Learn Thai Language & Culture

A Woman Learning Thai... and some men too ;)

Review and Draw: Win a Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App!

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook

FREE Draw: Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App…

If you weren’t one of the winners at Richard Barrow’s Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook review and giveaway, then you have another chance to win the iOS version of this app. There will be four phrasebooks being given away on WLT this run, with another four gifted in the future.

As with previous draws, the rules are simple:

  • Leave comments below.
  • Comment(s) need to add to the conversation.

NOTE: Each relevant comment gets counted, so leave as many as you like.

The draw will run from this moment until the 22nd of April, 6am Thai time. As soon I’m awake(ish) I’ll throw the numbers into random.org, and then announce the four winners.

It’s a beaut of an app, so good luck!

Review: Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App…

Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook by Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand: This phrasebook + mini-dictionary app is in a league of its own, with full-text search access to more than 12,000 professionally edited words, phrases, and ready-to-use, customizable complete sentences organized into 250+ practical categories like “Language Difficulties,” “Hotel,” “Renting a Place,” “Food/Drink,” “Price Haggling,” “Transportation,” “Health,” “Shopping,” “Sightseeing,” “Love/Romance/Sex” and even “Swearing/Insults.”

The Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook app has leapfrogged into the Smartphone market. Traditional Thai phrasebook apps have sentences and a smattering of vocabulary, leaving you searching in vain for an exact fit. The Talking Thai-Eng-Thai Phrasebook also gives you sentences and vocabulary but the real magic comes with sentence patterns.

To show you what I mean, let’s put off a detailed overview of the app for the moment and go straight to the Domestic Help section in the Categories. You might recognise some of the phrases from my HouseTalk series.

Categories >> Domestic Help >> Maid >>

Talking Thai-English-Thai PhrasebookTo select the phrase you need, scroll down the list by sliding your finger south along the face of your iPhone, or by using the see-through blue scroll button on the righthand side of the screen.

You’ll find three types of sentences: Complete sentences, sentences with placeholders where you can insert words and numbers from a list, and sentences with grammatical placeholders.

Complete sentences are obviously used as is. Clicking on placeholders in sentences with insertable words comes back with subjects such as: Currency conversions, numbers, dates and time, locations, colours, materials, and things you might want to buy.

Grammatical placeholders are complex creatures so will appear in a future update. Until then, clicking on the placeholder gives you the grammar rules for that particular pattern. But in the meantime it’s dead simple to work with the placeholders sans inserts. Some of the results won’t be exactly correct but you’ll be understood. Here you go.

  • Select the sentence pattern you want to work with.
  • Click the grey ‘add to favourites’ box (look for the plus).
  • Click the search icon at the bottom left nav to find the word you need.
  • Favourite that word as well by clicking the plus in the box.
  • Click on the favourites icon at the bottom right nav.
  • To hear both, check the box to the left of each selection.
  • Practice saying them in the correct sequence a few times and voila you have your new sentence!

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook: Settings…

Before you go any further with the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook it’s a good idea to get your settings sorted.

  • First up, adjust the text size of both the English and Thai together or separately (for me, I’ve made the English small and the Thai script large).
  • Next set the volume for playback and keyboard clicks (my volume is turned on high and the keyboard clicks turned off).
  • Following is gender (I’m a female and like my ฉัน and ค่ะ/คะ’s thank you very much).
  • If you want to use transliteration there’s a whole slue to choose from: Paiboon (two types), Easy Thai, TLC (thai-language.com), Tiger, Haas, IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), ALA-LC (American Library Ass), TYT (Teach Yourself Thai), LP (Lonely Planet), T2E (thai2english.com), and Thai Govt+.
  • And now comes the setting I’ve been waiting for. You can hide the pronunciation! Fabulous.
  • Here’s the rest of what you can do in settings: Keyboard selection, digits, currency, clocks (I went with 12 over 24 hour).

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook: Navigation…

The navigation abilities are all over this app. Across the top left is a home icon (takes you back to the home of the section you are in), an up arrow (takes you to the top of that the screen you are in). And across the top right are simple forward and backward arrows that navigate you to where you’ve recently been and back again. The arrows might be skinny little things but they are huge timesavers.

On the nav across the bottom of the app there’s Search, Categories, Help, Settings, and Favourites. We’ve already discussed Settings and Favourites, so here are the rest.

  • Search: You can search using English, via Thai sounds (transliteration), and Thai script. There’s also an extensive ‘how to’ that walks you through all the fiddly bits.
  • Categories: As there are over 250 categories I won’t list them individually, but along with over 12,000 words and phrases, they are tucked inside Essentials, Situations, Conversation, Glossary, and Places.
  • Help: The help is incredible. It not only shows you how to use the app, but includes a mini-course on the Thai language. The Speaking and Listening section teaches initial and final consonants, vowels (length and sounds), tones, similar sounds, syllable and stress, irregular sounds, parts of speech, verbs, objects, prepositions, questions and classifiers, word register, months, and the 12 year cycle. Wow.

I’m not exactly saving the best for last, but to me, the ability to suggest a word and/or phrase is a big deal. If a search comes back with “no matches” you can suggest it. What does that mean? By clicking on the proffered link that takes you to Paiboon Publishing, you can then suggest that your word or phrase gets added to the next update. How great is that? It’s like you are one of the team, helping to improve an already wonderful app.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In late 2015 the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook will be rolled into the Talking Thai-English-Thai Dictionary. If you don’t have the dictionary and you get the phrasebook now, via an in app purchase you can upgrade to the dictionary. But if you already have the dictionary and you don’t want to wait for the phrases, then by all means, go for it. It won’t break the bank and will help support the ongoing development of Paiboon apps (quality always costs more to build than is expected).

More about the Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook iOS app…

Talking Thai–English–Thai PhrasebookPrice: 14.99
Seller: Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand
Released: 06 April 2015
Version: 1.9
Word count: 12,000+
Audio: Native speaker (female)
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Turn off Transliteration: Yes
Zoom/pinch: No need
Font control: Yes
Help: Yes (amazing)
Requires iOS: 5.1.1 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Reminder: The draw will run from now until the 22nd of April, 6am Thai time. Good luck!

