj mov ntau. hungry A hungry person eats a lot.
29 txaj muag Koj yog ib tus neeg txaj muag. shy You are a shy person.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 121

More Adjective Examples


No Hmong Hmong Example English Equivalent English
1 zoo Peb muaj ib lub tsheb zoo. good We have a good car.
2 loj Nws nyiam lub tsev loj. big He/she likes a big house.
3 ntev Koj cov plaub hau ntev. long Your hair is long.
4 deb Koj nyob deb heev. far You live very far.
5 siab Tsob ntoo siab. tall A tall tree.
6 dawb Peb muaj ib tus nees dawb. white We have a white horse.
7 tob Tus dej hiav txwv tob heev. deep The ocean is very deep.
8 loj Koj muaj ib daim teb loj. large You have a large farm.
9 ceev Koj khiav ceev dua kuv. fast You run more fast than me.
10 chim Koj chim rau kuv. mad You are mad at me.
11 siab ncaj Neeg siab ncaj hais lus zoo. honest Honest people talk nice.
12 rog Tus nyuj rog mus kev qeeb. fat A fat cow walks slow.
13 zoo nkauj Nws zoo nkauj. pretty She is pretty.
14 pluag Coob leej neeg pluag. poor Many people are poor.
15 zoo nraug Nws zoo nraug heev. handsome He is very handsome.
16 cuaj khaum Lawv yog neeg cuaj khaum. stingy They are stingy people.
17 huv Lub tsev huv. clean A clean house.
18 tshav ntuj Hnub no tshav ntuj heev. sunny Today is very sunny.
19 laus Kuv laus tshaj koj. old I am more old than you.
20 sov Kuv nyiam haus dej sov. warm I like to drink warm water.
Again, don't be confused with some English adjectives that are being used as verbs in Hmong.
Otherwise, you will be comparing apples to oranges. Just like the English word “cook” is being used as
both a verb and a noun, i.e., You cook dinner and you are the cook, and that is how the Hmong
language works. I am fat would be translated into Hmong as “Kuv rog” because there isn't a “to be”
verb in Hmong. For the closest to the “to be” verb would be the Hmong word “yog” but you can't use
it like English. For example, you can't say, “Koj yog rog” because that would mean “You are the fat.”
However, it is okay to say something like this: Koj yog ib tus neeg rog. Meaning you are a fat
person.

I still remember when we just came to the United States and some people would translate the Hmong
line, “Koj daj ntseg” into English as, “You yellow ears.” Koj = you, daj = yellow, and ntseg =
ears. Therefore, the translation was a perfect and best direct translation, but it is improper
English. The proper English is, “You are pale.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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122 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Practice Your Skills


Please translate the following English words into Hmong.
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
1 do hurt call come
2 eat cold answer good
3 drink see have bad
4 go know sell lie
5 sleep let buy angry
6 sit smile pay happy
7 stand give read pull
8 love run write shy
9 hate hot send push
10 like sweep hit cut
11 talk warm fall ask
12 learn help take boil

English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong


13 gibbon pumpkin owl young
14 dog turtle pigeon expensive
15 bottle house ginger cheap
16 boat sheep tiger dog
17 drink dragon clean yellow
18 deer rope old white
19 monkey sun wet black
20 cat shoe red hurry
21 horse mushroom slow near
22 flower pheasant fast inside
23 frog house far new
24 hammer tree big small

Thaum hluas ntshai pluag; thaum laus ntshai tuag.


Muaj txuj los yuav tau ua siab zoo; muaj hmoo los yuav tau ua siab ncaj.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Conjunctions
No Hmong English Example
1 thiab and Koj thiab kuv. You and me. Kuv thiab koj. I and you.
2 ces then Yog kuv qhia koj ces lawv yuav chim. If I tell you then they will be mad.
3 los or Koj los kuv mus ua. You or I go do.
3 lossis and/or Koj lossis kuv mam li mus ua. You and/or I will go do.
4 tabsis but Nws tuaj txog lawm, tabsis nws nkees heev.
tiamsis He has arrived, but he is very tired.
5 rau qhov because Kuv tsis tuaj saib nej vim tias kuv tsis muaj nyiaj.
vim I did not come to visit you because I did not have money.
vim tias Kuv tsis paub vim yog tsis muaj neeg qhia kuv.
vim yog I did not know because no one told me.
6 twb vim because Kuv tsis tuaj twb yog kuv tsis muaj tsheb.
twb yog I did not come because I did not have a car.
7 yeeb vim because Kuv tsis tuaj yeeb vim yog kuv tsis paub.
vim I did not come because I did not know.

Prepositions
No Hmong Hmong Example English Example
1 ntawm Lub tsev ntawm lub pas dej. at, by The house at the pond.
2 hauv Nws nyob hauv tsev. inside He is inside the house.
3 nrauv/nraum Nws nyob nraum zoov. outside He is outside the house.
4 sauv/saum Tso rau saum lub rooj. above, on Put on the table.
5 hauv qab Tso rau hauv qab lub rooj. below/under Put under the table.
6 dhau Nws nyob dhau lub roob. over, past He lives over the mountain.
7 ze Peb nyob ze koj. near, close to We live near you.
8 nram/nrav Lawv nyob nram tus dej. by, down by They live down by the river.
9 ua ntej Hu kuv ua ntej thaum tav su. before, in front Call me before noon.
10 pem/pev Nws nyob pem lub roob. up, up by He lives up by the mountain.
11 hauv Muab nws tso hauv lub thawv. in, inside Put it in the box.
12 nruab nrab Peb nyob nruab nrab between, middle We live between you.
ntawm nej.
For the most part, Hmong prepositions are very similar to English. These are just a few
prepositions to help you understand and see the similarity between Hmong and English.

Yuav tub saib txiv yuav ntxhais saib niam.


Yuav hlub, hlub thaum muaj sia; yuav pab, pab thaum muaj zog.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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124 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Past, Present and Future Tenses


One of the reasons why I believe the Hmong language is easy to learn is the fact that verbs stay the
same regardless of the past, present or future use. More importantly, there is no participle form
either. Now you might be wondering how can a person know when certain action was done. Well,
to answer your question, let's answer you with this question, “When did you cut your grass?”

The answer might be something like, “I cut my grass yesterday.” So if you don't have any
problems with this very verb, “cut”, you will do even better with the Hmong verbs because there
are no “do, did, done, doing and does” in Hmong – just one form.

No Hmong English Remarks


1 Kuv mus tsev. I go home. General present tense.
2 Nag hmo kuv haus dej. Last night I drank water. Past tense word Last night.
3 Nws tab tom noj mov. He/she still eat food. He/she is still eating.
4 Tag kis peb mus tsev. Tomorrow we go home. Tomorrow is in the future.
5 Hnub no peb tuaj. Today we come. Today we are coming.
6 Lwm xyoo peb mus. Next year we go. Next year – future.

As you can see, if a sentence is without a specific time, i.e., yesterday or tomorrow, being
referenced then the sentence is considered a present tense. And if you already referenced a
specific time, i.e., yesterday, then you don't have to change the verb from do to did. Otherwise
that is a double past tense sentence which is similar to, “I did ate my lunch.”

No Hmong English Remarks


7 Nag hmo kuv pw. Yesterday I Yesterday is the past. Slept is a past tense of
slept. sleep. So then this is like double past
tense – like I did slept, for example.
8 Nag hmo kuv txiav nyom. Yesterday I Here the verb cut does not change. So how
cut the grass. do we know when? Yesterday!
9 Kuv noj mov tag lawm. I ate already. Already means in the past or has been done.
10 Tag kis, kuv yuav mus Tomorrow I The word yuav is equivalent to the English
tsev. will go home. word will or shall, and mus = go.

The Hmong word “noj mov” means “to eat” or eat food in general. However, the Hmong word
“noj” also means “eat” in English, too. For example: Koj noj ab tsi? Means you eat what? So if
someone is asking you to eat with them, he might say something like this: Nrog kuv noj mov
ohs and it means eat with me. However, “noj su” means “eat lunch”, and “noj hmo” means “eat
dinner.” So when people ask you, “Koj puas tau noj mov?” It means “Have you ate or did you
eat yet?” The key or questioning word here is “puas”, i.e., puas paub, puas mus, puas yog etc...

Poj nrauj txhob thuam poj ntsuam txhob luag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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More Hmong Verbs

No Hmong English No Hmong English No Hmong English


1 mus go 30 kib fry 59 haum fit
2 los come 31 faib divide 60 hem to scare someone
3 haus drink 32 pib begin 61 txua carve, make, create
4 ntxub hate 33 hlais cut 62 hle take off
5 pab help 34 ntxiv add 63 hloov change, replace
6 hlub love 35 hla skip 64 cia let, allow
7 pw sleep, lie down 36 tsuab grab 65 tsuav chop
8 pom see 37 tsuas stain 66 fiav to swing
9 pub give free to 38 tsum stop 67 tsuj to step on
10 txhawj concern 39 tsaug zog sleep 68 suav count, also Chinese
11 qhib open 40 rho subtract 69 zaum sit
12 kaw close 41 khiav run 70 mus kev walk
13 nta turn on 42 huam multiply 71 quaj cry
14 muag sell 43 qw yell 72 ntub wet
15 yuav buy 44 ntog fall 73 ntiav to pay someone
16 ntaus hit 45 tshuab blow air 74 tseg to save, to stop
17 dhia jump 46 ntshai fear 75 tshaib hungry
18 thaiv block 47 ntiab evict 76 luag laugh
19 tso let, release 48 chim mad 77 tsau full, satiated
20 tig turn 49 piav explain 78 ntxo bite
21 tev peel 50 caum chase 79 ntxuav wash
22 tua kill, shut 51 khawb scratch 80 khuam stuck
23 tuav hold 52 khi tie 81 khib envy
24 tuam kick 53 kho fix 82 khob knock
25 txav move 54 poob fall 83 foom curse
26 sim try 55 puag hug 84 puas damage
27 ntes arrest 56 cem scold 85 cav argue
28 ntseeg believe 57 coj take 86 cog plant
29 tswj manage 58 cuam throw 87 nqhis thirst, being thirsty
Some of the verbs in Hmong may not have the equivalent English verbs. For example, the
Hmong verb “zoo” means good or well as well as “is/are good”, too. For example:
Koj zoo means “You are good.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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126 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Verbs vs English Form


Present Past / present
No Hmong English Past Singular/plural participle – gerund
1 noj ate eats/eat eaten, eating
2 sau wrote writes/write written, writing
3 mus went goes/go gone, going
4 hais said says/say said, saying
5 txiav cut cuts/cut cut, cutting

Words that Indicate Future Tenses

No Hmong English
1 mam or mam li will, shall
2 yuav, yuav tsum will, shall, should
3 yuav tau have to – yuav tau ua = have to do
4 lwm (hnub, zaus, xyoo ltn...) next (day, time, year etc...), other time
5 tag kis, nag kis tomorrow, day after tomorrow
6 ib (chim, tsam, ntsis, pliag ltn...) a or one (moment, short time etc...), later on.
These are just a few, and any words that refer to the future would definitely be a future tense.

Future Tense Examples

No Hmong English
1 Kuv mam ua... I will do...
2 Kuv mam li ua nawb. I will do okay.
3 Koj yuav mus pw los? You will go to sleep?
4 Lwm zaus kuv yuav pab koj. Next time I will help you.
5 Tag kis peb mam li mus tsev. Tomorrow we will go home.
6 Ib chim wb mam li mus tsev Later on we will go home.
7 Thaum twg koj yuav tuaj saib peb? When will you come to visit us?
8 Thaum twg koj mam li tuaj? When are you coming?
9 Thaum twg wb mam li mus? When are we going?
10 Lwm xyoo kuv mam li tuaj saib koj. Next year I will come to visit you.

Lub hnub yeej ci tas mus li tsuas yog yus tsis pom xwb.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 127

Numbers and Their Spellings


Numbers are the same, 1,2,3 to 10 etc..., but just different pronunciation. This is because the
Hmong written language was created based on the Latin alphabets. The word for “number” in
Hmong is “zauv”, but I prefer to call it “suav” for counting instead.

No Hmong English Hmong Example English


0 voj zero Lub voj ces yog lub qhuav. A zero is an empty circle.
1 ib one Koj muaj ib lub tsev. You have one house.
2 ob two Koj muaj ob tus me nyuam. You have two children.
3 peb three Koj muaj peb lub tsheb. You have three cars.
4 plaub four Peb pom plaub tus kauv. We see four deer.
5 tsib five Koj muaj tsib xyoos. You are five years old.
6 rau six Ib tais fawm yog rau duas. One bowl of noodle is six dollars.
7 xya seven Lawv muaj xya leej tub. They have seven sons.
8 yim eight Huab Tais muaj yim leej ntxhais. King has eight daughters.
9 cuaj nine Koj muaj cuaj tsob ntoo. You have nine trees.
10 kaum ten Ib tus neeg muaj kaum tus ntiv tes. A person has ten fingers.

No Hmong English I wish English would be this way


10 kaum ten ten
11 kaum ib eleven ten-one
12 kaum ob twelve ten-two
13 kaum peb thirteen ten-three
Most Hmong from Laos use the Laotian
14 kaum plaub fourteen ten-four word “soon” for a zero instead. For
15 kaum tsib fifteen ten-five example, soon, ib, ob, peb etc...
0, 1, 2, 3 etc...
16 kaum rau sixteen ten-six
17 kaum xya seventeen ten-seven
18 kaum yim eighteen ten-eight
19 kaum cuaj nineteen ten-nine
20 nees nkaum* twenty* twoty, twoty-one, twoty-nine etc...
• I don't know where the Hmong word “nees nkaum” came from because it does not come from
ib txog kaum. Likewise, the English word “twenty” is also a mystery to me because it does not
appear anywhere between one and ten. Therefore, Hmong should change the word
“nees nkaum” to be “ob caug” instead, and I like twoty instead of twenty for English, too.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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No Hmong English No Hmong English


20 nees nkaum twenty 50 tsib caug fifty
21 nees nkaum ib twenty-one 51 tsib caug ib fifty-one
22 nees nkaum ob twenty-two 52 tsib caug ob fifty-two
23 nees nkaum peb twenty-three 53 tsib caug peb fifty-three
24 nees nkaum plaub twenty-four 54 tsib caug plaub fifty-four
25 nees nkaum tsib twenty-five 55 tsib caug tsib fifty-five
26 nees nkaum rau twenty-six 56 tsib caug rau fifty-six
27 nees nkaum xya twenty-seven 57 tsib caug xya fifty-seven
28 nees nkaum yim twenty-eight 58 tsib caug yim fifty-eight
29 nees nkaum cuaj twenty-nine 59 tsib caug cuaj fifty-nine
30 peb caug thirty 60 rau caum sixty
31 peb caug ib thirty-one 61 rau caum ib sixty-one
32 peb caug ob thirty-two 62 rau caum ob sixty-two
33 peb caug peb thirty-three 63 rau caum peb sixty-three
34 peb caug plaub thirty-four 64 rau caum plaub sixty-four
35 peb caug tsib thirty-five 65 rau caum tsib sixty-five
36 peb caug rau thirty-six 66 rau caum rau sixty-six
37 peb caug xya thirty-seven 67 rau caum xya sixty-seven
38 peb caug yim thirty-eight 68 rau caum yim sixty-eight
39 peb caug cuaj thirty-nine 69 rau caum cuaj sixty-nine
40 plaub caug forty 70 xya caum seventy
41 plaub caug ib forty-one 71 xya caum ib seventy-one
42 plaub caug ob forty-two 72 xya caum ob seventy-two
43 plaub caug peb forty-three 73 xya caum peb seventy-three
44 plaub caug plaub forty-four 74 xya caum plaub seventy-four
45 plaub caug tsib forty-five 75 xya caum tsib seventy-five
46 plaub caug rau forty-six 76 xya caum rau seventy-six
47 plaub caug xya forty-seven 77 xya caum xya seventy-seven
48 plaub caug yim forty-eight 78 xya caum yim seventy-eight
49 plaub caug cuaj forty-nine 79 xya caum cuaj seventy-nine

Nyob deb ces hlub nyob ze ces ntxub.


Muaj ntau tsis khaws muaj tsawg tsis siv.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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No Hmong English No Hmong English


80 yim caum eighty 91 cuaj caum ib ninety-one
81 yim caum ib eighty-one 92 cuaj caum ob ninety-two
82 yim caum ob eighty-two 93 cuaj caum peb ninety-three
83 yim caum peb eighty-three 94 cuaj caum plaub ninety-four
84 yim caum plaub eighty-four 95 cuaj caum tsib ninety-five
85 yim caum tsib eighty-five 96 cuaj caum rau ninety-six
86 yim caum rau eighty-six 97 cuaj caum xya ninety-seven
87 yim caum xya eighty-seven 98 cuaj caum yim ninety-eight
88 yim caum yim eighty-eight 99 cuaj caum cuaj ninety-nine
89 yim caum cuaj eighty-nine 100 ib puas one hundred
90 cuaj caum ninety 1000 ib txhiab one thousand
The reason I think Hmong should change the word “nees nkaum” to “ob caug” is because “ob” means
“2” and “caum or caug” means tens. Therefore, ob caug, peb caug, plaub caug are more logical. Again,
the term caum means tens, and pua means hundreds and txhiab means thousands. Another term
Hmong use to refer to 10,000 is called “vam”, such as the saying, “txhiab niaj pua vam.”
So the word, “pua vam” means 100 of 10,000 or one million. Another term some Hmong people use
for million is called “phlom”; however, this word might have only been recently created. Just like the
terms I invented called nphom* means billion, rhom* means trillion and zom* means zillion.

Frankly, I don't believe Hmong people have terms for anything greater than the word “txhiab” because
we never have to count anything that large. So to express in one million one would say “ib txhiab
txhiab” meaning 1000 times 1000 which it comes after the cuaj pua cuaj caum cuaj txhiab or
999,000. Therefore, to reach a million, one can say “1000 * 1000 = 1,000,000, and one billion it would
be ib txhiab huam ib txhiab txhiab or 1000 * 1000,000 = 1,000,000,000 etc...

No Hmong English Number ranges


1 caum, caug tens 10 to 99 Peb, plaub, tsib + caug, and
2 pua, puas hundreds 100 to 999 rau, xya, yim, cuaj + caum. The
reason is the starting tone is “b” –
3 txhiab thousands 1000 to 9999 high then use “caug”, otherwise,
4 vam 10 thousands 10 000 use “caum” instead. I think this
word should only be one
5 100 vam 100 * 10,000 1 000 000 form – “caum.”
6 1000 vam 1000 * 10,000 10 000 000

* Term I invented when I wrote the Hmong Dictionary called “Lus Hmoob Txhais” back in 2005, page
591, with the ISBN of 0-9726964-1-5.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Word Meanings and Numbers


caum = 10, pua = 100, txhiab = 1000
1 kaum 10 = one ten
2 nees nkaum 2 + tens. I think this word should have been “ob caum” instead. See next line.
3 ob + caum 2 + tens = 20 – my invention.
4 peb + caum 3 + tens = 30
English Hmong
5 plaub + caum 4 + tens = 40
add (+) ntxiv
6 tsib + caum 5 + tens = 50 subtract (-) rho
7 rau + caum 6 + tens = 60 divide (/) faib
multiply (x) huam
8 xya + caum 7 + tens = 70
percent (%) feem
9 yim + caum 8 + tens = 80
10 cuaj + caum 9 + tens = 90
11 pua hundreds. Ces ib puas txog cuaj pua
12 txhiab thousands. Ces ib txhiab txog cuaj txhiab

No Hmong Hmong English English Number


1 xya caum seven tens 7+0 70
2 xya pua seven hundreds 7 + 00 700
3 xya txhiab seven thousands 7 + 000 7 000
4 xya caum txhiab seventy thousands 70 + 000 70 000
5 xya pua txhiab seven hundred thousands 700 + 000 700 000
6 xya txhiab txhiab seven millions 7 000 + 000 7000 000
7 xya txhiab txhiab txhiab seven billions 7000 000 000

Of course, it is difficult to count numbers this way, but since we don't have any other words to
express millions and billions in Hmong, it might be good to understand how the primitive
counting system works. So when a person says, “kuv muaj ob caum txhiab, what does it mean?”
It means I have 20,000. Rau caum txhiab = 60,000, and cuaj txhiab txhiab = 9,000,000. If
you are still confused, don't worry! If you happen to have this much money, someone will be more
than happy to help you count them correctly.

For now, just remember the basics – caum means tens, pua means hundreds and txhiab means
thousands. So knowing ib txog cuaj, one to nine, you can count in Hmong with no problems.
Just watch out for the weird number nees nkaum (twenty) because this word means “a horse is
hiding.” Personally, I like my way of counting – ob caug instead. So yes, please help spread the
new word “ob caug” or “ob caum” instead of that hiding horse. :)

kaum, ob caum, peb caum, plaub caum, tsib caum, rau caum, xya caum, yim caum, cuaj caum.
10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 131

Practice Reading Hmong with Numbers

Kev suav nyob rau hauv lus Hmoob mas yooj~ yim xwb. Koj pib ib, ob, peb, plaub, tsib, rau, xya,
yim, cuaj, ces kaum xwb. Dhau kiag kaum ces rov hais ib txog cuaj li no: “kaum ib, kaum ob,
kaum peb txog kaum cuaj” xwb los mas. Thaum koj suav mus txog kaum cuaj ces siv lo lus tshiab
kuv qhia, “ob caug” xwb. Dhau plaws ob caug ces yog ob caug ib, ob caug ob, ob caug peb txog ob
caug cuaj ces xaus kiag rau peb caug. Ces rov pib kiag peb caug ib, peb caug ob, peb caug peb txog
kiag rau peb caug cuaj ces plaub caug, tsib caug, rau caum, xya caum, yim caum, cuaj caum mus
txog ntua ib puas xwb tiag – one hundred. Notice the tone changed from “caug” to “caum” after tsib
caug – 50. This is because the preceding words (rau, xya, yim and cuaj) have changed from the “b” –
high pitch to other lower pitches. However, you can still use the “caum” if you like.
Hais txog ntawv suav (numbers) Hmoob ces yeej tsis nyuaj vim Hmoob cov lus mas nws xwm yeem
heev – consistent. Koj sau raws li lub suab hais kiag xwb. Xws li ob xyoos ces yog two years, kaum ob
xyoos ces yog 12 years, thiab 213 ces yog ob puas kaum peb xwb which is 200-10-3 xwb. Dhau li ces
yog txhiab lawm. Xyoo ob txhiab kaum peb ces yog year 2013. Ib lub hlis twg muaj peb caug hnub ces
txhais tias each month has 30 days. Ib hnub muaj ob caug plaub teev ces txhais tias a day has 24 hours.
Hais txog kev ua (do) lej – a Lao term, koj muab kaum rho ob ces tshuav yim (10-2 = 8). Ob caug tsib
rho tsib ces tshuav ob caug xwb (25 – 5 = 20). 25 + 5 ces muaj peb caug. Kaum ntxiv kaum ces muaj
ob caug xwb (10 + 10 = 20). Ntxiv ces yog addition hos rho ces yog subtraction. Ib puas faib rau ob
ces yog tsib caug xwb (100 / 2 = 50). Hos ib puas huam ob ces yog ob puas xwb (100 x 2 = 200). Yog
koj kawm tau ib mus txog rau kaum, pua, thiab txhiab lawm ces koj yeej hais thiab sau tau cov ntawv
suav Hmoob no lawm los mas. Xws li: Ib txhiab ib puas kaum peb ces yog 1113 xwb.
Nej ho puas nyiam muab sau ua li nram no maj? Ib txhiab ib ces muab sau ua ib-txhiab-ib no naj?
Raws li kuv xav mas tsis txhob muab sau muaj kab txuas, –, li vim peb cov lus Hmoob mas tsis yog
sau li ntawv. Qhov tseeb tiag nws yog los ntawm kab lus es tsis yog los ntawm kab sau. Xws li thaum
yus hnov ib tus neeg hais tias, “ib txhiab ib” ces yus twb paub tias yog “1001” lawm. Hos thaum yus
pom lwm tus neeg sau, “ib txhiab ib” los yus yeej paub tias yog “1001” lawm ces tsis tas yuav muab
sau ua,”ib-txhiab-ib” li.
Nov yog kuv li kev xav xwb; yog li, nej leej twg ho nyiam los ho siv mus. Tsis nyiam los sau thiab
siv li nej nyiam xwb. Qhov tseeb tiag yog yus tho tau txoj kev zoo thiab ncaj ces yus tsis thov kom
neeg taug los neeg yuav taug, tabsis yog yus tho tau txoj kev nkhaus ces txawm thov los neeg yeej tsis
lawv yus qab li thiab nawb.
1,500 ces yog sau ua lus hais tias, “ib txhiab tsib puas.” 405 ces sau tias, “plaub puas tsib.” 450 ces
sau tias, “plaub puas tsib caug.” Qhov kuv xav kom hloov ces yog tus “nees nkaum” xwb. Yog li, tus
suav 23 ces cia muab sau tias, “ob caug peb” es kom nws zoo xwm yeem li tus suav 33, 43, uas yog
“peb caug peb, thiab plaub caug peb” ltn... Yog nej tsis nyiam tus “ob caug” ces nej siv lo lus qub tias,
“neeg nkaum peb” uas zoo nkaus li tus “nees nkaum peb” kom peb tsis pom nws xwb. Sau ntawv suav
Hmoob tsis nyuaj vim peb tsis muaj cov suav rov qab li Askiv, sixteen, seventeen uas yog zoo li 6 tens
and 7 tens because “teen” means in the tens. Yog li, kaum rau, kaum xya, ob caug, ob caug rau, peb
caug, peb caug xya, plaub caug, plaub caug cuaj txog rau pua ces txhiab xwb. Yog li, kuv thiaj li tsis
tham ntau txog kev sau thiab suav vim kuv ntseeg tias nej yeej paub zoo lawm. Qhov nej xav tau yog
kev sau tias 1 = ib, 2 = ob, thiab kaum yog 10, puas yog 100, thiab txhiab yog 1000 ltn... xwb. Ib txhia
Hmoob kuj siv lo lus “phav” uas yog lus Nplog thiab txhais tias yog “txhiab”, xws li: Koj muaj tsib
phav ces txhais tias koj muaj tsib txhiab no thiab.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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132 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Practice Numbers in Hmong


Write the Hmong word on the left of each number, i.e., 1 = ib, 30 = peb caug etc...

