Thailand Tips #9: Krup, Kup, KUPITYKUP & Ka

If you’re trying to learn Thai you’re probably heard it said that you should put Krup or Kup on the end of everything you say as a man, or as a woman, use “Ka”.

USE IT! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard foreigners blurting out poor Thai without kup at the end of it. Thai culture is based on respect for the other people you’re interacting with. Even if a Thai can’t stand the other person he/she is cordial to them, smiling, and saying kup or ka a lot.

When you speak without ever using the polite phrase in your speech then it says something about you.

1. You don’t care enough to use it.

2. You didn’t learn it, so probably you learned from someone in society that didn’t use it themselves.

Either way – it’s impolite and says something about you that you probably don’t want to say about yourself. Use “kup” and “ka” often and you’ll get more respect from Thai people.

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

5 thoughts on “Thailand Tips #9: Krup, Kup, KUPITYKUP & Ka”

  1. Question: Should I use krup at the end of every sentence? Statements and questions alike? Can I over-krup?

    Also, I took Japanese as a foreign language in high school and i found it to be extremely enjoyable and not nearly as difficult as you’d think. In fact, I found it a million times easier than both Spanish and French.

    1. Well, you CAN overuse Krup. I figure if I tell you (and Thais must figure the same thing) to say it everytime – every sentence – you’ll say it half the sentences – and that’s pretty OK. Most Thais use it 30-70% of the time when speaking with strangers they want to be respectful with. To each other as friends they use it 20-40% maybe?

      That’s interesting about learning Japanese. I may be doing that same thing soon. I have 3 yrs HighSchool spanish and 2 years university. I know LOTS of vocab… but never tried much to speak it and consider myself as having a language acquisition deficit. Thai is not difficult once the vocabulary jumps a lot. I’ve not tried to learn new words for 2 years. I can speak basic conversations. Better with conversations where I’m directing the topic…

  2. I have a tendancy not to use the word krup myself.. maybe because I’m usually older than everyone around me and they won’t care so much. When I’m talking to someone older than me, like Buddha :-), then I krup the heck out of them. I try and tell my Thai friends, that if they had used roman letters, a b c etc., most of us farangs could learn their language easier. But having to learn their chicken scratches alphabet, is pretty much not my cup of tea.

  3. Given the fact that the Thai education system teaching english in the schools for over 20 years once you get outside of the Tourist Areas a very small percentage of Thai’s can actually speak English.

    One of the reasons that Thais have trouble with english is they are worried that they will say something wrong and offend and because of this they dont practice with native english speakers.

    I think that most Thais understand that learning a new language is hard, if it where easy they would all be fluent by now and the fact that you are trying to learn Thai is a huge mark of respect in and of itself, and that it is appreciated by Thai people far more than correct grammar.

    If your trying to learn Thai just smile and say what you can and have fun most Thais have been in your shoes using english and they will understand

    Ignore old sticks in the mud like Vern he probably cant speak more than phrasebook thai anyway haha

    1. Over time I’ve actually lost a lot of Thai. When I first arrived I was in Isaan and it pays to know a lot of conversational Thai. Was great fun talking to people there when I finally was figuring it out well enough for them to understand me. Over the last 3 years I’ve spoken less to Thais and have maybe 1000 word vocab that I use up pretty quickly if talking more than 30 minutes or so… lol. I’m considering learning Japanese which I think is going to be MUCH easier…

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