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You Can’t Always Get What You Want in Thailand

When learning Thai there are times when words of wisdom pop into your head that you want to share but lack the Thai language skills to do so. For example, if you are an expat living in Sakon Nakhon there probably has been occasions when you have wanted to quote the Rolling Stones and say “You can’t always get what you want”. You think to yourself, “Damn, I wish I knew how to say that in Thai.”

Well, you are in luck. In today’s learn Thai language lesson we are going to teach you how to say Jagger’s famous line “You can’t always get what you want.” Just try to resist the temptation of using this sentence when your Thai boss makes an unreasonable work request. Else you likely will soon be searching the want ads for new employment in Thailand.

คน เรา ไม่ ได้ ทุกสิ่ง ทุกอย่าง ที่ อยากได้ เสมอไป

Khon rao mâi dâi thúk-sìng thúk-yàhng thêe yàhk dâi sà-mĕu-bpai.

Person we not receive everything every-kind that want can always.

We can’t always get what we want.

e-Learn Thai Language Tip: You’ll notice that we used “we” (khon rao) instead of “you” (khun) in translating the Rolling Stones’ “you can’t always get what you want”. This is because Thais always speak indirectly when making a criticism, so as to lessen the potential for the other person to lose face. Be hyper-sensitive to this fact to avoid problems with others in Thailand and use the all-inclusive “we” whenever quoting the Rolling Stones or offering any other type of sage wisdom.

Want some more Thai culture and language tips? Check out why Thais sometimes tell you not to be so serious at the following link: Serious In Thai.


David Alan