No Hmong No Hmong No Hmong


1 ib 11 21
2 ob 12 22
3 13 23
4 14 24
5 15 25
6 16 26
7 17 27
8 18 28
9 19 29
10 20 30 peb caug

31 50 70
32 51 71
33 52 72
34 53 73
40 60 80
41 61 81
42 62 82
43 63 83
45 64 84
46 65 85

90 99 1000
91 100 2000
92 101 10000
93 102 20000
95 103 100000

ob caug = twenty, peb caug = thirty and plaub caug = forty

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 133

Some Differences between Hmong and English


Verbs
There are no verb conjugations in Hmong. In other words, there is only one form like the English
verbs “cut” and “put” and even without the “s” and “-ing”, i.e., “puts and cutting.” So the
Hmong verb such as “noj” stays the same regardless of the past, present or future.
For example:
Nag hmo kuv noj = yesterday I ate.
Hnub no kuv noj = today I eat.
Kuv niam noj = My mother eats
Kuv tabtom noj = I am eating (still eating).
Peb noj mov = We eat rice or food.

Nouns, Singular and Plural


Unlike English, Hmong does not have plural nouns, no “-s” after the nouns, i.e., cows, and no
words such as “men, ladies” but only words like deer and fish. In other words, it does not
matter one deer or many deer there is no “s” period. For example:

No Hmong English Remarks


1 Kuv muaj tsib tus nyuj. I have five cows. Five indicates more than one.
2 Muaj ntau lub tsev. Have many houses. Many indicates more than one.
3 Koj muaj ib tug me nyuam. You have one child. No a or the (article) in Hmong.
4 Plaub tus me nyuam. Four children. Four indicates more than one.
5 Coob tus kauv. Many deer. Many deer and not deers.
Hmong language is not alone when it comes to having no plural forms, Thai, Laos and other
monosyllabic Asian languages don't have plural forms either. These languages use numbers to
indicate its singular and plural form instead of adding the “s” to the objects or nouns.

Adjectives
Adjectives are colorful in all human languages, but the order of coloring varies. For English,
adjectives go before the nouns, but for Hmong most1 adjectives go after.

No Hmong English
1 Peb nyiam lub tsev loj thiab dav. We like a big and spacious house.
2 Lawv muaj ib lub tsheb liab. They have a red car.
3 Koj yog ib tus neeg zoo. You are a good person.
4 Cov mov qab. The delicious food.
5 Lub tsheb qub. The old car.
1. Some adjectives can go either in front or after the objects. For example:
Kuv lub qub tsev = My old house. Kuv lub tsev qub = My house old.
Qub neeg ces qub siab = Old person old heart– same person same heart that is.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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134 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Classifiers
Not like English, Hmong does not have articles, “a, an and the”, but have many classifiers. A
classifier is a word or morpheme that corresponds to a semantic class of nouns or objects.
Perhaps the best way to help you understand Hmong classifiers is to borrow a quote from the
world famous Martial Artist, Bruce Lee:

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it
becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it
becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Similarly to Bruce Lee's line, when you put rice into a spoon, it becomes a spoon of rice – ib diav mov.
When you put rice into a bowl, it becomes a bowl of rice – ib tais mov. So it begins from a single
grain, lub, to whatever containing the items, i.e., tsu, tais, phaj, steamer, bowl, plate respectively.
Generally, you must use a classifier when you specify a number or quantifying the objects.
Generally, the Hmong “ib” is analogous to the English “one, a, an, and the”, for
example: Ib tus nyuj = a cow. Ib lub tsev = a house. Ib tus neeg = one person etc...

No Hmong English Transliterated English


1 Koj muaj kaum rab diav. You have ten spoons. you have ten a spoon.
2 Nej plaub tus nyuaj. Your four cows. you four a cows.
3 Nej muaj tsib lub tais? You have five bowls. you have five a bowl.
4 Lawv muag rau lub tsev. They sell six houses. they sell six a house.
5 Coob leej neeg tuaj saib peb. Many people come to see us. many a person come see us.
6 Koj muaj diav ntau heev. You have very many spoons. you have spoon many.
What is really missing in the Hmong is the English word “ of ”, for example:
A cup of water = ib khob dej. One plate of rice = Ib phaj mov. Here is another example:

No Hmong English
1 Kuv muaj ib pab nyuj. I have one herd of cows. And “pab nyuj = herd cows.”

Here is a breakdown of the above two sentences:


No Hmong English A classifier is a word defining or describing the type of objects in its current
1 Kuv I environment. For example, pab means herd in this case. It is incorrect in this
example to omit the word “herd” because it is classifying the environment of
2 muaj have
the “cows.” Therefore, the English “noun of” is analogous to the Hmong
3 ib one classifiers, for example, group of, piece of, and box of etc...
pab daim thawv → in Hmong respectively.
4 pab herd
5 of (no equivalent in Hmong)
6 nyuj cows

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 135

Classifiers
Hmong English Hmong English
cov noog the birds haiv neeg a nation, a nationality
daim ntawv a piece of paper kob nag a batch of rain
kab ntawv a line of letters nthwv cua a gust of wind
leej me nyuam a child or children qais plaub hau a skein of hair
lub paj a flower rooj plaub a matter or problem
ntiv tes digit of hand (a finger) sob ntses a school of fish
ntsiav pob kws a piece of corn kernel tauv paj a flower
ntu kev segment of road tee dej a drop of water
pab neeg a group of people tsob ntoo a tree
phau ntawv a book tus tsov a tiger
qhov chaw an area, the area txhais tes a hand
rab riam a knife txoj hlua a rope
zaj dabneeg a story yav qws a piece of stick/rod.

Cov can be used as follows: cov neeg, cov tsiaj, cov pob kws etc... More or less similar to the
English “the, those”, i.e., the people, the animals, the corn etc... Daim is mostly used to
identify flat or arealike objects, i.e., daim teb, daim ntoo, daim nqaij. Kab is used to identify
a linelike patterns, i.e., kab tes, kab npua (palm lines, path of pigs). Leej is used to identify
mostly human beings, i.e., Koj muaj pes tsawg leej me nyuam? How many children do you
have? Lub is perhaps the most common classifier of all, i.e., lub paj, lub zos, lub tebchaws,
lub tsev, lub txaj, lub teeb, lub cev, lub siab, lub pas dej, lub qhov, lub zes, lub ntiajteb, lub
plawv, lub qhov ncauj etc... Rab is commonly used to identify toollike objects, i.e., rab riam,
rab rauj, rab taus, rab pas etc... The last one I want to cover is “tus.” Tus is mostly used to
identify animals, human beings, rivers and any standing entities. For example, tus tsov, tus
liab, tus dej loj, tus neeg zoo, tus Huabtais, tus ntoo qhuav, tus Vajtswv etc...
Just think of the Hmong classifiers as the nounlike words in English. For example:
Ib daim ntawv. Ib lub tsev. Ib pab neeg tuaj.
One piecelike paper. One roundlike house. One grouplike people come.
One piece of paper. One house. One group of people come.
Yog kuv tus poj niam. Koj lub tsev. Koj tsev neeg.
It is my a wife. Your a house. Your house people (household).
It is my wife. Your house. Your family.
To ask questions, you can simply say: Pes tsawg leej me nyuam? How many children?
Answer: Coob leej. Many children. Ob leeg = 2 children
Koj xav yuav pes tsawg tus npua? Kuv yuav ib tug. I buy one.
Leej twg lub tsev? Whose house? Yog kuv lub or yog kuv li. It is mine.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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136 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

So the only word that was missing Hmong language is the word “of”, and perhaps for a classified
reason, got it? Let's look at some more examples.

No Hmong English transliterated Better English


1 Kuv muaj ib pab nyuj. I have one herd cow. I have one herd of cows.
2 Kuv muaj ib tug nyuj. I have one cow. I have one cow.
3 Kuv muaj coob tug nyuj. I have many a cow. I have many cows.
4 Kuv muaj ib tiaj nyuj. I have one field cow. I have a field of cows.
5 Kuv muaj ib vaj txiv ntoo. I have one fenced fruit trees. I have an enclosed fence of fruit trees.
What might be confusing to most English speakers is perhaps the missing word “ of ” after words such
as herd, flock, group etc... For example, a group of people = ib pab neeg. A bus full of people = ib
tsheb neeg. Number 4 is different and it used the “tiaj” which is equivalent to a field that is full of
cows. In other words, the “field” defines or classifying the environment of the cows. For example: I
have a truck of cows; I have a house of people; I have a box of papers. But these would be translated
into English-Hmong as follows:
English: I have one truck cows. I have a house people. I have one box papers.
Hmong: Kuv muaj ib tsheb nyuj. Kuv muaj ib tsev neeg. Kuv muaj ib thawv ntawv.

No Classifier Equivalent English Word Classification


1 tsob plants, trees and things that grow from the ground
2 res bunch or a stem of flowers
3 rab* items with short length and/or tools with handles.
4 tus, tug* humans, animals, and/or parts of such entities.
5 leeg, leej human, person
6 pab group, herd, flock, team, school (of fish, for example)
7 pawg group but more for a pile-like, flock, school entities, i.e., ib pawg neeg
8 lub plate, house, building, heart, egg, country, boat – round-like entities
9 phau book
10 daim piece, land, leaf, blanket, farm, field, sheet. Objects with flat surface.
11 txoj rope-like items, road, path, way, line etc...
12 ntiv digits, fingers, toes, tip. Ib ntiv qhiav – a piece of ginger.
13 txhais/sab hand, foot, shoe. Generally means half or one side of. Sab = half of, side of.
14 koog grove, cluster, tract, forest
15 sob school (of fish, for example)
16 pob bunch, clump, lump, bundle.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 137

17 thooj a piece round-like objects, ib thooj mov. Usually a smaller amount than “pob”
18 tauv bunch (of grapes or flowers, for example)

The classifiers “tus and rab” are being used interchangeably. The the classifier “rab” refers to
tools with handles – single or simple items. For example: Rab riam, rab taus, rab hmuv
ltn...
The classifier “tus” refers to entities such humans, animals and any other species,
including parts from these entities, i.e., tus txha, tus ntiv tes, tus tw etc... and other complex
constructions, i.e., tus choj, tus ntaiv etc...

No Hmong English
1 Nov puas yog koj rab riam? Is this your knife?
2 Leej twg rab diav nov? Whose spoon is this?
3 Koj puas pom kuv tus nees? Do you see my horse?
4 Neeg muaj ntau tus txha. Humans have many bones.
5 Koj yog kuv tus hlub. You are my love.

Classifier Plus Verb


When you put a classifier in front of any verbs, that verb becomes the “do-er” or noun which is
similar to English words ending with the “-er”, i.e., singer, doer, speaker, teacher etc...

No Hmong Transliterated English Meaning


1 Tus hais lus mus twg lawm? The one speaks go where? Where is the sayer or speaker?
2 Tus ua yog leeg twg? The one does was who? Who is the doer?
3 Tus noj yog kuv. The one eats was me. The eater was me?
4 Leej twg yog tus tub sab? Who is the one steal? Who is the stealer or thief?
5 Koj puas yog tus hu nkauj? You are the one sing? Are you the singer?
As you can see, when you combine a classifier with any verbs, that verb becomes the noun – the doer.

No Hmong Transliterated English Meaning


6 tus qhia the teach The teacher – the one who teaches
7 tus kawm the learn The learner or student
8 tus yuav the buy The buyer – the one who buys
9 tus muag the sell The seller – the one who sells
10 tus pab the help The helper – the one who helps
For example: Cia kuv qhia nej = Let me teach you. Kuv yog tus qhia = I am the teacher.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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138 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

More of Different Classifiers


No Hmong English transliterated Meaning
1 Cov qhia qhia The folks teach Group of teachers
2 Pab kawm kawm The team learn Team of learners
3 Pawg neeg yuav yuav The group buy Group of buyers
Okay, enough confusion here... Let's add a little life to the classifiers and verbs above so they can
live. Actually, it is very simple once you stop comparing apples to oranges! For example:

Hmong English
Peb kom tus qhia los qhia peb. We ask the teacher to come teach us.
Tus muag puas tseem nyob nov lawm? Is the seller still here? The seller is still here?
Tus ua noj yog leeg twg? tus ua noj = the cook Who is the cook? Cook here is a noun.
Koj ua rau peb noj. You cook for us to eat. Cook here is a verb.

Questioning Words
In the Hmong language, the question word is generally placed at the end of a sentence, For example:
No Hmong English transliterated
1 Koj mus qhov twg? You go where or you go which where?
2 Koj lub npe hu li cas? Your name is called what?
3 Nej nyob lub zos twg tuaj? You stay a city what come?
4 Koj tab tom yuav mus qhov twg? You right now will go where?
5 Koj puas paub? Do you know? Puas yog? Is it correct?
6 Peb mus tsev yom? We go home okay?
7 Puas yog maj? Is it right? Is it correct?
Of course, the above translations are not correct in English but as a beginner, you want to see the
closest word-for-word relation and translation first. Once you know more about both languages,
you will be able to translate base on contents. Three words that Hmong love to use for short
questioning are: “Ab tsi”, “hav”, and “ua cas” and these words can be used without any other
words, for example: Ab tsi? Hav? = What? and Ua cas? = What happens or why?

Let's look at the proper translation in both languages.


No Hmong English
1 Koj mus qhov twg? Where are you going? Qhov twg = where. Leej twg = who
2 Koj lub npe hu li cas? What is your name? Hu li cas = called what or called how
3 Nej nyob lub zos twg tuaj? What city are you from? Twg tuaj = where from.
4 Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? How old are you? How many years are you? – Hmong line.
The fundamental rule is the first pronoun is the one who is doing or performing the action. The
second pronoun is the objective pronoun. So then, if I say, “I like you” it is simply means you are
being liked by me!

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 139

More Examples

No Hmong English
1 Kuv nyiam koj. I like you.
The word “raug” has many meanings:
2 Koj raug kuv nyiam. You are being liked by me. 1. Hit like hitting a target.
3 Koj nyiam kuv. You like me. 2. Hit like physically hurting someone.
3. Being verb by like these examples.
4 Kuv raug koj nyiam. I am being liked by you.
However, very rare do Hmong speakers use the word “raug” or “being verb by” as in English.
Why not just say what you mean and don't beat around the bush! Unlike English, interrogative
sentences do not start with adverbs, i.e., Where are you going? Instead, Hmong syntax goes like:
You are going where? So in the Hmong case, the word “where” acts as a noun instead. With
this being said, you need to be careful not to translate English into Hmong as follows:

No English Incorrect Hmong Proper Hmong


5 Where are you going? Qhov twg koj mus? Koj mus qhov twg?
6 What are you eating? Ab tsi koj noj? Koj noj ab tsi?
7 What is your name? Ab tsi yog koj npe? Koj npe hu li cas?
So what is the proper syntax for speaking Hmong? All you need to do is place the questioning
words, such as where, when, who, and what at the end of your sentence with a question
mark, and Hmong people will know. Here are some examples:

No Hmong English transliterated


8 Koj mus qhov twg? You go where?
9 Koj hu li cas? You call what? The word “li cas” means “what”
10 Koj noj ab tsi? You eat what?
11 Koj mus tsev thaum twg? You go home when?
12 Koj mus lub tsev twg? You go to house which or what?
Like English, Hmong language has many exceptions. However, they are not as many as English.
Here are some questions that are similar to the English forms:

No Hmong English
13 Thaum twg koj mus tsev? When do you go home? When are you going home?
14 Leej twg hu koj? Who calls you? Who called you?
15 Hnub twg nej mam li tuaj? What day will you be coming? When will you come?
16 Tus twg yog koj poj niam? Which one is your wife? Leej twg = who

The key questioning word is “twg”, and it can be placed after any classifiers and nouns.
For example:
Leej twg, hnub twg, cov twg, thaum twg, hom twg, tsob twg, txoj twg, and xyoo twg etc...

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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140 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

I think the Hmong spoken language itself is easy to learn, but the written Latin form is somewhat
difficult due to the multiple consonants and the tone markers. This then makes each word very
long and hard to remember and parse, i.e., ntxhais. The other problem is the monosyllabic
language. For example:

No Hmong English
1 kwv younger brothers. Kwv ntxawg means the very last and youngest brother.
2 tij, tij laug older brothers. Tij is short version of “tij lauj.”
3 kwv tij relatives or brothers, mostly of the same last name.
4 txiv 1. father, male. 2. fruits. 3. to squeeze oneself into a tight place.
5 neej life, family. For example: Koj lub neej means your life.
6 txiv neej man, generally referring to a grown up and/or married man.
7 koj niam A general term used for calling one's wife. Also means your mother, too.
8 koj txiv A general term used for calling one's husband. Also means your father, too.

However, for Hmong-American, don't be too overly disappointed with the poly-consonants
because the word “ntxhw” is actually much shorter than the English word “elephant.”
The Hmong compound nouns are similar to some of the English words “cow pony, fish tank,
swimming pool, mountain goat” etc... Some Hmong people like to hyphenate these
compound nouns and some will just write them without any space nor hyphens. However, the
preferred way is to separate them with space because the Hmong language is considered a mono
syllabic language with seven distinctive tones. For tonal and monosyllabic language, it was
suggested to keep each word, syllable, separated by one of the creators and founders of the Hmong
Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA), Frenchman Fr. Yves Bertrais July, 1930 – May, 2007. This
monosyllabic writing system does not only exist in the Hmong language but also in Laos, Thai,
and Vietnamese languages.
Most words in the Hmong language have only one syllable and each word has its own meaning,
but when two or more words are combined together like the English compound words “fish tank,
swimming pool” they have different meanings. However, there are very few words that have two
or more syllables in the Hmong language, i.e., tabtom, tabmeeg, pomxeeb, xosliam, and
these words perhaps should be written with a space between each syllable, i.e, tab tom, tab
meeg, pom xeeb, xos liam etc... Just like the English word “fish tank” you must know both
terms in order to understand its meaning. And the Hmong word such as “kwv tij” is the same
thing – you have to know both “kwv” and “tij” to comprehend its meaning.
The last and a huge difference between Hmong and English is the Hmong open syllables
versus English open and closed syllables, i.e., ma and map. Oh and the Hmong classifiers.
Remember, you can ask something like this: Koj xav yuav pes tsawg tus qaib? However, if
you already have been talking about that subject, chicken, then you can just ask: Koj xav yuav
pes tsawg tus? Ob tug xwb. Two only.

When we speak, we speak without hyphens and people understand.


But when we write, why do we have to hyphenate?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 141

About the Hmong Mono Word Language


My opinion is that the Hmong language is about 90% monosyllabic and 100% tonal.

No Hmong English No Hmong English


1. Ib txhais tes. One a hand . 6. Sau. Write.
2. Ib sab tes. One side hand. 7. Sau ntawv. Write letter.
3. Sab tes xis. Side hand right. 8. Ua. Do or be.
4. Leej twg. Person who. 9. Ua ntej. Do before or be ahead.
5. Mus kev. Walk way. 10. Tso zis. Release urine.

Some Hmong people like to combine words like “leej twg” to be “leejtwg”, and “sau ntawv” to
be “sauntawv”, and “ua ntej” to be “uantej.” This type of words structure does not conform to
what I believe is monosyllabic language. For example, “leej twg” are two words. “leej” means
“person” and “twg” means “who.” Likewise, “sau ntawv” are two words. “sau” means “write”
and “ntawv” means “the script” Last, “tso zis” are two words. “tso” means “to release” and
“zis” means “urine.” So if one translates “sauntawv” to mean “write” then “sau tus ntawv no
kom zoo” would have to be written like: Sauntawv tus ntawv no kom zoo.

English closed syllables vs Hmong open syllables

No English word with different ending sounds – letters


11 mom mob moss mop mod
The English ending enunciation for words mentioned above is problematic for most non-English
speakers because they are not trained to detect them. Likewise, the ending tones is problematic
for most English speakers.

No Hmong word with different tones – ending with the mouth open
12 muaj muas muam muag muab
Each of the tone markers j, s, m, g and b above must be stressed with the correct pitch without
closing your mouth. For example, “muab” has a phonics similar to the English word “moua” but
with a high pitch similar to the “YO-” syllable of the word “YO-yo”, and “muam” has a low pitch
similar to the “-yo” syllable. And the word “muab” means to give and “muam” means sisters.

The rule of thumb is to never close your mouth when speaking Hmong and you will be fine.

I hope you understand the illustration above because it is very important that you speak with
the proper tones. For example, if you are trying to say the word “muag – to sell” but instead you
say it like “muas – to buy”, without stressing the “g” tone, you would be buying instead of
selling. Again, “muaj” means to have and “muag” means to sell.
For this reason, many foreigners who came from a tonal language background generally will
tend to speak English without closing their mouths and do not enunciate the ending letters clearly.
The reason for that is because they are not comfortable with the new way of speaking – fear of
looking funny. This very same reason applies to people who are learning Hmong as well.
Nonetheless, you have to remind yourself that you rather look funny and pronounce it right than
looking pretty and say the word wrong.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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142 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

In order to read and write Hmong well, you must memorize – visually, three things:

1. Consonants – the correct phonics of each letter, i.e., c, d, th etc...


2. Vowels – a, ai, aw etc...
3. Tones – j, s, v, m, g, b, _, and d. These are called “Cim” in Hmong.

And then, you must memorize all the vitches. It means “vowel + pitch.”
For example, eb, iam, awm, us, oob. You should be able to pronounce these vitches easily. Then
when you see words such as peb nyiam kawm lus Hmoob, and it means “We like to learn
Hmong”, you should be able to read each word quite well. And once you have mastered the
vitches, you move on to the consonants, and then the whole word like you do in English.

