Free Thai lessons on language and culture should be fun. After all, Thailand is the Land of Smiles. However, if you have spent a bit of time with Learn Thai language books, you’ll probably have gotten a bit bored with the same old sentences again and again (even though they are very useful). So, we have created the following fun and free Thai Langauge & Culture lessons to supplement your Thai learning.
These 30 fun Thai lessons are a great way to get started learning about Thailand. They will not only help you better understand the Thai language and Thai grammar, but also help you better understand Thai culture, so that you can navigate your days in Thailand with less trouble, whether you are a tourist or expat. For additional online lessons, visit: Learn Thai Language and Culture.
If you are someone known as a “hugger,” then you are going to go through some serious withdrawals living in the Land of Smiles. Hugs in Thailand are ordinarily performed only between parents and young children or between lovers.
Just as innocent games of chance are seen in as being the first step on a slippery slope towards a life of gambling, a hug between adults is often viewed in Thailand as the first step towards an inappropriate sexual relationship — be it an affair or something incestuous. In other words, morality and self-control are not things that Thai society believes most people possess to any large degree.
It’s important to note that many Thais don’t buy into this slippery slope argument at all, and wish they could play a leisurely game of gin rummy in public, or welcome their close friends with a nice hug and peck on the cheek. However, they feel compelled to follow traditional Thai customs and maintain the appearance of being rîap rói (เรียบร้อย) or proper.
When it comes to hugging in Thailand, there are some cracks appearing in the cultural facade. Wealthier and better educated Thais, who often have traveled abroad to countries where hugging is commonplace, understand that hugging can be a wonderful and innocent expression of affection that is good for the body and soul. Within this class in Thailand, hugs among adult Thai friends and family are slowly appearing. But they still remain rare.
Thailand (and the world in general) could use a lot more hugs. So, if you are willing to throw caution to wind and break Thailand’s traditional customs, this is one time that we encourage it. Here’s how to say hug in Thai before you shock your Thai friend with an embrace:
Hug v. – gàwt – กอด
Mah née nòi. Khăw phŏm gàwt khun ná.
Come here (soften). Request I hug you (soften).
Come here and let me give you a hug.
Learn Thai Culture Tip: If you aren’t ready to risk opprobrium by hugging your friend in Thailand, then of course the appropriate way to greet them is with the traditional Thai wai. Now, for an English rhyme to help you remember how to say hug in the Thai language. Think about the traditional way that Thai society looks at hugging when memorizing: Don’t get caught when you gàwt!
Let’s learn two Thai words for know. There actually are 3 Thai words for know but we aren’t going to talk about the third one because that’s a more formal word for know and you’ll never have to use it, and likely will never hear it spoken to you.
When saying that you know a person in Thai, you always use the word róo-jàk (รู้จัก), whereas you simply use the word róo (รู้) if you know something. This sounds like a simple Thai language rule to remember. But in practice it is often forgotten.
Know v. – รู้ or รู้จัก – róo or róo-jàk
How do you know that? Are you a fortune teller?
รู้ ได้ ยังไง คุณ เป็น หมอดู หรอ
Róo dâi yang-ngai. Khun bpen măw-doo răw?
[Know able how? You are fortune teller (question)?]
Learn Thai Language Tip: The question particle used in the above Thai lesson is a colloquial variation of the question particle rěu (หรือ). While the Thai question particle หรอ should technically be pronounced răw, it is nearly always pronounced as lăw — as many Thais (especially those from Isaan) have trouble pronouncing the “r” sound. In fact, there is no “r” sound at all in the Isaan Northeastern dialect. The question particle lăw (หรือ) is a whole heck of a lot easier for a farang to pronounce than rěu (หรือ), so go ahead and use it yourself.
Thais are very practical in their word formations. Note that the literal translation of the Thai word for fortune teller (măw-doo) literally means doctor-look.
If you think you need help remember how to say know in Thai, think of Johnny Cash and remember this rhyme: “A Boy Named Sue is a song I róo!”
In this Thai lesson, we are going to learn the Thai expression for “Serves you right” or “You got what you deserve.” This is a Thai expression that often is heard spoken by a Thai wife the morning after her husband has spent the night drinking whiskey and is now sporting a serious hangover in Thailand.
Thai men use the expression less frequently with their wives, for the simple reason that Thai husbands usually try not to aggravate their spouses unnecessarily. Face saving is a well-established fact of life in Thailand, so use today’s Thai expression with the understanding that it may be unwise to rub it in with a Thai lover or friend, and that whenever you do so, it should be good-natured ribbing delivered with a smile.
Serves you right – สมน้ำหน้า – sŏm nám-nâh
The Thai expression for “Serves you right” is composed of two words: sŏm (สม), which means suitable or well-matched, and nám-nâh (น้ำหน้า), which literally means water-face and is a rather insulting way to refer to someone’s appearance.
Since we are on the subject of Thai expressions, here is one more you might want to use to compliment the Thai expression for serves you right: Khâh bàwk láeo ngai (ข้าบอกแล้วไง), which means “I told you so!”
If you are looking for something romantic to write on your Thai valentine, then this learn Thai language lesson is for you. Although Valentine’s Day is obviously not a traditional Thai holiday, it has been widely adopted throughout the country. It is all too easy to let the romance slip after being in a relationship for a long time, so Valentine’s Day in Thailand serves as a useful reminder that romance (like variety) is the spice of life and an important part of maintaining a solid relationship with your Thai girlfriend or Thai boyfriend.
A simple Thai valentine’s day card plus a romantic dinner at your favorite Thai restaurant will always be appreciated by your Thai partner. So, let’s get to it and give you a couple of suggestions to write on your Thai valentine on Valentine’s Day in Thailand.
Thai Valentine Message for Lovers
Bàwk rák thuh thóok wan mâi kheuy bèua.
Tell love you every day not ever bored.
I’ll never get tired of telling you I love you.
Yòo dtrong-glahng hŭa-jai chăn nahn nahn ná.
Be in the middle heart me long time long time (soften)
Please stay in my heart always.
Thailand Valentine’s Tip: If you are looking for a Thai Valentine’s Day card in Thailand, you should be able to find them at some of the 7-11 stores around most Thai towns, or you can find Thai Valentine’s Day gifts at many book stores.