Review: PickupThai Podcasts by Yuki and Miki

Pickup Thai Podcasts

PickupThai Podcasts…

PickupThai PodcastsPickupThai Podcasts teaches real Thai, not Faranged Thai. Throughout the lessons you’ll learn common sentence structures with particles and idioms that Thai people use in their daily lives (but almost never ever get mentioned in textbooks).

Learning these structures is the key to speaking real Thai – and you’ll do just that with audio files recorded in a relaxed, natural way of speaking.

At present there are two courses on offer at PickupThai Podcasts, Sweet Green and Spicy Red. More will be added later. Sweet Green is for beginners to low intermediate students of Thai, and Spicy Red is for upper-intermediate and advanced learners.

Apart from using real Thai, another main selling point of PickupThai Podcasts is the liberal use of humour throughout. I mean, who wouldn’t have a hoot studying Thai with sentences such as these?

Don’t fart in public again, OK?

You think your boyfriend looks like Brad Pitt?

My heater broke, so I went to Thailand.

To get a taste of Yuki’s humour, check out her free YouTube videos. Such fun!

Each course at PickupThai Podcasts includes an audio file, two artistically designed pdfs (one with transliteration and one without), and a plain text file for those who want to use the materials elsewhere (such as Anki, BYKI, or LONGDO).

Important, instead of teaching vocabulary and phrases on their own, the materials focus on teaching words and phrases in context. And what I especially appreciate is the casual mix of L’s (ล) and R’s (ร). Often we are taught only to roll our R’s, which is just not common on the street.

Using male and female voices, the audio lessons are roughly 30-40 minutes long. The recordings are clear and personable; it’s almost like having Yuki and her sister Miki chatting away in your living room! And a plus, there is no invasive music or long talking intros in the sound files. I don’t know about you, but I get impatient with courses that add unnecessary time to lessons. Instead, the intros are short and sweet, moving on quickly to what you want to learn.

As each course progresses they get slightly more difficult after each lesson, with the difficulty level being quite significant between lessons 1 and 15. If you want to compare Sweet Green to Spicy Red, from the free downloads be sure to choose each from their difficulty level, such as Sweet Green 1 and Spicy Red 1, and/or Sweet Green 11 and Spicy Red 11. If you compare Sweet Green 1 to Spicy Red 11 the results will be skewed.

PickupThai Podcasts: Sweet Green Pod…

Pickup Thai Podcasts

As mentioned above, there are two pdfs for Sweet Green. One with just Thai script and English and the other with transliteration and English. The plain text file has Thai script and English, but no transliteration.

Each course comes in two parts: The main conversation lessons teaching patterns and vocabulary, and a question and answer section using the patterns taught in the first lessons but with different phrases and vocabulary.

Conversation sections: First you are given the conversations at normal speed, followed by a slower speed, then the vocabulary used in the lesson. And finally, the conversation with English translations.

Question and answer sections: Using a ‘graduated-interval recall’ method similar to Pimsleur’s, the question and answer section is the power of the courses at PickupThai Podcasts. A complete phrase is spoken, then broken down into smaller parts, each with their English translation. After, you are prodded to respond to Yuki’s “how do you say…”.

Each sentence pattern has four sentences using the same pattern. To keep it fun, humour is sprinkled around. Sweet Green’s sentence patterns and interactive “how do you say…” questions geared to draw out a response are a simple, yet robust way to get Thai into your head.

PickupThai Podcasts: Spicy Red Pod…

Pickup Thai Podcasts

As with Sweet Green there are two pdfs for Spicy Red. The Thai script pdf has English in the Vocabulary and Sentences and Translations sections only. The other pdf is the same, but with transliteration instead of Thai script. The plain text file has Thai script only.

The lessons in Spicy Red are conversation heavy, making them significantly more challenging than Sweet Green. Except for the vocabulary section that has English translations, the crutch of English in the audio files is noticeably absent. These lessons are perfect for those who want to practice listening to Thai without the overly invasive English found in many Thai lessons.

In Sweet Green each lesson covers one conversation, but in Spicy Red there are two longer conversations, each with sentence patterns similar to Sweet Green. Leading is a conversation for the first half of the storyline, then the vocabulary used, followed by a series of question sentences and true or false questions, ending with the sentences and their English translations. The second part of the lesson repeats the process with a conversation that continues the storyline.

PickupThai Podcasts: Sweet Green and Spicy Red…

Pickup Thai Podcasts

To cover practical situations you’ll find in real life, PickupThai Podcasts teaches real Thai from as many angles as possible. In Sweet Green there are stories of a mother talking to a daughter, two strangers talking to each other, a sister talking to a brother, friends talking to each other, etc. Sweet Green focuses on daily life situations such as getting a taxi, buying food, eating out, making a phone call, going to the movies, and more. The advanced Spicy Red course concentrates on the more complicated life situations you’ll find yourself in. To see each course in detail, go to this page on PickupThai Podcasts.

Now that I’ve touched on the basics, why not see for yourself? Go ahead and take advantage of Yuki’s four FREE lessons at PickupThai Podcasts’ store (Sweet Green and Spicy Red 1 and 11).

But wait! Until the end of April there’s a Songkran 50%-25%-15% off sale going on. And everyone loves a sale, right?

PickupThai Podcasts

Yuki and Miki, PickUpThai Podcasts
Website: PickUpThai Podcasts | Youtube: Yuki Tachaya | twitter: @PickupThai

Thailand’s Ministry of Culture: No Fun Allowed at Songkran?

Thailand's Ministry of Culture

No Songkran fun … for the wicked…

Chiang mai CityNews’ latest post shoots off with: ‘Mini Cult’ Uses Children to Shame Behaviour at Songkran.

The first child responds with “It’s water fight time!” but as the answers progress the answers include “sexy dancing with no clothes”, “touching boobies”, and “get into a brawl”.