Sweet Words

Sweet words are words that some people use at the end of a normal phrase or sentence, and it
generally means friendly, polite or sweet. Here are some examples:

No Word Example
1 los, los ohv* Nej tuaj thiab los. Nws zoo nkauj heev los ohv. Los ohv.
2 los mas Txhob ua li los mas. Peb hlub koj es peb thiaj li tuaj los mas.
3 ntag Nws tsis paub li ntag. Lawv ua li ntag. Yog li ntag hos.
4 ntag los Nws tsis paub li ntag los. Lawv ua li ntag los.
5 ohs* Koj lub npe hu li cas ohs? Koj yog xeem ab tsi ohs? Koj tos kuv ohs.
6 yom, yod Peb txhob mus yom. Koj pab kuv yod – (yom-ov). Wb mus yod?
7 mog Kuv nyiam koj heev mog. Nej ua neeg zoo nawb mog. Ua zoo mog.
8 nawb Koj txhob mus nawb. Lawv ua los puam chawj lawv nawb mog.
9 hos Peb tsis paub li hos. Twb yog nws ua kiag ntag hos.
* This is a new word I created.

The Hmong word “os” – sounds like the English word awe, but the word , “ohs”, I came up here
is different. Again, you have to hear the actual sound from a Hmong speaker to understand what I
am referring to here. The word “os” means a duck in Hmong, but the word “ohs” is mostly
placed at the end of a sentence. This silent “h” also applies to not only the “oh” vowel, but also for
the sound of the Hmong Leng's kwv txhiaj, for example, ca.... auhb.....ahm... luag leem tub ohm.
The “h” after the “o” is a silent vowel pronounced in the back of your throat. Otherwise, the
Hmong popular greeting, “Nyob zoo os” would translate into “hello duck” instead. To appreciate
the new word “ohs”, you have to phonetically sound the “os + hos = ohs.” It is not perfect but it is
not too ducky.

When we learn a new word, it always seems strange at first.


Lus mos ua rau siab muag; lus pos ua rau siab ntuag.
Lus zoo ua rau neeg tshua; lus phem ua rau neeg tua.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 143

The Blaming Game


Yes, Hmong are human and humans means taking credit for the good and blaming others for the
bad. With that being said, the most popular word the Hmong people use to blame others is “tim”,
and it is analogous to the English “because of, your fault, due to” etc... For example:
Peb tuaj lig vim yog tim koj ntag. We come late because your fault.
Peb tuaj lig twb yog tim koj ntag. We come late because of you.
Tim leej twg? Because of whom?

The Swear Words


True life does not exist without love and hatred, and that is just a part of human beings. Like a
piece of magnet, it always has both positive and negative. So I have taught you the sweet words,
the blaming game and you know what naturally comes afterward right? The yelling and swearing
words. Therefore, I want to prepare you for not only the best but also be aware of some swear
words some Hmong people like to use. With that said, Hmong generally use the following words
when they are really angry:

No Hmong English
1 ntsej muag! There is no English equivalent for this word, and it literally means a “face”, and
it can be directed to anyone, i.e., you, he, she etc...
This “ntsej muag” can be used with any adjectives, i.e., ruam, pluag etc...
2 tsov tom! Tiger bites or kills. This term is more like for cursing someone so that tigers will
bite or kill that person. However, some people like to use “tsov tom” to greet
their long time lost friends, too.
3 tawg A mean word, slang, for “eat.” Ua cas koj tawg ntau ua luaj?
Why do you eat so much? Another slang word for “eat” is called “laig”, too.
4 quav dev Dog shit. Similar to bullshit and/or nonsense, shit or crap.
Example: Koj tej hauj lwm ko ces quav dev xwb.
5 ruam Stupid, dumb. Example: Ntsej muag ruam! Stupid face.

Here are some more examples

No Hmong English
6 Ntsej muag! Ua cas koj yuav muaj phlus ua luaj li naj? You, why are you so arrogant?
7 Ntsej muag ruam, ua cas koj tsis paub ab tsi li? You stupid face, why don't you know
anything?
8 Tsov tom, uas cas koj ua li? Tiger bites, why did you do that?
9 Tsov tom, tsov cab. Tiger bites, tiger drags.
Tsuv tum, tsuv hai – Hmong Leng dialect.
Mostly, Hmong use the word “niag” before these two words, for example:
Niag ntsej muag... Niag tsov tom ntawv... Niag ntsej muag siab phem... Niag tsov tom ahw etc...
Now don't you go around and start swearing at people because if you get into trouble, don't blame
me – blame yourself, Grasshopper! I taught you these swear words in hope you would understand
when someone swears at you and not the other way around. :)

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
144 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Repeating the Same Verb Means Greater or More


The Hmong language has a repeating use of the same verb to mean in greater degree or more
of which is similar to English syntax “very, very good.”

No Hmong English transliterated Proper English


1 Kuv nyiam nyiam koj. I like like you. I like you much.
2 Peb xav xav tuaj. I want want come. I much want to come.
3 Koj muaj muaj nyiaj. You have have money. You have a lot of money.
In a way, the first verb sort of tells you the type of verb, and the second same verb tells you that it
is more or twice as much. This repeating syntax also exists in the Laos and Thai languages or
perhaps most monosyllabic languages. This repeating syntax can be more than twice, but
it is uncommon.
For this same word being used twice, I have come up with the character “~” to mean repeating
again. So applying this repeating character to the above examples, they would look as follows:

No Hmong English
1 Kuv nyiam~ koj. I like you much. Or I very like you.
2 Peb xav~ tuaj. We like to come very much.
3 Koj muaj~ nyiaj. You have a lot of money.
4 Koj maj~ mus. You very hurry go.
This repeating character applies to verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Therefore, instead of saying,
“Kuv nco koj heev kawg li”, it would be, “Kuv nco~ koj kawg li.” And “Kuv tsis pom pom”
means “I don't really see” And “Kuv tsis care care” means “I don't really care.”
Now you know why some Hmong people translate the Hmong phrase, “Kuv nyiam nyiam
koj” into English like “I like like you” or Hmonglish, “Kuv tsis care care koj naj”, and it
means, “I don't really care about you.”
Additionally, Hmong also like to use the word “sis” or “sib” in front of verbs (verb prefix) to
indicate a reciprocal relationship or action.

No Hmong English
1 Lawv sib hlub heev. They love one another very much.
2 Lawv sib~ hlub heev. They love, love one another much.
3 Nkawv sib ntaus. The two people fight each other.
4 Nkawv sib yuav tau 10 xyoo. They have been married for 10 years.
5 Lawv paub sib hlub heev. They know how to love each other a lot.
6 Wb sib paub tau ntau xyoo los lawm. We knew each other for many years already.
7 Neb puas sib paub? Do you know each other?
8 Kuv tsis pau paub. I don't know. Mostly in a denial manner.
9 Kuv tsis hlub hlub. I don't love. I don't care to love that is.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 145

Hmong Common Nouns


No Hmong English Hmong Example English
1 av soil, dirt Cog zaub rau hauv av. Plant vegetables in the soil.
2 dej water Peb haus dej ntau heev. We drink a lot of water.
3 diav spoon Muab rab diav rau kuv. Give the spoon to me.
4 dib cucumber Peb nyiam noj dib heev. We like to eat cucumbers a lot.
5 fawm pho, noodle Nej puas muag fawm? Do you sell pho?
6 kev way, road Peb mus txoj kev twg. What road are we taking?
7 khau shoe Koj muaj ib nkawm khau. You have one pair of shoes.
8 khob cup Koj haus tag ib khob dej. You finished drinking a cup of water.
9 kua txob peppers Tso plaub lub kua txob. Put in four peppers.
10 lauj kaub pot Koj muaj ib lub lauj kaub. You have one pot.
11 log cam cutting board Koj puas muaj log cam? Do you have a cutting board?
12 mov rice (cooked) Nej puas muag mov? Do you sell rice?
13 nqaij meat, flesh Tsov nyiam noj nqaij. Tigers like to eat meat.
14 ntawv script, letter Peb sau ntawv Askiv. We write English letters.
15 phaj plate Koj noj tas ib phaj mov. You finished eating a plate of rice.
16 qaib chicken Koj nyiam noj nqaij qaib ci. You like to eat fried chicken.
17 qav frog Nej puas muag nqaij qav? Do you sell frog meat?
18 riam knife Hov rab riam. Sharpen the knife.
19 ris pants Koj puas nyiam lub ris? Do you like the pants?
20 rooj table Nej muaj ntau lub rooj. You have many tables.
21 tais bowl Hais mov rau hauv lub tais. Put rice in the bowl.
22 tog chair Thov zaum lub tog no. Please sit on this chair.
23 tsev house, home Koj muaj tsib lub tsev. You have five houses.
24 tsheb car Kuv muaj ib lub tsheb xwb. I have one car only.
25 tsho shirt Koj muaj ib lub tsho xiav? You have one blue shirt.
26 tshuab machine Lub tshuab khiav ceev. The machine runs fast.
27 txaj bed Peb pw lub txaj twg? We sleep on which bed?
28 txhuv rice – uncooked Nej puas muag txhuv? Do you sell rice? (uncooked)
29 zaub vegetable Nej puas muaj zaub? Do you have vegetables?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
146 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Common Nouns


No Hmong English Hmong Example English
30 cag root Ntoo muaj ntau tus cag. Trees have many roots.
31 cawv alcohol Kuv tsis nyiam haus cawv. I don't like to drink alcohol.
32 fwj bottle Peb muaj ib fwj cawv. We have one bottle of alcohol.
33 hav zoov forest Lub zos no tsis muaj hav zoov. This city does not have forest.
34 hiav txwv ocean Peb mus ua si tom hiav txwv. We go play by the ocean.
35 huab cloud Hnub no tsis muaj huab. Today has no cloud.
36 huab cua weather Kuv nyiam huab cua zoo xwb. I like good weather only.
37 laj kab fence Peb xov laj kab. We put up a fence.
38 liaj paddy field Neeg cog nplej hauv liaj. People plant rice in paddy field.
39 ntaub fabric Koj muaj ib daim ntaub liab. You have a red fabric.
40 ntawv paper Muab ib daim ntawv rau kuv. Give a piece of paper to me.
41 ntoo tree Kuv muaj ntau tsob ntoo. I have many trees.
42 paj flower Nej cog paj ntau heev. You plant many flowers.
43 phuam towel Muab txoj phuam rau kuv. Give me the towel.
44 pob kws corn Koj puas cog pob kws? Do you plant corn?
45 pob zeb rock Peb pom ntau lub pob zeb. We see many rocks.
46 qhov rai window Tsev muaj ntau lub qhov rai. House has many windows.
47 qhov rooj door Lub tsev muaj ob lub qhov rooj. The house has two doors.
48 roob mountain Peb nce lub roob siab. We climb a high mountain.
49 taub pumpkin Peb cog taub los muag. We plant pumpkins to sell.
50 taus ax or axe Siv taus los ntov ntoo. Use ax to cut trees.
51 taw foot, feet Koj muaj ob txhais taw. You have two feet.
52 teb farm Peb muaj ib daim teb. We have one farm.
53 tes hand Mob kuv txhais tes. Hurt my hand.
54 tiab dress Poj niam nyiam hnav tiab. Women like to wear dress.
55 tshuaj medicine Siv tshuaj los kho mob. Use medicine to cure illness.
56 tsiaj txhu animal Lawv tsis muaj tsiaj txhu. They don' have animals.
57 zis urine Kuv xav tau koj cov zis. I need to have your urine?
58 zos city, village Peb nyob hauv lub zos. We live in a city.

Tus ruam ntshai luag thuam; tus ntse ntshai luag yeej.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 147

Hmong Common Nouns


No Hmong English Hmong Example English
59 chiv fertilizer Rau chiv los pab cov zaub. Add fertilizer to help vegetables.
60 chiv keeb beginning Thaum chiv keeb, neeg los qhov In the beginning, where did
twg los? humans come from?
61 choj bridge Peb ua tus choj tshiab. We build a new bridge.
62 daus snow Peb tsis nyiam daus. We don't like snow.
63 hli moon Lub hli ci thiab kheej heev. The moon is bright and very full.
64 hlua rope Siv hlua los khi tus npua. Use ropes to tie the pig.
65 hluas nkauj girlfriend Nws muaj ib tus hluas nkauj. He has a girlfriend.
66 hluas nraug boyfriend Nws muaj ib tus hluas nraug. She has a boyfriend.
67 hmo night Hmo no tsis muaj neeg li. Tonight there are no people.
68 hnub sun Hnub no lub hnub kub heev. Today the sun is very hot.
69 hnub qub star Hmo ntuj peb pom hnub qub. At night we see stars.
70 hom kind, mark Lawv muaj ntau hom paj. They have many kinds of flowers.
71 kev cai law, rule Lawv muaj ib txoj kev cai tshiab. They have a new law.
72 koob needle Siv koob los xaws khaub ncaws. Use needles to sew clothes.
73 luam business Peb tsis ua luam. We don't do business.
74 nkoj boat Peb siv lub nkoj mus nuv ntses. We use the boat to go fishing.
75 nom official Nom tsim tau ib txoj cai tshiab. Officials enacted a new law.
76 noob seed Peb muag noob paj. We sell flower seeds.
77 ntses fish Peb xav noj ntses kib. We want to eat fried fish.
78 ntsev salt Noj ntsev ntau tsis zoo. Eat too much salt is not good.
79 ntshav blood Neeg muaj ntshav. Humans have blood.
80 pas dej pond Peb muaj ib lub pas dej me. We have a small pond.
81 peev capital Nej nqes peev npaum li cas? How much capital did you invest?
82 sawv ntxov morning Kuv mus thaum sawv ntxov. I go in the morning.
83 tav su noon Peb noj mov thaum tav su. We eat at noon.
84 taws firewood Nej puas muaj taws? Do you have firewood?
85 tsaus ntuj evening Kuv tuaj txog thaum tsaus ntuj. I arrived in the evening.
86 txiab scissors Siv txiab los txiav ntaub. Use scissors to cut fabrics.

Don't throw the old part away until the new part works.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
148 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Common Nouns


No Hmong English Hmong Example English
87 dav hlau airplane Peb ya dav hlau tas hnub. We flew airplane all day.
88 hlau metal Neeg siv hlau los ua tsheb. People use metal to build cars.
89 hnab bag Peb muaj ib hnab txiv. We have a bag of fruits.
90 hniav teeth, tooth Txhuam koj cov hniav. Brush your teeth.
91 kub gold Koj muaj ib lub nphlaib kub. You have a gold ring.
92 mom hat Peb yuav ntau lub mom. We buy many hats.
93 nkauj song Koj hu zaj nkauj zoo heev. You sing the song very good.
94 nruas drum Nws paub ntaus nruas. He knows how to play drum.
95 nyiaj money Lawv muaj nyiaj ntau. They have a lot of money.
96 nyom grass Nyuj nyiam noj nyom. Cows like to eat grass.
97 teb chaws country Hmoob tsis muaj teb chaws. Hmong does not have a country.
98 tooj copper Nej siv tooj los ua ab tsi? What do you copper for?
99 tshis goat Nej puas muag tshis? Do you sell goats?
100 tsho shirt Kuv nyiam koj lub tsho dawb. I like your white shirt.
101 tshob dipper Neeg siv tshob los ce dej. People use dippers to scoop water.
102 tsua boulder Lub tsua loj heev. The boulder is very big.
103 tsuag rat, mouse Peb pom ib tug tsuag. We see one rat.
104 tub rog soldier Tub rog tiv thaiv teb chaws. Soldiers protect country.
105 txhuas lead Nej siv txhuas los ua ab tsi? What do you use lead for?
106 xeev state Koj nyob lub xeev twg tuaj? What state are you from?
107 yawg grandpa Kuv yawg yog Vam Lis Xyooj My grandpa was Vang Lee Xiong.
108 yeeb opium Neeg siv yeeb los ua tshuaj. People use opium for medicine.
109 yij quail Neeg nyiam cuab yij. People like to trap quails.
110 yim family Hauv peb zos muaj 100 yim. In our town there are 100 families.
111 yoov fly Caij ntuj so muaj yoov heev. In summer there are many flies.
112 yus one, oneself Yus yuav tsum ua neeg zoo. One ought to be a good person.
113 zam attire, outfit Koj hnav tau lub zam zoo heev. You put on a very nice attire.
115 zos city, village Peb lub zos muaj neeg coob. Our city has many people.
116 zaum sit Koj zaum ntawm no. You sit here.

Ua ntej yuav mus hauv yuav tsum paub tias tawm los li cas.
Tus yus nyiam yus tsis pom nws qhov liam; tus yus hlub yus tsis pom nws qhov dub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 149

Testing Your Hmong Words


Please translate the following English into Hmong.

1. I have a house = __________________. And it is small and white = _______________________


2. I bought it many years ago = _____________________. The cost is = _____________________
3. The house has five rooms = ______________________. It has one bath = __________________
4. You have to see it = _______________________. To believe me = _______________________
5. I live in a small city = _____________________. And the state is Wisconsin = _______________

6. So you want to learn Hmong = _____________________. Is it hard? _____________________


7. I want to tell you = ___________________. That you have learned well = __________________
8. Therefore, don't give up = _______________________. Because I = ____________
9. Will help you learn = _____________________. I have recorded sounds = __________________
10. To help you = __________________. Please go listen and practice = ______________________

11. Many words are similar to English = _________________________________________


12. Verbs are easy to learn = ___________________. Adjectives go after = ___________________
13. I hope you know = _______________________. You can read Hmong = _________________
14. The Hmong tones are not that hard = ________________________________
15. Which is similar to the English pitches: _____________________________________________
Koj Mus Kuv Niam Neeg Siab Zoo Tod
Here are the pitches: hey! Doe Sec- -yo -tion YO- Re n/a

16. How many vowels are in the Hmong language? ___________


17. Please list them: _______________________________________________________________
18. How many tones? ________ and they are: __________________________________________

19. House = ______. Home = ________. Book = ________. Write = __________ Read = ________
20. Go = _______. Stay = _______. Help me = __________. They come = ___________________
21. Visit us today = _______________. They are my friends = ___________________________
22. So I am very happy = ______________________. To see them = _____________________

23. Yesterday I saw you = _______________. Tomorrow I will see you again = ________________
24. Now we go eat = _________________. We will come back next year = _________________
25. Next month = _________________. Next time = ______________. Last time = ____________
26. We don't have = _______________. They will help us = ________________________
27. So don't worry = _______________. Learn to love everything = _______________________
28. As God has loved everyone = ____________________________________
29. How do you know? ______________ When are you coming?__________________
30. Are you happy? ______________ I am not happy. _________________________

When we forgive someone, it is like letting go of a thorn.


Ntaus mob tawv cem mob plawv.
Txawj ntxias tau kev hlub; txawj dag tau kev pub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
150 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Compound Words
Hmong like to use compound words and/or talking in pairs using words either antonym, synonym
or words that are in the same environment. Below are some of the compound words.

No Hmong English transliterated


1 Tig mus, tig los. Turning back and forth. (turn go, turn come)
2 Hais rov qab, rov quav. Saying back and forth about the same subject.
3 Noj mus, noj los. Eating back and forth. (eat go, eat come)
4 Hais zoo, hais phem. Saying good and bad. (say good, say bad)
5 Neeg ntse, neeg ruam. The wise and the unwise. (person smart, person dumb)
6 Tus muaj, tus pluag. The rich and the poor. (person rich, person poor)
7 Nyob deb, nyob ze. From far and near. (live far, live near)
8 Muaj vaj, muaj tse. Have a place and home. (have fence, have house)
9 Muaj zoo kwv, zoo tij. Have good relatives, esp of the same last name.
10 Tej neeg ncaj, neeg ncees. The good and honest people.
11 Yus tej neej, tej tsa. One's relatives-in-law.
12 Hmoob tej zej, tej zos. Hmong's village and city. For example:
Koj tej niam tej txi.
13 Lawv tej liaj, tej teb. Their rice paddy and farm. Your mother and father.
14 Nws tej tsiaj, tej txhu. His animals and rice.
15 Muaj qoob, muaj loo. Have crops and fruits. Koj xaiv mus xaiv los.
You choose back and forth.
16 Tej kab, tej ntsaum. The insects and ants.
17 Tej niam, tej txiv. The mothers and fathers. Lawv hais zoo hais phem.
18 Tej hlob, tej yau. The old and young. They say good and bad.
19 Tej pog, tej yawg. The grandma and grandpa.
20 Tej Mab, tej Sua. The foreigners. Normally, Hmong say “Mab Sua” only.
21 Xav mus, xav los To ponder, to think about something back and forth.

Sorry about my English translation above because I am not good at English; however, I want you
to know at least little bit of what each line means. Perhaps there is no proper way to translate the
Hmong words without losing its native juice, so my best choice is to not confuse you with English
words that make sense to you but have no direct translation for Hmong words on the left. For
example, the Hmong words, “xav mus xav los” means to “think go think come” in a direct
translation, but the meaningful English would be something like “to ponder, to be undecided” but
the closest to the Hmong words would really be “to think back and forth” of something during an
undecided stage.

Ruam ua neej raws kev plees; pluag ua neej raws kev nkees.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 151

Simple Phrase and Sentence


Well, I hope by now you are as sagacious and mature as most two year old children because you
have come a long way. I want to congratulate you on your Hmong learning journey, and I want to
help you master the Hmong language. I believe the Hmong language is easy to learn as long as you
have a good teacher. Like the old Chinese saying, “When a student fails to learn it is the
teacher's fault.” Not sure about the exact wording, but that is not far from the truth. Therefore,
I certainly hope I have been a good teacher to you thus far. From here on, we will try to learn just
like most young and inquisitive children do – interacting and conversing with each others.
So let's start with some simple greetings because you can apply what you learn here in real life.
First, remember the first and second pronouns, koj thiab kuv, because we will be using these
two pronouns heavily. In this exercise, we will have two people named:
Noog and Paj (bird and flower).

Hmong English
Noog: Nyob zoo ohs, Paj. Noog: Hello Paj.

Paj: Nyob zoo ohs, Noog. Paj: Hello Noog.

Noog: Ntev loo lawm txij thaum wb sib ntsib. Noog: It has been a while since we met.
Koj nyob li cas lawm xwb? How have you been?

Paj: Kuv nyob zoo thiab hos koj ne? Paj: I am fine and how about you?

Noog: Kuv nyob zoo, thiab kuv tseem niaj Noog: I am good, and I am still working
hnub ua hauj lwm li qub. every day as usual.

Paj: Kuv tseem kawm ntawv, tabsis tshuav Paj: I am still in school, but one more year
ib xyoos xwb ces kuv kawm tag lawm. only and I will be done then.

Noog: Zoo heev. Rau siab kawm vim kev Noog: Very good. Keep up the hard work
kawm yog ib yam tseem ceeb rau koj lub because education is very important for
neej yav pem suab. your future.

Paj: Muaj tseeb. Zoo siab pom koj dua. Paj: Indeed. Happy to see you again.

Noog: Kuv los tib yam ohs. Mus zoo koj. Noog: Same for me. Goodbye.

Paj: Koj thiab ohs. Paj: And you, too.

Nyob zoo, koj lub npe hu li cas? Hello, what is your name? Kuv hu ua Teeb xeem Xyooj. My name
is Teng last name Xiong. Kuv zoo siab tau ntsib koj. I am happy to meet you. Wb mam li sib tham
dua lwm zaus. We will chat again next time. Sis ntsib dua lwm zaus. See you again next time.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
152 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

More Basic Phrases


No Hmong English
1 Kuv tshaib plab. I am hungry.
2 Koj puas xav noj mov? Would you like to eat?
3 Tshaib plab kawg li tiag. Very hungry indeed.
4 Koj nyiam noj ab tsi? What would you like to eat?
5 Kuv xav noj ib phaj mov kib. I would like a plate of fried rice.
6 Koj ne? And you?
7 Kuv mam li noj ib taig fawm. I will eat a bowl of pho (a bowl of noodle soup).
8 Koj lub npe hu li cas? What is your name?
9 Kuv lub npe hu ua Noog. My name is Noog.
10 Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? How old are you?
11 Kuv muaj ob caug xyoo. I am twenty years old.
12 Cia wb so nov. Let us rest here.
13 Ua tsaug. Thank you.
14 Koj nyiam tuaj nov heev los? You like to come here a lot?
15 Wb, zaum no yog kuv thawj zaug xwb. No, this is my first time only.
16 Hos koj ne? How about you?
17 Kuv twb tuaj nov ntau zaus lawm. I have been here many times already.
18 Zoo. Qhov chaw no muaj zaub mov qab. Good. This place has good food.
19 Yog, kuv hnov neeg hais li thiab tiag. Yes, I heard people say something like that.
20 Chav dej nyob qhov twg? Where is the bathroom?
21 Ncaj qha tov ces lem rau koj sab xis. Straight there and then turn to your right.
22 Koj puas tseem kawm ntawv? Do you still go to school?
23 Wb, tsuas ua hauj lwm txhua hnub. No, just working every day.
24 Koj nyob qhov twg tuaj? Where are you from?
25 Kuv nyob teb chaws Suav tuaj ohs. I am from China.
26 Huag, pev mas deb heev. Wow, that is very far.
27 Siv peb hnub mam tuaj txog hos. Took three days to get here.
28 Hos koj ne? And how about you?
29 Kuv nyob teb chaws no xwb. I am from this country only.
30 Zoo heev. Very good.