Expats who navigate life in Thailand with the least amount of problems and headaches are those who understand that in life there are no guarantees. Benjamin Franklin once said that the only things in life that we can be certain of are death and taxes. And he wasn’t too far off.
Farangs tend to expect guarantees more than Thai people do because of fears of the unknown and the possibility that life might be functioning in entirely random ways — at least on the surface. Traditionally, Thai people have realized that life offers no guarantees. But this is changing as new generations of Thais become more Westernized and seek the comforting illusion of certainty.
Thailand remains a country where one should always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. When taking any course of action, imagine the worst case scenarios. Be prepared mentally, spiritually, and physically to deal with them should lady luck deal you a bad hand. In the meantime, do a Thai friend a favor and remind them to do likewise. They may just thank you for it later.
Guarantee n. – kham-ráp-rawng – คำรับรอง
Mâi mee kham-ráp-rawng dai-dai. Chee-wít gâw bpen bàep née làe.
Not have guarantee anything. Life (joiner) is like this (exactly).
There are no guarantees. That’s the way life is.
Learn Thai Language Tip: The Thai word that we used for guarantee is not the same Thai word for guarantee that you would use if you were asking about whether a product comes with any guarantee. In such situations you would want to use the Thai word gahn-bprà-gan (การประกัน), which means guarantee/insurance.
Now for an English rhyme to help in remember how to say guarantee in Thai: Life is meant for song. There is no kham-ráp-rawng!
Thailand is full of stories of young beautiful Thai women taking advantage of farangs who have become all googly-eyed by their feminine charms. What you don’t hear about is the Thai women who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous men full of empty promises — primarily because abandoned Thai women don’t congregate on Thailand English forums to excoriate their former farang lovers.
Farangs and Thai women take advantage of each other in equal measure in Thailand. But that is not the whole story. There are many Thai women and farangs who don’t take advantage of each other at all — but build solid relationships built on mutual respect and a healthy measure of live and let live. However, you don’t hear much about these relationships either. That is because happy people tend to spend more time living their lives than living a virtual life online.
Today’s learn Thai English lesson is for those farangs who are wooing a Thai woman and want to make it clear that they are sincere in their affections and not a married man looking for a one night stand.
Exploit (Take Advantage) – ao-bprìap – เอาเปรียบ
Phôot jing. Phŏm jà mâi ao-bprìap khun.
Speak truth. I will not take-advantage you.
I’m telling the truth. I’m not going to take advantage of you.
Learn Thai Culture Tip: Just because we have taught you how to say take advantage in Thai does not mean that you won’t be taken advantage of in Thailand. It is often the most sincere farangs who get taken advantage of in the worst ways because they are the most gullible. The key thing to keep in mind is never to rush into any kind of relationship in Thailand: sexual, friendship, or business. Distance equals perspective. Remember that.
Should you unfortunately be taken advantage of in Thailand, we suggest just walking away and reflecting on the lessons learned. But should you feel compelled to speak up, here is how to say, “Damn it! How could you take advantage of me?” Hâi dtai! Khun jà mah ao-bprìap chăn dâi yang-ngai? (ให้ตาย คุณจะมาเอาเปรียบฉันไดยังไง)
The Thai word for forget is leum (ลืม), but that is not what we’ll be teaching in this Thai language lesson. Instead, we are going to teach you the Thai word for forget that is used when you want someone to drop a topic of conversation or an idea that’s in their head — the Thai equivalent for English expressions like forget it; let it go; or it doesn’t matter.
As you start speaking Thai, there will be many times when today’s lesson will come in handy. For example, you may try to say something in the Thai language only to be met with a stare of utter confusion. If this happens, don’t repeat your words louder in frustration, as so many farangs like to do. Volume does not equal clarity. All you are doing is advertising your Thai language fail to everyone within earshot and coming off as aggressive.
If what you are trying to say isn’t of utmost importance (and it rarely is), just say, “Forget it” in Thai. Then make a mental note of it for when you get back home and have access to your Thai language books or online Thai language resources like MySakonNakhon.com.
Forget (Let it Go) – châhng – ช่าง
Châhng hŭa man thùh.
Let-it-go head (emphasis) (urge).
Forget it. It doesn’t matter.
Learn Thai Language Tip: If you want to say “forget it” in Thai, you could shorten the above sentence to châhng thùh. But that expression can sound a little curt to the ear of many Thais. To sound less abrupt, Thais will fill a sentence out with more words as is seen in the lesson above.
Note that the Thai word châhng is similar to the Thai word for elephant cháhng (ช้าง), except that the latter has a high tone, while the former has a falling tone. Use that old English adage “An elephant never forgets” to remember today’s lesson on how to say “forget it” in Thai.
Ready to learn some more Thai language online? Check out our post: How to Flirt in Thai.
This learn Thai lesson is for English teachers in Thailand. Even though at some Thai schools failing students isn’t allowed, your students don’t necessarily know that. Therefore, it is important to know how to say fail in Thai. Because then you can give the slackers a nudge to open their English books.
Knowing how to say fail in Thai is also useful when you want to mess with your entire class after an exam. The look on student faces when you tell them that the entire class has failed is priceless. And such practical jokes are common in Thailand.
Fail v. – sàwp-dtòk – สอบตก
โอเค มีคะแนนสอบ พวกคุณสอบตกกันหมดนะสิ ล้อเล่นนะ
O-khay. Mee khá-naen sàwp. Phûak-khun sàwp-dtòk gan mòt ná-sì! Láw-lên ná!
Okay. Have score test. You-all fail together completely (emphasis). Play-joke (soften).
Okay, I’ve got the test scores. You all have totally failed! Just kidding!
Learn Thai Language Tip: The word for fail in Thai (sàwp-dtòk) actually composed of two words: sàwp, which means test; and dtòk, which means fall or drop. The word for pass in Thai (as it pertains to testing) is likewise composed of two words: sàwp-dâi (สอบได้), the word dâi meaning can.
