Thai Language Guide – Visitors’ Vocabulary

This is a simple guide for the benefit of visitors and to help those intending to learn Thai to get started. We’ve left the proper learning to the experts, which can be found listed in the resources section. But the following basic words, along with our introductory tutorial in the grammar and sentence structure sections, should help you to communicate at a basic level. We’ve also made this section print friendly so you can take a copy with you as you travel.

Introductions

hello sawadee (krup/ka) you khun
how are you sabai dee mai (rising tone) he, she, they kao
i’m fine sa-bai dee us, we rao
thank you kharb khun what is your name khun chuu a-rai
bye bye sawadee yes/no chai/mai chai
see you again pob gan mai (rising tone) you’re welcome yin dee
excuse me / sorry khar toort welcome to… yin dee tawn rap
I, me phom (male) dee chan (female) or simply chan never mind mai pen rai

Mai pen rai is universally used to mean, ‘its ok’, ‘oh well’, ‘you’re excused’, ‘forget about it’ and lots more besides.

Thais are very civil and polite by habit and will always add krup (male) or ka (female) to the end of the sentence when addressing others unless they are very familiar with them. Often they will also, as a matter of course, add na in front of this to soften any commands. It’s important to get into this habit from the start when learning Thai as it will make things much easier as you progress with the language.

Actions

want (something) aow walk dern (pai) as in trekking
want (action) yaak find phob
go pai repair som
come maa take a look long duu
take aow pai (lit; want & go) speak phuut
would like kor chat kui
bring aow maa drive/ride kap / kii
buy sue (low tone) pay jaai
visit pai tiow receive rap
eat gin / kin can / cannot dai / mai dai
drink derm like / prefer chawp
sleep nawn  

Every day items

money ngern motorcycle (rot) mor-tor-sai
baggage/bags gra-pao boat ruav
clothes suea books nang-sua
mobile phone meu tor map preen-tee
taxi tak-see things khawng
bus rot but soap sa-buu
train rot fai towel pra-chet-tua
airplane kruang bin pen pak-ga
car rot yon spectacles wen-ta
gasoline naam man  

Numbers

one nueng eleven sib-et
two sawng twelve sib-sawng (and so on)
three saam twenty yee-sib
four see twenty one yee-sib-et (and so on)
five haa (falling tone) thirty saam-sib
six hock hundred rooi
seven jet thousand pan
eight peart ten thousand mueng
nine gow (short and low) hundred thousand sen
ten sib million laan

Days and time

Monday wan jan month due-en
Tuesday wan ankhaan year pii
Wednesday wan phut hour chua mong
Thursday wan paruhat minute na-tee
Friday wan suk morning dawn chao
Saturday wan saow afternoon dawn bai
Sunday wan ah-tit evening dawn yen
weekend sao-ahtit night dawn tum

Expressing time: this is somewhat tricky in Thai as they have traditionally broken the 24-hour clock into four sections. As a beginner, it’s too confusing to follow and your best bet is to stick to a 24-hour clock (e.g. 1pm would be sib-saam chua mong or 13 hours).

Questions

what a-rai
how (action yaang rai
where (thee) nai (sometimes ‘nai’ is used on its own)
is (is not) mai (rising tone)
when mua-rai or gee mong (at what time)
can (cannot) dai mai (rising tone)
how much tao rai
have (action) rue yaang (as in ‘have you finished’)
how many gee (comes before the subject, as an exception to the rule)
are (to be) rue plow (as in ‘are you Thai’)

Hospitality

hotel rong rerm fan phad lom
guest house baan phak storey chan
restaurant raan ah-harn swimming pool sa-wai-inaam
toilet/bathroom hawng naam knife, fork, spoon met, sawm, chorn
hot water naam rawn bill check bin
room hawng telephone tor-ra-sap
bed thii nawn tv tor-ra-tat
massage nuat cable cay-bon
air con air con  

Eating and drinking

food ah-harn pork (all kinds) muu
seafood pla talae beef neu-ah
drinking water naam plao shrimp / prawns gung
beer bier tofu tao hoo
ice nam ken vegetables phak
liquor lao noodles kwai-teow
fruit juice naam pon-lamai bread ka-nom pan
fruit pon-lamai bakes / snacks ka-nom
lunch ah-harn klang wan sugar naam-taan
breakfast ah-harn chao sweet wan
dinner ah-harn yen salt(y) kem
rice kaow(falling tone) spicy / chilli pet / prik
fried rice kaow pad msg pon suu rot
chicken gai wheat kao saa lii

If you don’t want an ingredient included simply add mai ow (lit; not want) before any of these (e.g. Mai own pon suu rot).

Places

city / town meu-ang national park suan sa-ta-na
village (moo) baan waterfall naam tok
house baan museum pee piti pan
beach haad bank ta-na-karn
island koh bus station sa-tar-ni rot but
bay aow train station sa-tar-ni rot fai
mountains phuu-kao airport sa-nam-bin
river mae naam police station sa-tar-ni tam ruat
market talad post office pra-sa-nii
park suan-luang  

Adjectives

fast reo slow cha
big yaai small lek
fat uan thin phawm
early chao late saai
cheap tuuk expensive paeng
long yaow short tia
difficult yaak easy ngaai (falling tone)
full tem empty mot
hot rawn cold yen (naow – weather)
loud siang dang quiet niyap
near glai-ee (falling) far glai (low tone)
black sii dam white sii khaow (rising tone)
red sii dang blue (light / dark) sii faa / sii nam ngerng
yellow sii luang green siik Kieow
gold sii tong grey sii tao
a lot yerk/maak little nit noi
long time naan  

Emergency

help! chuay duay danger aan-ta-rai
not well mai sabai hurt / pain jep / puat
stomach ache puat tong head ache phuat hua
tooth ache puat fun eyes sore puat taa
hospital Rong payabaan police station sa-tar-ni tum ruat
doctor maw dentist maw fan
thief / stolen kamoy-ee accident oo-bot-tee-het
medicine yaa lawyer nat got-mai
nuay tired afraid klua
must have dong mee  

Essential phrases

I don’t understand mai kao jai
Do you understand? kao jai mai (rising tone on last word)
I want to go to … yaak pai…
Do you have a room? mee hawng wang mai (rising tone on last word)
What time will you leave? ja pai gee mong
What time will it open? bert gee mong
What time does it close? bit gee mong
Which way? tang nai
Turn left / right leo saai / kwaa
Go straight / stop! trong pai / yuut!
I don’t want any thanks mai ow krap / ka!
Go away pai sii!!
Can you fix this? som nee dai mai (falling and rising tone on dai mai)
How much is this? nee tao rai
Can you make it cheaper? lot dai mai (falling and rising tone on dai mai)
I don’t like (this) … mai chawp (nee)…
Can we meet again? pob gan dai mai (rising tone on mai)
I love you Pom / chan rak kun
I miss you kit tung khun
… very much maak