Neeg muaj txuj tsis ntshai ntuj; neeg pluag tsis ntshai tuag.
Ntxov hlub ces ntxov ntxub; ntxov yuav ces ntxov dhuav.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 153

No Hmong English
1 Kuv mob. I am sick.
2 Tu siab tau hnov li. Sorry to hear that.
3 Koj puas noj tshuaj li? Are you taking any medications?
4 Wb, tsuas vam tias kuv yuav zoo xwb. No, just hoping I will get better only.
5 Koj mob tau hov ntev lawm? How long have you been sick?
6 Ob hnub lawm. Two days already.
7 Kuv mam li xa ib co tshuaj rau koj. I will send some medicines to you.
8 Ua tsaug. Kuv zoo siab heev. Thank you. I am very happy.
9 Koj yuav tau pw kom txaus. You will need to have enough sleep.
10 Koj puas nco qab ab tsi ua rau koj mob? Do you remember what made you sick?
11 Tsis paub li tiag. Don't really know.
12 Koj txhob txhawj. You don't worry.
13 Kuv mam li thov Vajtswv pab koj. I will ask God to help you (pray for you).
14 Ua tsaug ohs. Thank you.
15 Tsis ua li cas. Not a problem.
16 Zoo, ua tib zoo tu koj tus kheej nawb. Well, take good care of yourself okay.
17 Kuv mam li sim. I will try.
18 Mus zoo koj ohs. Goodbye to you.

Short Greetings

No Hmong English
1 Koj tuaj thiab los. You come, too.
2 Aws, tuaj thiab los mas. Yes, come, too.
3 Nej tuaj yuav ab tsi ohs? You come here to buy what?
4 Peb tuaj yuav txhuv xwb. We come to buy rice only.
5 Nej ne? And you?
6 Peb tuaj yuav txhuv thiab. We come to buy rice, too.
7 Nej mam li lawv qab ohs. You come later (or leave later on).
8 Aws, sib ntsib dua nawb. Yes, see you again.
Lawv qab means to follow or to go after someone or to leave at a later time.

Lus zoo thiab lus phem puav leej muab sau ua nkauj hu tag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
154 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Typical Hmong Greetings


No Zaj Paj
1 Koj tuaj thiab los, Paj. Aws, kuv tuaj thiab ohs.
2 Koj lam tuaj ncig ua si xwb los? Kuv tuaj nrhiav seb lawv puas muag kub xwb.
3 Oev, kuv pom lawv muag Nyob hov deb nov naj?
nyob pev thiab los mas.
4 Ze ze xwb ohs. Koj mus ncaj qha nov rau Ua tsaug nawb, Zaj.
pev ces koj yeej pom nyob ntawm sab xis.
5 Tsis ua li cas ohs. Sis ntsib dua ohs.

Equivalent English Translation

No Zaj Paj
1 You come here, too, Paj. Yes, I come here, too.
2 You come here just for fun? I come to see if they sell gold.
3 Oh, I saw they sell gold over there. How far is it from here?
4 Very close. You go straight from here Thank you, Zaj.
and you should see it on the right.
5 Not a problem. See you again.

Some Hmong like to use some of the following words to end their phrases or sentences:
Ham tsis los mas, laiv, hos, nas, naj, ne, nev, los mas, los, ohs, nab, maj

Hmong question – Person A Answer – Person B


1. Nws niaj hnub mus ua teb xwb los? Ham tsis los mas.
2. Lawv puas paub lus Hmoob zoo naj? Tsis paub no thiab laiv.
3. Nws puas kam ua ntxiv lawm maj? Nws zeem li lawm hos.
4. Koj mob li cas tiag ohs? Kuv pheej khaus caj pas xwb naj.
5. Koj noj puas qab thiab nab? Tsis qab li ohs. Or qab heev li tiag.
6. Ua cas koj ho ua li ntawv maj? Es koj twb kom kuv ua li ntawv ne.

Again, the above words are just a few to show you how strange Hmong sentences can be. You
really do have to be born in Hmong and/or live with them long enough to really know how to
speak and understand sentences like these. However, once you know these ending words, you can
use them, too.
Here are some examples:

Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo lawm naj? Koj puas muaj nyiaj nab? Kuv hlub koj heev laiv.
Koj puas kam pab kuv ohs? Tau kawg los mas. Ua tsaug ntau nawb. Txhob ua tsaug ohs.
Puas muaj tiag maj? Is it true or real? Kuv hlub koj heev hos. I love you much.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 155

The above phrases are very common in Hmong, but you won't hear them from the less fluent
Hmong speakers, and the words above fall into the “friendly” conversation category. So let's take
a look at the following examples:

Normal question Friendly version


1. Koj puas xav mus tsev? Koj puas xav mus tsev ohs?
2. Koj lub npe hu li cas? Koj lub npe hu li cas nab?
3. Koj puas paub nws zoo? Koj puas paub nws zoo ohs?
4. Nws ua li tiag. Nws ua li tiag hos.

Typical Phone Conversations


No Hmong English
1 Nyob zoo ohs, koj yog leej twg ni? Hello, who are you?
2 Oev, kuv yog Paj ohs. Oh, I am Paj.
3 Kuv xav nrog Zaj tham no es nws puas nyob I would like to talk to Zaj so is he home?
tsev lawm ne yod?
4 Nws nyob thiab los mas. Koj tos ib pliag ohv. Yes, he is home. You wait a moment okay.
5 Ua tsaug ntau nawb. Thank you very much.
6 Tsis ua li cas ohs. Not a problem.

Shopping Phrase
No Hmong English transliterated
1 Nej puas muag nqaij os? Do you sell duck meat?
2 Peb muag thiab los mas. We sell them, too.
3 Nej muag ib tug pes tsawg nab? You sell each one how much?
4 Peb muag ib tug yog yim duas. We sell each for eight dollars.
5 Yog li kuv xav yuav ob tug ohs. If so I would like to buy two.
6 Ces tus tswv muab ob tus os rau koj. Nws hais Then the owner handed you the two
tias, “Yog kaum rau duas thiab yim caum ducks. He said, “It is sixteen dollars and
xees.” Ces koj cev daim nyiaj $20 rau nws. Nws eighty cents.” You then handed him a
txais thiab rov tau peb duas thiab ob caug xees $20 bill. He took and returned three
los, thiab nws hais tias, “Ua tsaug nawb.” dollars and twenty cents, and he said,
“Thank you.”

Lo uas “ob caug” yog lus tshiab. Lo qub thiab Hmoob paub tiag mas yog “nees nkaum” no.
To ask for how much, you would say, “Pes tsawg?” Or “Yog pes tsawg?”
How much? Is how much?
Koj muag pes tsawg? You sell how much? You sell for how much?
Tus nqi yog pes tsawg? The price is how much?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
156 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Greeting With Proper Name


No Called by men Meaning Called by women
1 kwv or kwv ntxawg ←youngest brother | brother → nus or leej nus
2 tij laug older brother nus tij or leej nus tij or tij laug
3 muam ←sister | brother → nus
4 muam ntxawm ←youngest sister | younger sister → niam hluas
5 muam hlob older sister niam laus
6 txiv /niam ntxawm younger uncle / aunt txiv /niam ntxawm
7 txiv /niam hlob older uncle / aunt txiv /niam hlob
8 tub, me tub son tub, me tub
9 ntxhais, me ntxhais daughter ntxhais, me ntxhais
12 niam tais mother-in-law niam tais
13 yawm txiv father-in-law yawm txiv
14 npawg ←male pal | female pal → viv ncaus
Normally Hmong people will use one the above terms to greet strangers, and use the person's
name after if they know his/her name. For example:
From a man: Nyob zoo leej muam = Hello sister (lady).
From a woman: Nyob zoo leej nus = Hello brother (gentleman).

In other words, when you (a man) meet someone who you think is younger than yourself, and the
person is a man, then you would use the word “kwv.” If you think his age is around your dad's
age, you would use either the word “txiv ntxawm” or “txiv hlob” instead. People don't use the
word “txiv” unless he is your father and/or your dad's brothers. The same is true for the word
“niam.” For example, when you first meet and greet some you don't know (from a man):

Nyob zoo txiv ntxawm. Koj puas paub ib tus txiv neej hu ua Vam Lis no?
Nyob zoo tij laug. Koj puas yog Vam Lis? →Are you Vam Lis?
Nyob zoo leej muam. Koj puas yog niam Vam Lis? →Are you Vam Lis' wife?
Nyob zoo me tub. Koj lub npe hu li cas ohs? →Hello son. What is your name?
Nyob zoo niam tais. Koj puas muag mov? →Hello mother-in-law. Do you sell food?

Again, you might actually be older than the other person but with respect, you normally put them
at a higher level. And normally people don't mind whatever term you use as long as your intention
is sincere. However, if the other person does not want to be called as such, they will quickly
correct you as follows:
Oeb, koj yog tij lawm nawb es cia kuv ua kwv. What that means is he wants you to be the older
and elder person instead. If that is the case, you accept it by saying something like “ua li”, and go
on with your conversation. The Hmong words “ua li” or “ua li los mas” means “do as such,
agree” etc...
Believe to succeed and doubt to fail are like the positive and negative of a magnet.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 157

Body Parts
No Hmong English Hmong Example
1 aub ncaug saliva Koj nti aub ncaug rau peb coj mus kuaj.
2 caj dab neck Neeg coj xauv ntawm lawv lub caj dab.
3 caj ntswm nose bridge Koj tus caj ntswm siab heev.
4 caj qwb nape (of the neck) Nws cov plaub hau ntev npog nws lub caj qwb tag.
5 cev body Lub qhov rooj tsis haum nws lub cev.
6 di ncauj lips Mob nws daim di ncauj.
7 hauv siab chest Koj ntog tsoo koj lub hauv siab doog tas.
8 hniav, kaus hniav tooth, teeth Koj pab txhuam tus me nyuam cov hniav.
9 kua ntswg mucus Cov kua ntswg tawm hauv ob lub qhov ntswg los.
10 mis breast Ib tus neeg muaj ob lub mis.
11 ncauj, qhov ncauj mouth Yus ncauj tsis txhob loj~. Don't have a big mouth.
12 nplaig tongue Koj rov tom koj tus nplaig los ntshav.
13 nrob qaum back Thov koj pab khawb kuv lub nrob qaum.
14 ntsej muag face Ib tus neeg muaj ib lub ntsej muag.
15 ntsiab muag pupil Ua zoo tsis txhob pub raug koj lub ntsiab muag.
16 plaub hau hair Plaub hau tuaj saum neeg lub taub hau.
17 plaub muag eyebrow Koj cov plaub muag dub heev.
18 plaub qhov nose hair Nws txiav nws cov plaub qhov ntswg.
ntswg
19 phlu face, cheek No~ es ua rau nws ob sab phlu liab tag li.
20 pob tsaig chin Nws ntog tsoo nws lub pob tsaig.
21 pob yeeb Adam’s apple Txiv neej thiaj li muaj lub pob yeeb.
22 qhov muag eye Neeg muaj ob lub qhov muag.
23 qhov ntswg nostril Cov ntswg tawm hauv ob lub qhov ntswg los.
24 taub hau head Mob nws lub taub hau.
25 taub ntswg upturned nose, tip Koj lub taub ntswg siab heev.
26 tawv muag eyelid Mob nws daim tawv muag.
27 xib tes palm Koj tuav lub qe rau hauv koj lub xib tes.
28 xub ntiag chest, front of Tus me nyuam pw hauv nws lub xub ntiag.
29 xub pwg shoulder Nws kwv yav cav saum nws lub xub pwg.
30 ceg leg Neeg muaj ob txhais ceg.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
158 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

31 hauv caug knee Puas mob koj ob lub hauv caug?


32 hlab ntaws umbilical cord Koj niam tseem khaws koj txoj hlab ntaws.
33 leeg tendon Mob nws cov leeg.
34 luj taws heel Nws siv nws ob lub luj taws mus kev xwb.
35 ncej puab thigh Tus qaib muaj ob tus ncej puab.
36 nqaij flesh, meat Nws ntog tsoo nws thaj nqaij doog tas.
38 nqaij rog fat Tus npua muaj nqaij rog ntau heev li.
39 nqaij zog* muscle Txiv neej muaj nqaij zog ntau dua poj niam.
40 ntiv taw toe Koj cov ntiv taw lo av dhau hwv.
41 pij ntaws belly button Khaus nws lub pij ntaws.
42 plab hlaub calf Nws ntog tsoo nws lub plab hlaub.
43 plab mos abdomen Mob nws lub plab mos lossis plab mog.
44 plaub qau male pubic hair Cov plaub qau yog cov tuaj nyob ze ntawm qau.
46 plaub qhov tsos armpit hair Nws txiav nws cov plaub qhov tsos.
47 pob ntseg ear Neeg muaj ob lub pob ntseg.
48 pob tw buttocks Tus me nyuam tso zis ntub nws lub pob tw tag lawm.
49 qhov ntsej ear hole Koj tsis muaj qhov ntsej los ua cas hu koj tsis hnov?
50 qhov quav anus hole Cov quav tawm hauv lub qhov quav los.
51 qhov raws the area behind the Puas mob koj ob lub qhov raws?
knee, knee pit?
52 qhov tsos armpit Nws muab nws ob txhais tes ntsaws hauv qhov tsos.
53 qhov zis the hole of a penis Lub qhov zis yog lub qhov uas thaum yus tso zis es
or vagina zis tawm hauv los.
54 quav feces, stool Tus kws kho mob xav tau koj cov quav no.
55 roob hlaub shank, tibia Nws dawm yav cav es tsoo nws lub roob hlaub.
56 taw foot Sab khau tsis haum nws txhais taw.
57 tawv skin Miv khawb nws daim tawv ntawm tes to tag.
58 txha bone Neeg muaj ntau yav txha.
59 txiv mis nipple Ib lub mis muaj ib lub txiv mis.
60 zis urine Tus kws kho mob xav tau koj cov zis no.
* a new word I invented

Neeg pluag noj tsis txuag; neeg muaj noj tsis seem.
Tus neeg ua zoo Vajtswv hlub; tus neeg ua pub Vajtswv qhuas.
Yuam kev vim yog maj; muaj teeb meem vim yog tsis ceev faj.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 159

Internal Organs
No Hmong English Hmong Example
1 caj pas throat Khaus~ nws caj pas thiaj ua rau nws hnoos heev.
2 hlwb, paj hlwb brain Cov neeg ntse hlwb khiav zoo dua.
3 hnyuv intestine Hnyuv laus thiab hnyuv mos.
4 hnyuv laus big intestine Hnyuv laus yog cov hnyuv uas loj thiab dub.
5 hnyuv mos small intestine Hnyuv mos yog cov hnyuv uas me.
6 hnyuv tws appendix Lawv txiav nws yav hnyuv tws pov tseg lawm.
7 kua tsib bile Cov kua tsib iab heev.
8 nrob qaum spinal cord Mob nws cov leeg nrob qaum.
9 mob hnyuv tws appendicitis Ib yam mob nyob ntawm yav hnyuv tws.
10 noob qes testicles Noob qes npua loj dua noob qes qaib.
11 nru uvula Mob nws tus nru es nws thiaj li hais tsis tau lus.
12 ntshav blood Tus doctor xav tau koj cov ntshav coj mus ntsuam.
13 ntshav dawb white blood cells Koj cov ntshav dawb ntau dhau lawm no.
14 ntshav liab red blood cells Koj cov ntshav liab tsawg zog lawm no.
15 ntsws lung Tsis txhob haus luam yeeb thiaj tsis mob ntsws.
16 paum vagina Poj niam muaj paum tabsis txiv neej muaj qau.
17 plab stomach Puas mob koj lub plab ohs?
18 plawv heart Neeg muaj ib lub plawv uas yog xa ntshav.
19 ple, kaus ple clitoris, gland clitoris Poj niam thiaj li muaj ple lossis kaus ple xwb.
20 po spleen Ib tus neeg muaj ib tus po.
21 qa throat Mob nws lub qa es nws thiaj li nqos tsis tau mov.
22 qau penis Txiv neej thiaj li muaj qau.
23 quav feces, stool, poop Tus nees tso quav rau hauv kev.
24 raum kidney Ib tus neeg muaj ob lub raum.
25 siab liver Neeg muaj ib daim siab.
26 tsev me nyuam uterus, womb Poj niam thiaj li muaj lub tsev me nyuam xwb.
27 tsib gallbladder Ib tus neeg muaj ib lub tsib.
28 txha nrob qaum spine Puas mob koj tus txha nrob qaum?
29 zais zis bladder Nws tso zis ntau vim nws lub zais zis loj heev.

Thuam ua rau neeg ntxub; qhuas ua rau neeg hlub.


Nphlu dawb nphlu ntsu nkhawb; nphlu dub nphlu ntsu kub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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160 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Household Items
No Hmong English Hmong Example
1 chav room Nej lub tsev muaj tsib chav pw diam.
2 chav dej bathroom Kuv lub tsev muaj ib chav dej xwb.
3 chav pw bedroom Koj lub tsev muaj ntau chav pw.
4 chav ua noj kitchen Kuv nyiam cov tsev uas muaj chav ua noj loj thiab dav.
5 cib laug dust pan Muab lub cib laug los rau kuv.
6 dab da dej bathtub Ib lub tsev yeej muaj ib lub dab da dej.
7 diav spoon Neeg siv diav los hais mov noj.
8 dos onion Peb nyiam siv dos thiab qej los xyaw nqaij kib.
9 hwj txob black pepper Noj fawm yuav tau rau hwj txob.
10 khaub ruab broom Koj pab yuav ib rab khaub ruab rau kuv nawb.
11 lauj kaub pot Neeg siv lauj kaub los hau zaub thiab nqaij.
12 ntsev salt Neeg nyiam noj ntsev xyaw nqaij.
13 phab ntsa wall Ib lub tsev yeej muaj ntau sab phab ntsa.
14 phaj plate Koj pab muab phaj los rau peb tau noj mov.
15 qej garlic Kuv tsis nyiam noj qej nyoos.
16 qhov rai window Kuv nyiam cov tsev muaj ntau lub qhov rai.
17 qhov rooj door Nws lub tsev muaj plaub lub qhov rooj.
18 qws txob pestle Tus qws txob yog siv los tuav kua txob.
19 riam knife Neeg siv riam los txiav ntoo thiab hlais nqaij tej.
20 roj, roj ua noj oil, cooking oil Neeg siv roj los kib zaub thiab nqaij.
21 rooj table Los peb noj mov saum lub rooj.
22 ruv roof Lub tsev siab ces lub ruv thiaj li siab.
23 tais bowl Koj pab muab ib lub tais los rau kuv rau zaub.
24 tog chair Neeg siv tog los zaum.
25 tsev house, home Nej muaj ib lub tsev loj thiab dav heev.
26 tshuaj khib mortar Lub tshuaj khib yog lub tais siv los tuav kua txob.
27 txee shelf Neeg ua txee los rau tais thiab diav.
28 yias pan, frying pan Neeg siv yias los kib nqaij thiab zaub.

Yog koj tsis npaj nrhiav txawm koj mus dhau los koj tsis paub.
Koj muaj koj thiaj pom; koj hom koj thiaj paub.
Ib koog zoov yeej muaj ib tsob pos; ib lub zos yeej muaj ib tug khaub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Grocery Items
No Hmong English Hmong Example – English
1 dej water Nej cov dej nyob qhov twg? Where is your water?
2 hnab bag Ib hnab txiv pes tsawg ohs? How much is a bag of fruits?
3 hnyuv brat or sausage Nej muag ib ya hnyuv pes tsawg ohs?
4 koos poom can (can food) Nej muag ib koos poom pes tsawg nab?
5 mov rice (cooked) Ib tais mov pes tsawg? One bowl of rice is how much?
6 mov ci bread Nej puas muaj mov ci lossis khaub cij nab?
7 npua* pork Nej puas muaj nqaij npuas? Do you have pig meat (pork)?
8 nqaij nyuj beef Nej puas muaj nqaij nyuj? Do you have cow meat (beef)?
9 ntses* fish Nej muag ib tus ntses pes tsawg? How much is one fish?
10 ntsev salt Nej cov ntsev nyob qhov twg? Where is your salt?
11 nyiaj money Kuv tsis muaj nyiaj txaus. I don't enough money.
12 qaib chicken Nej muag ib tus qaib pes tsawg? How much is one chicken?
13 qaib ntxhw* turkey Nej puas muag qaib ntxhw? Do you sell turkey?
14 roj oil, cooking oil Nej cov roj kib zaub nyob qhov twg?
15 roj pob kws corn oil Nej puas muaj roj pob kws? Do you have corn oil?
16 roj zaub vegetable oil Kuv xav yuav roj zaub es nej puas muaj nab?
17 taub mis gallon of milk Nej muag ib taub mis pes tsawg ohs?
18 taub ntoos papaya Nej puas muaj taub ntoos? Do you have papaya?
19 them pay Kuv mus them qhov twg? Where do I go pay?
20 tshis* goat Nej puas muag nqaij tshis? Do you sell goat meat?
21 txhuv rice (uncooked) Nej puas muag txhuv? Do you sell rice?
22 txhuv nplaum sticky rice Peb muag txhuv nplaum xwb. We sell sticky rice only.
23 txhuv txua non-sticky rice Nej puas muaj txhuv txua? Do you have non-sticky rice?
24 txiv kab ntxwv orange Ib hnab txiv kab ntxwv pes tsawg ohs?
25 txiv tsawb banana Nej muag ib kuam txiv tsawb pes tsawg?
26 yaj* sheep, lamb Nej puas muaj nqaij yaj?
27 zaub vegetable Nej muag ib pob zaub pes tsawg?
28 lws eggplant Koj puas nyiam noj lws?
29 kua txob chili peppers Nej puas muag kua txob?
30 hwj txob black peppers Siv hwj txob los nphoo rau tais fawm.
* Mostly, Hmong use the word nqaij, meat, along with the animal, i.e., nqaij npuas = pork.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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162 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Agricultural Products
No Hmong English Word – Hmong Example
1 nplej Rice grains that still have the palea or chaff, rice seeds.
Nej muag ib hnab nplej pes tsawg?
2 pob kws Corn, cornstalk. Lawv muaj ib txhab pob kws.
3 kua txob, hov txob Pepper. Nej puas cog kua txob thiab?
4 zaub paj Cauliflower. Peb muaj ib thaj teb zaub paj.
5 taum Bean. Nej puas muaj taum?
6 zaub ntsuab Green vegetables. Koj muaj ib thaj teb zaub ntsuab.
7 dos Onion. Xyoo no nej puas cog dos lawm?
8 tauj qaib Lemongrass. Nej puas muag tauj qaib?
9 qhiav Ginger. Leej twg thaj teb qhiav no nab?
10 taum ntaj Long bean. Nej puas muaj cov noob taum ntaj?
11 taum pauv Soybean. Koj thaj teb taum pauv puas zoo thiab?
12 qos yaj ywm Potato. Nej puas cog qos yaj ywm lawm?
13 taub ntoos Papaya. Peb muaj ib thaj teb taub ntoos.
14 tsawb Banana. Nej puas muaj cog tsawb thiab?
15 dib ntsuab Cucumber. Nej puas muaj noob dib ntsuab?
16 dib pag Yellow melon, melon. Nej puas cog dib pag thiab?
17 dib liab Watermelon. Peb mus yuav dib liab los muag xwb.
18 noob Seed. Nej puas muaj noob dib?
19 qos Yam, tuber, potato. Nej puas cog qos lawm thiab?
20 pum hub Mint. Koj puas tseem muaj pum hub lawm?
21 qos liab Red potato, sweet potato. Nej thaj teb qos liab puas zoo thiab?
22 lws suav Tomato. Peb muaj ib thaj teb lws suav.
23 zaub pob Cabbage. Nej puas muaj noob zaub pob?
24 kab tsib Sugarcane also sugar cane. Peb muaj ib thaj teb kab tsib.
25 dib iab Bitter melon. Kuv niam cog tau ib tsob dib iab.
26 txiv txhais Mango. Ntawm peb tsev muaj ntau tsob txiv txhais.
27 lws, txiv lws Eggplant. Nej puas cog tau txiv lws thiab?
28 taub hwb Gourd. Nej muag ib lub taub hwb pes tsawg?