At the beginning of this post we mentioned that some schools in Thailand do not allow their teachers to fail Thai students. In some Thailand schools, this applies only to the farang teachers of English. If you are concerned about this, then we recommend asking your potential employer what their policy is about failing before accepting a teaching position. Many Thailand schools actually do allow students to be failed, so don’t buy into the idea that the non-fail policy is universal.
If you need an English rhyme to remember how to say pass and fail in Thai, here is a reminder in verse:
No way I’m gonna choke. I won’t sàwp-dtòk. You just gotta try. Then you’ll sàwp-dâi.
Thailand guidebooks and language websites usually teach you how to say “How are you?” in Thai with the existential question “Sà-bai dee măi khráp/khâ” (Are you well?). But since we like to focus on casual spoken Thai language, we are going to teach you how to say “How are you?” in Thai more colloquially.
As with all Thai language usage, you need to pay close attention to the status of the Thai person to whom you are talking and your relationship with them. If you are in a professional setting, you still want to use “Sà-bai dee măi khráp/khâ” when asking someone “How are you?” (unless you are on very friendly terms and they are the same age as you or younger).
The following way to say how are you in Thai is to be used when talking to friends, family, and young Thais in casual situations. If you don’t live in Thailand but frequent a Thai restaurant in your home country, you can feel comfortable saying how are you in Thai with today’s lesson too.
Chûang-née bpen yang-ngai bâhng?
This-period-of-time be how some.
Learn Thai Language Tip: It might seem strange to Thai language learners that the above sentence (which means how’s life or how are you in Thai) ends with the word bâhng, which literally means “some” or “any”. The easiest way to explain the usage of bâhng here is that it is performing a function similar to a Thai particle that softens the feel of a sentence and makes it less direct.
Note that you can also say “How are you?” in the Thai language by shortening the above sentence to simply, Bpen ngai bâhng (เป็นไงบ้าง).
Sakon Nakhon is recognized as probably the best place to spend Christmas in Thailand, with the Catholic village of Ban Thae Rae lit up with gorgeous Christmas lights. So in this lessons we will show you how to say “Merry Christmas” to your Thai friends.
Christmas is celebrated in Thailand largely as a secular holiday, with increasing numbers of schools throwing Christmas parties and families buying Christmas presents for their kids. However, Christmas is not a government sponsored holiday in Thailand, so few schools or business are closed except for Catholic schools and small businesses run by Christians. Some farangs will be given the day off on Christmas day, if they work at a Thai school or business, or an international company, but it all depends on the employer. Many Christians in Thailand simply take a sick day on Christmas if their employer does not offer the day off.
Excluding foreigners, there are approximately 530,000 Christians who celebrate Christmas in Thailand as a religious holiday. About half of these Christians are Roman Catholic, while the others are Protestant. Catholics in Thailand have a much more visible presence, as they have a very well established network of schools throughout the Kingdom, and quite a number of beautiful churches.
If you are a tourist or expat looking to celebrate Christmas in Thailand as a religious holiday, we would suggest attending mass at a Catholic church (even if you are a Protestant), as these masses tend to be quite enjoyable and inspiring services — with hymns often sung in both Thai and English. Priests in Thailand are also often fluent in English and more than happy to chat after mass is over. In Sakon Nakhon, St. Michael’s Cathedral and St. Catherine Church are wonderful places to attend Christmas mass.
So, how do you say “Merry Christmas!” in Thailand? Well, that is a simple one. You simply say it like you do in English. The most popular way to say “Merry Christmas” in Thailand is with the Tinglish or Thailish version. Merry Christmas is written phonetically in Thai as: เมอร์รี คริสต์มาส. Therefore, when someone says “Merry Christmas” in Thailand, they will often apply Thai pronunciation rules and say: Meu-ree Khrít-mâht!
There is another way that you could say “Merry Christmas” in Thailand. And that will be what we teach you in today’s Learn Thai language lesson. Here is the traditional way to say “Merry Christmas” in Thai to your Thai friends, family, and co-workers.
สุขสันต์ วัน คริสต์มาส
Sùk-săn wan khrít-mâht.
Be-happy day Christmas.
Learn Thai Language Tip: Note that in today’s Christmas in Thailand audio the woman does not pronounce Christmas the way that most Thais would: khrít-mâht. Whenever a Thai person does not change the final “s” syllable to a “t” (or drop the sound altogether), this is an indicator that they’ve had a good English teacher.
Now that you have learned how to say Merry Christmas in Thailand, you better check out also how to say Happy Birthday in Thai. You want to have your gift giving holidays in Thailand covered.
While it may sound like this learn Thai lesson “Yes Thai – No Thai” revolves around Dr. Seuss in the Land of Smiles, it is instead a brief but important lesson on how to say “yes” and “no” in the Thai language. We’ve titled this lesson “Yes Thai – No Thai” because it reflects how simple it is to learn much of the Thai language basics. The title “Yes Thai – No Thai” also rhymes with the words for “yes” and “no” in Thai.
The Thai language is a monosyllabic language — meaning that its primary words are one syllable long. Words that are more than one syllable are formed by combining these one syllable root words. The word for “yes” in Thai is the one syllable word “châi”. The Thai word for “no” is formed by adding the one syllable word “mâi” before “châi”.
In other words, the Thai word for no is “mâi châi” (which literally means: not yes). Sometimes the word “mâi” will be used all by itself to mean “no” in Thai. But this is more informal and only done when you want to say no to doing something, like when you are not going to eat that stinky plah rah or get drunk on lao khao because it tastes like turpentine.
Our “Yes Thai – No Thai” lesson isn’t over yet. There also is another Thai word that is used in certain circumstances where in English we would use the word “yes”. When a Thai person asks if you can do something (like eat spicy food), the common response will not be the word “chai” but the word “dâi” (which literally means can). If you can’t do something, then you would use “mâi dâi” as your response.
Lastly, if a Thai person asks a state of being question, like whether or not you are happy, sad, hungry, etc., you don’t reply with the normal words for yes or no in Thai. Instead, you repeat the adjective back to them (if yes) or mâi + adjective (if no). For example, if someone asks you whether you are hungry (hĭu) in Thai, you would respond back with the word hĭu if the answer is yes.
Let’s now go to our How to Say Yes & No in Thai sample sentences
อะไร อ่ะ โกหก
A-rai à? Go-hòk.
