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Thai Language: Basic Thai Phrases and Thai Words.
Why are you writing about Thai Language?
Living in rural Thailand where the majority of spoken English extends to 'Yes', 'No' and 'You' has been the inspiration here. As you can imagine communication was to say the least, difficult! With perseverance and a drive to learn Thai, a sizeable amount of language was mastered in short space of time. Outlined here are Thai phrases, Thai sayings and Thai words that are used in everyday conversation. Perfect for first time travellers to Thailand!
An Introduction to Learning Thai Language
Thai language can be very difficult for Europeans to learn, mainly because it is a tonal language. In basic terms, the same word with the same spelling has a number of different meanings when spoken in a different tone. Thai language has 5 tones. This isn't explored in detail here. However, as an example the word ‘Kaao’ (pronounced cow) can mean either rice, white, news, knee and beard when spoken in a different tone! Don’t let this put you off learning Thai, just be aware of it.
When testing your limited vocabulary you may find Thai people struggling to understand! However, show patience (a highly respected virtue in Thailand), persist, use a few hand gestures and speak slowly. I can almost guarantee you’ll achieve a mutual understanding...eventually. The people very much appreciate your effort and you may just make some friends along the way too. Great!
In Thai language speech differs between the sexes. This is one of the first things you’ll notice when you hear locals nattering at the market. ‘Krap’ and ‘ka’ are used by males and females respectively. Sometimes it'll literally be every other word! This is just a way of showing politeness, honour and respect. As a rule I’d suggest to always you do the same too. You’ll get instant brownie points and find people willing to help you, especially in tourist areas. Perfect when haggling for that brand name knock off your after!
Would a video tutorial be useful here?
Thai Phrases in English: Greetings and Everyday Words
Enough waffle, let's take you through some basic Thai phrases and everyday stuff. *Note, 'Pom/Chan' is used to say 'I' for males and females respectively. See example below.
Hello/Good bye - Sawas dee krap
How are you? - Sabai dee mai krap?
Fine/good - Sabai Sabai krap
Good Bye - Lagorn krap
My name is - (Male/Female)Pom/Chan Chue….
What’s your name - Kuhn chue arai krap?
Thank you (very much) - Khob kuhn (mak) Krap.
It’s Ok, Don’t worry, never mind, it doesn’t matter - Mai pen rai.
Yes/No - Chai/Mai Chai.
Calm down - Jai yen yen
Basic Thai Phrases: ‘W’ Questions.
Handy Thai sayings I found most useful and I would suggest to learn before arriving in Thailand – include ‘W’ question’s. In some sentence structures, Thai words are placed in reverse order compared to many European languages. When creating ‘where’ sentences for example, ‘Yoo nai’ is used at the end of the sentence.
Where? - ‘Yoo ni ?’ or ‘Tee nai?’
- Where is the toilet? - Hong nam yoo nai krap?
- Where is 7eleven? - 7 Eleven yoo nai Krap?
- Where is Mike? - Mike yoo nai Krap?
- Where is the beach? - Chay haad yoo nai?
What? - Arai na Krap?
- Again please - Eek krang krap.
- One more time please - Eek neung krap.
- What time is it? - We laa tou ri krap?
When? - Mua rai Krap?
Why? - Tam mai Krap?
Who? - Krai Krap?
Thai Phrases pop quiz!
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Useful Thai Phrases.
*When one asks a question, or is being questioned the term ‘Mai’ is often used at the end of the sentence. For example;
Pai mai? - will/want to go?
Example: Pai cinema mai?
Aw mai? - you want?
Example: Aw beer mai?
Roo/Roo jak mai? - you know?
Example: Roo jak Mike mai?
Mee mai? - you have?
Example: Mee 50 baht mai?
Dai mai? - can you?
Example: Shuay Dai mai? (Help)
* In negative response to these questions the answers are quite straightforward. If you do not want or not agree with the question, the negative is simply ‘Mai’ (no) . When applying this to the above questions, simply swap the structure of the question, ‘Mai pai’ (not go), ‘Mai aw’ (not want), ‘Mai roo’ (don’t know) ‘Mai mee’ (don’t have) ‘Mai dai’ (cannot), depending on the question.
*The positive response is even easier. You can other say ‘Chai’ (yes), or simply use the word used in the question singularly – ‘Pai’ (go), ‘Aw’(want), ‘Roo’ (know), ‘Mee’ (have), ‘Dai’ (can), depending on the question.
Very Useful Thai Phrases: Relationships
Many Thais are open and can be very direct with their questions! These might seem intrusive as common western etiquette would perceive, but there is no harm or malice intended. It’s is just another cultural contrast here.
I've often been asked about my salary by people who I’ve only just met, amongst other outrageous questions I wont mention here. This is standard practice in Thailand, but may seem rude to a westerner. My advice is; try not to get offended, certainly don’t get angry and just go with the flow. Embrace the cultural differences and maybe fire some seemingly taboo questions in the other direction! Thais love the banter and joking around.
You are (very) beautiful! - Kuhn suay (mak)!
You are (very) handsome! - kuhn lor (mak)!
You have beautiful eyes! - Tar kuhn suay!
Come home with me?! - Glap ban kap pom mai?!
Do you have a boyfriend/Girlfriend? - Kuhn mee fan mai krap?
I love you - Chan ruk Kuhn!
You are lovely! - Kuhn narak!
I miss you - Pom/Chan (male/female) kit teung kuhn
I will miss you - Pom/Chan (male/female) ja kit teung kuhn
Kiss kiss - jub jub
Go with you - Pai dui
Kor ber? - Can I have your number?
Bargaining. Getting the Price Right
Bartering can be a lot of fun in Thailand. If you know a bit of lingo you may just get the price you want! There’s a fine line however between bargaining, being stingy or just downright rude! As a rule I’d say half the price they offer, then meet somewhere in the middle when both parties are happy.
How much? - Tou rai krap?/Gee baht krap?
Can you discount price? - Lod raka dai mai krap?
Expensive! - Paeng!
England is cheaper! - Angrid thook gwaa!
Thook - Cheap
I want/I don’t want it thanks. - Aw Krap/mai aw krap
Thank you - Kob kuhn krap.
Thai Numbers in English
These numbers have been written as you would say them. Many might not be the correct spelling as a translation may suggest. Pronunciation of Thai word is new subject all together with many rules, and subtleties. These may be explored in a later hub, if I ever find the time.
1 – Neung
2 – Song
3 – Sarm
4 – See
5 – Ha
6 – Hock
7 – Jet
8 – Beht
9 – Gow
10 – Sip
11 – Sip Ed
12 – Sip Song
13 – Sip Sarm
14 – Sip See
15 – Sip Ha
16 – Sip Hock
17 – Sip Jet
18 – Sip Beht
19 – Sip Gow
20 – Yee Sip
21 – Yee Sip ed
30 - Sarm Sip
And so on.
100 – Neung Roi
1000 - Neung Pan
10,000 - Neung Meun
100,000 - Neung Sen
1,000,000 - Neung Lan
Hopefully something here was useful to you today. If you are interested about Thailand, you may find my other hubs useful.