Ua ntej yuav thuam nrhiav kom tau qhov tseeb; ua ntej yuav txeeb nrhiav kom tau qhov zoo.
Tus pluag mus twv txiaj; tus nquag mus khwv nyiaj.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Illness and Disease


No Hmong English Word – Hmong Example
1 mob Hurt, pain. Koj mob qhov twg?
2 mob plab Stomachache. Nws mob plab thiab ntuav.
3 mob taub hau Headache. Nws mob taub hau thiab hnoos.
4 raws plab Diarrhea. Nws raws plab thiab ntuav.
5 zawv plab Diarrhea. Nws zawv plab thiab hnoos.
6 kem plab Stomachache caused by digestion problems. Koj kem plab xwb.
7 ntuav Vomit, throw up. Nws ntuav thiab zawv plab.
8 hnoos Cough. Nws hnoos thiab ntuav tau peb hnub los lawm.
9 los ntswg Runny nose. Nws hnoos thiab los ntswg.
10 mob khaub thuas Cold, common cold. Koj mob khaub thuas xwb.
11 qis Sprain. Koj ua koj txhais taw qis lawm.
12 lov Break, like a broken bone. Nws ntog ces ua rau nws txhais taw lov.
13 doog Bruise. Koj ntog tsoo koj txhais tes doog tas.
14 kub, kub hnyiab Burn, by fire or hot liquid. Nws ua hluav taws kub nws txhais tes.
15 hlab Burn, by hot liquid. Nws ua dej kub hlab nws txhais tes.
16 daj ntseg Pale, pallor. Nws mob tau ib hlis ces ua rau nws daj ntseg heev.
17 qoob Pox, chicken pox. Nws mob cov qoob.
18 rwj Cyst. Nws mob ib lub rwj rau ntawm nws sab ncej puab.
19 cos Wart. Nws mob ib lub cos ntawm nws txhais taw.
20 ruas Leprosy. Ruas yog ib yam mob nyob rau ntawm tes thiab taw.
21 hlwv Blister. Nws ntov ntoo ib hnub ces ua rau nws tes tawm hlwv tas.
22 xeev siab Nausea. Tus poj niam xeeb me nyuam ces ua rau nws xeev siab heev.
23 ntshav siab High blood pressure. Koj rog thiaj ua rau koj cov ntshav siab heev.
24 mob ntshav qab zib Diabetes, diabetic. Koj muaj mob ntshav qab zib.
25 mob hnyuv tws Appendicitis. Mob hnyuv tws ces kawg muab txiav tawm xwb.
26 qaug dab peg Epilepsy, seizure. Tsis muaj leeg twg xav mob qaug dab peg.

Unlike English, Hmong does not have many separate words for different types of pains. Therefore,
the way the Hmong describe a specific ache or pain is similar to some of the English words
headache, stomachache, and toothache. In other words, each pain starts with the Hmong verb
“mob” followed by whatever the part (object, noun) that is aching or painful.

Lo lus phem ua rau neeg tuag; lo lus zoo ua rau neeg nquag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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164 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Basic Conversation Regarding Illness


No Hmong English
1 Nyob zoo. Hello.
2 Mob koj qhov twg? Where does it hurt?
3 Mob kuv ______(hais koj qhov chaw uas Hurt my _______(say the area it hurts)
mob)
4 Mob tau hov ntev los lawm? How long have you had the pain?
5 Twb mob tau tsib hnub los lawm. It has been five days already.
6 Tam sim no koj puas noj tshuaj ab tsi li? Are you currently taking any medications?
7 Wb, tsis noj li. No, take nothing.
8 1 txog 10, 10 yog mob heev, 1 yog tsis mob li; 1 to 10, 10 being very painful, what number is
koj qhov mob yog pes tsawg? your pain?
9 Kuv xav tias yog 8. I think it is 8.
10 Thaum twg yog koj tso zis zaum kawg? When did you last urinate?
11 Tag kis no li thaum 8:00 sawv ntxov. This morning around 8:00 A.M.
12 Hos tso quav ne? What about bowel movement?
13 Nag hmo xwb. Last night only.
14 Puas mob lwm qhov li thiab? Does it hurt anywhere else?
15 Wb. No.
16 Leej twg yog koj tus kws kho mob? Who is your family doctor?
17 Kuv tsis muaj li. I don't have one.
18 Puas muaj tej yam tshuaj uas koj tsis haum? Are you allergic to any medications?
19 Tsis muaj. Have none or nothing.
20 Koj puas tau raug phais dua li? Have you had any surgeries in the past?
21 Tsis muaj. Have none.
22 Sib zog qus pa. Take a deep breath.
23 Peb yuav tso ib co ntshav. We will draw some blood.
There are four terms in the Hmong language that are related to illness.
Mob = hurt or pain, muaj = have, and tau or raug = got or infected by.
Syntax or usage structure

Mob + body parts or illness or disease. For example: Koj mob plab = You hurt stomach.
Muaj + illness or disease. For example: Koj muaj kab mob = You have disease.
Raug + illness. For example: Koj raug khaub thuas = You got a cold.

Tus neeg khib yog tus tsis paub hlub; tus neeg ntxub yog tus tsis paub xav.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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World and Country


No Hmong English Word – Hmong Example
1 ntuj Universe, sky. Neeg tsis paub tias lub ntuj loj thiab dav npaum li cas.
2 ntiaj tab Earth. Lub ntiaj teb no kheej, muaj av, thiab muaj dej.
3 qaum ntuj Above the universe, a planet above the sky.
4 qab ntuj Below the universe, a place below the sky. Nws yog neeg qaum ntuj.
5 ceeb tsheej Heaven. Vaj Tswv nyob saum Ceeb Tsheej.
6 hiav txwv Ocean. Dej hiav txwv loj thiab ntau tshaj av ntau npaug.
7 hav zoov, zoov Forest. Neeg tsis txuag hav zoov ces tej tsiaj qus yuav tsis muaj chaw nyob.
8 liaj ia Farm, farm land. Hmoob nyiam nyob tej teb chaws uas muaj liaj ia xwb.
9 zej zos, zos Village, city, town. Nej tej zej zos ntxim nyob heev li.
10 xeev State. Teb chaws Meskas muaj 50 lub xeev.
11 teb chaws Country. Hmoob yog ib haiv neeg tsis muaj teb chaws.
12 dej, hav dej Water, river. Tus dej loj thiab ntev tshaj plaws yog tus dej hu ua Mississippi.
13 av Land, soil, dirt. Nej muaj ib thaj av dav thiab zoo heev.
14 huab cua Weather. Teb chaws Hawaii muaj huab cua zoo heev li.
15 laj kam Employment, job. Thaum tsis muaj laj kam ua ces neeg tsis muaj nyiaj siv.
16 hauj lwm Job, work. Thaum tsis muaj hauj lwm ua ces neeg tsis muaj nyiaj siv.
17 vaj tse House, home. Nej muaj vaj tse zoo heev li.
18 Huab Tais King, God. Thaib teb tseem muaj tus Huab Tais Thaib.
19 kev cai Law, rule. Txawv teb chaws ces muaj txawv kev cai.
20 pej xeem Citizen, people. Cov pej xeem feem coob xaiv tau tus nom tshiab lawm.
21 nom tswv Government, officials. Tej nom tswv hlub thiab pab tej pej xeem heev.
22 yaj sab Bucolic, in a rural or country. Kuv nyiam nyob yaj sab xwb.
23 ciam Boundary, limit. Txhua lub teb chaws yeej muaj ciam tas lawm.
24 nroog County, region. Kuv nyob hauv lub nroog Manitowoc, xeev Wisconsin.

These are just a few of the most common terms people normally use during a typical conversation.
Lub ntiaj teb no muaj ntau lub teb chaws. Ib lub teb chaws twg yeej muaj neeg nyob puv nkaus li.
Muaj qee lub teb chaws kuj tseem muaj ntau hom neeg nyob ua ke thiab. Zoo li lub teb chaws
Meskas nws muaj 50 lub xeev, thiab muaj ntau hom neeg. Tej huab tej cua los kuj txawv vim lub
teb chaws Meskas mas loj thiab dav heev li. Nram qab teb xws li Florida ces sov thiab los nag
heev, tabsis pem qaub teb xws li Montana thiab North Dakota mas kuj no thiab tseem los daus
ntau nyob rau lub caij ntuj no – winter.

Nplua nuj los yuav tsum siab ncaj; txawj txuj los yuav tsum siab zoo.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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166 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Directions and Orientation


No Hmong English Hmong Example
1 deb npaum li cas? how far? Nej nyob deb npaum li cas?
2 dhau past, over Koj tuaj kom dhau tus dej.
3 hauv in, inside, within Peb nyob hauv lub zos loj.
4 laug, sab laug left, left side. Sab = side, laug = left. Nyob ntawm koj sab laug.
5 lem, tig turn Koj lem sab xis. Koj tig sab xis.
6 luag teb northern end of a farm. Teb = farm. Nyob pem luag teb.
7 lwm other, different, next Lwm lub zos muaj neeg coob.
8 ncaj qha straight, directly Koj mus ncaj qha xwb.
9 nrav, nram, nrad down there, south, southern Nram lub xeev Texas.
10 ntawm, ntawd at, by, where Kuv nyob ntawm tus choj.
11 deb npaum li cas? how far? Yuav mus deb npaum li cas?
12 ntug zos the edge of a city or town Kuv nyob ntawm ntug zos.
13 pev, pem, ped up there, north, northern Pem lub xeev Minnesota.
14 plawv zos middle of a city or town, center Kuv nyob hauv plawv zos.
15 qab below, south of, under, underneath Qab ke, qab zos, qab teb ltn...
16 qab teb south, southern, down there Nram qab teb mas sov heev.
17 qab zos south or southern of a city Nws nyob nram qab zos.
18 qaum teb north, northern, up there Sab pem qaum teb muaj daus.
19 qaum zos north or northern of a city Lawv nyob pem qaum zos.
20 rov qab turn back, come back, turn around Rov qab los kom pom tus choj.
21 teeb liab red light, traffic light that is. Los kom dhau ob lub teeb liab.
22 tiv, tim, tid eastern regions having similar longitude Nws nyob tim Michigan.
23 tov, tom, tod western regions having similar longitude Nws nyob tom lub zos Av Liab.
24 tus dej a river. dej = water Koj tuaj kom dhau tus dej.
25 txawv different Nws nyob txawv zos tuaj.
26 txog to, reach Tuaj kom txog ntawm tus choj.
27 xis, sab xis right, right side. xis = right Nyob ntawm koj sab xis.
28 ze near, nearby Pes tsawg hnub koj mus?
Well, only use this page if you don't have a GPS device to help you navigate okay.

Tsis muaj ib rab riam es hlais tau nqaij noj tabsis hlais tes tsis to.
Ruam tsis ntshai tuag ntse tsis ntshai pluag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 167

Geographical Locations
To make life easier, let's use a map that I drew of the United States, and let's pretend you are in
the center, hauv plawv, of the map – somewhere near Nebraska that is.

Hmong English
ze near
sauv/above
deb far
ua ke together
laug/ hauv/ xis/ me small
left inside right loj big
dav wide
nqaim narrow
hauv qab/below ntev long
luv short

The default word for any unknown country locations is “tiv or tim”, and “tov or tom” for closer
locations such as cities and towns. For example: Nyob tom lawv zos.

As you can see, I labeled North = Qaum teb, South = Qab teb. For East is called sab hnub tuaj
(the side where the sun rises), and West is called sab hnub poob (the side where the sun goes
down).

1 Pev, pem, ped Refer to any northern locations For example: Minnesota, Canada
2 Nrav, nram, nrad Refer to any southern locations For example: Texas, Florida
3 Tiv, tim, tid Refer to any eastern locations For example: New York, Maine
4 Tov, tom, tod Refer to any western locations For example: Colorado, California

As long as you get the city or state name correct, don't worry too much about North or South, and
East and West because most people do know where things are. If you start calling “pem” Texas
when you are living in Minnesota then people just think you just came from Laos that is all. If
you are not sure about its proper location, you can always use the word “tiv or tim.” For example,
tim Thaib teb, tim Suav teb, thiab tim Meska, and use “tom” for closer cities and/or states within
your own country.
Practice

Nws nyob ______ Minnesota tuaj. ______ Texas mas sov heev li. Cov neeg _____ Thaib teb.
Lawv nyob ________ West. Nws nyob ________ Florida mas sov heev. Koj nyob _________ East.
Canada nyob ______ teb thiab no heev. _______ California. Nyob rau _________Kentucky.
_______ Thaib teb mas sov kawg. Nej rov mus _______ Nplog los? _____ lub peb zos.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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168 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Bible Terminology
These are a few words that are related to the Bible and Christianity.

Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English


Vajtswv God Kalatias Galatians Timautes Timothy
Vaj Leej Txiv The Father Kaulithaus Corinthians Yakaunpaus James
Vaj Leej Tub The Son Khaulauxais Colossians Yauhas John
Vaj Ntsuj Plig The Holy Spirit Loos Romans Yauj Job
Yexus Khetos Jesus Christ Lukas Luke Yaxaya Isaiah
Chiv Keeb Genesis Mab Liab Mary Yudas Jude
Cov Tub Txib Acts Malakaus Mark tshooj chapter
Efexaus Ephesians Malakhi Malachi nqi verse
Filemaus Philemon Mathais Mathew phab page
Filipis Philippians Vaj Ntxwv Kings paj lug proverbs
Daviv David Petus Peter thwjtim disciples
Henplais Hebrews Thexalaunikes Thessalonians Ixayees Israel

Other words for God is “Huab Tais Ntuj” and it is mostly known by the Hmong Catholic.
The word “Huab Tais” means King and “Ntuj” means the world or universe. The Hmong
word “Vaj” means King also and “Tswv” means the owner. In other words, the word
“Vajtswv” means the King of owners. Similarly, the Hmong word “Tswv Ntuj” also means
the Owner of the World. If you are translating and/or planning to write in Hmong, you might
consider not to combine words such as “Vaj Leej Txiv” into Vajleejtxiv because of the
following reasons: Vaj means King, and Leej is a classifier of a person, and Txiv means
“father.” In other words, the Hmong line is translated into English like “King the Father” –
The Father King that is. Just like you don't combine King James into KingJames in English
because “King and James” are two different things. Below is a sample of prayer before meals:

Hmong Equivalent English


Vajtswv peb leej Txiv, God our Father,
Peb thov ua tsaug rau koj txoj kev hlub, We would like to thank you for your love,
thiab kev zam txim es peb thiaj li muaj and your forgiveness and that is why
txoj sia, thiab tau txais zaub mov. we are alive, and have received foods.
Yog li, ua ntej peb noj, peb thov qhuas Therefore, before we eat, we want to honor
thiab ua tsaug los ntawm koj leej Tub and thank you in your Son
Yexus Khetos peb tus Cawm Seej Jesus Christ our Savor's
lub npe Dawb Huv. Asmees. Holy name. Amen.

Hmong Mexayas = English Messiah (Masaya)

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 169

Testing What You Have Learned


Prepositions
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
1 on in under above
2 at over near before
3 after between inside outside

Conjunctions
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
4 and then or because

Numbers
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
5 one four seven ten
6 two five eight 100
7 three six nine 1000

Question Words
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
8 where when what why
9 how who qhov twg thaum
twg

Geographical Locations
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
10 north south east west
11 up there down there eastern western
12 right left before after

Classifiers
English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong English Hmong
13 a house a person a book a rod
14 a knife a finger a world a cow
15 a rope a hand a spoon a shirt

Zoo npaum cas los yeej muaj tus thuam; ruam npaum cas los yeej muaj tus pab.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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170 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Hmong Clans
There are roughly 18 Hmong clans or last names the Hmong people use worldwide; however,
these are Chinese last names and the Hmong adopted them many decades ago when Hmong still
lived in China. Additionally, some of the Hmong people who live in the United States also have
changed their last names to other names and some have different spellings than what listed here.

No Hmong English spelling Hmong Example


1 Faj Fang Faj yog ib xeem Hmoob.
2 Ham Hang, Ha Lawv yog xeem Ham.
3 Hawj Her, Herr Xeem Ham yuav tsis tau xeem Hawj.
4 Khab Khang, Kha Nws tus poj niam yog xeem Khab.
5 Koo Kong Nws lub xeem yog Koo.
6 Kwm Kue Hmoob Kwm yuav tsis tau Hmoob Thoj.
7 Lauj Lor, Lo Nws lub npe hu ua Paj, xeem Lauj.
8 Lis Lee, Ly Koj yog xeem Lis.
9 Muas Moua Peb tus vauv yog xeem Muas.
10 Phab Pha, Phang Lawv lub zos muaj ib xeem hu ua Phab.
11 Thoj Thao, Thor Hmoob Thoj yuav tsis tau Hmoob Kwm.
12 Tsab Chang, Cha. Kuv niam hu ua Ntxhi xeem Tsab.
13 Tsheej Cheng Nej puas yog xeem Tsheej?
14 Tswb Chue Nws yog xeem Tswb.
15 Vaj Vang, Va Nai Phoo Vaj Pov yog xeem Vaj. General Vang, Pao.
16 Vwj Vue, Vu Kuv tus niam tij yog xeem Vwj.
17 Xyooj Xiong, Song Kuv txiv hu ua Txoov Neeb xeem Xyooj.
18 Yaj Yang, Ya Thawj tus Hmoob kawm tiav Ph.D. yog hu ua Yaj, Daus.

According to the Hmong culture and marriage practice, a person can not, or should not, marry
another person who has the same last name. Additionally, some of the clans listed below also
don't encourage their children to marry each other due to their close and brotherly relationships
in the past.

1 Kwm, Khab and Thoj are related.


2 Lauj and Khab are related.
3 Ham and Hawj are related.

Ob leeg txhaum ua tsis tau ib tus yog – lus txuj ci Askiv.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 171

Hmong First Names


Thanks to Charles Tsu Vue

Name English Sex Meanings Name English Sex Meanings


Aiv Ai F small Hlau Hlao M metal, hoe
Cawv Cher M alcohol Hli Hlee F moon
Cua Choua F wind Hnub Nou F sun
Dawb Der F white Leej Leng M row, effective
Diav Dia F spoon Liab Lia F red
Dib Dee F cucumber Liag Liang F rice sickle
Foom Fong M bless Mab Ma F foreigner
Hwj Hue M bottle, control Maiv Mai F girl
Kab Ka F insect Mos Mao M/F young, soft
Kaus Kao M umbrella Neeb Neng M shaman
Kub Kou M gold Nyiaj Nhia B silver, money
Nkauj Gao F song, young female Pov Pao M protect
Npauj Bao F butterfly, moth Siab Shia M tall
Npawv Ber M chubby Suav Shoua M Chinese
Npib Bee F coin Teeb Teng M light
Nplooj Blong M leaf Teem Teng M/F short
Nruas Doua M drum Tooj Tong M/F brass
Ntaj Dang M sword Tub Tou M son
Ntsuab Joua F green Vam Wa M prosperous
Ntxawg Ger M last son Xis See F like
Ntxawm Yer F last daughter Xyoob Shong M bamboo
Paj Pa F flowers
Tsav Cha M drive, rule Hmong first names fall into five categories:
1. The last name of others: Vaj, Lis, Yaj
Tswb Chue M bell
2. Items: Diav, Riam, Kub, Tooj
Txiab Chia M scissors 3. Animals: Ntxhw, Zaj, Nab, Noog
Vaj Va F King 4. Planets: Hnub, Hli, Huab, Cua
5. Plants: Paj, Dib, Nplooj, Xyoob
Zeb Ge, Jay M/F rock, stone, Peter
Traditionally, the last names stay the same for men but women adopt their husbands' last names.
Npe zoo ua rau me nyuam hlob; npe phem ua rau me nyuam mob.
Yog twv tau txiaj ces yuav ua rau yus pluag; yog khwv tau nyiaj ces yuav ua rau yus nquag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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172 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Family and Friends

No Hmong English Hmong Example


1 yim, yig family Ib yim neeg, ib yig neeg.
2 cuab family Yus lub cuab lub yig.
3 tsev neeg family. tsev = house, neeg = people. Kuv tsev neeg muaj 6 leej.
4 niam tsev house wife Nws yog ib tug niam tsev zoo.
5 txiv tsev house husband Koj yog ib tus txiv tsev zoo.
6 me nyuam child, kid Wb muaj 4 tug me nyuam.
7 tus hlub* honey, loved one Koj yog kuv tus hlub.
8 neej tsa wife's relatives Kuv cov neej tsa yog xeem Yaj.
9 kwv tij husband's relatives Kuv cov kwv tij yog xeem Xyooj.
10 txiv father, man, male Kuv txiv hu ua Txoov Neeb Xyooj.
11 niam mother, woman Kuv niam hu ua Ntxhi xeem Tsab.
12 yawm txiv grandfather-in-law Peb yawm txiv hu ua Xaiv Khwb Tsab.
13 niam tais grandmother-in-law Peb niam tais hu ua Ntxhoo Lauj
14 dab laug brother-in-law – wife's brothers. Nws yog kuv tus dab laug.
15 niam dab laug brother-in-law's wife Nws yog kuv tus niam dab laug.
16 yawm yij, yij brother-in-law – sister's husband Kuv muaj peb tus yawm yij.
17 niam hluas wife's younger sister Kuv tus poj niam yog tus niam hluas.
18 txiv hlob uncle who is older than one's dad Kuv muaj ob tug txiv hlob.
19 txiv ntxawm uncle who is younger than one's Peb muaj coob leej txiv ntxawm.
dad
20 tij laug, tij older brother Kuv tus tij laug hu ua Tswv Tooj Xyooj
21 kwv younger brother – called by guys. Kuv muaj ob tug kwv: Ntshiab thiab Vaj.
22 kwv ntxawg youngest brother – called by guys. Kuv tus kwv ntxawg hu ua Ntshiab no.
23 muam sister – called by brothers only Kuv muaj peb leeg muam.
24 muam ntxawm youngest sister – called by brothers. Kuv tus muam ntxawm hu ua Khu no.
25 viv ncaus sisters – called by ladies only. Nws muaj viv ncaus coob heev.
26 nus brother – called by sisters only. Kuv yog kuv cov muam tus nus nrab.
27 phooj ywg friends Koj muaj phooj ywg coob heev.

