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Basic Conversation


If you HAVE NOT glanced at the preamble you'll be confused 
(trust me, I know)..
and remember...... Phonetic spelling of Thai words differs between authors so let that  distract you, stay positive and keep reminding yourself how much you have learnt... stay focused to the immediate task... "learn the basics!"

after you fly through this lesson you can tackle online language with sound.....


Greet people and politeness

The Wai


To add a note of politeness to your comment/question, or as an affirmative response add a special word to the end of sentences.

Men say krup    Women  say kaa Or when you are talking on the phone, and being an active listener, use the word "krup" or "ka" like you would use "yeah" or "uh-huh" in English. Unlike in many romance languages, it doesn't matter who you are talking to, only if you are male or female.

You don't have to use these words for every sentence, but the more you say it the more politeness you offer

by the way .... a Man or Male is Poo-Chai  and a Lady or Female is Poo-Ying

To say "hello".... Men say sa-wat-dee krup                 Women say sa-wat-dee kaa
You will hear the word "sawatdee" a lot while in Thailand. It means "hello". There are proper words for "good morning" and "good afternoon" but you will hear sawadee far more often. There is also a proper word for "goodbye", ("la-gon") but again, most Thai people will just say sawadee!
To say "goodbye".... say    la-gon
To say "how are you?"....             sa-bai-dee mai    men add the word (krup)      Women add the word (kaa)  
                                                                                                    or     sa-bai-dee reuu     and add Krup or Kaa 
Example answers:
to return a "yes" answer, you can say "sa-bai-dee"  or less formal slangish of "chai" (chai=yes)
to return a "No" answer you can say "mai sa-bai-dee" or "the less formal and slangish word "mai" (mai=No) ...
The word "mai" is very dynamic.  It has many tones because it has many meanings. When used as a prefix it reverses the meaning of a word and when said after a word it acts as a question mark seeking an answer... instead of saying yes or no thai's often repeat the question word as a yes (se example above) otherwise they use the word "Mai" with appropriate tone to mean No... ha ha ha you need to study the tone

ไม่  maiF not; no
ใหม่  maiL [is] new; modern; fresh
ไหม  maiR [word added at the end of a statement to indicate a question]
ไหม้  maiF to burn
and don't forget to add the male or female politeness Krup or Kaa  

Thai Language

Introduction includes online lessons with sound and Print a survival travel pak
To say "thank you"....       korp koon  +     (krup)  or (Kaa)
Really, Thai people don't say "thank you" as often as people using Western languages. It would sound a little strange if you thank the Thai shop assistant for your change!

To say "never mind"....  mai ben rai +     (krup)  or (Kaa)
Mai ben rai is another phrase you will hear often. It is the Australian version of "no worries". It should be your automatic response to a "thank you".

To say "excuse me".... say  kor tod....  krup  /   kaa
You can say kor tod when you have made a mistake and are asking for forgiveness or if you need to push through a crowd.

  More details in our Travel  Pack 

Talking about yourself 

to introduce yourself and say where you come from, and how to say you don't understand and that you have only learned a little Thai so far!

you learned about the polite particle (krup for men and kaa for women) which is tagged onto the end of sentences to make them polite.  In this lesson, you will see also that men and women have different words for saying "I" or "me".

  Men say  pom              Women say   di-charn        

You might hear some people use their own name instead of saying these words. Also, some women might just say charn in less formal situations.

To introduce yourself.... Men say pom chue david      krup                    Women say di-charn chue marlene  kaa

To ask someone their name....    Say koon chue a-rai  krup  /   kaa

The word a-rai means "what?". You might hear it being used like "pardon me" when someone didn't understand what you just said. To make it sound polite, you should add "na" to the end of the phrase: a-rai na.

The word koon is a polite way of saying "you". It is also used in front of first names instead of saying "Mr." or "Mrs.". So, if you met a Thai person called Pim, you could address her as Koon Pim which will make you sound very polite and proper.