After alternating between the innocent children’s faces and raucous black and white images of Songkran the video concludes with the statement “ Seriously, is this how you want to experience Songkran?”

I’m torn about Mini-Cult’s latest bid to control. On one hand, I still remember back when they took away the Bare Breasted Ladies of Songkran. That miffed me to no end.

But on the other hand, I can sort of see their point. I wouldn’t want my kids to experience anything terribly awful (not that I’ve seen much of anything myself – does it even exist).

Now here’s yet another ‘but’. Parents can and do arrange safe venues for their kids. And there’s plenty of safe fun to be found. First off, kids celebrate Songkran at school. And secondly, many neighbourhoods are filled with lighthearted water fights up and down the sois. Oh, and don’t forget the Wats! That’s three.

But if you think about it, keeping kids away from the areas where drunks (local and tourists) are in high concentration just isn’t that difficult. Most everyone knows where they go. Trick or Treating (America’s favourite holiday) had to be tweaked for kids too. So really, it can be done.

Then there’s this bit that keeps nagging at me… It’s well-known that Thai kids walk to school through all sorts of raunchy areas where sex and drugs are sold openly on the street. So if Mini-Cult is so bothered about what Thai kids are being exposed to, why aren’t they putting a stop to that sort of fun as well?

I dunno. Seriously. You tell me.

FREE Thai Fonts: Comparisons & Downloads

FREE Thai Fonts

Thai designers do use Arial…

Thai fonts sizes are all over the place. And if you don’t choose a well-designed font, to get the Thai and English to balance you’ll be forced to adjust sizes by hand. Tedious. Throw in transliteration – not all fonts design for it – and if you are not careful you’ll end up with a mess.

I went the difficult route until I discovered Arial Unicode MS, but these days I stick mostly to Thonburi. Both Arial Unicode and Thonburi (sans serifs) allow me to use the same font size for English and Thai, and the transliteration scales wonderfully as well.

My design friends freaked when I mentioned that the font I used most was Arial. But hey, we live in different worlds now (and it’s not like I’m committing sin with Comic Sans). Of course I want pleasing to the eye pages but spending all my time editing individual words is just not logical. There’s Thai to be learned folks!

Besides, even Stuart Jay Raj from jcademy.com is on the Arial bandwagon …

I use Arial Unicode MS font for most unicode stuff… both diacritics on latin letters and complex scripts. If you need diacritics on latin letters use the Mac OSX US Extended keyboard. They have all the tonemarkers built into short cuts using shift + alt + key combinations.

Fredrik Almstedt recently introduced me to Adobe Thai, a serif font with a wonderful balance. It’s not free but I’ve included it due to its clean attributes. So, apart from Adobe Thai, the list below is free for personal use. Note: If you want to include any fonts in a software package, you just might have to buy a licence (so please do check first).

Did you know that Thailand even has its own national fonts? You can download them for free at Thaksin University’s website.

Thai National fonts (Thai: ฟอนต์แห่งชาติ; rtgs: [font] haeng chat), or colloquially SIPA fonts (Thai: ฟอนต์ซิป้า, are a group of thirteen Thai-Roman fonts distributed and used by the Government of Thailand as public and official fonts after they won a national competition.

The Council of Ministers officially announced the thirteen fonts as the public fonts, naming them the “national fonts”. The public agencies were ordered to use these fonts, especially “TH Sarabun PSK”, in their state papers.

The Thai fonts listed come from all over the place but in no way could I include everything I found. If your favourite Thai font (preferably free) isn’t represented just drop me a line and I’ll make it so.

When you download the pdf you’ll see that it’s in six sections, showing as many comparisons as there was time for. Again, if you can suggest more (time allowing), I’m game.

  • Thai Font List: List of Thai fonts in English, Thai, and transliteration.
  • Thai Font Samples: Thai fonts in 12, 14, 16 and 18 points.
  • Thai Font Samples: Thai fonts in alphabetical order.
  • Thai Font Samples: Thailand’s version of “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog”.
  • Thai Font Downloads: Links to download free the Thai fonts mentioned in this pdf.
  • Thai Font Resources: Various font sites and information.

Here’s the FREE Thai Font Comparisons & Downloads download: 4.9mg pdf

Research posts are almost never done on my lonesome so before I continue I’d like to thank those who helped: Fredrik Almstedt, Stu Jay Raj, and Jan Nadertscher. Again, I owe … I owe …

Thai Language Connectors: Starter Pack

Thai Language Connectors

Language Connectors for Thai learners…

Anthony Lauder (Fluent Czech on YouTube) is the Mr Rogers of language learning. In part due to his dry wit, his knowledgeable videos are a doddle to watch.

Also a fan of How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately, Anthony put together an invaluable list of intermediate level phrases described on his site: Conversational Intimacy Connectors and the Connectors Starter Pack.

Conversational Intimacy Connectors: Conversations need to flow. Conversational intimacy connectors help establish and maintains that relationship (so the listener feels better connected to you) as well as getting over the “urm” moments that make people uncomfortable.

When I came across Anthony’s list of connectors I just KNEW I had to have it for Thai. Problem is, not many would be capable of successfully translating the connectors from English into Thai. I’m certainly not! Actually, out of my circle of Thai speakers (native and not), only a few would feel comfortable translating at that level.

Carefully looking around (and asking opinions to be doubly sure) I approached Yuki from PickupThai. Yuki has wonderful English skills (she’s more switched on than I am and her grammar rocks). She also teaches real Thai (not Thai teacher Thai).

I can’t tell you how chuffed I was when Yuki agreed to spend the huge chunk of time needed to not only translate the entire list, but to record it as well. I owe… I owe…

Disclaimer: There are almost 500 connectors (448 at last count) that have been translated from English to Thai. And with some being difficult to translate there are sure to be a couple that people won’t 100% agree with. It’s just the way interpretation goes. So if you have differing opinions, do please let us know. We are open for consideration (but no promises).

Please note that we are dropping any connectors in the original list that are not common in Thai. An * means there is no equivalent expression in Thai but it sounds more or less ok anyway.

