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II This is a Category II Language.

Learning Thai (เรียนภาษาไทย)

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วัดพระศรีรัตนศาสดาราม-Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Native range of Thai and closely related Tai languages in Thailand

Thai (ภาษาไทย-phāːsǎːthāi) is official language of Thailand.

Like Chinese and some other Asian languages, spoken Thai is a tonal language. That means that by changing the tone of a spoken word you can change its meaning. This can be confusing for people whose first language is non-tonal, like the European languages. The written Thai word however, is not so confusing because words with different tones are spelled differently. Though like English, it is possible for words with the same tone but different meanings, to be spelled differently too ('feet' and 'feat')

Example of some Thai words highlighting the different tones.

Thai Word Pronunciation key Meaning Tone
คา khā stuck mid
ข่า khà galangal low
ข้า khâ servant falling
ค่า khâ value falling
ฆ่า khâ to kill falling
ค้า khá to trade, to sell high
ขา khǎ leg rising

The following table is comparing Chinese with Thai about their tones. Note that pronunciation key is adapted form English alphabets with IPA tone markers for Thai. It is not same as pinyin tone marker at all.

Chinese Word Pinyin Meaning
ma (used as last word of question)

Many Thai phrasebooks use pronunciation key without tone marker, even though Thai is tonal language. If you want to speak Thai correctly, you have to study its tone, otherwise Thai people will have trouble understanding what you say.

Basic Thai phrases for greetings

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Basic Thai greetings are hands down the most important of phrases visitors will want to memorise before journeying to the Land of Smiles. Speaking of smiles, those who can say these words are almost guaranteed to receive a smile in return to everyone they greet with them. The small effort it takes from travellers to memorise basic greetings goes a long way in the eyes of the locals in Thailand. Here are some of the most basic of phrases worth remembering. Note: When speaking with a Thai person you should use the polite endings ครับ/krup (men) and ค่ะ/ka (women) at the end of your statements and questions. The usage of these words depends on age, status and relationship, however. With some phrases you will use these endings at all time. Below, you will see them included in sentences would be considered rude/abnormal to not use them.

-Hello (all day) = Sawatdii krup/ka

-How are you? = Sabaaidii mai?

-I’m fine = Sabaaidii

-I’m not well = Mai sabaii

-I come from (America) = Pom/Di-Chan maa jaak (ameerigaa)

-What country are you from? = Kun maa jaak bprateet arai?

-Thank you = Khop kun krup/ka

-Sorry = Khaw Tote

-No problem = Mai bpenrai

-Goodbye = Jer gan / la gawn

-Can you speak English? = Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai

-What is your name? = Kun chuu arai?

-My name is __ = Pŏm / Chán chuu __.


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