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Common Thai Expressions – Learn Colloquial Thai Phrases

One of the best ways to learn Thai is when related material is clustered together in easy accessible chunks, like it was in our earlier language post about Thai Heart Words. In this lesson, you are going to learn 40 of the most common Thai expressions — that is, useful colloquial Thai phrases, many of which that are often not included in popular learn Thai language books or websites.

These common Thai expressions will quickly help you down the path of speaking more like a native Thai and less like a Thai dictionary or phrasebook. The colloquial Thai phrases included in the below are a mixture of expressions you could hear in a professional setting, on the streets, or when visiting villagers in the rural Sakon Nakhon countryside.

Colloquial Thai phrases and expressions are especially tricky to learn, even when learning Thai from a professional source. All too often, Thai-English language teachers and authors get tripped up by either the nuances of the Thai phrase or the English equivalent. These teachers thus provide translations that are not quite accurate. For example, many people have translated the English expression No Way! into Thai as mâi mee thahng (not have way). Because they have translated the English expression literally, they have missed the nuance, which is that No Way! is used to show shock and surprise. One correct equivalent expression in Thai would be Dtòk-jai leuy ná nîa! which incorporates the Thai word for shocked, followed by three Thai particles.

In the Common Thai Expressions flipbook below, you’ll learn how to use such Thai particles correctly. Organized by the equivalent English expression, each colloquial Thai phrase is written phonetically and in the Thai script. This is followed by a literal English translation of the expression and a Thai language note covering such areas as particle usage, pronouns, root words, and similar sounding words.

The Thai particles used in this book have been separated into the following categories: softener, emphasis, encourager, and question. They often can not be directly translated into English. When such particles appear in the sample sentences, they are transcribed in the literal English translations inside parentheses as: (soften), (emph.), (urge), and (question). Below you will find 10 sample Thai expressions from the book, followed by a flip book which you can browse or download.

Good luck in your endeavor to learn Thai. The benefits of learning the language and being able to get out and explore Thailand Off the Beaten Track will make the effort well worth your while.

 

Top 10 Thai Expressions

1. Busted!

Jàp dâi láeo (จับ ได้ แล้ว)

lit. caught can already

*The word jàp (จับ) is used when someone is caught doing something wrong, as well as to refer to when someone is arrested.

 

2. Come on…  (as when urging someone to do something)

Bpai thùh* nâh. (ไป เถอะ น่า)

lit. go (urge) (soften)

*A similar particle to thùh (เถอะ) is hùh (เหอะ). Both are used when encouraging someone to do something.

 

3. Cheer up!

Râh-ruhng* khâo wái! (ร่าเริง เข้า ไว้)

lit. cheerful enter keep

râh-ruhng (ร่าเริง) cheerful = râh (ร่า) joyfully + ruhng (เริง) lively

 

4. Damnit!

Seng* jing. (เซ็ง จริง)

lit. extremely bored truly

*The word seng differs from the common Thai word bèua (เบื่อ), meaning bored, in that seng combines a feeling of strong irritation with boredom.

 

5. Exactly!

Châi leuy*! (ใช่ เลย)

lit. yes (emph.)

*In addition to being an article that lends emphasis to a thought, the word leuy (เลย) also means to pass through.

 

6. Forget it.

Châhng* man thùh (ช่าง มัน เถอะ)

lit. let go it (urge)

The word châhng (ช่าง) is also an adverb, meaning indeed/truly, and a noun, meaning a technician/mechanic. Not to be confused with cháhng (ช้าง), which means elephant.

 

7. Go ahead.

Ao* leuy. (เอา เลย)

lit. take (emph.)

*The word ao (เอา) can mean both take and want.

 

8. Good idea!

Kwahm-khít* dee dee (ความคิด ดีๆ)

Lit. idea good good

*The word kwahm (ความ) is placed before verbs to turn them into nouns. In this case it is placed before the verb khít (คิด), meaning think.

 

9. Hurry up!

Réo réo sì! (เร็วๆ สิ)

lit. fast fast (urge)

*Note that younger Thais will sometimes replace the particle with the slang variation dì (ดิ).

 

10. I give up!

Chăn* yawm-pháe! (ฉัน ยอมแพ้)

lit. I surrender

 

Special thanks to LivingHour.org for allowing us to re-publish this resource of colloquial Thai phrases. You can download the free e-book here: Learn Common Thai Expressions.