Thai Language Lessons | Lesson 1

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Thai Language Lessons - Lesson 1


Date of lesson: Monday 2nd February 2004

Phonetics Guide

Five different tones are used in Thai. For the purpose of these pages words are broken up into syllables and each syllable has it's own tone. To indicate the appropriate tone one of the following letters is used in front of each syllable. The mid tone is indicated by the absence of a letter and is pronounced without any inflection in the middle of the vocal range.

(h) high
(l) low
(m) mid
(r) rising
(f) falling
(!) an exclamation mark used after a syllable indicates a short syllable

Some consonants in Thai do not have an exact English equivalent but are somewhere in between two English letters. Where this occurs I have used both of the English letters to indicate this. Examples are:

'bp' where the sound is neither an unaspirated 'b' or an aspirated 'p' but somewhere in between, such as (m)bpee for year/s.

'dt' where the sound is neither an unaspirated 'd' or an aspirated 't' but somewhere in between, such as (h)dtoh! for table.

Personal Pronouns

Some aspects of Thai are a lot easier than English. On the other hand, there are complications in Thai that don't exist in English. Personal pronouns are one such example.

The personal pronoun for 'I' changes depending on age, sex, degree of formality, and the relationship with the other person. It is the same with 'you'.

The simplest way to explain this is that men use 'pom for 'I' and women use 'chun'. Young children will often use 'noo' (mouse). Once your Thai gets better you will start to hear the other personal pronouns that are used but I won't go into them at this level.

Replying to the question, "How are you?"

Sabai dee mai? (How are you?)

bpen - the Thai verb 'to be' but not used in the same way as the English verb to be

bpuat - ache

Some alternatives to 'Sabai dee' (very well) or 'Mai sabai' (not well)

Pom bpen wut (wide mouth) - I have a cold

Pom bpuat hua - I have a headache

Pom bpuat fun - I have a toothache

Pom bpuat lung - I have a backache

Pom bpuat ..... followed by which ever part of the body is hurting

ear - (r)hoo (purse lips)
hand - (m)meu (contorted face)
finger - (h)niw!
eye - (m)dtaa (bug-eyed)
nose - (m)ja-(l)mook
face - (f)naa (long sound)
arm - (r)kaan
mouth - (l)bpaak
shoulder - (l)lai
lung - (l)pawt
leg - (r)khaa
elbow - (r)kaw-(l)sawgh
ankle - (f)kaw-(h)tao

Telling The Time

Early hours of the morning - 01:00 to 05:00

01:00 - dtee (l)neung
02:00 - dtee (r)sawng
03:00 - dtee (r)saam
04:00 - dtee (l)sii
05:00 - dtee (f)haa

Morning - 06:00 to 09:00

06:00 - (l)hohk! mohng (h)chao
07:00 - (l)jet! mohng (h)chao
08:00 - (l)bpaat mohng (h)chao
09:00 - (f)gow mohng (h)chao

Late morning to midday - 10:00 to 12:00

10:00 - (l)sip! mohng
11:00 - (l)sip! eht! mohng
12:00 - (f)tiang

Afternoon - 13:00 to 16:00

13:00 - (l)bai mohng
14:00 - (l)bai (r)sawng mohng
15:00 - (l)bai (r)saam mohng
16:00 - (l)bai (l)sii mohng

Late afternoon - 17:00 to 18:00

17:00 - (f)haa mohng yen!
18:00 - (l)hohk! mohng yen!

Evening - 19:00 - 24:00

19:00 - (l)neung (f)tuum!
20:00 - (r)sawng (f)tuum!
21:00 - (r)saam (f)tuum!
22:00 - (l)sii (f)tuum!
23:00 - (f)haa (f)tuum!
24:00 - (f)tiang keun

16:20 - (l)bai (l)sii (m)mohng (f)yee (l)sip! (m)nah-(m)tee 16:30 - (l)bai (l)sii (m)mohng (f)kreung!

(f)kreung! = half (speak through clenched teeth)


(m)aa-(l)gaat = weather
(m)aa-(l)gaat (h)rawn = hot weather
(h)chao (h)nii ah-(l)gaht (h)rawn = This morning it is hot
(h)chao (m)wun!-(h)nii (m)aa-(l)gaat (h)rawn = This morning it was hot

today = wun!-(h)nee
yesterday = (f)meu-uh wun or (f)meu-uh wun (h)nee

(h)chao (h)nee = this morning
(f)tiang (h)nee = midday today
(l)bai (h)nee = this afternoon
(m)yen! (h)nee = this evening

(m)aa-(l)gaat (r)naew = the weather is cold
(m)lom! (m)rairng = it's windy
(r)fon! (l)dtok! = to rain

(m)laa (l)gawn = goodbye
(h)pohp! (m)gun (l)mai = see you later
(m)jeu (m)gun (l)mai = see you later
(f)pruung!-(h)nee (h)pohp! (m)gun = see you tomorrow
(f)pruung!-(h)nee (m)jeu (m)gun = see you tomorrow
(m)jeu (m)gun / (h)pohp! (m)gun (m)wun! (h)puut! = see you on Wednesday
(h)pohp! (m)gun (m)deu-un (f)nah = see you next month

(m)deu-un (f)nah = next month
(m)deu-un (h)nii = this month
(m)deu-un (h)lair-o = last month
(l)hok! (m)deu-un (h)tee! (h)lair-o = 6 months ago

second = (h)wih!-(m)naa-(m)tee
minute = (m)naa-(m)tee
hour = (f)chu-ah (m)mohng
day = (m)wun
week = (m)aa-(h)tit!
month = (m)deu-un
year = (m)bpee

(r)pom (m)bpai (m)rong-(m)rean
I go to school

(r)pom (l)ja (m)bpai (m)rong-(m)rean
I will go to school

(r)pom (l)ja (m)bpai (m)rong-(m)rean (f)prung!-(h)nii
I am going to school tomorrow

(r)pom (m)bpai (m)rong-(m)rean (f)meu-uh (m)wun (h)nee [The (h)nee at the end is optional]
I went to school yesterday

(r)pom (m)bpai (m)rong-(m)rean (m)deu-un (h)tee! (h)la-ew
I went to school last month

(r)pom (m)bpai (m)gruung!-(f)tep (f)meu-uh wan (h)nii
I went to Bangkok yesterday

(r)pom bpai New York (r)sawng (m)bpii (h)ti! (h)la-ew
I went to New York two years ago

(r)pom ja bpai Chiang Mai ah-(h)thit! (f)nah
I am going to Chiang Mai next week

(r)pom ja bpai Chiang Mai (r)sawng ah-(h)thit!
I am going to Chiang Mai for the next two weeks

(r)pom ja bpai Chiang Mai (r)sawng ah-(h)thit! tud pai

(r)pom (l)yu (h)ti! Had Yai (r)sawng bpii
I have lived in Hat Yai for two years

(r)pom ja bpai Chiang Mai (l)eek (r)sawng ah-(h)thit! tud pai
I will go to Chiang Mai in two weeks (time)

(r)pom ja bpai Chiang Mai (l)eek (r)sawng ah-(h)thit! laa! ja (l)yu (h)ti! Chiang Mai (r)saam deu-un
In two weeks time I will go to Chiang Mai and I will stay there for three months

(r)pom (l)yoo (h)tee! bpra-(f)tet Thai (l)sii (m)bpii [(h)tee! optional]
I have lived in Thailand for four years

(r)pom kur-ee (clenched teeth) (l)yoo (h)tee! bpra-(f)tet Thai (l)sii bpii
I lived in Thailand for four years

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