How do I draw the Vietnamese ơ and ư characters? (Surprisingly, I can’t find this information via Google like I can for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters.)

Specifically, how do I draw the horn diacritic? Presumably, it’s drawn after the base letter, but in what direction? Starting from or away from the character?

  • 3
    Unlike CJK characters, the Latin alphabet does not have canonical stroke order or direction. You can draw it in whichever order and direction you choose. Most people do draw letters the same way, but not everyone – e.g., most people write ⟨o⟩ counter-clockwise, but some clockwise; some write ⟨q⟩ as a counter-clockwise ⟨c⟩ followed by a vertical stroke, but some write the vertical stroke first (similar to how you’d write ⟨p⟩, just with the bowl on the other side). Jul 24, 2023 at 8:26

3 Answers 3


I'm not a language professional, but as a Vietnamese who was born and raised in Vietnam, I was taught to write the vowel letters (u, o, a, e, i, and sometimes, y) first and then following diacritics on those letters (ă, â, ê, ô, ơ, ư). For ư and ơ, you can imagine it's like writing a question mark <?> on the based letters (u and o), but without <.> from it. Commonly, we start the writing sequence with top-down and left-right rules.

enter image description here

  • Isn't that question-mark like thing a tonal mark (hoi) that can be applied to any Vietnamese vowel? That one is different from the "horn" that only attaches to the letters o and u and that changes the quality of the vowel. An o with horn can even carry the hoi tone mark in addition to its horn. Jul 24, 2023 at 11:31
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    @SirCornflakes yeah it's like a tonal mark (hỏi), we apply the same thing for ư and ơ. Vietnamese also try to make things easier for themselves though.
    – Nick Vu
    Jul 24, 2023 at 14:47

I thought it should be easily searchable using "vietnamese handwriting" as search engine prompt, but it wasn't. Image search reveals several nice examples of handwritten Vietnamese, and in all samples the horns were attached after completing the word, like dots to the i's and crosses to the t's. Cannot say anything about the stroke direction.


Oh, you think the world of writing systems is as simple as "draw a line here, curve there, and voila!"? Well, brace yourself for a revelation. Writing systems, just like the languages they represent, are intricate, complex, and often shrouded in historical evolution that adds further layers of complexity.

Now, about your question:

Writing the Vietnamese ơ and ư characters involves a specific sequence of strokes. Let's start with the "horn" diacritic, which is really just a tiny hook attached to the top right of the base character.

  1. For "ơ", you start by writing a lowercase "o". Then, starting from the top of the "o", draw a small hook curving upwards and to the right. The stroke starts at the character and moves away.
  2. For "ư", you begin by writing a lowercase "u". Then, just like with "ơ", you add a small hook at the top right of the "u", curving upwards and to the right. Again, the stroke starts at the character and moves away.

And there you have it! You've successfully scribed the Vietnamese ơ and ư characters. But remember, handwriting varies from person to person, and cultural and regional differences can add variations to these guidelines. So, don't expect a universal "correct" way to write these characters. Writing is an art as much as it is a means of communication. Now, go practice your strokes, and stop asking for shortcuts to learning!

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