What (particle)? Lie.
What?! You’re lying.
No, I’m not.
Learn Thai Language Tip: Note that in this sample we could also just use the word “mâi” by itself to signify that we are not doing something.
In this Thai language and culture lesson we will cover a bit of etiquette in the Thai workplace. Farangs are more prone to showing emotions than Thai people. For example, it seems natural for the farang manager to show frustration or anger on the job if instructions are not being followed or work is not being done to satisfaction.
The farang often thinks that their anger or frustration will make the other person feel guilty or ashamed and more likely to follow instructions or do a better job next time. Maybe that worked back in America, or England, or Australia, or wherever the farang has come from. But it is not going to work in Thailand.
When you show frustration or anger towards your co-workers, you are making two mistakes: 1) You are showing weakness in that you don’t have mastery over your emotions; and 2) You are causing the recipient of your anger and frustration to lose face. Neither of these things is going to enhance your workplace relationships in Thailand or increase workplace performance.
When you feel frustration or anger boiling up in the Thai workplace, cool the embers with that old Seinfeld refrain: Serenity now….Serenity now. Put things in proper perspective. Today is the first day of the rest of your life and it could also be your last. Enjoy the ride.
You can be firm in a Thailand workplace when dealing with co-workers and delivering instructions. But always do so dispassionately and toss in the occasional smile. If something has been done incorrectly, don’t ask why it was done incorrectly (as that again will cause the other person to lose face). Simply show how it should be done the right way.
Now, let’s teach you how to make a polite request in the Thailand workplace. When asking for something to be done for you, add the words chûay (help) and nòi (little), as seen here:
คุณ แอปเปิ้ล ช่วย แปล ให้ หน่อย
Khun Apple, chûay bplae hâi nòi.
Ms. Apple, help translate give little.
Apple, can you translate this for me please?
Learn Thai Language Tip: if you want to make a good impression, address co-workers by their name preceded by the polite Thai language honorific “Khun” (as seen above with Khun Apple). If at some point a Thai colleague refers to themselves by their Thai nickname, then you are free to use that — but still preceded by “Khun.” You can drop the “Khun” only after having spent some time building a solid Thai workplace relationship and your colleague has dropped the “Khun” first when addressing you. However, when addressing a colleague (Thai or farang) in a meeting, continue to always use “Khun” before your Thai co-workers’ names — as one should always maintain polite formalities in a Thai workplace meeting.
Thai students enjoy cutting classes just as much as you did when you were a student. Now that you are a teacher yourself, try to go easy on your Thai students when they do skip class. The best way to keep Thai students from cutting class is to have a fun and interesting English class, not to become a joyless disciplinarian.
An epidemic of cut classes in Thailand should be viewed as a heads up that you need to retool your classes and teaching methods. Also keep an ear out for your students talking in the hallways like this:
แก, เรียน อังกฤษ น่าเบื่อ สุดๆ ว่ะ วันนี้ โดด เรียน ดิ กัน ป่ะ
Gae, rian ang-grìt nâh-bèua sùt sùt wâ. Wan-née dòt rian dì gan bpà.
You, study English boring most most (emph). Today jump class (emph.) together (question).
Dude, that English class is so boring. Let’s cut today!
Learn Thai Language Tip: The phrase dòt rian (โดดเรียน) is only one way to say “cut class” in Thai. Another way to say “skip class” in Thai is nĕe rian (หนีเรียน), which literally means to flee or escape class.
When first visiting in Thailand, you are likely to be surprised or shocked by a few things — like four people piled onto a motorcycle with a toddler on the driver’s shoulders, or a 300 pound middle-aged German in a speedo walking the sidewalk with his much younger girlfriend.
After a while in Thailand, you learn to take such sights in stride, just as the Thai people do. Nevertheless, shocking things still happen with great regularity in the Land of Smiles. So, it is handy to know the Thai slang to use if you find yourself shocked or notice your Thai friend looks a little freaked out.
Shocked – cháwk – ช็อก
เป็น อะไร ทำไม เธอ ดู ช็อก ขนาด นั้น (Audio)
Bpen a-rai? Tham-mai thuh doo cháwk khà-nàht nán?
Be what? Why you look shocked extent that?
What’s wrong? Why do you look so freaked out?
Learn Thai Language Tip: While the word cháwk (ช็อก) is the Thai slang for being shocked by something, the traditional Thai word for surprised is dtòk-jai (ตกใจ), which is commonly used when a person is suddenly startled.
Everybody loves a good pity party. It’s no different in Thailand. From expat bars and Thai karaokes where men stew over rash and dumb decisions to messy bedrooms where teenage Thais lament over the unfairness of their parents on Facebook gatherings, the pity party is alive and well in Thailand.
So, what exactly do you say in Thai if you want to join the pity party fun? Well, that is what we are going to teach you in this learn Thai language post. It is always a good idea to temper one’s griping with a touch of humor in Thailand, so we will teach you how to say that your life is the pits but then add an expression that young Thais frequently use to say that they are bored sick with their lives — and which older Thais sometimes use when joking around.
ชีวิต ฉัน มัน ห่วย วัยรุ่น เซ็ง (Audio)
Chee-wít chăn man hùay. Wai-rûn seng!
Life me it terrible. Teenager bored-sick!
My life sucks. I’m so sick of it.
Learn Thai Culture Tip: It is safe to say that as a foreigner in Thailand, you should never be the person to actually initiate a pity party — as Thais often keep their feelings close to the vest and would find your expression of personal dissatisfaction rather impolite and unseemly. However, if you have built a close enough relationship with your Thai friends or co-workers that they comfortable enough to begin bitching about their lives in your presence, then you can feel free to join the self-pity.
One way in which farangs are different from Thais is that farangs have a keener sense and greater fondness for sarcasm. It’s not that Thais don’t understand sarcasm or are missing the word for it, but they don’t resort to it with as much frequency and subtlety as the ordinary farang expat who has been weaned on Western comedy and cynical political discourse.
Even if you are a Thailand expat who doesn’t plan to learn much Thai because all of your friends are either fellow farangs or English speaking Thais, knowing how to deliver today’s learn Thai lesson is still important. While there is a Thai word for sarcasm, not all English speaking Thais know the English equivalent.
