tiếng meaning "language" is often used in compound words (eg. tiếng Anh "English") rather than as a free morpheme, similar to the the Chinese 文 (SV: văn) and 語 (SV: ngữ). The latter two are sometimes used in a Sino-Vietnamese manner (eg. Pháp văn "French", Hoa ngữ "Chinese"). If one wishes to refer to "language" as a standalone term in formal contexts, ngôn ngữ is used instead. In informal contexts, one may use for instance ba thứ tiếng to mean "three languages".
The word âm is used instead of tiếng to mean a sound made by a television set, a radio, or another device that imitates or reproduces the sounds of other objects. Âm is also used in phonetics.
tiếng meaning "hour" is used in casual speech to refer to a duration, to avoid confusion with giờ. giờ is used to refer to either a duration or a time in formal context (for example, năm giờ means either "five hours" or "five o'clock"). One may also use tiếng đồng hồ or giờ đồng hồ to refer to a duration.