UPDATE number two: Too many audio files in one post were killing my site (even with a cull) that I’ve taken them off. This is a first – apologies. Audio files are in the download.

And now to the Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack…

Anthony’s Connectors Starter Pack has 100 connectors (a sample from each subject). And being manageable, that’s the one we’ll start with. Later posts in the series will be one subject per post.

A few tips from Anthony: I practiced these phrases dozens (maybe even hundreds) of times until I could say them automatically, without having to put any effort into thinking about them. Then I studied each one in depth, and thought hard about it to think of real-life situations when it would be used. At first, I used imaginary situations, until I felt that I associated a given connector automatically with those situations.

Connectors help smooth the way without resorting to stuttering and stumbling. Some are there to give you thinking space, so’s you can come up with something appropriate (or not) to say. For the descriptions below I’ve pared down Anthony’s, but if you need longer explanations you know where to find them.

NOTE: The audio files below are for females but the downloads are both male and female.

Opening Connectors…

Opening Connectors are responses to questions. They give you needed time to mentally form your actual answers.

Thank you heartily.
kòp kun jàak jai

Note: Literal meaning: “I thank you from the heart.”

That is such a good question.
nân bpen kam tăam têe dee

That is a difficult question.
nân bpen kam tăam têe dtòp lam-bàak

Once upon a time, long ago…
gaala kráng nèung naan maa láew…

Note: Only used in tales and stories.

Filler Connectors…

Filler Connectors also give you time to come up with something to say (and are far better than stuttering your way to results).

yàang têe túk kon kâo jai dâai

Frankly speaking…
pôot dtaam dtrong ná…

Between you and me…
บอกแล้วอย่าไปเล่าต่อให้ใครฟังนะ ฉัน/ผม…
bòk láew yàa bpai lâo dtòr hâi krai fang ná · chăn/pŏm…

yàang rai gôr dee…

Well then…
อืม ถ้าอย่างนั้น…
eum · tâa yàang nán…

Apologising Connectors…

Mistakes in our target language are a given. I can name more than a few gaffs, and that was before I moved to Thailand! When that happens, just insert an Apologising Connector, then change the subject right quick.

Don’t be upset, but…
อย่าโกรธนะ ผม/ฉัน…
yàa gròht ná · pŏm/chăn…

Note: “But” in this sense is not commonly used in the Thai language. You can just start saying what you need to say without saying “but.”

It was a slip of the tongue.
pŏm/chăn plĕr pôot pìt bpai tâo nán

I said it that way by mistake.
pŏm/chăn mâi dâai dtâng jai pôot bàep nán

I am sorry that…
pŏm/chăn kŏr tôht têe…

Qualifying Connectors…

Some Qualifying Connectors soften statements, and apparently help to avoid coming off as an arrogant know-all.

To tell the truth…
ao jing jing láew…

I presume that…
pŏm/chăn dao wâa…

I hope that…
pŏm/chăn wăng wâa…

In my opinion…
dtaam kwaam kít pŏm/chăn…

If that is true…
tâa bpen rêuang jing…

Agreeing and Disagreeing Connectors…

The Agreeing and Disagreeing Connectors take you beyond the often erroneous ใช่ /châi/ and ไม่ใช่ /mâi châi/ (yes/no) answers beginners respond with.

One hundred percent.
nâe-non (rói bper-sayn)

Without question.

Exactly / Exactly right.
นั่นแหละ / ใช่เลย
nân làe / châi loie

Most certainly.
tòok têe-sùt

Without a doubt.
yàang mâi dtông sŏng-săi

Elaborating Connectors…

Elaborating Connectors work similar to the Agreeing and Disagreeing Connectors in that they expand short replies.

*To be more precise…
tâa jà hâi pôot bàep chà-pór jòr jong gôr keu…

And what’s more…
láew a-rai èek…

*While I am already talking about it…
kà-nà têe pŏm/chăn gam-lang pôot rêuang née…

I would like to emphasise that…
pŏm/chăn kŏr náyn wâa…

Should I explain in greater detail?
hâi pŏm/chăn a-tí-baai hâi fang lá-ìat gwàa née măi

Quoting Connectors…

Quoting Connectors are there to feed our gossip gene. I’m kidding. But I’m sure you know what I mean.

She said something like…
kăo pôot a-rai bprà-maan wâa…

Recently, I heard that…
เมื่อไม่นานมานี้ ผม/ฉันได้ยินมาว่า…
mêua mâi naan maa née · pŏm/chăn dâai yin maa wâa…

Switching Connectors…

Switching Connectors are wonderful because you can use them to change subjects to ones you have enough vocabulary for.

*Now it occurs to me that…
dton-née pŏm/chăn néuk dâai wâa…

By the way…
yàang rai gôr dee…

I have an interesting story about it.
pŏm/chăn mee rêuang raao têe nâa sŏn jai (maa lâo hâi fang) gìeow gàp rêuang née

And besides that…
นอกจากนั้น …
nôk jàak nán…

Oh, I nearly forgot…
โอ้ ผม/ฉันเกือบลืมไป…
ôh · pŏm/chăn gèuap leum bpai…

Closing Connectors…

Closing Connectors are just that – phrases to help you close out a conversation.

That is all there is to say (with that, that is everything said).
นอกจากนั้น ผม/ฉันก็ไม่มีอะไรจะพูดแล้ว
nôk jàak nán · pŏm/chăn gôr mâi mee a-rai jà pôot láew

That is all for now.
wan née tâo née gòn láew gan

Note: Literal meaning: “That’s all for today.”

To sum up.
kŏr sà-rùp têe pôot maa táng mòt

Note: Literal meaning: “Let me summarize everything I’ve said.”

*And there (in that) is the problem.
nân ngai bpan-hăa maa láew

Note: Literal meaning: “And there comes a problem.” A response used after someone says something that you think is or will be a problem. Note that it’s not very common.

I hope it is only a question of time.
pŏm/chăn wăng wâa jà bpen rêuang kŏng way-laa

Passing Connectors…

This is another Connector I’m sure you’ll use often. When your head is threatening to explode from speaking in a foreign language, or you just want to give someone else a chance to share their views, use Passing Connectors.

