Áo rách thay vai, quần rách đổi ống.

For torn shirts, replace the shoulder, for torn pants, change the pant leg.

This is advice on patching and sewing torn clothes. This is similar to “A stitch in time saves nine” (i.e., one should mend a small tear (or problem) with one stitch before it gets bigger requiring nine stitches (or more effort to fix)).

Ai chọn cửa nhà chui ra.

Who chooses the house door to crawl out.

The meaning is describing circumstances beyond one’s control (e.g., in which house/family to be born) that have to be accepted. This is equivalent to “Like it or lump/leave it,” “What will be will be,” or “In the lap of the gods.”

Có thờ có thiêng có kiêng có lành.

With prayer, there is holiness; with forbearance, there is good.

The meaning is advice on good conduct and often a mantra uttered during the 7th lunar month to ward off evil, because the 7th lunar month is linked to Vu Lan Festival or Ghost Festival (Ullambana Festival) (Buddhist origin). This is similar to “Peace be with you” or “God help/bless you” in Christianity.

Quá tam ba bận.

Beyond three, three times.

The meaning is not to do anything more than three times (i.e., change tactics if one fails thrice). It is a variant of “Sự bất quá tam / Nothing more than thrice.” This is contrasted with “Third time’s a charm,” “Third time lucky,” or “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” which encourages someone to try again after failing already.

Ai biết uốn câu cho vừa miệng cá.

Who knows how to shape the hook to fit the fish’s mouth.

The meaning is (i) it is not possible to choose something pleasing to another person and (ii) one cannot know and plan for everything. This is similar to “Hit or miss” (i.e., something unpredictable) or “You cannot please everyone” (i.e., someone will always complain no matter what you do).

Ai biết phận nấy.

Each knows one’s role.

The meaning is (i) each person minds own business and does not interfere with others and (ii) each person has own destiny and does not compare with/should not be jealous of others. A variant is “Voi biết voi, ngựa biết ngựa / Elephants know elephants, horses know horses.” This similar to “To each his own”, “Mind your own beeswax” and “March to the beat of one’s own drum.”

Đau thương thân lành tiếc của.

Pitying onself when sick, pitying one’s wealth when well.

The meaning is describing how people generally do not value their health until they are sick. This is similar to “Don’t take your health for granted” (taking someone or something for granted is assuming that you will always have him/her/it without doing anything).

Hay học thì sang, hay làm thì có.

Those who study will live in luxury, those who work will have [wealth].

The meaning is focus on study and work will be rewarded. This is equivalent to “Money does not grow on trees” (i.e., money is earned) and “The slack hand impoverishes, but the busy hand brings riches.”

Ăn ngay nói thật.

Eating straight speaking truth.

The meaning is be honest. This follows the pattern of combining the 2nd and 4th words together for the meaning (ngay thật / straight truth). This comes from “Ăn ngay nói thật, mọi tật mọi lành / Eating straight speaking truth, all bad all good” (i.e., be honest about your strengths and weaknesses). This is equivalent to “Open and aboveboard” (i.e., aboveboard refers to hands above the playing table).