So, if you want to be certain that your Thai co-worker or friend knows that you are being sarcastic, you should tell them so in the Thai language.
Thâh khun mâi săng-gàyt, phŏm gam-lang bprà-chót yòo.
If you not notice, I am-being sarcastic be.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m being sarcastic.
Learn Thai Language Tip: In the above sentence we use two Thai words that signify the present continuous (-ing verb) tense. You don’t always have to use both gam-lang (กำลัง) before the verb and yòo (อยู่) at the end of a sentence to signify the Thai continuous tense. Using just one of these words in your sentence is fine.
Your decision on which one to use or both depends a lot upon the rhythm of the sentence and how it feels to you when you’re speaking. Thais often just tack yòo (ยู่) on to the end of short sentences or statements in colloquial talk — like Gin bia yòo (กินเบียร์อยู่), which means I’m drinking beer.
There are a lot of things in Thailand that can make you feel alive: a relentlessly spicy dish of som tam, a motorcycle taxi ride down a Bangkok thoroughfare, an enchanting smile from a Thai lady, etc. But how does one express the unbridled feeling of being alive? That is the subject of today’s Thai language lesson.
The Thai expression we are going to teach you can be applied to any situation that makes you feel alive and that life is worth living. It’s an expression that often also carries with it a sense of joy and merriment. In our learn Thai lesson we will apply it to the feeling that a lovely young woman can induce in a man in Thailand.
เธอ ทำ ให้ ฉัน รู้สึก มีชีวิตชีวา
Theu tham hâi chăn róo-sèuk mee-chee-wít-chee-wah.
You make give me feel alive.
You make me feel alive.
Learn Thai Language Tip: The Thai expression for feeling alive or full of joy is actually composed of three words. The first syllable is the Thai word for have (mee), while the second two syllables (chee-wít and chee-wah) both are Thai words that mean life or living. Saying mee-chee-wít-chee-wah (มีชีวิตชีวา) is thus like saying you are feeling doubly alive.
It’s always good to known some Thai slang, so today we are going to teach you how to say that you really got to take a shit in Thailand (pardon our French). This is useful information not only when expressing the urgent need for the other person to vacate the bathroom, but also so you can understand when others want you to finish quickly your dump and let them get down to their business.
The Thai slang phrase that we are going to teach you today might be considered coarse language by some Thais, and it indeed is not the kind of language you want to use around your Thai coworkers and those you want to impress with your politeness in the Thai language.
However, having said that, the colloquial Thai phrase for I really got to take a shit is commonly heard around working-class Thai village households (especially in Isaan) and is spoken between family members on a regular basis when duty calls.
Bpùat khèe! Àwk bpai sì!
Ache shit. Exit go (emphasis).
I gotta shit! Get out of there!
Learn Thai Language Tip: Since we are on the subject of shit, we have another piece of advice surrounding this topic. Actually, we shouldn’t even be telling you this because it is always good for laugh when it happens. But what the heck. We will save you some embarrassment.
As everyone knows, Thai food can be extremely spicy. Therefore when you indulge is certain items of Thai cuisine you may end up with a roaring hot bottocks when nature calls the next morning. While the word for something spicey hot in the Thai language is phèt (เผ็ด), what you don’t want to say to your friends on leaving the loo is khêe phèt. Because what that implies is that you just tasted your shit and it was spicy!
Nope. Today’s learn Thai lesson isn’t going be about Thailand’s infamous red light districts like Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza — or the adult playground city known as Pattaya. This Thai language lesson is for parents.
There are thousands of expats in Thailand who are raising Thai children. While many of these children are raised bilingually, sometimes a foreigner marries a Thai who already has a school-age child. In these situations, it’s best for a farang parent to introduce English slowly while also speaking Thai as best they can — in order to build a more solid relationship with the child.
Now, let’s teach you what a Thai parent might say to a child before they leave for school, including the Thai word for naughty.
naughty – son – ซน
เป็น เด็ก ดี นะ อย่า ซน ให้ พ่อ หอม ก่อน
Bpen dèk dee ná. Yàh son. Hâi phâw hăwm gàwn.
Be child good (soften), don’t be naughty. Give father kiss first.
Be a good girl/boy. Don’t be naughty. Give me a kiss before you go.
Learn Thailand Culture Tip – Western parents are generally more demonstrative in their affections towards children than the average Thai parent. While we have a father asking for a kiss from his child in today’s learn Thai lesson, many Thai parents will simply ask for or receive the traditional wâi (ไหว้ ) gesture from their child. Foreign parents of adopted Thai children therefore should not view an absence of kisses and hugs as a sign of a lack of affection. It is simply due to the way your adopted child has been raised up to this point and their surrounding Thai culture.
Here is a English/Thai rhyme to remember the Thai word for naughty: That boy’s naughty to the bone. He’s really son!
This is perhaps the most important Learn Thai lesson that we will ever write. It’s a Thai language lesson for teachers, NGO workers, Peace Corps volunteers, and business professionals who come to Thailand looking to make a difference. The arc of change in Thailand (as with any country) is a long one. It is easy for expats to succumb to shattered expectations. However, your disillusionment is trivial compared to those Thais who also nurture hopes of making a difference in Thailand.
Thailand is full of bright and educated people who have been beaten down by rigid bureaucrats, administrators, and bosses whose only goal is to enforce a regressive status quo. Many Thais end up becoming everything they hated when they went to college. Others flee the country to work abroad. Some just abandon their profession to open a noodle shop or farm a plot of land.
One of the most important things that you can do as a person who cares about Thailand’s development is to lend moral support to those Thais who beyond all reason continue to fight the good fight here on Thai soil as teachers, writers, artists, academics, and business leaders — and not from some comfortable perch in a farang foreign land. Use today’s learn Thai lesson often and with vigor.
สู้ ต่อไป นะ คุณ สามารถ ทำ แตกต่าง จาก เมื่อ ก่อน จริงๆ
Sôo dtàw-bpai ná. Khun săh-mâht tham dtàek-dtàhng jàhk mêua gàwn jing-jing.