Can you tell me please…
kun bòk pŏm/chăn dâai măi wâa…

*Would you be interested in us talking about something else?
kun yàak hâi rao pôot tĕung rêuang èun măi

And what do you think?
láew kun kít wâa yang ngai

Downloads: Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack…

Files updated: 27/3/15

Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack (with transliteration): Pdf 395kb
Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack (without transliteration): Pdf 395kb
Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack: Audio (Male) 4.9mg
Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack: Audio (Female) 4.8mg
Thai Language Connectors Starter Pack: Audio (Female-singles) 4.1mg

Note: These files are for personal use only (please do not place them on other websites).

More Thai Language Connectors…

Coming up in this series will be the rest of: Opening Connectors, Filler Connectors, Apologising Connectors, Qualifying Connectors, Agreeing and Disagreeing Connectors, Elaborating Connectors, Quoting Connectors, Switching Connectors, Closing Connectors and Passing Connectors (in that order).

Cheers! Catherine & Yuki

Yuki Tachaya, Web: PickupThai | YouTube: PickupThai | twitter: @PickupThai

WLT’s Facebook Page: Finally Hits 1000!

WLT's Facebook Page

Surprise! WLT has a Facebook page…

A couple of days ago it came to me that I was so busy promoting everyone else, I’ve been neglecting WLT’s Facebook page, both in promotion and use.

I have been active on Facebook all this time, just not my own. Lately I’ve been helping out at the Farang Can Learn Thai Facebook group (18,566 and growing). And while FCLT is an excellent place to learn about the Thai language, taking over its timeline with learning Thai resources is just not on.

To compensate, almost daily I tweet learning Thai resources (@ThaiLanguageRes). I do love twitter but Facebook allows more than 140 characters, expanding the possibilities. So I need both.

Anyway … to get WLT’s Facebook page numbers up from miserable to mentionable, I contacted friends on twitter and Facebook to help. An hour ago 1000 ‘likes’ were reached. Thanks all! Your support means a lot to me. Seriously.

Now here’s the thing. It’s just not possible for me to write posts on WLT about every resource I run across. I do add them to WLT’s FREE Language learning resources page but that doesn’t give them a platform of their own. And I do get a far reach with twitter. But in order for me to promote learning resources the best I can, being able to reach even more people via WLT’s Facebook would be wonderful. And that’s where you (hopefully) come in.

If learning Thai language resources are your thing, please join WLT on Facebook or WLT’s twitter even. Or both. Thanks!

Could You Survive Thailand’s Polluted North?

Thai Language Connectors

Would you even WANT to survive Thailand’s polluted North? …

Until yesterday I was having serious doubts about my ability to stick it out in Chiang mai during the burning season. Last year wasn’t too bad, but this year, along with thousands of others, I’m suffering.

The Nation: All-out efforts to fight smog (cough cough)…the haze crisis in the North, which threatens to be the worst in recent history, with air pollution in some parts of Chiang Ri province already three times beyond safety limits.

Every year the government publishes press releases on their meetings where they talk talk talk about cleaning up the air in North Thailand. Good grief all – it’s not rocket science, just quit burning already! Because of the very real health consequences, other countries outlawed open burning yaks ages ago. That’s right. There is a solution to this seasonal mess.

Yeah. I’m miffed. And Thais should be too. I went from gushing about Chiang mai and wanting to retire here, to wondering how quickly I could leave.

Asian Correspondent: Northern Thailand smothers under blanket of haze: Flights were turned away from Chiang Mai International Airport this week as Northern Thailand’s haze crisis deepened. ‘The Nation’ reported Tuesday that at least four pilots decided not to land their planes Monday as visibility was reduced to 800 meters due to the persistent smog.

For the past three weeks, due to a lack of being able to breath, I’ve been mostly housebound. You see, I’m asthmatic, but not seriously so (and I pity Northern Thais who are). My grandmother on my father’s side is though. She died of emphysema young, in her late 60’s. My father and older brother are also serious asthmatics (when I was growing up it was nothing to have an ambulance come and take my older sibling away). But get me around cigarette smoke (even on a walk by) and I’m puking, then coughing up gunk the long night long. Lovely.

What I’ve done to survive the burning North…

Because last year wasn’t too bad I started out ignoring the burning this year. Big mistake. Before I knew it my lungs were compressed, I was suffering from headaches, intermittent coughing kept me awake throughout the night, and the lack of oxygen replaced my energy with sore muscles.

As I wasn’t in a position to hightail it out of here for months at a time I needed to find a doable solution. And fast.

Thai Language ConnectorsChris and Angela, in How to Deal with Chiang Mai’s Smoky Season suggested a N95 grade mask (shown in the banner above) from HomePro. It works fine for running around, and along with hepa-filters in the car, on a good day I can get to the grocery store and back.

I already had three air cleaners (one from Bangkok and two bought last year) ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 baht. This year they were not enough. Worried, the man of the house found one that actually works, the Toshiba Air Purifier CAF-G50(P). And while 15,000 baht might sound expensive, it doesn’t need expensive filters (as does the 40 thou baht version) and does an amazing job of clearing the air. Live and learn.

Infact, the Toshiba is the real reason why I’m writing this post – I wanted to share my positive experiences with others who are also suffering due to the burning this year. Here’s what happened…

Several days ago the electric went out and I forgot to reset the Toshiba. A few (three?) hours later I was in serious trouble with my breathing. I became lethargic, my lungs were again restricted with the building pressure in my chest, and coughing was full-on. All it took to recover was to put the Toshiba on its Turbo setting. Six hours later the light went from red (dirty) to green (clean) and I could breath freely again. Relief!

Then just yesterday the Toshiba got switched to low (there be gremlins in my house). Once again I was in distress, only this time to the point of having a serious discussion about being hospitalised. Luckily I noticed the errant settings and flipped them to high again. Three hours later the light was back to green and I could breath. Problem solved.

