Thai Talk – Thai For Beginners Lesson 1

April 17, 2011

My previous Thai talk post on dating and Thai love phrases proved pretty popular, so I thought I would create a useful set of “Thai for beginners” phrases for tourists and those just starting to learn.

At the time of writing I myself am still a relative beginner, but have recently been attending Thai school and am enjoying learning new words.  I hope you find this useful list useful, and If there is a particular phrase or question you would like to know how to say, please feel free to hit me up in the comments section and I will ask my Thai teacher for the correct phonetic translation:

thai for beginnersThai Talk – Essential Thai For Beginners:

  1. Hello – sawadee khrup (male) sawasdee ka (female)
  2. Thank you – khop khun (khrup/ka)
  3. How are you? – Sai bai dee mai (khrup/ka)?
  4. Fine thank you – Sai bai dee (khrup/ka)
  5. Never mind/it’s okay/no problem – Mai ben rai (khrup/ka)
  6. I cannot speak Thai - Puut Thai mai dai (khrup/ka)
  7. Please speak slowly – Phuut cha cha (khrup/ka)
  8. I don’t understand – Mai kao jai (khrup/ka)
  9. Where is the rest room? – Hong nam yuu dong nai (khrup/ka)
  10. How much does this cost? – Anee tao rai (khrup/ka)?
  11. What is this – Anee arai (khrup/ka)
  12. Very expensive – Paeng mak (khrup/ka)
  13. The bill please – Gep dang (khrup/ka
  14. Goodbye – La gawn (khrup/ka)
  15. Good luck - Khor hai khun chock dee (khrup/ka)
  16. Sorry/excuse me – Khor thoad (krub/ka)
  17. I need a doctor – Phom dong gaan hai mor maa raaksa (khrub/ka)

* Please note that these phrases don’t have the tone marks needed for a completely accurate pronunciation  However, if you can practice while out and about, Thai people will happily help you with the correct tones. Practice makes perfect, and the only way to get better is to speak with natives.

If you want to learn Thai at home or enhance your school lessons, I highly recommend the Thaipod101 online course. I am currently combining this online course with my school learning and it’s working well for me. I find it gives me a lift between classes and doesn’t allow me to simply rely on the two lessons a week; it also gives me some diversity away from the generic learning structure of the school syllabus. The video files provided for download are iPod/iPad and Android compatible, which is cool because can learn on the go while in cafes and on the train. There give you a a 7-day free trial that’s well worth taking advantage of.

Anyway, it’s time to move onto lesson 2 to further expand your vocabulary!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

ken April 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I think all beginning speakers should know that the two languages do not always translate in a word for word fashion and dictionaries are often wrong – it’s good to see you using phrases as that cuts down on the inevitable errors of tone and makes you easier to understand. It can be frustrating at times but ultimately very rewarding as Thai people can be very funny and love to joke – for me, it will surely be a lifetime experience as I never stop learning and hopefully improving.

one example of above – We “put on” clothing – we “put on” cream. Thai “sai seua pah” and “tah cream” – they use a different word entirely for the different usage. I am entirely street learned but I imagine there is nothing better than a good teacher.

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TheThailandLife April 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Totally agree, there are a number of words I have come across that they simply don’t have in Thai. I also bought a dictionary here and was told that a large portion of the words didn’t correspond correctly. I didn’t want to get into the tones thing just yet…that really is a difficult area I am yet to anywhere near master….a lifetime of learning indeed. Interesting about the cream…will quiz my Thai teacher about that:)

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savanit minglahong May 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thai Talk for beginners is very interest,i’m lve in Italy,i want if my Mate begin to learn thai a little for understand something some phrass,it’s nice

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TheThailandLife May 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Hi Savanit, I hope to be posting more Thai lessons up soon so make sure you check back or sign up for updates in the box on the right hand side of the page. Were you asking me what “it’s nice” is in Thai? I didn’t quite get that bit of your message.

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Keith Tyler April 13, 2012 at 6:56 am

I am looking for a good Thai language school in Bangkok. I have plans to leave in November 2012. And would like to stay with a ED Visa a year at a time.
Any suggestions of a good school that is not a scam?
A good school will help with the ministry of Education to get the ED Visa in order. But I believe you have to pay for tuition first before application goes to MED. “Ministry of Education”.

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TheThailandLife April 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Keith,

Thanks for your message. Sorry for the late reply I am away for Songkran. In terms of a great language learning school in Bangkok you should try Language Express. They do an affordable ED visa for about 20,000 I believe. I studied there last year and really enjoyed it. You can read more about my experience of the school here: http://thethailandlife.com/learning-thai-in-bangkok

They are a reputable outfit and all is above board.

I am currently using Thaipod101 to improve my Thai from home. I really love the program and it’s pretty cheap too. I wrote about this software here: http://thethailandlife.com/thaipod101-review

I wish you all the best in your move to Thailand and hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

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elly April 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I’m going to Phuket on a holiday very soon. I dislike chilli and coriander in my food. Can you please tell me how to say to the waiter/chef, No coriander please! and No chilli please! thank you! cheers, elly

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TheThailandLife April 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hi Elly,

I will try to simplify this as much as possible for you.

You can say, “Cor Mai sai pik, mai sai pak chi, ka, khop khun ka.” Or you could say, “Mai ow pik, mai ow pak chi, kop khun ka.” (Literally I don’t want chili, I don’t want coriander, thank you”.

A few notes that might help:

Mai in this instance sounds like “may”
Ow sounds like “oww” i hurt my foot
Pik sounds like “pick”
Pak sound like “pack”

To say I don’t like chilli and coriander, you can say “Mai chop gin pik, mai chop gin pak chi”

As you may have guessed, “mai” means no and chop means “like”.

Add “ka” to be polite at the end of everything. This is the female form.

Hope this helps.

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iAn November 16, 2013 at 2:41 am

Hi, I am little confused with khrup/ka.

I have two things in mind and let me know which is correct?
1 . When you’re a guy, address people with khrup (or ka if otherwise)?
2. Use khrup when you’re talking to a gentleman or ka when you’re speaking to a lady?

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TheThailandLife November 16, 2013 at 10:01 am

Hi Ian. As a man, always address everyone with “khrup”. Whether you are talking to a man or a woman, use “khrup”.

You will rarely hear a man use “ka”, as this is the polite feminine form. The exceptions, however, are gay men, and occasionally guys will reply to their girlfriends using “ka” when playing around or being sweet. This isn’t common though, and as a foreigner stick solely with “khrup” for everything.

You may also hear women use “ja”. This is usually used between friends and people who know each other, and by older women when speaking with younger women. You also hear this up county a lot. “Ja” can also be used by men, but until your level of Thai is good enough to know the situations when “Ja” is appropriate, don’t worry about this term.

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iAn November 16, 2013 at 10:23 am

Cool…Seems clear to me now. Khop khun khrup. :)

Those commonly used statements/expressions will help me a lot during our visit to Bangkok.

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