Telling Time in Thai


The basics

If you haven’t seen the video yet, I’m learning Thai using the Pimsleur Approach.

Right now the topic is “time,” and I’m finding it very hard to understand without visual aids. …so I’ve put down the Pimsleur to do some research.

Here are the most confusing parts I’ve found. Instead of breaking the day down into 2 parts–AM and PM–Thais break the day into 5 parts. That’s not confusing enough, though, so they have gone and thrown in another degree of difficulty–sometimes the numerals start over.

For example, to say 6 PM you say “6 in the afternoon.” To say 7 PM you say, “1 in the evening.” You don’t start the numerals over, though, for each of the 5 parts of the 24 hour cycle–just one of them!

Other than that, it’s pretty straight forward. Here is what I’ve learned!

credit speakout languages

The AM Hours

This first clock covers the AM hours, from midnight to 11:59 AM. In this 12 hour period, the day is broken into 2 parts (3 if you count the “midnight hour”).

From 12:00 am to 12:59 am, you say the word for midnight (เที่ยงคืน) + the number of minutes that have past (numerals) + the Thai word for minutes นาที (naathee). So, for example, we would say เที่ยงคืน (thilang kheuun) + 45 + นาที (naathee). Or, with the numbers…

thilang kheuun + si sip ha + naathee

Download and Print a LARGE version of This Chart for Free (just right click here and choose “save as”).

Thai Time AM

Now look at the numbers from 1 am to 5 am. You’ll notice that they all start with a the character and are followed by the numbers (in ). We say…

+ + minutes + นาที (insert the appropriate numerals where the words “hours” and “minutes” appear). Also, after saying the minutes, add the Thai word for “minutes,” which is นาที (naathee).

For example, if it’s 3:22 AM you would say…

+ + + naathee …which is, + + yi sip song + naathee.

Now look at 6 am and notice that the blue and red characters have changed places. From 6:00 AM to 11:59 AM you say the number first. In this case it’s the number six or, หก, in Thai. Then, after we say the number, we say the time marker, which from 6 am to 11:59 am is โมง. So, it’s…

 + mohng + minutes + naathee

So, 6:10 PM would be… + mohng + + naathee

The PM Hours in Thai

Now we’ve come full circle–to noon. Noon, as you can see on the chart is เที่ยง. …so from 12:01 PM to 12:59 PM we say

เที่ยง + minutes + นาที

Download and Print a LARGE version of This Chart for Free (just right click here and choose “save as”).

Thai Time PM

At 1 PM we make a change. Notice now that  the numeral (in ) is in the middle. From 1 PM to 3:59 PM we use…

+ () + + (minutes) + นาที

From 5 PM to 6:59 PM we change to… () + โมงเย็น + (minutes) + นาที

So, for example, 5:10 PM would be…  + โมงเย็น + + นาที

From 7:00 PM to 11:59 PM things get a little crazy. Instead of saying the number “7,” like it seems we should, we start at “1” and go up from there. So, 7 PM is NOT + . Instead…

7 PM is…1 + 

And at 8 PM we say “” + .

At 9 PM we say “” +

It’s… () +  + (minutes) + นาที

So, to say 7 PM we say neung + .

To say 7:10 PM we say neung +  + + naathee.

To say 8 PM we say sohng + .

And 8:10 PM is sohng + + + nanthee.

If it’s confusing to read all that and understand what’s going on, just download and print the clocks. I think it’s much easier to look at the pictures than understand a written explanation!

Did you like this explanation of Thai time? If so, please do me a huge favor and hit the share buttons below. Thanks for your support!

P.S. I’m still learning this myself, so if you find any mistakes, or if have any suggestions for improvement, please put them in the comments below.

P.S.S. If the clock visuals aren’t doing it for you, this is another great visual you can use.

Update: I got some great new vocabulary words from my thread in Reddit…

User Tabmit says…

At the half hour people use krueng (ครึ่ง) so seep mong kreung is 10:30am. (EDIT If you add minutes after a morning time, then you don’t use chao.) Finally, it’s very common to hear gwaa (กว่า), which means “just a little more”, after an hour. So, seep mong gwaa = just after 10am.

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