Basic Thai Vocabulary Lesson

boy-hello-thai-languageThis is a basic Thai lesson that will help your vacation be more enjoyable as you can interact with Thais using their language. At least you can try!

Thais take their time to be polite with each other, you should too. Males use “Krup” which sounds more like “kup”, and females use “Ka” at the end of nearly every sentence to be polite.

In the examples below I will use “krup” since I’m a man. Substitute “ka” for “krup” where you see it below if you are a woman.

There are five tones that make the Thai language a bit difficult to grasp at first. If you’re in Bangkok or southern Thailand they tend not to use the tones as much as they do in the north and northeast regions. You will be understood more in these places. Tones are very difficult to teach without sound, so I will have another Thai lesson on tones with sound clips coming shortly.

Lastly, Thais don’t aspirate the last sound in their words. What that means is when you say something like “krup”, there is no “pa” sound for the “p” like we would enunciate in English. Instead the Thais close their mouths for the ‘p’ sound and that’s it, no ‘pa’ and release of air. Practice saying all words without the aspiration on the last sound.

On the right side of each vocabulary word is an approximate pronunciation. If you’re using American English you’ll probably read it and pronounce it correctly. I’ve put tips in parenthesis to clarify.

Basic Opposites

  • Hello – sawat dtee krup
  • Good Bye – sawat dtee krup
  • Yes – chy kup
  • No – my chy kup or just, my krup. By putting “my” in front of nearly anything you can create a negative.
  • Correct – chai krup
  • Incorrect – my chy krup
  • Woman – poo ying
  • Man – poo chy
  • Left – sy
  • Right – kwah
  • Large – yi (long i sound)
  • Small – lek
  • Fast – lay o (long o sound)
  • Slow – Cha Cha
  • Have, there is – Mee
  • Don’t have, there isn’t – my mee
  • Feel fine – sa by
  • Don’t feel good – my sa by
  • I know – pom roo or pom loo
  • I don’t know – pom my roo or pom my loo

Other Basic Words

  • To go – ow bpy
  • Speak – poodt
  • Funny, fun – sanook
  • Friend – pew-un
  • Maybe – bahng tee
  • Restroom – hong naam
  • Shower – ab naam
  • Again – eek
  • Sorry – kar todt krup
  • I am an American – pom kon uhmerigun krup
  • Thai language – pasa Thai
  • English language – pasa ungrit
  • Never mind – my pen ry often sounds like, may buh ly

Wants

  • I want – ow
  • Do you want? – ow my? When using my at the end it acts as a question, like “You want, no?”
  • Do you want to see a movie – by doo nung my?
  • Shopping – shopping
  • I want to rent a car – yaak rote chow kup (long o in rote, chow sounds like the italian “ciaobella”
  • I want to rent a motorbike – yaak rote moto-sy chow krup

Food (a hahn)

  • Eat – gin (g as in go)
  • Drink – doo-eum
  • Hungry – hue (long u)
  • Water – naam
  • Hot water – naam ron or naam lon
  • Cold water – naam yen
  • Ice – naam kang
  • Salt – glue-uh (long u in glue, short in uh)
  • Rice – kowl
  • Sticky rice – kowl nee ow
  • Fried rice with pork – kowl pad moo
  • Fried rice with chicken – kowl pad gy
  • Fried rice with shrimp – kowl pad goong
  • Spicy (with peppers) – pet
  • Not spicy – my pet
  • Snack / desert – ka nom
  • Delicious – aloy or aroy if you can roll your r’s.
  • My stomach is full – im lao

Places

  • Bathroom / Toilet – hong naam
  • Where is the toilet? – hong naam yoo tee ny krup?
  • Hotel – rong ram – if you roll your r’s you’ll have more people understand you.
  • Store – ron
  • Restaurant – ron a hahn
  • Airport – sa naam bin
  • Train – rote fy (long o)
  • Bus – rote may (long o and a)
  • Taxi – taak see
  • Post Office – post or, tee tahm gahn bpry sa nee

There are hundreds of books you can choose from to help you learn Thai language but here is the best dictionary I’ve found for learning Thai, “Robertson’s Practical English-Thai Dictionary.” Thai Audio courses like Pimsleur Thai Learning Course and interactive language lessons online are highly effective.

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