Fight continually, okay? You able do difference from time before truly.
Hang in there. You can make a real difference.
Learn Thai Language Tip: Since the main subject of today’s Thai language post is Thailand development, we should also give you the actual Thai phrase for Thailand development. That is: gahn phát-thá-nah bprà-thâyt-thai (การพัฒนาประเทศไทย).
The prescription for making a good decision as an expat in Thailand is always the same: wait. Rash decisions can be fun in your home country, fueling all kinds of great stories afterwards. But rash decisions in Thailand can result in unintended consequences that make you rue the day you were born or reduce you to a bitter punter whinging every day about how much Thailand sucks. Or they can send you to an early grave.
Unfortunately, waiting is one prescription that expats in Thailand seem loathe to take. Whether it be the heat, the exotic locale, the enchanting Thai smile, or one beer Chang too many, a lot of Thailand’s expats (and not a few number of tourists) seem intent on making rash decisions they would never make in their home country. Perhaps it is simply because farangs come to Thailand to have fun and forget, and patient decision-making doesn’t fit into either of those camps.
Nevertheless, try tossing a bit of patience into the mix to have fun over the long term in Thailand and prevent you from becoming another statistic or expat cliché in the Land of Smiles. Now, let’s teach you how to say “decide” in Thai.
decide – dtàt-sĭn-jai – ตัดสินใจ
Phŏm dâi dtàt-sĭn-jai láeo.
I did decide already.
I made a decision!
It’s about time!
Learn Thai Culture & Language Tip: In the West, the mind trumps the heart in decision-making — at least that’s how most of us like to think we make decisions. In Thailand the heart is supposed to play the dominant role when making a decision (see our post on Thai Words with Heart). This role is signified by the fact that the last syllable of the Thai word for decide (dtàt-sĭn-jai) means heart. It’s also the reason why losing face in Thailand plays such a huge role in personal and professional relationships.
The Thai word for decide (dtàt-sĭn-jai) already kind of rhymes with its English counterpart, so we don’t need a rhyming sentence to help you remember the Thai vocabulary word in today’s Thai language lesson. But it will be helpful to know that to change the Thai word for decide into decision, you should add the prefix gahn: gahn-dtàt-sĭn-jai (การตัดสินใจ).
When learning the Thai language, it’s important to learn some Thai words and phrases that show you have empathy for your Thai co-workers and friends who have been hit by bad luck. The fickle hand of fate can issue a beat down at any time, be it in Thailand or anywhere else. When bad luck strikes it is comforting to know that you’ve got friends who will take you out for a beer while you brood over how much it sucks.
In this learn Thai lesson, we will teach you how to say “That sucks!” in Thai, so that your Thai friends know that you share their pain. You can use this Thai word for any case of bad luck in Thailand, be it a car accident, a job loss, a robbery, or some other incident that sucks.
That sucks! – Suay jing leuy – ซวยจริงเลย
อะไร นะ ถูก ไล่ออก เหรอ ซวย จริงๆ ไป เอา เบียร์ กัน เถอะ
A-rai ná? Thòok lâi-àwk rĕu? Suay jing leuy. Bpai ao bia gan thùh.
What (soften)? Be fired (question)? Bad-luck truly (emph). Go take beer together (urge).
What? You were fired? That sucks! Let’s go get a beer.
Learn Thai Language Tip: In the above dialogue we defined the word thòok (ถูก), which appears before the Thai word for fired as meaning “be” but that is not quite technically correct. What the word thòok does is put the verb that occurs after it into the passive voice. In our learn Thai lesson, it changes the Thai word fired into “were fired”. You don’t want to be using the word thòok as an alternative for the two Thai to-be verbs bpen (เป็น) and kheu (คือ).
Note that the Thai word for bad luck (suay) is very similar to the Thai word for beautiful (sŭay). The only difference is that the Thai word for beautiful has a rising tone. So be careful how you say “it sucks” in Thai, else you could be calling someone or something very beautiful instead of very unlucky. To remember the Thai word for unlucky/bad luck use this rhyme: “Went to the casino today but, damn, I was suay!”
One goal of learning the Thai language is to be able to have a nice chat in Thai. Some of the first Thai vocabulary words learned thus relate to speaking. The Thai word for talk or say is phôot (พูด), as seen in the handy Thai phrase hâhm phôot (ห้ามพูด), which means don’t say that or shut up. However, the word phôot isn’t generally used to refer to chatting or having a conversation.
The Thai word for chatting in person is khui (คุย) or phôot khui (พูดคุย), and may not be something you always want to hear, such as when your Thai boss says, “Rao mee rêuang dtâwng khui gan” (เรา มีเรื่อง ต้อง คุย กัน) or “We’ve got a problem to discuss.” A different Thai word is used for chatting online that is easy for Thai language learners to remember because it is simply pronounced châet (แชท), just like the English word.
There are lots of Thai chat websites, but Facebook has increasingly come to dominate the field for young Thais who want to chat online with their friends. Chatting online in Thailand has its risks when chatting with members of the opposite sex. If you already have a Thai girlfriend or wife, she isn’t going to buy into that “She’s just a friend” mumbo jumbo.
If you learn how to chat in Thai online, use your skills wisely, unlike the guy in the dialogue below.
ฉัน มัน โง่ แฟน ข้า เค้า จับได้ ว่า ข้า แชท กับ สาว อื่น เมื่อ คืนนี้
Chăn man ngô. Faen khâh kháo jàp-dâi wâh khâh châet gàp săo èun mêua kheun-née.
I (emph.) stupid. Girlfriend me she caught that I chat with girl different last night.
I’m so stupid. My girlfriend busted me chatting with another girl last night.
Learn Thai Language Tip: Today’s Thai lesson on chatting online in Thai uses the Thai word man (มัน) after the informal pronoun for I (chăn). The word man is a Thai pronoun that usually means it, but in this case it serves as a marker to emphasize the subject. In our case, the speaker is laying the blame on himself and emphasizing how stupid he was to have gotten caught chatting in Thai with another girl. Learn how to talk romantically with a Thai lady at: How to Flirt in Thai.