To say where you come from.... Men say pom jaak australia   krup             Women say di-chun jaak australia  kaa

To say   do you understand....      Say khao jai mai         +     krup  /   kaa
Here, mai is a question word so it has a rising tone.  

To say  don't understand....       mai khao jai         +     krup  /   kaa
remember the simple  Mai at the begging reverses the meaning of the following word.. so in the example is shows we do not understand 

To say  you understand....          khao jai          +     krup  /   kaa
     if you want to be more specific and say "I understand"  it would mean men say "phom khao Jai krup" and women say "di-chaarn khao jai Kaa"

To ask  if they speak English....           poot pa-sa ang-grit dai mai         

Again, mai has a rising tone as it is a question word. The phrase "dai mai" is also useful for asking people if they can do something. To answer "yes I can" just say "dai" and to answer "no I cannot" just say "mai dai".

The word "pas-sa" means language, so "pa-sa tai" means "Thai" and "pa-sa ang-grit" means "English".

To say you can a little....       Say dai nit noi            Say dai nit noi
In some phrase books, you might see "I can speak a little Thai" translated as "phom poot pa-sa tai dai nit noi". This is correct but long winded. If someone asks if you can speak Thai, just reply "dai nit noi" or even just "nit noi".   



to count in Thai is quite easy. After you have learned about 15 words you can count to a million!
Counting 1 - 10    zero = soon1 = neung,  2 = song, 3 = sam,  4 = see,  5 = haa *,   6 = hok,  7 = jed, 8 = bad,  9 = gow *,  10 = sib/sip
* You will notice that these two numbers have a distinct tone to the others. They both have a rising tone.

Counting 11 - 19 is quite easy. All you have to do is say "10-2", "10-3", "10-4" in Thai.
11 = sib-et,         12 = sib-song,    13 = sib-sam,    14 = sib-see,   15 = sib-haa, 
16 = sib-hok,      17 = sib-jed,       18 = sib-bad,      19 = sib-gow,    20 = yee-sib

Did you see that "10-1" is "sib-et" and not "sib neung"?   You will also notice that "20" is "yee sib" and not "song sib". The rest of the numbers, 30, 40, 50, 60... are more logical!

Counting 21 - 30 is also now quite easy.
21 = yee-sib-et,      22 = yee-sib-song,   23 = yee-sib-sam,  
24 = yee-sib-see, 25 = yee-sib-haa
26 = yee-sib-hok,   27 = yee-sib-jed,      28 = yee-sib-bad,    29 = yee-sib-gow, 30 = sam-sib

Slang for the "20's" is slightly different. It is best you don't use these words yourself until you are fluent, but you might hear them. Number 21 is "yib-et", 22 is "yib-song", 23 is "yib-sam" etc.   To continue by yourself is now quite easy. So, 31 will be "sam-sib-et", 32 will be "sam-sib-song" etc.

Counting 40 - 1,000,000
40 = see-sib,      50 = haa-sib,  60 = hok-sib,  70 = jed-sib,  80 = bad-sib,  90 = gow-sib, 
100 = neung roi, 
1000 = neung pun,    10,000 = neung meun,   100,000 = neung saen,   1 million = neung laen

The currency (money) value equivalent to Aussie is
cents = satung or sutung       dollars = baht



To say "How much?"....  Say  thao rai    ... krup or kaa

You might also hear this which literally means "how many baht"      Say gee baht      Say gee baht

To say "expensive"..       Say  paeng ...  Krup or Kaa      To say "cheap"..      Say took ... Krup or Kaa
To ask to reduce the price.... Say lot ra-ka noi dai mai   .. krup or kaa                      If the shopkeeper likes you, she will reply "dai", if not, she will reply "mai dai".

tell the time

ok...  number were easy but time is not so easy to do as the thai have 4 x 6 hour clocks ...   so it's easyier to use 24hour clock times .. see below

To ask "What is the time?".... Say gee mo-ong laew ... krup or kaa
This literally means "how many hours already?"