One of the word young Hmong men like to use is “npawg” which is similar to “buddy” in English,
and it is used to call other men. For example: Npawg, koj mus qhov twg ohs?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 173

Courtship and Dating


No Hmong English Example
1 hlub to love, love Zaj hlub Paj heev li.
2 nco miss, to think of Koj puas nco kuv lawm thiab?
3 tshua miss, to think of Peb tshua txog koj heev.
4 khawm to hug, to hold Koj puas kam kuv khawm koj nab?
5 tuav tes to hold hands Koj puas kam kuv tuav koj tes ohs?
6 phlws touch using the palm Kuv phlws nws lub taub hau.
7 kov to touch, caress Kuv kov nws es nws thiaj li cem kuv.
8 hnia to kiss Tus hluas nraug hnia tus hluas nkauj.
9 puag to hug Koj puag kuv ib pliag puas tau?
10 saib see, watch, visit, to look at Tag kis kuv mam li tuaj saib koj.
11 duab picture Koj puas muaj duab xa tuaj rau kuv saib?
12 kho siab the feeling of missing someone, Nyob ib leeg cas yuav kho siab ua luaj li.
homesick, lovesick
13 deev sexual intercourse, sex Tsis txhob lam deev yog yus tsis hlub tiag.
14 dag to lie, joke, tease, trick Nws dag koj xwb es tsis txhob chim.
15 tseeb true, real, fact Yeej muaj tseeb li nws hais.
16 ntxias persuade, seduce, coax Nws ntxias kom peb muab nyiaj rau nws.
17 yuav to marry, buy Koj puas kam yuav kuv nab?
18 hluas nkauj girlfriend. hluas = young Koj puas kam ua kuv tus hluas nkauj?
19 hluas nraug boyfriend. nraug = guy Koj puas kam ua kuv tus hluas nraug?
20 txij nkawm spouse, couple Neb yog txij nkawm los ntev lawm.
21 qhaib to reserve a person as to Nws nqa ib choj nyiaj tuaj qhaib lawv tus
prearrange for marriage, ntxhais rau nws tus tub.
engaged.
22 koj niam* honey, a wife Koj niam, wb mus ua teb ohs.
23 koj txiv* honey, a husband Koj txiv, koj ua mov rau kuv noj nawb!
* Hmong use these two words a lot, especially the older couples. Don't go by the literal translation
because the word “koj niam” literally means “your mom” and “koj txiv” means “your dad.” The
other way Hmong use to call their spouse is the first name of their very first child. For example, I
would call my wife “Maiv Nyiaj niam” instead of “koj niam” and not by her first name. However, each
generation is different and I think the younger folks like to call their spouses by their first name
because my wife told me that when I called her “koj niam” makes her feel very old.

Noj me ces qab zib; noj ntau ces qab tsib – iab xwb.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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174 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Marriage and Wedding


No Hmong English Hmong Example
1 sib yuav to marry each other Nkawv sib yuav tau ob hlis los lawm.
2 txiv husband Koj tus txiv yog leej twg?
3 poj niam wife, woman Nws yog kuv tus poj niam.
4 vauv, nraug vauv groom, bridegroom Nej tus vauv tshiab yog leej twg?
5 nyab, nkauj nyab bride, daughter-in-law Peb tus nyab tshiab hu ua Paj xeem Yaj.
6 me nyuam child, baby, kid Neb puas tau muaj me nyuam ohs?
7 lub neej family, life Tuav koj lub neej kom zoo.
8 tsev neeg family Saib yus tsev neeg kom muaj nqis.
9 neej tsa wife's relatives Koj muaj neej tsa coob heev.
10 pe to kneel as to bow Tus vauv pe lawv ib hnub nkaus.
11 tshoob wedding Peb mus hais tshoob ib hmos nkaus.
12 tshoob kos wedding Hmoob tej tshoob kos tsis yooj yim.
13 dej caw alcohol, drinks Ib txhia Hmoob nyiam haus dej caw
ntau heev thaum muaj tshoob kos.
14 phij cuam to give, esp., wedding gifts Lawv phij cuam khoom ntau kawg li.
15 phij laj best man Lis Xyooj yog kuv tus phij laj.
16 niam tais ntsuab bridesmaid, but from the Mab Tsab yog kuv tus niam tais
groom's side or family. ntsuab.
17 mej koob marriage mediators, Kuv tug mej koob yog kuv tus yawm yij
wedding negotiators Vaj Txoo xeem Yaj
18 nqi tshoob wedding dowry or price Hmoob tus nqi tshoob yog tsib txhiab.
19 nus muag brothers and sisters Peb yog nus muag xwb.
20 viv ncaus* sisters, cousins Nej yog kuv cov viv ncaus.
21 txhooj a wedding dowry standard Nej puas muaj tus txhooj tshoob?
* Called by girls only. Viv ncaus = sister cousins, kwv tij = brother cousins.

Hmoob kev sib yuav ces muaj xws li nram no:


1. Tus tub mus them nqi tshoob rau tus ntxhais niam thiab txiv, thiab them nqi noj haus.
2. Thaum hais tshoob tiav ces tus ntxhais mus nrog tus tub nyob – mus ua nyab lawm.

Khoom phij cuam ces feem ntau yog los ntawm tus ntxhais niam, txiv thiab nws tej neeg txheeb ze.
Ib txhia Hmoob kuj tsis sau nqi tshoob lawm vim lawv tsis ntseeg tias sau nyiaj yog ib qho kev pab
tub thiab txhawb ntxhais. In other words, free does not mean valueless nor money equals love.

Marriage means commitment, love, sacrifice, and trust.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 175

Funeral
No Hmong English Hmong Example
1 tuag die, dead Lawv yawg tuag nag hmo lawm no.
2 tag sim neej die, deceased Nws yawg tau tag sim neej lawm.
3 tu siav pronounced dead, dead Nws tu siav kiag lawm nawb.
4 tsis nrog is not living with you, is dead Hais rau nej paub tias nej yawg tsis nrog (nej,
nej nyob nws, peb, koj) nyob lawm no ohs.
lawm
5 faus to bury Tag kis, lawv muab tus tuag coj mus faus.
6 sam sab to bury the deceased Tag kis lawv mam li coj nws lub cev mus sam
sab.
7 zais to bury, to hide the body. Tag kis lawv muab tus tuag coj mus zais.
8 hleb coffin Lawv twb mus yuav tau ib lub hleb lawm.
9 toj ntxas cemetery Nej yuav coj nws mus faus rau lub toj ntxas
twg?
10 ntxa a cemetery lot Neeg nyiam cog paj rau cov tuag tej ntxa.
11 nyiav wail, a mournful cry Ib txhia Hmoob nyiav nrov dhau hwv.
12 quaj cry Nws tuag mas ua rau neeg quaj zom zaws.
13 hlub love Kev hlub yog los ntawm kev ntxub.
14 tsev txias a funeral home Peb mus nrog lawv zov hmo tim tsev txias.
15 zov hmo to be at a funeral as to help Peb mus nrog lawv zov hmo tim tsev txias.
entertain the deceased's
family members.
16 ntees tuag a funeral event Peb mus tim lawv lub ntees tuag.
17 kav xwm the person who is in charge of Nws yog lawv ib tus kav xwm.
activities at a funeral.
18 xyom cuab the men who help at a funeral Lawv yog cov xyom cuab.
and usually are relatives of
the deceased – same clan.
19 qua ntxa a cemetery lot Nws tsis nyiam nws lub qua ntxa.
20 tsawb* a dead body, a deceased Tej chaw no zoo cog tsawb kawg li.
* Tsawb yog ib lo lus uas Hmoob nyiam siv thaum tus neeg tseem muaj sia, thiab nws tseem mus
nrhiav tej qua ntxa xwb. Piv txwv li, tej chaw no zoo cog tsawb kawg. Txhais tau tias tej chaw no zoo
chaw lossis zoo ua ntxa heev. Tej lo lus no yog siv ua paj lug hais xws li kom dab txhob paub lossis ua
rau yus txhob tuag vim yus twb mus nrhiav tau chaws lawm. Tabsis tiam tshiab no ces neeg mus tam
chaw tag lawm los kuj ho tsis txawj tuag li lawm thiab – txawv ntuj ces txawv dab lawm thiab.

Thaum ciaj ces luag hlub; thaum tuag ces luag ntxub – yog dab xwb.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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176 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Wrapping Things in a Grammatical Way


I believe grammar should be a book on its own; however, as an author, I want you to learn the
basic grammar so you will be able to construct simple sentences. The English is transliterated to
help you understand Hmong and not English.
Hmong English
Hmong English Hmong English
Pronoun + Verb Pronoun + Verb Kuv nyiam ua I like to verb xav would like to
1. Koj noj. You eat. haus drink nyiam like to
2. Kuv pw. I sleep. mus go paub know how to
3. Nws hais. He/she say. pw sleep yuav will
4. Peb pom. We see. pab help yuav tsum have to

Hmong + Verb + Object English Verb + Object Regardless of the past, present and/or
1. Koj noj mov. You eat rice. future, and singular or plural, verbs
don't change, for example:
2. Kuv mus tsev. I go home. Kuv haus
3. Nws mob tes. He/she hurt hand. Nws mus
4. Peb pom koj. We see you. Koj pom Objective
Nej pab
Lawv noj
Negative Forms
Hmong + tsis + Verb + Object English + do not + Verb + Object
1. Koj tsis noj mov. You do not eat rice.
2. Koj txhob mus tsev. You do not go home.
3. Nws tsis mob tes. He/she does not hurt hand.
4. Peb tsis pom koj. We do not see you.

Interrogative Forms
Hmong + verb + ab tsi/li cas English + verb + what/why/how?
1. Koj noj ab tsi? You eat what? ab tsi and
2. Kuv pw ab tsi? I sleep why? dab tsi are
3. Nws hais ab tsi? He/she says what? being used
4. Koj ua li cas? You do how? interchangeably
Hmong English transliterated English Proper translation
Koj noj yam twg? You eat kind what? You eat what kind? What kind do you want to eat?
Koj pw hmo twg? You sleep night what? You sleep what night? What night did you sleep?
Koj hais lo twg? You say word which? You say which word? Which word did you say?
Koj pom thaum twg? You see when what? You see when? When did you see?

Keep in mind that the above phrases can be written as follows, too.
Hmong English Key Words for Interrogative
Yam twg koj noj lawm? What kind did you eat already? ab tsi, twg, and li cas
Hmo twg koj pw? What night did you sleep? Koj hais ab tsi? What did you say?
Leej twg koj paub? Who did you know? Koj yog leej twg? Who are you?
Thaum twg koj pom? When did you see? Koj noj li cas? How do you eat?

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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Learn Hmong the Jay Way 177

Next and Will


Lwm + noun + pronoun + mam li + verb Next + noun + pronoun + will + verb
1. Lwm tiam koj mam li mus. Next life you will go.
2. Lwm hmo peb mam li tuaj. Next night we will come.
3. Lwm xyoo lawv mam li paub. Next year they will know.
4. Lwm zaus peb mam li ua. Next time we will do.

piv = to compare tshaj = more or exceed


sib piv = compare to each other
Comparisons dua = more, greater
zuj zus = increasingly
Tib yam. Nkawv zoo tib yam. They both are the same.
Sib xws. Nej phem sib xws. You are equally bad.
Dua. Koj hais lus Askiv zoo dua kuv. You speak English better than me.
Tshaj. Koj pluag tshaj nws. You are more poor than him/her.
Yim huab. Koj yim huab kawm ces koj yim huab paub. The more you learn the more you know.

Dua and tshaj means more than. Phem dua means worse than. Zoo dua means better than.
Phem tshaj means worse than, and zoo tshaj means better than. In other words, the word “dua and
tshaj” means more or increasing in degree of the verb being used. Literally, the words “phem dua”
means “bad more”, and “zoo tshaj” means “good more.” So it is more like more bad, more good etc...

Another word that Hmong use a lot is the “sis” or “sib”, and it means a reciprocal action, and it
involves two or more people. For example:
sis and sib are being used interchangeably to
Nkawv sis hlub heev. They love each other a lot. mean in a reciprocal way or among everyone.
Nej sis~ hlub heev. You love, love one another a lot.
Sib pab = help each other. Sib hu = call each other. Sib ceg = yell at each other.

Txhua. Peb mus ua hauj lwm txhua hnub. We go to work every day. txhua = every
Tas mus li. Koj mus kawm ntawv tas mus li. You go to school all the time. tas li = always
Tas li. Koj noj mov tas li xwb. You eat all the time only. qee zaus = sometime
Kuv nco koj tas li. I think of you all the time or always.

Tsuas tab. Peb tsuas tab pom nws pw tas li. We always see him sleep all the time.
Pheej tab. Koj pheej tab cem kuv xwb. You always yell at me.
Tsuas pom. Ua cas tsuas pom koj pw tas li xwb? Why always see you sleep all the time?
Txog. About or of. Nws tham txog koj. He talks about you. Nws hu txog koj. He calls upon you.
Rau. Peb muab rau nws. We give to him. Kuv muab rau koj. I give to you.
Kheev lam. Wish that, hope. Kheev lam kuv muaj nyiaj ntau mas. Wish that I have a lot of money.
Xav kom. Wish that, hope that. Xav kom kuv muaj nyiaj ntau xwb. Wish I have a lot of money.
Kav liam. Disregard, ignore, forget about it. Kav liam koj txhob tuaj. Forget it you don't have to come.
Puam chawj. Disregard, ignore, forget it. Puam chawj koj txhob mus. Forget it you don't have to go.
Kav chawj. Disregard, ignore, forget it. Kav chawj nws seb nws yuav ua li cas.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
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178 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Everything You Need to Know


Consonants Vowels Tones Numbers** Pronouns Prepositions**
B* bh bl bhl a J 0 = voj*
Hmong English
ai Hmong English ntawm by, at
C ch S 1 = ib
kuv I hauv inside
au 2 = ob
D dh aw
V koj you (1) nrauv outside
3 = peb
e M 4 = plaub
wb we (2) sauv above
F G nkawv they (2) dhau over
ee 5 = tsib
peb we (>2) pev up there
G* gh i B 6 = rau
neb you (2) nrav down there
hl ia _ 7 = xya
nej you (>2) tiv eastern there
o D 8 = yim
H hm hml lawv they tov western there
oo 9 = cuaj
hn hny nws he,she, it ntawv over there
10 = kaum
u yus one hauv qab below
J* jh 20 = nees nkaum
ua luag others rau to
30 = peb caug
K kh w ze near
40 = plaub cuag
h2 50 = tsib caug Conjunctions Interjections**
L
Classifiers**
60 = rau caum
M ml 70 = xya caum Hmong English Hmong English
80 = yim caum thiab and ab hey
nc nch Hmong Use for
90 = cuaj caum hiab and nab here
daim flat objects
nk nkh 100 = ib puas vim because hwb here
leej/g human
np nph lub a/the tens = caum lossis and/or hoeb hoh
npl hundreds = puas losyog or hoeb yoej n/e
rab tools
(nplh) nphl+ thousands = txhiab yeeb vim because oeb oh
tug/s animals
nq nqh 10,000 = vam twb yog because uib uih
N txoj stringlike
nr nrh rau qhov because tuag die
* voj, qhoov. tabsis but aws yes
nt nth + new version ** A few only tabmas but wb no
nts ntsh 2 Silent vowel

ntx © 2012 Jay Xiong Grammar** Verbs**


ntxh
ny Pronoun verb object Pronoun verb noun Hmong English
Kuv nyiam koj. Koj nyiam ab tsi? mus go
ph I like you. You like what? los come
P
pl (plh) phl+ Kuv haus dej. Koj noj li cas? paub know
I drink water. You eat how? hais say
Q qh Kuv xav verb... Koj hais ab tsi? qhia tell
R rh I would like to verb... You say what? pab help
Pronoun not verb object Pronoun will verb object yuav buy
S muag sell
Kuv tsis nyiam koj. Kuv yuav nyiam koj.
th I do not like you. I will like you. them pay
T ts tsh Kuv tsis haus dej. Kuv yuav haus dej. noj eat
tx txh I do not drink water. I will drink water. haus drink
nyiam like
V Pronoun verb quantity classifier object adjective adverb hlub love
Kuv nyiam ib lub tsev loj heev. ntxub hate
X xy, xz Koj yog ib tus neeg zoo heev. nco think of
Y Kuv muaj coob leej kwv zoo heev. nug ask
Koj muaj ob thaj teb tiaj heev. teb answer
Z

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 179

What is a Monosyllabic Language


The word “mono” means oneness, and that means we can't write two or more syllables as one
word or unit – phoneme. However, as I mentioned in the beginning of this book that I don't
believe Hmong is a true monosyllabic language because there are a few words that do have more
than one syllables, i.e., tabsis. Nonetheless, for the most part, the Hmong language is very
monosyllabic. So let's learn the smallest meaningful syllable in the Hmong language in order to
understand its syntax and content. To help you understand, let us compare how computers
parse data stored on disks to how the Hmong people parse their monosyllabic syntax. By looking
at the bits pattern, computers know the result, and by looking at the Hmong mono words pattern,
the Hmong people understand its content.

Result bit4 bit3 bit2 bit1 How computer counts


1 1 = 1
3 1 1 = 2+1
7 1 1 1 = 4+2+1
15 1 1 1 1 = 8+4+2+1

Result word4 word3 word2 word1 How Hmong people read


tsa tsa = tsa
neej tsa neej tsa = neej + tsa
tij neej tsa tij neej tsa = tij + neej + tsa
kwv tij neeg tsa kwv tij neej tsa = kwv + tij + neej + tsa

Piv txwv: Nyob zoo ib tsoom kwv tij neej tsa sawv daws. This is how the founders
suggested for writing the Hmong RPA language. Perhaps some of us might not agree, but mono
logically, it does make sense if we want to maintain its monosyllabic structure. It is, however, very
tempting to combine words such as, sawv daws, yooj yim, xos liam, phooj ywg etc...
Likewise, we would prefer to write 15 instead of 1,1,1,1, but that is not possible to put 15 in one bit.

So I will offer you what I suggested in my Lus Hmoob Txhais Dictionary.


Only combine words if one of the syllables has no meaning on its own or has a single consonant.
Tabsis, tiamsis, lossis, xwsli, sispab, sishlub, xosliam, kwvtij, sawvdaws etc...

Do not combine words that have more than one consonants. For example:
txhiajtxhais, ntsuabxiab, ceebtsheej.

And not classifiers or compound words. For example:


Haivneeg, sauntawv, txojmoo, leejtwg. Haiv = nation, neeg = people.
Sau = write, ntawv = letter or script, txoj = a classifier, moo = news,
leej = classifier and twg = who, which,where, what etc...

Therefore, “Who calls me” is similar to the Hmong “Leej twg hu kuv”, but the word “who”
does not equal to the Hmong words “leejtwg.” Why? Because “leej” is a classifier and “twg” is
analogous to the English “who.” Otherwise, we will have to combine words like “cov twg, pawg
twg, tus twg” etc...

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
180 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Time For a Short Story


Zaj dab neeg no muaj lub npe hu ua Tub Zaj Ntshaw Kawm Lus Hmoob.

Puag thaum ub ohv... muaj ib tug me nyuam tub nws lub npe hu ua Zaj no. Nws yug los ces nws
niam thiab txiv nkawv tsuas qhia lus Askiv, English, rau nws xwb lauj. Yog li, nws tsuas paub tias
hauv lub ntiaj teb no tsuas muaj neeg Meskas thiab hais lus Askiv xwb. Thaum nws loj thiab hlob
tuaj ces nws niam thiab txiv xa nws mus kawm ntawv hauv tsev kawm, school. Zaj txawm mus
pom ib cov neeg dub hau thiab hais lus Askiv tsis meej thiab txaus~ luag – with accent and funny
in English. Nws mam li los nug nws niam thiab txiv ces nkawv mam li piav tias, “Xyoo 1975 muaj
ib haiv neeg hu ua Hmoob no tau tawg rog tuaj nyob rau lub teb chaws Meskas. Cov neeg no muaj
plaub hau dub, me thiab hais ib hom lus txawv lus Askiv uas yog hu ua lus Hmoob no.”
Ces tub Zaj mam li nug nws niam thiab txiv tias, “Yog li, kuv xav paub lawv cov lus es kuv yuav
mus kawm qhov twg?” Zaj txiv txawm teb niag dag ntsuav rau Zaj tias, “Me tub ahw, yog koj xav
kawm lus Hmoob ces koj mus tham ib tug hluas nkauj Hmoob xwb los mas!” Zaj txawm teb nws
leej txiv tias, “Txiv, es yuav ua li cas mus tham tau naj yog yus twb tsis paub txuas lus nrog nws ua
ntej yus yuav muaj tau kev phooj ywg!” Zaj leej niam thiab txiv nkawv txawm sib ntsia sib ntsia
tag ces leej niam txawm teb Zaj tias, “Me tub, koj txhob txhawj mog. Yog koj xav kawm tiag ces tag
kis kuv mam li mus nug seb hauv peb lub zos no puas muaj leeg twg paub thiab kam qhia lus
Hmoob rau koj mog.”
Ces leej tub mas nim luag his~ thiab has~, thiab sas loo los khawm kiag leej niam. Zaj txawm
hais rau nws niam tias, “Ua tsaug ohs niam. Qhov kuv xav kawm lus Hmoob mas vim yog kuv
ntseeg tias Tswv Ntuj tsim tau peb ntau haiv neeg los nyob ua ke; uas zoo li ib lub vaj txiv uas
muaj ntau hom txiv nyob ua ke. Yog tias peb sib txuas tau lus, ces yuav ua rau peb sib paub, sib
pab, muaj kev haum xeeb thiab sib hlub tshaj li yav dhau los lawm.” Leej niam teb Zaj tias, “Me
tub, ua cas nyob~ es koj lam yuav mus txawj xav deb thiab xav dav ua luaj li ko naj?” Zaj txawm
teb nws leej niam tias, “Niam, koj mus nug Vaj Tswv ces nws qhia koj xwb los mas.”

The fiction story above is pretty close to what a real Hmong conversation would be like.
The moral of the story is that an American boy, named Zaj, pronounced Zhah, who went to school
without knowing that there are other people who don't look like himself and speak a different
language – Hmong. Zaj then wanted to learn Hmong so he can interact with the Hmong people
because he believes that God created this universe like an orchard with a variety of fruit trees.
Zaj's real inspiration and hope is that if all humankind knows each other's language we would be
able to communicate and have better relationship far more than what we are having today.
Needless to say, Zaj's parents were shock at their son's unusual wisdom and his interest to learn
Hmong.
Again, translating one language into another is like taking an apple and trying to make it taste
like an orange. So good luck with that. For the most part, most languages do have very similar
words but for some, the number of inner layers and tastes are so inexplicable, and the only way
you will know and/or experience the real thing is to learn and live in that culture and environment
yourself.

Indeed, humans have many languages, but for God, there is only one language:
The human language with a lot of synonyms.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 181

Phrase Translation of the Previous Short Story


No Hmong Equivalent English
1 muaj ib tug me nyuam tub there was a little baby boy
2 nws lub npe hu ua Zaj no his name is called Zaj (Zha in English)
3 nws yug los ces nws niam thiab txiv when he was born his mother and father
4 tsuas qhia lus Askiv only taught English
5 rau nws xwb lauj to him only
6 Yog li, nws tsuas paub tias therefore, he only knew that
7 hauv lub ntiaj teb no in this world
8 tsuas muaj neeg Meskas thiab hais only has American people and speak English only
lus Askiv xwb
9 Thaum nws loj thiab hlob tuaj When he got big and grew older
10 ces nws niam thiab txiv xa nws mus then his mother and father sent him to school
kawm ntawv
11 Zaj txawm mus pom ib cov neeg Zaj then met some people
12 dub hau thiab hais lus Askiv tsis meej with black hair and speak English not clear
13 Nws mam li los nug nws niam thiab He then came ask his mom and dad
txiv
14 ces nkawv mam li piav tias and they then explain that
15 xyoo 1975 muaj ib haiv neeg In year 1975 there were some people (nationality)
16 hu ua Hmoob no tau tawg rog tuaj called Hmong came here as refugees to live in America
nyob rau lub teb chaws Meskas
17 Cov neeg no muaj plaub hau dub These people have black hair
18 me thiab hais ib hom lus txawv lus small and speak a different language than English
Askiv
19 uas yog hu ua lus Hmoob no and it is called Hmong
20 Ces tub Zaj mam li nug nws niam And son Zaj then asked his mom and dad
thiab txiv tias
21 Yog li, kuv xav paub lawv cov lus es Therefore, I would like to know their language and
kuv yuav mus kawm qhov twg? where would I go learn?
22 Zaj txiv txawm teb niag dag ntsuav Zaj's dad then replied in a jokingly manner to him that,
rau Zaj tias,
23 Me tub ahw, yog koj xav kawm lus Son, if you want to learn Hmong
Hmoob

Muaj nyiaj ntau dhau los ho tsis xav tuag; pluag dhau hwv los ho tsis xav ciaj.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
182 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

No Hmong Equivalent English


24 ces koj mus tham ib tug hluas nkauj then you go date a Hmong girl that is all!
Hmoob xwb los mas!
25 Zaj txawm teb nws leej txiv tias, Zaj replied to his father that,
26 “Txiv, es yuav ua li cas mus tham tau “Father, and how is that going to happen
naj
27 yog yus twb tsis paub txuas lus nrog if one already could not communicate with
nws ua ntej her before
28 yus yuav muaj tau kev phooj ywg!” one would have a friendship!”
29 Zaj leej niam thiab txiv nkawv txawm Zaj's mom and dad then looked at each other and then
sib ntsia sib ntsia tag ces
30 leej niam txawm teb Zaj tias, the mother answered Zaj that,
31 “Me tub, koj txhob txhawj mog. “Son, you don't worry okay.
32 Yog koj xav kawm tiag ces tag kis kuv If you want to learn for real then tomorrow I will
mam li
33 mus nug seb hauv peb lub zos no go ask to see if anyone in our town knows
puas muaj leeg twg paub
34 thiab kam qhia lus Hmoob rau koj and willing to teach Hmong to you okay.”
mog.”
35 Ces leej tub mas nim luag his~ thiab And the son then was laughing he he and ha ha,
has~,
36 thiab sas loo los khawm kiag leej and quickly jumped to hug his mother.
niam.
37 Zaj txawm hais rau nws niam tias, Zaj then said to his mother that,
38 Ua tsaug ohs, niam. Qhov kuv xav Thank you, mother. The reason I would like to learn
kawm lus Hmoob Hmong
39 mas vim yog kuv ntseeg tias Tswv is because I believe that God had created us
Ntuj tsim tau peb
40 ntau haiv neeg los nyob ua ke; many nationalities to live together;
41 uas zoo li ib lub vaj txiv uas muaj which is like an orchard with many kinds
ntau hom txiv of fruit trees
42 Yog tias peb sib txuas tau lus, ces If we can communicate, then it will make us know each
yuav ua rau peb sib paub, other,

Well, you get the point. I wish I can finish the translation, but you have the summary already. The
reason I provided you this little translation is to help you understand that the translation is hard
since the words in both language do not always have the same meanings.