I’m now confident about staying longer in Thailand’s polluted North. Only next year, I’ll get an additional Toshiba so’s I can live upstairs as well. Sleeping on the sofa hasn’t been too bad all these weeks but I miss my comfy bed.

Anyway, as I need to come up with a closing paragraph I’ll state what now seems to me to be the obvious. If you can’t leave the north of Thailand during burning season then there are few (logical) tips to follow: Stay inside as much as you can, wear a N95 grade mask when outside, cover your ACs (house and car) with Hepa filters, and buy an air cleaner with a known track record. And good luck!

Note: for useful vocabulary, phrases, and audio about the burning North, go to Hugh Leong’s post: Thai Language Thai Culture: Breathing in Chiang Mai. I took the video and photos used in the post just last week on a rare trip out of the house (it was the least I could do).

Thai Language Connectors

Thai Language Thai Culture: Breathing in Chiang Mai

Thai Language

Breathing in Chiang Mai…

If you live anywhere in or near northern Thailand you probably can’t get the smog out of your head – both physically and figuratively. I live about ½ kilometer from the base of Doi Pui – Doi Suthep National park. Today I can’t see the mountains less than 500 meters away. This week four airplanes were diverted from Chiang Mai International Airport because of limited visibility.

And now I’ve had my first head cold here in almost 10 years. Is it a co-inky-dink that it has happened just as the smog rolled in?

I don’t go into town much unless I have some business to take care of. Yesterday we did the paperwork to get our tax refund for the last three years. That’s the good news. The bad news is I was thinking too much about the bad visibility as I was driving that I missed my turn to the bank.

The air pollution is as bad as I have seen it in many years (three times beyond the safety limits in nearby Chiang rai). It has me almost thinking about a move to Beijing.

Thai Language

With all this going on we thought it might be a good time to work on Thai vocabulary to describe the current situation. After, we’ll construct Thai dialogs using the vocabulary, just in case you want to talk with a Thai friend and you are like me and it is the main topic on your mind.

Thai vocabulary for breathing (or not) in Chiang mai…

มลพิษ /mon-​lá-​pít/ (พิษ = poison)
มลภาวะเป็นพิษ /mon-​paa-​wá-​bpen-​pít/ (ภาวะ = a condition of being poisoned)

Air pollution
มลพิษทางอากาศ /mon-​pít taang aa-gàat/ (อากาศ = air)

Water pollution
มลพิษทางน้ำ /mon-​pít taang náam/ (น้ำ = water)

หมอกควัน /mòk-​kwan/ (หมอก = fog, mist; ควัน = smoke)
ควันพิษ /kwan-​pít/ (poison smoke)

The English word “smog” is a combination of “smoke” and “fog”. Thai does something similar.

Mask (nowadays ubiquitous)
หน้ากาก /nâa-​gàak/
หน้ากากอนามัย /nâa-​gàak à-​naa-​mai/ (อนามัย = hygiene)

ปอด /bpòt/

Lung disease
โรคปอด /rôhk bpòt/

โรคหอบหืด /rôhk-​hòp-​hèut/
หืด /hèut/

โรคภูมิแพ้ /rôhk-​poom-​páe/ (to have an allergy)
แพ้ /​páe/ (to be allergic to something)

ไอ /ai/

เสลด /sà-​lèet/
เสมหะ /săym-hà/

เผาผลาญ /păo-plăan/
เผา /păo/

ขยะ /kà-​yà/

To burn garbage
เผาขยะ /păo kà-​yà/

Fields (rice)
ทุ่งนา /tûng-​naa/

To burn the rice fields.
เผาทุ่งนา /păo tûng-​naa/

ป่า /bpàa/

To burn the forest.
เผาป่า /păo bpàa/

And here’s some phrases for burning in Chiang mai…

Let’s use what we have learned. At least it will be somewhat cathartic.

A: How’s the weather today in Chiang Mai?
wan née aa-gàat chiang-mài bpen yang ngai

B: The smog is really bad.
mòk kwan mâi dee jing jing

A: What causes all that smog?
mòk kwan mee săa-hàyt a-rai bâang

B: They are burning the fields, and garbage, and the forests.
พวกเขาเผาทุ่งนา เผาขยะ และ เผาป่า
pûak-kăo-păo-tûng-naa păo-kà-yà láe păo bpàa

A: Are people getting sick from the pollution?
mon-pít tam hâi kon mâi sà-baai rĕu

B: Yes, especially people with lung disease, asthma, and allergies.
ครับ โดยเฉพาะคนที่เป็น โรคปอด โรคหอบหืด และ โรคภูมิแพ้
kráp doi chà-pór kon têe bpen rôhk-bpòt rôhk hòp hèut láe rôhk poom páe

They will cough and have phlegm in their lungs. It’s best to wear a mask.
เขาจะไอ และ มี เสมหะ ในปอด ใส่หน้ากากดีกว่า
kăo jà ai láe mee săym-hà nai bpòt sài nâa gàak dee gwàa

There’s too much burning in Chiang mai!…

So here is my plan. I’m thinking of taking that tax return that we just got and buying two tickets to Bali and then taking one really, really deep breath. And pray for rain.

But before I go, here’s an iOS app by Thailand’s Pollution Control Department: Air4Thai. And if you are like me and don’t use apps, here’s a useful website: City Hall, Chiangmai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI).

Breathing in Chiang mai audo download: 1.2mg zip
Note: The audio files are for personal use only.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand
Thai Vocabulary in the News

Thai Language

Thai Language Thai Culture: Lounge Lizard Foreign Language Speaking Exercises

Thai Language

Lounge Lizard foreign language speaking exercises…

It is probably because I am a bit obsessive compulsive that I still spend some time every day studying Thai. But that means that I have to constantly find new and interesting ways to work on my language studies. Writing these posts on WLT forces me to think about Thai, and a new blog I have been working on, Thai Vocabulary in the News, is also a great exercise for me. Now I think I have found a new learning method.

To the chagrin of my neighbors and my long suffering wife, I have been learning to play the piano and fantasize about becoming a lounge-lizard singer of popular songs. The other day, while banging away and belting out a new song I had one of those “Ah ha” moments. Why not try translating this song into Thai as a language learning exercise?