There is an assortment of embarrassing situations that can arise while living in Thailand or traveling the kingdom. Many of these situations are peculiar to life in Thailand and may or may not actually involve you. Simply being a farang means that you may find yourself unexpectedly in the center of an embarrassing situation created by other farangs in your vicinity.
Thais are no strangers to embarrassing situations either once the Lao Khao (white whiskey) starts flowing or a young lady decides she wants to imitate her favorite drama queen from Thai television. Our learn Thai online lessons always look for ways to help you out of a jam. So, today we will teach you the Thai language needed to exit an embarrassing moment with your companion.
น่าอาย พอ แล้ว ไป กัน เถอะ
Nâh-ai phaw láeo. Bpai gan thùh
Shameful enough already. Go together (urge).
This is embarrassing enough. Let’s go.
Learn Thai Language Tip: In the Thai language the prefix nâh (น่า) means “worthy of” and is added to a Thai verb/adjective to form an –ing adjective. For example, Thais add the prefix nâh to the word bèua (bored) to get the word boring. In today’s Thai language lesson, we added the prefix nâh to the word ai (which means shy or embarrassed) to form the Thai word for embarrassing, shameful, or disgraceful.
Taking a taxi in Thailand is ordinarily a safe and relatively inexpensive way to travel around Bangkok — especially when you compare taxi fares to those in other major cities around the world. Taxis also have become available in smaller cities like Sakon Nakhon. While a Thai taxi driver may drive a bit fast and do some unnerving lane changes, they generally know what they are doing and operate under the philosophy that the best defense is a good offense.
However, when you get on Thailand’s motorways, Thai taxi drivers have a habit of high speed tailgating that’s simply uncalled for. Tailgating in Thailand is even more prevalent among hired drivers of Thai vans, who often are less talented than the professional Thai taxi drivers and end up in more accidents.
ขอ โทษ พี่ อย่า ไป ขับ จี้ ตูด ใคร นะ มัน ทำให้ ฉัน กังวล เลย
Khăw thôht phêe. Yàh bpai khàp jêe dtòot khrai ná. Man tham-hâi chăn gang-won leuy.
Request pardon (older person). Don’t go drive touch buttocks anyone (soften). It causes me nervous (emph.).
Excuse me, but please don’t go riding anyone’s ass, okay? It makes me really nervous.
Learn Thai Culture Tip: Learn Thai language books often teach you that the Thai word phêe (พี่) is to be used only when addressing older people. In general practice, however, Thais will use phêe as a sign of respect to address anyone who is of sufficient maturity and is serving them in some capacity.
Addressing someone as phêe who actually is a bit younger than you also increases their likelihood of doing what you are asking of them. That is why we have used phêe in today’s Thai language lesson and would recommend using it even if you are older than your Thai taxi driver or chauffeur.
One last thing about the usage of phêe in the Thai language. If you are married, the older brother or sister of your Thai wife or husband should also be addressed as phêe, even if you are older than them.
Thailand attracts its fair share of nutcases, vagabonds, and ne’er-do-wells from around the world. However, it also attracts some of the most intelligent and contemplative expats and tourists too. The former tend to get all the publicity, while the latter prefer their less celebrated vantage points from which to enjoy the human circus.
If you are an expat or frequent tourist to Thailand, you’ll undoubtedly encounter those times when you want to warn a Thai friend about a foreigner with a few screws loose or a young Thai girl not to jump on the back of someone’s motorcycle.
So, let’s learn some Thai slang that you can use to issue a proper warning. Expat fathers in Thailand will be tempted to use today’s sample sentence to warn their daughters off a reckless Thai boy but we caution against that. Thai daughters share a common trait with their Western counterparts in enjoying doing the exact opposite of what their parents want when it comes to boys.
bâh-rá-hàm (บ้าระห่ำ) adj. – to be crazy or foolhardy.
จอห์น เป็น คน บ้าระห่ำ อย่า ไป ยุ่ง กับ มัน ดีกว่า
Jawn bpen khon bâh-rá-hàm. Yàh bpai yûng gàp man dee-gwàh.
John is person crazy. Don’t go involved with him better.
John is a total mental case. You shouldn’t have anything to do with him.
Learn Thai Language Tip: The ordinary Thai word for crazy is bâh (บ้า) and is easier to remember than the 3 syllable bâh-rá-hàm (บ้าระห่ำ). However, the word bâh is commonly used in a joking manner and it isn’t really strong enough for issuing a warning. You need to keep bâh-rá-hàm in your Thai language arsenal because it piles on a notion of stupid recklessness upon the crazy.
Thai language learners may have noticed that we have used the Thai pronoun man (มัน) for him when it usually means it. It is okay to use man for him in a context where the person is looked upon negatively. Young Thais will also use man for him/her when talking with close friends.
It’s not easy coming up with an English-Thai rhyme when the Thai vocabulary word is three syllables. But here is one that’s close which you can use to jog your memory of today’s Thai slang for crazy lesson: “Bob looks fun. But he’s bâh-rá-hàm!”
This is a Thai for Tourists lesson. When traveling in Thailand it is always handy to know how to say Watch Out! in the Thai language — especially if you have hired a Thai driver. While Thai drivers are generally pretty good and driving in Thailand is no more dangerous than many countries, some Thais will gladly pass on shoulders and blind curves.
You also want to take special care when traveling by car during the Thai Songkran holiday, as drunk driving is common during this April festival and thousands of people are killed or injured due to road accidents—though the large majority of fatalities occur to motorcyclists.
So, for this Thai lesson let us imagine that it is the Songkran holiday in Thailand and we are a front seat passenger when suddenly a drunk driver comes zigzagging down the road toward us. How to do you shout Watch Out! in Thai so you don’t end up an unfortunate statistic?
ระวัง ซะ บ้าง สิ ไอ้ ขี้เมา ไป ขับรถ ซิกแซ็ก ไป ทั่ว
Rá-wang sá bâhng sì! Âi khêe-mao bpai kháp ròt sík-sáek bpai thûa.
Watch-out (urge) some (emph.), damn drunk go drive car zigzag go everywhere.
Watch out! That drunken jackass is zigzagging all over the road.