From dusk to dawn
7 p.m. = neung toom    8 p.m. = song toom   9 p.m. = sam toom  10 p.m. = see toom  11 p.m. = haa toom 12 a.m. = tian keun
1 a.m. = dtee neung     2 a.m. = dtee song    3 a.m. = dtee sam     4 a.m. = dtee see      5 a.m. = dtee haa  6 a.m. = hok mong chao

For most Thai people, 7 p.m. is one o'clock! If a Thai person speaks to you in English and says he wants to meet you at 4 o'clock, check whether it is 4 p.m. or 10 p.m.! 

Daylight hours.
  7 a.m. = jed mong chao          8 a.m. = bad mong chao          9 a.m. = gow mong chao    10 a.m. = sib mong chao 
11 a.m. = sib-et mong chao   12 p.m. = tiang

  1 p.m. = bai mong            2 p.m. = bai song mong    3 p.m. = bai sam mong   
  4 p.m. = see mong yen    5 p.m. = ha mong yen      6 p.m. = hok mong yen

For Thai people, evening (yen meaning cold) starts at 4 p.m. Example times...
7.30 a.m. = jed mong kreung                8.45 a.m. = bad mong see-sib haa     12.15 p.m. = tiang sib-haa
2.20 p.m. = bai song mong yee-sib     5.40 p.m. = ha mong see-sib                  7.50 p.m. = neung toom ha-sib

Official 24 hour clock is used at train stations and airports...
06:00 = hok na-li-ga         08:35 = bad na-li-ga sam-sib haa na-tee    13:17 = sib-sam na-li-ga sib-jed na-tee
15:00 = sib-ha na-li-ga    23.42 p.m. = yee-sib sam na-li-ga see-sib song na-tee

The word "na-li-ga" means clock or hour hand and "na-tee" means minutes.

More details in our Travel  Pack 

get around town

To ask where something is.... Say ...yoo tee nai    .. krup or kaa

Some places you might want to find
bus station = sa-ta-nee rot may           train station = sa-ta-nee rot fai          museum = pi-pi-ta-pan
temple = wat                                          hotel = rong ram                                 post office = prai-sa-nee
restaurant = lan a-han                          hospital = rong pa-ya-ban
Say the name of the place first, then "...yoo tee nai".

To ask if it is far.... Say ...glai mai     If it is far, they will reply "glai". If it isn't, they will say "mai glai".

More details in our Travel  Pack 

a taxi or tuk tuk driver

 To ask to go somewhere...    Say pom yaak ja bai.....  (male)           Say di-chun yaak ja bai   (female)
Really, you can shorten this to just "bai xxx dai mai?". The word "bai" means "go". You have already met "dai mai" which is a useful phrase to use when asking someone if you can do something. As before, "dai" means yes you can and "mai dai" means no you cannot!

Useful phrases
over there = yoo noon    go straight = bai dtrong    on the left = taang sai   
on the right = taang kwaa   turn left = lee-o sai   turn right = lee-o kwaa

To ask to go to an address written down.... Say prod par pom bai tee yoo nee   +  krap or Kaa 
Again, you can just shorten this to "bai tee nee dai mai krap/ka". The word "tee nee" means here and you should point to a map or address when you say that!

Too ask for the fare         Say ra-kaa tao-rai ...  krup or kaa
Like most Thai phrases, you can shorten this to just "tao-rai krap/ka"! Don't forget, in a tuk tuk the fare is negotiable and if in a taxi, make sure you see them turn on the meter.

To ask to reduce the fare.... Say lot ra-kaa noi dai mai ...   krup or kaa
Adding the word "noi" makes this request seem more polite. It really means "a little". This is a good phrase for you to use when shopping. If he won't reduce the price, he will probably say "mai dai".

To ask the driver to stop the taxi.... Say yoot dtong nee ..  krup or kaa
Really, you can shorten this to just "yoot tee nee" which means "stop here".

Food Shopping 

Who", "where", "why", "when" "what" in the meantime see our Travel Pack 


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