The more I thought about it the more I realized that every time we attempt to speak a foreign language we are usually translating into it. And usually when we are listening to a foreign language we are translating back.

Except for the advanced language learner most people don’t have that switch in our heads that allows us to start thinking in the target language until it just flows, without having to translate first. So learning all the ins and outs of translating into a foreign language would be great meaningful practice. And songs are fun to work with.

When I sat down to do my first song translation I realized how fascinating and multi-faceted translating into a foreign language can be. You don’t have to be an advanced student of Thai to try this method. Just choose a song that corresponds to your language level.

Songs are a really good challenge for a translator. They are quite often idiomatic. In our native language we often think idiomatically. This becomes a problem when we try to render what is in our heads in our native language into a target language since one thing we should never do is try to translate an idiom word-for-word.

Taking a song and trying to render it into a foreign language is great training for us because it forces us to break down our native language idioms into what they really mean in normal standardized language. If we are lucky sometimes there is even a corresponding idiom in the target language. This makes translating songs really good training for real world foreign language speaking.

Below I have some examples of songs I have attempted to translate, and the challenges we face when we try this.

Note to native Thai speakers: I’ll be trying my translations here. If you come up with something different please share it with us. It would be great to see how you would say it.

Let’s start with an easy song.

Mary Had a Little Lamb…

Mary Had a Little Lamb, little lamb, little lamb
Mary Had a Little Lamb
His fleece was white as snow.

First things first. Translate the title “Mary had a little lamb”.

Mary is “Mary”. That was easy.

We can translate the verb “had” as มี /mee/ or for the past tense เคยมี /koie-​mee/. A lamb is a baby sheep. Sheep is แกะ ​/gàe/; lamb ลูกแกะ /lôok-​gàe/. One word for “little” is น้อย /nói/ but since this is an animal we can use ตัวน้อย /dtua nói/.

“Mary had a little lamb” = Mary เคยมีลูกแกะตัวน้อย

But there is something missing here. Really the English word “had” in this case has a little more meaning behind it. It really means that Mary was “raising” the little fella. She was feeding him and taking care of him.

Let’s translate “had” to contain these subtleties. I think it should be เลี้ยง /líang/ “to raise”. A “domesticated animal”, or a “pet” of which this little lamb is one, is สัตว์เลี้ยง /sàt líang/ “animal that we raise”. Note: it sounds better without the past indicator of เคย /koie/, so we’ll just drop the past tense which isn’t required in Thai.

Putting all that together the title becomes Mary เลี้ยงลูกแกะตัวน้อย “Mary raised a little lamb”.

The rest of the song repeats the title and then adds:

“His fleece was white as snow.”

“Fleece” is ขนแกะ /kŏn-gàe/, or the hair or fur of a sheep. Since we know we are talking about a sheep let’s just drop แกะ /gàe/ and just keep ขน /kŏn/. “White” is ขาว /kăao/. “Snow” is หิมะ /hì-​má/. “As” really means “to be like” or “the same as” which in Thai would be เหมือน /mĕuan/.

“His fleece was white as snow” = ขนขาวเหมือนหิมะ

But this sort of lacks a certain flow. Let’s add a few words to make it flow better.

Instead of “his” fleece, Thai needs to use “its” fleece. That would be ขนมัน /kŏn man/. And although it isn’t required we really could use a “be” verb somewhere, like คือ /keu/.

And since the term “white as snow” means “really white”, and the term “as snow” is an English intensifier of the word white, we can use the Thai intensifier จ๊วก juak (specific for the word ขาว /kăao/) as in ขาวจวก /kăao jùak/ “really white”. This puts a little more emphasis on the word “white”. That gives us ขนมันคือขาวจวกเหมือนหิมะ “Its fleece was very white, like snow” which flows much better.

Here is my translation of “Mary had a Little Lamb”:

Mary เลี้ยงลูกแกะตัวน้อย

Mary เลี้ยงลูกแกะตัวน้อย ตัวน้อย ตัวน้อย
Mary เลี้ยงลูกแกะตัวน้อย

Now for the song that I was belting away when I had the “Ah ha” moment. It’s one of the shortest, and one of my favorite Beatles’ songs.

I Will…

Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still.
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to I will.

The title “I Will”.

If we translate this we get ฉันจะ /chăn jà/. But you can’t do that in Thai. The word จะ /jà/, which translates to “will” or “shall” isn’t a stand-alone word. It is simply a future indicator. It needs to be followed by a verb. So we need to think about what Paul is going to do.

And from the song it is obvious that he is going to “wait for” the person he is singing to. We can then add the words คอย /koi/ “wait for” and คุณ /kun/ “you”. And “I Will” becomes ฉันจะ(คอย คุณ) “I will (Wait for You)”, parentheses added to keep the original in mind.

“Who knows how long I’ve loved you”

“Who” would be ใคร /krai/ but I don’t really feel that in the song this is a question. I think it is more like “No one knows” so I came up with ไม่มีใครรู้ /mâi mee krai róo/. “How long” = นานแค่ไหน /naan kâe năi/. “I’ve love you” = ฉันรักคุณ /chăn rák kun/. No need for the present perfect to be translated. Giving us ไม่มีใครรู้ฉันรักคุณนานแค่ไหน “No one knows how long I have loved you”.

You know I love you still.