Lus hlub ua rau siab muag; lus ntxub ua rau siab tuag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 183

THE DOG AND THE TREE FICTION STORY


Dev thiab Ntoo – By Jay Xiong

Thaum Vajtswv nyuam qhuav tsim tau lub ntiaj teb los ces txhua yam puav leej sib txuas tau lus.
Dev yog ib hom tsiaj uas Vajtswv tsim los pab tibneeg zov tsev thiab ua luag. Tabsis vim dev txoj
kev nyiam mus ua si ces neeg thiaj li siv hlua los khi dev rau tej hauv paus ntoo kom dev mus tsis
tau rau lwm qhov chaw.
Muaj ib hnub ces tus dev nqhis dej heev nws thiaj li thov kom tsob ntoo pab thiab daws nws txoj
hlua. Thaum tus dev thov tsob ntoo ces ntoo hais rau tus dev tias, “Nej muaj tes thiab muaj taw.
Nej nqhis dej ces nej mus haus tau, tabsis peb nqhis dej npaum li cas los peb mus tsis tau qhov twg
li. Peb yuav tsum tos Vajtswv tso nag los nkaus xwb.” Ntoo hais ntxiv tias, “Yog koj xav kom kuv
pab, ua li koj puas kam pab kuv thiab maj?”
Dev teb ntoo tias, “Tau kawg. Koj xav kom kuv pab koj li cas?” Ntoo teb dev tias, “Koj yuav tsum
nqa dej los rau kuv haus thiab.” Ces dev txawm teb ntoo tias, “Es kuv twb tsis muaj tes es tsuas
muaj plaub txhais taw xwb kuv yuav ua li cas nqa tau dej los rau koj haus?” Ntoo teb dev tias, “Koj
haus kom tsau thiab haus kom ntau ces koj mam li los tso zis rau kuv lub hauv paus xwb. Tsis tag
li xwb, thaum twg koj tuaj ze ib tsob ntoo twg, koj yuav tsum tau ua ib yam nkaus li.”
Thaum dev thiab ntoo nkawv sib cog lus tag thiab pom zoo lawm, ntoo thiaj li pab daws thiab
tso tus dev dim mus haus dej lawm. Thaum tus dev mus haus dej tag ces nws thiaj li khiav rov los
tso zis rau lub hauv paus ntoo. Vim yog li, niaj hnub no dev mus ze ib tsob ntoo twg nws thiaj li
yuav tsum tso zis ywg ntoo lub hauv paus.

THE SUN AND THE MOON FICTION STORY


Nkauj Hnub thiab Nraug Hli – By Jay Xiong

Nkauj Hnub thiab Nraug Hli yog ob tus tibneeg uas Vajtswv xub xub tsim los kav lub ntiaj teb.
Nkauj Hnub yog tus poj niam hos Nraug Hli yog tus txiv neej. Thaum Vajtswv nyuam qhuav
tsim tau lub ntiaj teb ces tsaus ntuj nti xwb. Yog li, Vajtswv thiaj li tsim Nkauj Hnub thiab Nraug
Hli los kav thiab ci kom ntiaj teb pom kev.
Nkauj Hnub yog lub hnub thiab nws ci pom mus deb heev vim nws yog poj niam thiab tsis tau
luag. Nraug Hli yog lub hli thiab nws ci tsis npaum Nkauj Hnub vim nws yog txiv neej thiab nws
tsis ntshai. Vajtswv kom nkawv ob leeg sib pab kav lub ntiaj teb thiab ci rau Vajtswv tej tsiaj txhu,
xyoob ntoo thiab qoob loo kom lawv thiaj li loj hlob taus. Tsis tag li, kom txhua yam tsiaj thiaj li
pom kev mus nrhiav noj tsis hais cov nyob rau nruab hnub lossis cov nyob rau hmo ntuj.
Vajtswv tis npe rau Nkauj Hnub lub sij hawm tias “nruab hnub”, thiab nws tis npe rau Nraug
Hli lub sij hawm tias “hmo ntuj” no. Tsis tag li xwb, Vajtswv hais rau Nkauj Hnub thiab Nraug
Hli nkawv tias 29.5 hnub twg nkawv mam li los ib ntsib tau – New moon. Hos hais txog nkawv
tej kev ua nkauj thiab ua nraug ces ib xyoos twg yog 2 zaug – Solar eclipses.
Vajtswv tseem hais rau Nraug Hli tias, “Koj lub teeb ci tsis heev, tabsis kuv yuav muab ntau lub
teeb me, hnub qub, los pab koj uas yog kuv muab tso thoob plaws saum ntuj. Yog li, hmo ntuj thiaj
li muaj hnub qub ntau heev, tabsis nruab hnub ces ploj tag lawm.

Kev ua hluas luv li ib ntsais muag; kev ua laus ntev li tsis paub tuag.
Pom nquab ya tsis pom nquab zes – qub.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
184 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Time to Write a Letter in Hmong


Chaw nyob Key Words to Understand
chaw nyob = address
Hnub hnub = date
0. kuv sau = I write
Nyob zoo ohs Paj, 1. tsab ntawv = a letter
2. tuaj qhia = to inform, to tell
0 1 2
Kuv sau tsab ntawv no tuaj qhia rau koj paub 3. nyuam qhuav = recently or just
tias kuv nyuam qhuav3 kawm nyeem thiab sau 4. los ntawm = from
4
ntawv Hmoob los ntawm ib phau ntawv hu ua, 5. tiav = finish, complete. lawm = already
“Learn Hmong the Jay Way” no tiav5 lawm. 6. yog li = therefore
6 7
Yog li , kuv mas zoo siab heev li es kuv thiaj li 7. es = so
sau ntawv tuaj qhia rau koj paub xwb.
8. thaum twg = when, whenever
8 9
Thaum twg koj tau txais tsab ntawv nov lawm 9. nov = this
no ces thov koj sau tuaj10 qhia kuv paub thiab. 10. sau tuaj = write back. sau los = write home.
11 12
Tsis tag li , kuv vam thiab ntseeg tias koj tseem 11. tsis tag li = not only that
ntsib kev13 noj qab thiab nyob zoo li yav14 12. tseem = still
dhau los . 15 13. ntsib kev = have or in a way of (condition)
14. yav = period or interval of time
16
Kuv sau ntawv tuaj ntsib koj li no xwb es wb 15. dhau los = in the past
mam li17 sib ntsib dua18 nyob rau19 lwm20 16. tuaj ntsib = come to meet, chat, visit
zaus .21 17. mam li = will
18. sib ntsib dua = meet again
Tshua txog22, 19. nyob rau = in, within
20. lwm = next
Sau npe 21. zaus = time
22. tshua txog = thinking of

No Hmong English Transliterated, examples and Remarks (tos = wait for)


1 Kuv nyob tos koj. I live wait for you. Nyob tos = live and wait for.
2 Kuv tos koj. I wait for you. Kuv tuaj tos koj = I come to get you (pick up).
3 Rov qab tuaj saib koj. Come back to see you. Rov = turn, qab = back (return)
4 Kuv vam thiab ntseeg tias. I hope and believe that. Kuv ntseeg koj = I believe you.
5 Noj qab thiab nyob zoo. Eat well and live fine. Being healthy that is.
6 Ntsib koj li no xwb. Meet you like this only. Kuv tuaj ntsib koj = I come to meet you.
7 Koj tib kuv. You reject me. Tib = refuse, deny, reject.
8 Kuv zoo siab heev. I am very happy. Koj tsis zoo siab = You are not happy.

Tsw qab ua rau neeg yuav; tsw phem ua rau neeg ntuav.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 185

Simple Phrase Translation


Hmong bold word = English bold word, and Hmong italic word = English italic word

Hmong Phrase Equivalent English


1. Yog tsis hlub koj. If do not love you. Yuav verb + verb:
2. Yuav mus hlub leej twg? Will go love whom? Yuav mus noj.
3. Koj yeej yog tus kuv nyiam. You are the one I like. Yuav tuaj pab.
4. Thov koj ntseeg kuv thiab. Please you believe me, too. Yuav paub qhia.
5. Vim kuv yeej yog koj tug tiag tiag. Because I am yours for real.
6. Kuv yuav ua li cas es koj thiaj li ntseeg kuv? What should I do so you will believe me?
7. Yog kuv qhib tau kuv lub siab rau koj pom. If I can open my heart for you to see.
8. Thiab nthuav rau koj saib li ib phau ntawv. And open for you to see like a book.
9. Kom txhua yam kuv hais. So everything I say.
10. Koj thiaj pom tias tsis yog dag. You then see that it is not a lie.

Hmong Phrase Equivalent English


11. Koj yog leej twg? Who are you? What you see here are very simple
12. Koj npe hu li cas? What is your name? phrases. For example, the first
line could be written as follows:
13. Kuv zoo siab tau ntsib koj. I am happy to meet you. 1. Koj yog leej twg ne yom?
14. Kuv los tib yam. I am the same – same here. 2. Koj yog leej twg nab?
15. Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? How old are you? 3. Koj yog leej twg ohs?
16. Kuv muaj peb caug xyoo. I am thirty years old. 4. Koj yog leej twg?
17. Hos koj ne? How about you? And the response could be:
1. Kuv yog npe naj.
18. Kuv muaj peb caug tsib xyoos. I am thirty-five years old. 2. Kuv yog ohs.
19. Zoo siab tau nrog koj tham. Nice talking to you. 3. Kuv yog los mas.
20. Sib ntsib dua nawb. See you later okay. 4. Kuv yog ntag.

Hmong Phrase – interrogative Equivalent English


21. Koj puas verb? noj, haus, mus etc... Do you verb? Just about any verbs...
22. Koj puas noj? Do you eat? More like “Do you want to eat?”
23. Koj puas tau verb? Have you verb? Puas tau generally means
24. Koj puas tau noj? Have you ate? have done and/or
25. Koj puas tau xav verb? Are you ready to verb? did do. For example:
26. Koj puas tau xav noj? Are you ready to eat? Koj puas tau mus?
27. Koj puas txawj verb? Do you know how to verb? Did you go? Or
Have you gone?
28. Koj puas txawj noj? Do you know how to eat?
29. Koj puas txawj verb object? Do you know how to verb object?
30. Koj puas txawj sau ntawv? Do you know how to write letter?

Some of the English translations might not be proper; however, the Hmong parts are correct.
When translating Hmong into English, there are various English word choices, synonyms, that
one can use. For example, the Hmong word “pab” can mean assist, aid and help etc...

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
186 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Short Phrase Translation


Hmong bold word = English bold word, and Hmong italic word = English italic word

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


1. Tuaj los. Hi, hello or come, too” 11. Koj puas pom? Do you see?
2. Mus twg? Go where? 12. Tsis pom. Not see. No.
3. Pab kuv. Help me. 13. Saib koj sab xis. Look on your right.
4. Aws. Yes or okay. 14. Pom lawm. See now.
5. Yog los mas. That is right or correct. 15. Zoo heev. Very good.
6. Leej twg nab? What person or who? 16. Ua li cas? What happens?
7. Yog kuv naj. It is me. 17. Vim tias. Because.
8. Yog koj los? Is it you? 18. Piav los soj. So explain.
9. Yog los mas. Yes, it is. 19. Tau kawg. Okay or fine.
10. Zoo heev. Very good. 20. Yog lawm. Correct or right.

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


21. Paub koj. Know you. 31. Cia koj mus. Let you go.
22. Tiag los? For real? – questioning. 32. Pab koj ua. Help you do.
23. Tiag hos. For real. – confirming. 33. Saib koj noj. Watch you eat.
24. Thov zam Please forgive. 34. Lawv koj qab. Follow you.
25. Tsis ua li cas. Not a problem. 35. Ua koj ntej. Before you.
26. Yog tias koj. If you. 36. Tseg rau koj. Save for you.
27. Xav paub. Would like to know. 37. Puas txaus? Enough? Is it enough?
28. Xav tiag hos. Would like for real. 38. Tshuav thiab. Still have. Some left.
29. Tej zaum Maybe or perhaps. 39. Tag lawm. All gone or done.
30. Tsis paub. Don't know. 40. Tsis muaj. Don't have.

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


41. Qhia kuv. Tell me or teach me. 55. Noj kom tsau. Eat until full.
42. Tsis kam. Not allow or no. 56. Yus tsev ohs. One's home.
43. Qhia kiag los. Just tell. 57. Txhob txaj muag. Don't be shy.
44. Txhob nug. Don't ask. 58. Tsis txaj muag. Not shy.
45. Vim li cas? Why? 59. Thov Vaj Tswv. Ask God or pray.
46. Ntshai ab tsi? Fear what? 60. Leej Txiv. The Father.
47. Ab tsi maj? About what? 61. Leej Tub. The Son.
48. Dag xwb. Just joking. 62. Leej Ntsuj Plig. The Holy Spirit.
49. Koj mas... You... 63. Mab Liab. Mary
50. Siab phem! Bad heart. Wicked heart. 64. Tib neeg. Humans.
51. Pom zoo. Agree. 65. Yexus Khetos. Jesus Christ.
52. Xis neej. Feeling well or healthy. 66. Ceeb Tsheej. Heaven.
53. Muaj mob. Have illness or sickness. 67. Dab Teb. Hell (Ghost country)
54. Siab zoo. Good heart. Kind-hearted. 68. Plig. Spirit.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 187

Short Phrase Translation


Hmong bold word = English bold word, and Hmong italic word = English italic word

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


1. Nrog hlub. Help love. 11. Tseem zoo li qub. Still the same.
2. Pab qhia. Help teach. 12. Yog li. Therefore.
3. Kheev lam. Wish that. 13. Tu siab heev. Have a broken heart.
4. Muaj tseeb. Happening for real. 14. Ua ib siab. Decide to.
5. Ntshe yuav. Perhaps will. 15. Rov los. Come back.
6. Tsis xav tuag. Not wanting to die. 16. Pab tib neeg. Help human beings.
7. Mus ib sim. Forever. 17. Thiaj li tau txais. So will receive.
8. Tabsis mas. But. 18. Vajtswv. God.
9. Yog npau suav. It is a dream. 19. Tej koob hmoov. Blessing or luck.
10. Tsim los ces. Wake up and. 20. Xwb mog. Only.

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


21. Xyaum hais. Learn to speak or say. 31. Paub xwb. Know only.
22. Lus Hmoob. Hmong language. 32. Lwm txoj kev. Different path.
23. Tsis nyuaj. Not difficult. 33. Lwm xyoo. Next year.
24. Vim tias. Because 34. Lwm tiam. Next life.
25. Nws kuj tsis. It is not. 35. Pauj tsis tau. Can't repay.
26. Yooj yim thiab. Easy either (too) 36. Koj txoj kev pab. Your assistance.
27. Yog li. Therefore. 37. Thov kom Ntuj. Ask that God.
28. Yuav tau. Must or ought to. 38. Foom koob hmoo. Bless or bless upon.
29. Ua siab ntev. Be patient. 39. Rau koj. To you.
30. Thiaj li yuav. Then will. 40. Mus zoo. Goodbye.

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


41. Koj yog. You are. Also you're right. 51. Hauv no tau. In here for.
42. Leej twg nab? What person or who? 52. Peb hlis xwb. Three months only.
43. Kuv yog. I am. Also I am right. 53. Hos koj ne? And you?
44. Dib Vaj. Dee Vang. 54. Kuv yeej ib txwm. I always.
45. Es koj nyob. And you live. 55. Nyob hauv no. Live in here.
46. Qhov twg tuaj. Where from? 56. Twb nyob nov tau. Already live here for.
47. Nyob hauv no. Live in here. 57. 30 xyoo lawm. 30 years already.
48. Cas tsis pom. Why not see. 58. Ua li los. Is that so.
49. Koj dua li. You before or in the past. 59. Zoo li zoo tau. As good as possible.
50. Kuv los nyob. I came live or have lived. 60. Ua li. Okay.
The Hmong line, “zoo li zoo” means “as good as”, for example: Kuv ua zoo li zoo tau lawn.
This syntax is also true for verbs, i.e., pab, pub, phem, hlub etc... The word “tau” is usually
placed after such usage and it means “able or possible.” However, this same line can be written
like this, too: “Kuv ua zoo rau koj li zoo tau” and it means “I do as good for you as possible.”

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
188 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Short Phrase Translation


Hmong bold word = English bold word, and Hmong italic word = English italic word

Hmong English transliterated Hmong English transliterated


1. Kuv lees. I admit. 11. Kuv tseem tos. I still wait.
2. Kuv muaj. I have. 12. Kuv yuav mus. I will go.
3. Kuv liam. I accuse. 13. Kuv mam li ua. I will do.
4. Kuv dag. I lie (kid, joke, tease) 14. Kuv twb paub. I already know.
5. Kuv paub zoo. I know well. 15. Kuv xav tuaj. I want to come.
6. Kuv tso cai. I allow or let. 16. Kuv pheej tab pom. I keep seeing.
7. Kuv thov koj. I beg you. 17. Kuv niaj hnub mus. I every day go.
8. Kuv txib koj. I ask you (to do a chore) 18. Kuv los tsis paub. I, too, don't know.
9. Thov dag zog. Ask for manpower, strength. 19. Kuv haj yam nkees. I am more tired.
10. Kuv tso mus. I let go, release, set free. 20. Kuv yeej paub zoo. I really know well.

Hmong phrase English transliterated


21. Kuv haj yam hlub koj. I more love you. I love you more that is.
22. Kuv kwv yees xwb. I am guessing only.
23. Kuv liam tias koj dag. I accuse that you lie.
24. Koj dag tias koj muaj. You lie that you have.
25. Koj mus tsev tau. You go home okay. You may go home.
26. Kuv tso cai rau koj mus. I allow you to go.
27. Kuv thov koj txhob mus. I beg you not to go.
28. Koj zam txim rau kuv. You please forgive me.
29. Kuv pub rau koj xwb. I give to you only. (pub = give free to)
30. Koj ua piam lawm. You damaged already or ruined it.

Hmong phrase English transliterated


31. Leej twg thiaj li paub? Who would know?
32. Tus neeg lub npe hu ua Paj. A person whose name is Paj.
33. Nws nyob lub zos twg? She lives in what city?
34. Nws nyob hauv zos no xwb. She lives in this city only.
35. Tag kis koj puas khoom? Or xyeej. Tomorrow are you available? Or free?
36. Khoom thiab los mas. Yes, I am available or free.
37. Lub sij hawm twg? What time?
38. Thaum tav su. At noon. More like “when noon” in Hmong.
39. Ua li. Okay.
40. Mam li ntsib koj thaum ntawd. Will see you then. Or meet you at then.
41. Txuag yus txoj sia. Save one's life (as to not overwork)
42. Txuag yus ntsej muag. Save one's face.
43. Cuaj khaum. Koj cuaj khaum dhau. Being stingy. You are too stingy.
44. Txuag nyiaj. Save money.

Noog dab tuag ua zes zoo nkauj; noog zoo nkauj ua zes phem.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 189

Short Phrase Translation


Hmong bold word = English bold word, and Hmong italic word = English italic word

Hmong English transliterated Hmong English transliterated


1. Nruab hnub During the day. 11. Tshua txog. Thinking of.
2. Tav twg? When or at what time? 12. Yooj yim. Easy.
3. Kab li. Perhaps or around. 13. Nyuaj kawg. Very difficult.
4. Ze li. Near or close to. 14. Ua siab ntev. Be patient.
5. Rov hu. Call again, call back. 15. Siab luv. Short temper.
6. Hais dua. Say again or repeat. 16. Siab kub. Hot temper, rush.
7. Hais ntxiv. Say more or continue. 17. Maj. Hurry, rush.
8. Xaus li no. End like this or the end. 18. Siab qeeb. Slow, not hurry at all.
9. Lwm zaus. Next time. 19. Ua siab txias. Calm down, cool down.
10. Niaj hnub. Every day. 20. Yoog xwb. Going along, follow.

Hmong phrase English transliterated


21. Tav twg koj mam li tuaj? When will you come?
22. Tej zaum 11 teev sawv ntxov li ntawd. Perhaps 11:00 morning like that.
23. Kuv mam li rov hu rau koj. I will call you back.
24. Thov hais dua soj. Please say again.
25. Kuv niaj hnub mus ua num xwb. I every day go to work only.
26. Koj kawm lus Hmoob puas yooj yim? You learn Hmong is it easy?
27. Nws nyuaj kawg hos. It is very difficult.
28. Yuav tau ua siab ntev xwb. Must be patient only.
29. Yog li los mas. That is correct.
30. Koj puas xav kawm? Do you want to learn?

Hmong phrase English transliterated


31. Cia lwm xyoo tso. Or Tos lwm xyoo tso. Wait until next year.
32. Tos lwm zaus tso. Wait until next time.
33. Yuav phau ntawv no mus kawm. Buy this book to study or learn.
34. Thiab saib Hmoob movies xwb. And watch Hmong movies only.
35. Tsis txhob maj. Don't hurry or rush.
36. Cia kuv qhia koj. Let me teach you.
37. Hais lus Hmoob tsis nyuaj. Speak Hmong is not difficult.
38. Tabsis ho muaj cim. But then have tones.
39. Uas muaj cov suab siab thiab qes. That have pitches high and low.
40. Xws li, “Yaub yaum” Such as, “YO-yo”
41. Ua cas koj hais lus qab zib ua luaj? Why do you talk so sweet?
42. Vim kuv nyiam koj. Because I like you.
43. Thov Vaj Tswv rau koj. Pray God for you.
44. Saib taus lwm tug neeg thiab. Respect other people, too.

Neeg me suab soob neeg loj suab khoob – laus.