Learn Thai Language Tip: Take special note of the sá (ซะ) particle that we have used in the above learn Thai language lesson. This particle is placed after verbs when you want to emphasize that an immediate reaction is required. You don’t have to actually remember all the extra Thai words that we have used to express Watch Out! in Thai. We just added that so you sound a bit more cool in Thai. Simply shouting Rá-wang! will do in a pinch.
This Thai lesson on how to say thief in Thai is hopefully one you will never have to use. Most tourists in Thailand don’t have to worry much about theft, as long as they use basic precautions and exercise a little common sense. Walking around Bangkok (even late at night) is generally quite safe compared to walking around some American cities where gangs troll the streets, or in European capitals where gypsies have mastered the art of distraction while fleecing tourists of their wallets. However, petty robberies do occur in Thailand. It is therefore good to have learned the Thai word for thief, so you know what to yell if someone snatches your purse or when it is time to stick your foot out and trip the lanky guy running past you.
The Thai word for thief is the same as the one for steal — so you get to learn two related Thai words for the price of one. Since we have already taught you how to flirt in Thai, in this lesson we will teach you how to call someone a thief of the heart. Just replace the Thai word for heart with wallet (grà-bpăo) if that is what she really stole.
Thief n. – ขโมย – khà-moi
Help! She’s a thief. She stole my heart.
ช่วย ด้วย เธอ เป็น ขโมย เธอขโมย หัวใจ ฉัน ไป
Chûay dûay! Theu bpen khà-moi. Theu khà-moi hŭa-jai chăn bpai.
[Help (polite)! She is thief. She stole heart me go.]
Learn Thai Language Tip: Women who want to use the above learn Thai lesson, remember that you need to change the Thai pronoun theu to the pronoun chăn (which can be used to refer to both males and females). The Thai word for heart that we have used today is hŭa-jai, which literally means head-heart and is used to refer to that beating drum inside your chest. The word jai by itself means heart but it has a vague and existential meaning that conflates with spirit and mind, which makes it inappropriate to use in the context of today’s free Thai language lesson.
Remember how to say thief in Thai with the help of this English-Thai rhyme, while imagining two Thai kids playing: “That khà-moi stole my toy!”
The traditional word for cute in Thai is nâh-rák (น่ารัก), which literally means lovely or worthy-of love. You will hear it spoken a lot in Thailand. It is an adjective usually used when referring to the cuteness of children or the prettiness of a young lady. However, you can make an old Thai woman smile by calling her nâh rák too. You can flirt in Thai with grandma (yai), as long as you keep it good-natured.
There also is a Thai slang word for cute that is used to refer to the cuteness of a young Thai girl in a photo or a particular pose she striking. Sometimes this pose includes a forced tight smile that causes the girl to appear slightly deranged and makes you wonder where they got the idea that this is cute. One suspects that it may be an ingenious scheme secretly promoted by Thai fathers to make their daughters look less attractive to Thai boys trolling Facebook. However, this theory has yet to be confirmed.
So, even if the Thai girl in the photo looks a bit unhinged, do a dad a favor and keep those opinions to yourself. Use today’s learn Thai language lesson to say how cute she looks.
Cute adj. – แอ๊บแบ๊ว – áep-báo
You are sooo cute in this picture!
รูป นี้ น้อง แอ๊บแบ๊ว สุดๆ เลย นะ
Rôop née, náwng áep-báo sùt sùt leuy ná.
[Picture this, you cute most most (emph.) (soften).]
Learn Thai Language Tip: The word náwng that is used in the above free Thai language lesson is a catch-all Thai word that can be used to refer to anyone who is younger than you: sibling, relative, colleague, or friend. It also can be used when addressing a waitress/waiter. If you are going to use the word in the Thai workplace, only use it when addressing a co-worker who is visibly quite younger than yourself.
To help you remember the Thai slang for cute try this rhyme: “Look at her. Wow, wow! She’s áep-báo!” Learn more colloquial Thai phrases at: Learn Thai Slang.
Increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans are retiring to Thailand. That’s not surprising, considering the pleasant climate, low cost of living, and warm Thai hospitality. Some retirees in Thailand do a little English teaching to get out of the house and ease their boredom (though it should be noted that volunteer English teaching is technically illegal without a work permit). This Thai lesson is for the men in this group.
To avoid creating the wrong impression, retirees in Thailand should avoid the friendly touches and pats that are common in Western countries — even a touch on the head (while having no sexual connotation) is an egregious offense due to Thai cultural norms. Keep your signs of friendliness to simple smiles and respectful wais and you’ll stay out of trouble.
Those retirees that fail to take this advice may find themselves being called the Thai slang word for a dirty old man. Once Thais form an impression of you, it is hard to shake no matter what you do. In addition that impression will spread far and wide, regardless if it is justified. So do your best to avoid being thought of as another old farang who wasn’t raised right. Now, let’s learn some Thai.
Dirty Old Man n. – เฒ่าหัวงู – thâo-hŭa-ngoo
Watch yourself at the camp. That farang teacher is a dirty old man.
ระวัง ตัว นะ อยู่ ที่ แคมป์ อาจารย์ ฝรั่ง นั่น เป็น เฒ่าหัวงู
Rá-wang dtua ná yòo thêe khaem. Ah-jahn fà-ràng nân bpen thâo-hŭa-ngoo.
[Be careful self, okay, be at camp. Teacher Westerner that is dirty old man.]
Learn Thai Language Tip: The literal meaning of the Thai word for dirty old man is old snake head: thâo (เฒ่า) elderly + hûa (หัว) head + ngoo (งู) snake. You may have noticed that the Thai particle ná in today’s learn Thai lesson means okay. In previous Thai language posts we have used ná only to soften the tone of a sentence. But it can also be used in the same way that English speakers use okay to confirm a just stated thought.
There are two words for teacher in the Thai language: ah-jahn (อาจารย์) and khroo (ครู). The Thai word ah-jahn used in today’s Thai language lesson is ordinarily reserved for university teachers or veteran school teachers.
Ready for the rhyme to help you remember how to say dirty old man in Thai? This is the best one we could come up with: “Wow, whatever ya do, don’t be a thâo-hŭa-ngoo!”
Find more free and fun Thai Lessons at: Learn Thai Language & Culture