Txiv me noob loj txiv loj noob me.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
190 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Practice Translation
Please translate the Hmong phrase into English.
No Hmong English No Hmong English
1 Koj hu li cas? 27 Kawm lus Hmoob.
2 Nyob zoo. 28 Puas yooj yim thiab?
3 Koj mus dabtsi? 29 Puas yog koj zoo siab?
4 Zoo siab. 30 Koj dag xwb.
5 Zoo siab heev. 31 Nag hmo peb mus tsev.
6 Cia wb mus. 32 Ua koj tsaug.
7 Kuv mus pw. 33 Tsis ua li cas.
8 Kuv zoo siab. 34 Vim li cas?
9 Koj puas noj? 35 Vim li cas tiag?
10 Peb hais lus. 36 Kuv xav tau koj.
11 Koj hu kuv. 37 Kuv xav tau kev pab.
12 Koj pab kuv. 38 Koj puas paub zoo?
13 Koj yog leej twg? 39 Kuv tsis hnov.
14 Pes tsawg? 40 Koj yog leej twg?
15 10 xyoo xwb. 41 Nyob qhov twg tuaj?
16 Maj mam mus. 42 Tsis yog kuv ua.
17 Kuv yog Hmoob. 43 Zoo siab tau ntsib koj.
18 Koj puas paub? 44 Tsis tau pom dua.
19 Koj muaj zog? 45 Mus zoo koj mog.
20 Koj puas hnov? 46 Tsis yog kuv li.
21 Thaum twg? 47 Sau ntawv Askiv.
22 Puas yog tiag? 48 Koj mloog kuv hais.
23 Zoo kawg li. 49 Mob qhov twg tiag?
24 Koj tos kuv. 50 Koj puas muaj lus nug?
25 Hu rau koj paub. 51 Zoo siab heev li.
26 Yog lawm. 52 Ua neeg siab zoo.

Tsis zoo nkauj heev thaum hluas ces tsis dab tuag heev thaum laus.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 191

Practice Translation
Please Translate Each Hmong Phrase into English.

Hmong Words English transliterated Hmong Words English transliterated


1. Ib hnub. 1. _________________ 11. Tseem muaj. 11. _______________
2. Thaum twg? 2. _________________ 12. Yau dua. 12. _______________
3. Tej zaum. 3. _________________ 13. Nyuaj heev. 13. _______________
4. Ze heev. 4. _________________ 14. Kuv zoo siab. 14. _______________
5. Rov hais. 5. _________________ 15. Pab kuv noj. 15. _______________
6. Hais dua. 6. _________________ 16. Siab phem. 16. _______________
7. Hais lus. 7. _________________ 17. Maj mam mus. 17. _______________
8. Xav mus noj. 8. _________________ 18. Sau ntawv. 18. _______________
9. Leej twg? 9. _________________ 19. Yog leej twg? 19. _______________
10. Niaj hnub. 10. ________________ 20. Koj puas xav? 20. _______________

21. Wb mus noj. 21. ________________ 31. Tau mus pom. 31. ______________
22. Koj los pw. 22. ________________ 32. Yau dua kuv. 32. ______________
23. Kuv hu koj. 23. ________________ 33. Rov yug dua. 33. ______________
24. Nyob ze ze. 24. ________________ 34. Kuv tus nus. 34. ______________
25. Hnav lub ris. 25. ________________ 35. Yog kuv niam. 35. ______________
26. Haus dej xwb. 26. ________________ 36. Puas xav paub? 36. ______________
27. Pom koj dag. 27. ________________ 37. Koj dag kuv. 37. ______________
28. Xaiv tus loj. 28. ________________ 38. Muab rau nej. 38. ______________
29. Lem rov qab. 29. ________________ 39. Yeej yog tiag. 39. ______________
30. Nag los loj. 30. ________________ 40. Puas xav noj? 40. ______________

41. Tag kis peb yuav mus tsev. 41. ______________________________


42. Nej tuaj txog thaum twg? 42. ______________________________
43. Peb pib kawm lus Hmoob. 43. ______________________________
44. Zog loj tsis npaum hmoov loj. 44. ______________________________
45. Nyuj kub tsis hnyav nyuj hau. 45. ______________________________
46. Nej los nrog peb ua teb. 46. ______________________________
47. Kuv xav paub koj lub npe. 47. ______________________________
48. Koj puas ntseeg kuv tiag? 48. ______________________________
49. Leeg twg xav paub? 49. ______________________________
50. Lo lus no txhais li cas? 50. ______________________________
51. Kuv qhia puas zoo thiab? 51. ______________________________
52. Koj nyob qhov twg tuaj? 52. ______________________________
53. Kuv mam li hu rau koj. 53. ______________________________
54. Zoo siab tau ntsib koj. 54. ______________________________
55. Koj puas paub hais lus Askiv? 55. ______________________________

Ua ntej yuav ua tau ib yam zoo los yuav, xub pib ua kom tau ib yam los tuav.
Ua ntej yuav muab qhov qub pov tseg, sim qhov tshiab seb puas ua hauj lwm tso.
Ua ntej yuav rhuav thaij duab cia thiab nco kom zoo seb yuav dhos li cas.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
192 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Simple Phrase with Translation


Ib = one, hnub = day. thaum = at, when. twg = which, what. tej zaum = perhaps, maybe. ze
heev = close very (very near). rov hais = again say (say again). hais dua = say again. hais
lus = say word (talk or speak). xav mus noj = want go eat. leej twg = person who (which
person). niaj hnub = every day. tseem muaj = still have. yau dua = small more (younger
than). Nyuaj heev = difficult very. Kuv zoo siab = I am happy. Pab kuv noj = help me eat.
Siab phem = heart bad (wicked heart). Maj mam mus = slowly go. Sau ntawv = write letter.
Yog leej twg = Is person who (Who is it). Koj puas xav = You would like. Wb mus so = we
(two) go rest. Koj los pw = you come sleep. Kuv hu koj = I call you. Nyob ze ze = live near
near (live very close) Hnav lub ris = wear a pants. Haus dej xwb = Drink water only.

Pom koj dag = see you lie. Xaiv tus loj = select a/which big (choose the big one). Lem rov
qab = turn back (turn around). Nag los loj = Rain come big. Tau mus pom = have go see.
Yau dua kuv = young more me (younger than me). Rov yug dua = back born again (reborn
again). Kuv tus nus = My a brother (my brother – used by sister only). Yog kuv niam = It is
my mother. Puas xav paub = Would like know. Koj dag kuv = You lie me. Muab rau nej =
Give for you (give to you). Yeej yog tiag = It is real (it is true). Koj puas xav noj = You would
like eat. Tag kis peb yuav mus tsev = tomorrow we will go home. Nej tuaj txog thaum twg
= you come to at when (when did you arrive or get here). Peb pib kawm lus Hmoob = We
begin learn language Hmong. Zog loj tsis npaum hmoov loj = power big not as luck big
(luck is better than strength that is).

Kuv xav paub koj lub npe = I want to know your a name (I would like to know your name).
Koj puas ntseeg kuv tiag = You would believe me real (Would you believe me for real). Leej
twg xav paub = Person who want to know (Who would like/want to know). Lo lus no txhais
li cas = A word here mean what/how (what does this word mean). Kuv qhia puas zoo thiab
= I teach is good also (did I teach good also). Koj nyob qhov twg tuaj = You live where come
(where are you from). Kuv mam li hu koj = I will call for you. Zoo siab tau ntsib koj =
Happy have meet you. (happy to have met you).

Okay, kuv qhia = Okay, I teach. Koj ntau lo lus Hmoob lawm = you many word language
Hmong already. Yog li = therefore. Kuv vam tias = I hope that. Koj yuav paub = you would
know. Lus Hmoob zoo = language Hmong well.

Kawm (lus) Hmoob tsis nyuaj = Learn (language) Hmong is not difficult. Maj mam kawm.
Slowly learn. Nws yuav siv sij hawm = It will take time. Ua siab ntev = Be patient.

Kawg no, thov qhua koj thiab ua tsaug rau koj txoj kev muab siab los kawm lus Hmoob. Kuv vam
thiab cia siab tias koj kawm tau ntau yam (many things) los ntawm phau ntawv no.

Kawm txuj tsuas nrog yus ib tiam, tabsis qhia txuj ces yuav nyob mus ib txhis.
Khaws noob ces noob qhuav; cog noob ces noob nthuav.
Nplooj yoog kav noob yoog tsav – Hmong proverb
Di ncauj liab nploog ces nkhaus cuag poj ntxoog.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 193

Practice Translation
Please translate each English phrase into Hmong.
No English Hmong No English Hmong
1 Hello 27 It is easy.
2 Where are you? 28 Do you like me?
3 Thank you. 29 Tomorrow we will go.
4 What is your name? 30 Please go home now.
5 Who are you? 31 I hurt my hand.
6 You are happy. 32 I am still eating.
7 Good to see you. 33 Thank you.
8 Can you help me? 34 When were you born?
9 Do you know? 35 What country?
10 Can you help them? 36 When did you call?
11 Call me soon. 37 A red house.
12 When you get home. 38 I like a small car.
13 What did you say? 39 Wash your hands.
14 How old are you? 40 Still too early.
15 I am 50 years old. 41 I don't have money.
16 Are you Hmong? 42 I want to buy.
17 Do you speak 43 It is too expensive.
English?
18 It was not me. 44 Have you ate?
19 I don't know. 45 Where did you go?
20 I don't understand. 46 Too slow for me.
21 How long? 47 How much?
22 How soon? 48 Is it good?
23 Are you sick? 49 I like to go fishing.
24 Where does it hurt? 50 They want to sleep.
25 It is true. 51 We will meet again.
26 Do you believe me? 52 Thanks for learning.

Niam txiv nquag ces tub ki pluag.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
194 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Practice Translation
Please translate each English word into Hmong.
No English Hmong No English Hmong No English Hmong
1 dirt 29 big 57 feed
2 man 30 return 58 chicken
3 woman 31 small 59 cry
4 shine 32 sister 60 sour
5 money 33 have 61 egg
6 many 34 sell 62 see
7 ghost 35 give 63 for
8 tease 36 hurry 64 knife
9 yellow 37 go 65 long
10 food 38 mother 66 table
11 pay 39 you two 67 oil
12 black 40 you all 68 sturdy
13 do 41 want to 69 bring
14 divide 42 rain 70 fast
15 bury 43 eat 71 tired
16 run 44 cold 72 heavy
17 drink 45 this 73 try
18 find 46 hurt 74 tame
19 bitter 47 pain 75 use
20 cut 48 call 76 ripe
21 help 49 house 77 tall
22 let, allow 50 to tie 78 write
23 water 51 rice 79 good
24 join 52 we 80 hand
25 road 53 explain 81 come
26 red 54 talk 82 die
27 new 55 know 83 answer
28 old 56 father 84 ask

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 195

Practice Translation
Please translate each English word into Hmong.
No English Hmong No English Hmong No English Hmong
1 arm 20 palm 39 rest
2 bile 21 foot 40 runny nose
3 bladder 22 hair 41 sick
4 blister 23 hand 42 sleep
5 blood 24 head 43 spleen
6 body 25 headache 44 sprain
7 bone 26 heart 45 stomach
8 brain 27 hurt 46 teeth
9 broken 28 intestine 47 stool/feces
10 bruise 29 kidney 48 testicles
11 burn 30 knee 49 throat
12 mouth 31 liver 50 cold
13 tongue 32 lung 51 toe
14 cough 33 medicine 52 urine
15 cyst 34 nausea 53 back
16 diabetes 35 neck 54 vagina
17 diarrhea 36 painful 55 vein
18 elbow 37 pale 56 vomit
19 eye 38 penis 57 chest

58. Where does it hurt? _______________________________________________


59. What happened? _________________________________________________
60. When did you notice? _____________________________________________
61. How long ago? __________________________________________________
62. Are you currently taking any medications? _______________________________
63. Do you need help? _______________________________________________
64. We will help you ________________________________________________
65. You will be okay ________________________________________________

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
196 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Visiting Hmong at their homes


The information below is provided for your reference only.
The very first thing you should do is, of course, to introduce yourself and the purpose of your
visit. For example: Nyob zoo ohs. Kuv lub npe hu ua your name. Qhov kuv tuaj no
vim yog your reason. Yog li, es nej puas caiv ohs? The above is equivalent to the
following English: Hello. My name is your name. The reason I am here is your reason.
Therefore, are you open to visitors? Generally, before you enter someone's house, you should
kindly ask, “Nej puas caiv ohs?” This is especially true for those that are not Christian yet.
The Hmong word, “caiv” simply means they do not allow anyone to visit them during a
restricted/confined period – usually for a period of three days. And as soon as you have asked
this question, you should be greeted with something similar to this: Oeb, peb tsis caiv ohs.
Los tsev. Or peb tsis caiv. Los tsev, los tsev. Basically it means: Oh, we are not
restricted. Come in. Or We are not restricted. Come in, come in. You then just
simply thank them, “Ua tsaug ohs.” And as soon as you walk into the house, you should be
seated with the following: Zaum ohs. And it means, “sit or sit down.” For Hmong Leng,
the phrase might be something like, “Nyob quas tsawg” and it means the same thing – to sit
down. Again, just be polite and ask for their permission to see if they are willing to
accommodate you. Soon after you are being seated, generally, you will be served with a glass
of water or a drink. Again, before you begin the conversation, you should thank them one
more time similar to this line:
Ua tsaug ntau nawb uas koj tseem qee koj lub sijhawm rau kuv tuaj ntsib koj hnub no thiab
tham txog your topic. The other person might say something like this, “Tsis ua li cas ohs. Zoo
siab uas koj tseem tuaj tham/piav/qhia txog your topic rau kuv thiab. Below are some basic
questions you might be asking:
Koj muaj pes tsawg leej me nyuam ohs? How many chlidren do you have?
Koj twb nyob lub zos no tau hov ntev lawm ohs? How long have you lived in this city?
Lub zos no puas muaj Hmoob coob thiab? Does this city have many Hmong?
Koj tseem coj kev cai qub los kev cai tshiab? Are you Christian or Non-Christian that is.
Koj mus tshawj hom twg? What kind of church?
Koj twb ntseeg Vajtswv tau hov ntev lawm? How long have you been a Christian?
Koj cov me nyuam twb loj tas lawm pob? Are your children all grown up?
Lawv twb muaj cuab muaj yim tag lawm ohs. They have their own families already.
Zoo heev li los mas. Very good or that is very good.
Mus ho tuaj nawb. Go and come again.
Aws or ua li ohs. Okay or will do.
When asking general questions, try to use the pronoun “Nej” instead of “Koj” and “Peb”
instead of “Kuv”, i.e., Nej lub zos; peb lub zos because it belongs to many people and not just
one person. Mus ho tuaj nawb mog = Go and come again okay.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 197

Some Hmong Common Questions

Hmong Transliterated/equivalent English


Koj yog Hmoob abtsi? You are Hmong what? What kind of Hmong are you?
Kuv yog Hmoob Xyooj. I am Hmong Xiong. I am a Xiong clan.
Koj yog xeem abtsi? You are clan what? What is your last name?
Kuv yog xeem Xyooj. I am clan Xiong. My last name is Xiong.
Koj lub npe hu li cas? Your name is called how? What is your name?
Kuv lub npe hu ua Zeb no. My name is Zhay. My name is called Zhay.
Koj muaj pes tsawg xyoo? You have how many years? How old are you?
Kuv muaj peb caug xyoo. I have thirty years. I am thirty years old that is.
Koj nyob qhov twg tuaj? You live where from? Where are you from?
Kuv nyob hauv zos no xwb. I am from this city only. I live in this city only.
Koj yuav mus qhov twg? You are going where? Where are you going?
Kuv yuav mus ua hauj lwm. I am going to work. I will go to work.
Koj mus abtsi los? You go what come? What did you go do and come?
Kuv mus ua hauj lwm los. I went to work come. I come from work.
Koj puas paub hais lus Askiv? You know how to speak English?
Kuv paub thiab los mas. I know too. Yes, I do know. thiab los mas = as well.
Koj xav noj abtsi? You want to eat what? What do you want to eat?
Kuv xav noj ib tais fawm. I want to eat one bowl of pho (fer).
Koj nyob hov deb ntawm no? You live how far from here?
Tsis deb heev. Not far very. Not too far that is. deb = far
Koj ua haum lwm abtsi xwb? You work job what kind? You work what kind of job?
Kuv qhia ntawv Hmoob. I teach Hmong.
Koj puas tau muaj poj niam? Do you have a wife yet? Are you married that is.
Kuv twb muaj lawm ohs. I already have. Yes, I am married.
Neb muaj pes tsawg leej me nyuam? You two have how many children?
Wb muaj plaub leeg me nyuam. We have four children. wb = we two.
Zoo heev li los mas. Very good indeed.
Kuv zoo siab tau ntsib koj. I am happy to meet you.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
198 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Some Differences between Hmong Der and Mong Leng Dialects


Please visit www.hmongdictionary.com/derleng for simple translations.
Like I said before, the majority of these two dialects are the same, and roughly about 30 percent
that are different. When someone said he/she is Hmong Der, it means he/she speaks the Hmong
Der dialect. Below, I used the word “Der” for Hmong Der and “Leng” for Hmong Leng.
Consonants*
Hmong Der Hmong Leng Der Example Leng Example English Meaning
d dl dev, dub, dab dlev, dlub, dlaab dog, black, ghost
hm m Hmoob, hmo Moob, mo Hmong / Mong, night
hn n hnub nub sun
nt nt, ndl ntuj, dej ntws ntuj, dlej ndlwg universe, sky, water runs
Notice that the Mong Leng dialect does not have the nasal-aspirated consonants, i.e., Hmong is Mong, and
hnub is nub etc...

Vowels*
Hmong Der Hmong Leng1 Der Example Leng Example English Meaning
o o and u mov, tus os, loj mov, tug us, luj rice, duck, big
a aa txav, av txaav, aav move, dirt
ia a txiav, iav txav, av cut, a mirror
ai ai and a hais lus, tais, diav has lug, tais, dlav speak, bowl, spoon
u u and oo hu, mus hu, moog call, go
1 Not always used as indicated, however.

Pronouns*
Hmong Der Hmong Leng Der Example Leng Example English Meaning
nej mej nej mus mej moog you go (you all)
nws nwg nws los nwg lug he/she/it comes (returns)
lawv puab lawv tuaj puab tuaj they come (visiting)
The pronouns “koj” and “kuv” are the same in both dialects. Some Hmong Leng use the word “Ib” like the Hmong Der
word “Wb”, for example: Ib ob leeg moog means “Wb ob leeg mus” in Hmong Der.

Verbs*
Der Leng Der Leng Der Leng Der Leng Der Leng
me miv pom pum ncaj ncaaj zam zaam xav xaav
hais has sov suv iab ab zov zuv ziab zab
* Only a few listed here. It will require more than one page to cover the difference between these two dialects.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way 199

Let's Look at Some Simple Phrases


No Hmoob Dawb (Moob Dlawb) Moob Leeg (Hmoob Lees)
1 Tib neeg tau tshav ntuj thiab los nag. Tuab neeg tau tshaav ntuj hab lug naag.
2 Kuv yuav qhia lus Hmoob rau nej. Kuv yuav qha lug Moob rua mej.
3 Nws yog tus uas zov hmo ntuj. Nwg yog tug kws zuv mo ntuj.
4 Cov me nyuam, hluas thiab laus. Cov miv nyuas, hluas hab laug.
5 Koj lub npe hu li cas? Koj lub npe hu le caag?
6 Cia li mus tsev tam sim no. Ca le moog tsev taam sim nua.
7 Lawv los pab kuv. Puab lug paab kuv.
8 Kuv tseem nco thaum kuv pom nej. Kuv tseem ncu thaus kuv pum mej.
9 Hnub twg koj li rov mus tsev? Nub twg koj le rov (tsov*) moog tsev?
10 Nws ploj rau hauv lub pas dej. Nwg pluj rua huv lub paas dlej.
11 Koj puas zoo siab thiab? Koj puas zoo sab hab?
12 Nws khuv xim nws txoj sia. Nwg khauv xim nwg txuj sa.
13 Poj niam thiab txiv neej. Quas puj hab quas yawg.
14 Nws txib lawv tuaj pab peb. Nwg khaiv puab tuaj paab peb.
15 Ua cas koj niaj hnub mus ua si? Ua caag koj naj nub moog ua si?
16 Zoo siab hnub no tau pom koj. Zoo sab nub nua tau pum koj.
17 Kom tau txais koob hmoov nplua mias. Kuas tau txais koob moov nplua mag.
18 Peb qhia txog txoj kev uas tau zoo. Peb qha txug txuj kev kws tau zoo.
19 Nov yog ib cov lus ntiav thiab yooj yim. Nuav yog ib co lug ndlav hab yooj yim.
20 Muab tej no khaws rau nruab siab. Muab tej nua khaws rua ntsuab sab.
21 Koj ua txhaum li cas? Koj ua txhum le caag?
22 Kuv niam thiab kuv txiv. Kuv nam hab kuv txiv (txwv*).
23 Tug loj thiab tug me. Koj mloog kuv lus. Tug luj hab tug miv. Koj noog kuv lug.
24 Koj puas nco txog kuv thiab tus hlub? Koj puas ncu txug kuv hab tug hlub?
25 Kuv hlob koj plaub xyoos. Kuv hlub koj plaub xyoos.
* Some use “rov” but some use “tsov”. Likewise, some use “txiv” and some use “txwv”.
The above phrases highlighted some of the major differences between the two dialects. One word
of advice is that you speak the dialect you know well, and don't try to convert, i.e., o to u because
as I mentioned earlier, they are not consistent. For example, the Hmong Der word “loj” is “luj” in
Hmong Leng, but the word “noj” is the same in both dialects.

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
200 Learn Hmong the Jay Way

Summary
Well, I sincerely want to congratulate you on your long and arduous journey, and thank you so
much for your tenacity and patience. You have come a long way and only if I could I would part
with you of what I know about the Hmong language, but unfortunately that is not possible.
Therefore, I am trying to indirectly transfer to you of what I know by writing this book. With that
being said, if you have mastered the information I provided here, you should be able to read, write
and understand the Hmong language.
Writing this book has been a very interesting journey and the most challenging endeavor for me
due to my lack of good English grammar and a formal education in linguistics. The problems I
often faced was to find a succinct and direct way to explain using proper English grammars so
learners will comprehend. Nonetheless, I have decided to challenge myself to write this book in
hope that it will be useful to those who wish to learn the Hmong language from a non-linguistic
point of view by using simple English terms and simple explanation. In addition, I do realize that
this book covered many areas and some parts might be too overwhelming for beginners; however,
I want this book to be as useful as possible for everyone.
Additionally, you can always visit my website, www.HmongDictionary.com, for more
information about the Hmong language as well as looking up Hmong words and definitions. In
addition, there are many audio files available on my the website,
www.hmongdictionary.com/learnHmong to help you learn on your own. Together, let's keep
improving and teaching the Hmong language so that the native juice of the Hmong fruits will not
perish but flourish for many generations to come. Also, I plan to put more drills and exercises
online for those that want to learn more on their own so please go check it out.
Last but most importantly, I want to say a big “Thank You” for your patronage and continued
support of the www.HmongDictionary.com, and without your support and encouragement this
book would not even exist!

Wishing you the very best of luck in your Hmong learning journey.

Jay Xiong
Author of the Lus Hmoob Txhais, a Hmong-Hmong Dictionary, ISBN: 0-9726964-1-5
Author of the Learn Hmong the Jay Way book.
Owner and Creator of the www.HmongDictionary.com

If you have any suggestions or questions, please email me at:


sistham@yahoo.com

Hmong vowel(English sound), a(ah) ai(ai) au(ao) aw(er) e(ay) ee(eng) i(ee) ia(ia) o(aw) oo(ong) u(oo) ua(oua) w(ew)
© 2012-2016 Jay Xiong Hmong tone markers: koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
Learn Hmong the Jay Way
“Since I started to study the Hmong written and spoken language, I immediately came to find that there
are very few legitimate published resources on learning the language. So needless to say I was pleased to
find that the writer of one of the most extensive and authoritative Hmong-English dictionaries has now
written and is publishing the most extensive and authoritative Hmong Language learning book in print
today. After reading Jay Xiong's book, I was amazed at how well each lesson built on the next to facilitate
the learning of this very unique language. One also picks up an incredible amount of vocabulary during
the course of study. While other language books often approach grammar with wordy, complicated
explanations, Jay makes it simple and easy to understand. I've spent a lot of time searching for Hmong
Language resources, and Learn Hmong the Jay Way is without a doubt the best.” – Travis Gore.

“Jay Xiong has written an inviting, often humorous, introduction to the Hmong language for learners
from any background. The difficult issues of pronunciation and grammar are presented in a straight-
forward way that requires no previous experience with linguistics. I can think of no other book like it,
which makes it a much needed resource for the many people who wish to speak and understand the
Hmong language." – Nick Poss, Ph.D.

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