“Know” is รู้ /rúu/ or ทราบ /sâap/. ทราบ seems more formal so I’ll stick with รู้. But คุณรู้ /kun róo/ by itself sounds a little hard so I like คุณรู้แล้ว /kun róo láew/ which means “you already know” and doesn’t change the meaning but softens it a bit. “I love you still” in normal speak is “I still love you” which would be ฉันยังรักคุณ /chăn yang rák kun/. “You know I love you still” becomes คุณรู้แล้วฉันยังรักคุณ “You already know that I still love you”

“Will I wait a lonely lifetime”

“Will”. From my thinking about this song I don’t think this is a simple future tense word. It seems to have the meaning that he is asking if she is going to make him wait for a lifetime before she responds to him. That would be something like “Are you going to make me …?” which would be คุณจะทำให้ฉันต้อง… /Kun jà tam hâi chăn dtông …/

“Wait is รอ /ror/ or คอย /koi/ even better to use the Thai double verb of รอคอย /ror-​koi/. “Lifetime” is made up of “life” ชีวิต /chee-wít/ and “all of” ตลอด /dtà-lòt/ as in “all of my life” ตลอดชีวิต /dtà-lòt chee-wít/

“Lonely” is เหงา /ngăo/ And instead of describing “lifetime” as being lonely we describe our “waiting” as being lonely. So we need to put this after the verb รอคอย /ror-​koi/ as in รอคอยเหงา /ror-​koi /ngăo/ “wait alone”. And this is a question so we tag on the question word หรือ /rĕu/ at the end. Giving us “Will I wait a lonely lifetime” = คุณจะทำให้ฉันต้องรอคอยเหงาตลอดชีวิตหรือ “Are you going to make me wait lonely for my whole life?”

“If you want me to I will”

If = หาก /hàak/
“Want me to”, “Want” = ต้องการ /dtông-​gaan/. When you are using this in the case of she wanting me to do something you get ต้องการให้ฉัน /dtông-​gaan hâi chăn/. The song just says “want me to …” and leaves the verb unspoken. But in the translation into Thai we kind of need to say it. What is it she wants him to do? “Wait”. So we get คุณต้องการให้ฉันรอคอย. And then we are back to “I will” but that would be repetitive. How about we say something like “Well. If you want me to wait I’ll go along with that.” So we can say something like ฉันก็ยอม /chăn gôr yom/. The word ยอม /yom/ meaning “to be compliant”.

“If you want me to I will” becomes หากคุณต้องการให้ฉันรอคอยฉันก็ยอม “If you want me to wait then I’ll go along with that.”

And my complete translation of the first verse is:

ฉันจะ(คอย คุณ)


You can see that when translating a song we first have to think about what the song means, what all the idioms and left-out-words are trying to say. Then we can render it into the target language. This is why I like the term “interpret” rather than “translate” since we really can’t do a word-for-word code switch. The mental exercise becomes more like Step 1, “native language words”; Step 2, “meaning of the native language words”; Step 3, “target language words”.

And in fact, these are the same steps we need to take whenever we attempt communicating in a foreign language – that is until we get to the level where we can eliminate the first 2 steps and simply think in the target language.

Hopefully, we are all on the road to getting there.

Try interpreting your own favorite song. You can just start with song titles. How about this one from Jackson Browne for a starter, “Running on Empty”? or how about this from the Eagles, “I’m going down the road trying to loosen my load I got seven women on my mind.” I have my answers and will share them with you but want to hear what you come up with first. Drop us a comment with your answers. I’m looking forward to reading them. I’ll bet we get lots of different ones.

Download Lounge Lizard: 1.5mg zip

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand
Thai Vocabulary in the News

Thai Time: Relearn Thai Tense the Thai Way (part 1)

Bingo Lingo

Relearn Thai Tense the Thai Way (part 1)…

If I were to ask you: what is the future tense word in Thai? Most of you would probably respond instantaneously-“จะ /jà/, of course!” And if I ask you: how about the most common past tense word? There are a few but you’d probably invariably select แล้ว /láeo/ as your first choice. Then let me ask you: then what does the sentence “จะไปแล้ว” /jà bpai láeo/ mean? How do ‘future’ and ‘past’ tense occur in the same sentence?

The Thai language appears to warp spacetime, making the past and the future collide, resulting in a big black hole in your brain. No wonder you never understand it.

In the vast majority of Indo-European languages such as English, French or German, everything that you do has a temporal reference: you did something; you have done something; you will do something, etc. You can even refer to an alternative past that didn’t exist (I would have gone to Chiang Mai if I hadn’t had to work on Sunday). This concept of tense is so fundamental to Indo-European languages that it’s ingrained into the speakers’ perceived reality and is something many of you probably think you cannot do without. “How can I ever say anything at all if I can’t say when I do it?”

However, Thai is a tenseless language and it doesn’t really deal with time in the same way that languages with grammaticalised tenses do.

At this point you may ask: “So what about all these translations such as ‘will’ for จะ /jà/, or ‘to have (done) already’ for แล้ว /láeo/? Is my teacher/school/book wrong?” No, they’re not wrong. That’s just one way to ease your learning difficulty by analogising Thai into concepts that you’re already familiar with in your native tongue. But if you do not want to end up with something called ‘interlanguage’ and speak broken Thai for eternity, you may want to approach Thai time in a Thai way.

That is why in this post I’m offering you an alternative approach to some of the most common time markers in Thai. My approach may seem a bit different but I’m sure it will all come together.

แล้ว /láeo/ VS ยัง /yang/ – fulfilled VS unfulfilled…

I decided to pair these two up instead of แล้ว /láeo/ VS จะ /jà/ because their functions really complement each other beyond just a past-future pairing. You’ll see why.

แล้ว /láeo/ is a fulfilled particle. It is dubbed so because it shows that the action is already done, or at least it has been set in motion, hence the conditions are fulfilled. It is often translated as ‘already’ or ‘now’:

เค้า ไป เกาหลี หนึ่ง อาทิตย์ แล้ว
káo bpai gaolǐi nùeng aatít láeo
She already went to Korea a week ago.

Her ‘going to Korea’ has already happened and now she’s in Korea.

จะ ถึง แล้ว
jà tǔeng láeo
I’m nearly there.

I’m arriving now – the ‘arriving’ part is set in motion and is bound to happen any time soon.

หนู จะ สอบ พรุ่งนี้ แล้ว
nǔu jà sòrp prûngníi láeo
I’ve got an exam tomorrow.

She hasn’t taken her exam yet but the exam has been scheduled (or as in my word- ‘set in motion’), and แล้ว /láeo/ in this case is used to express the imminence of that event.

On the other hand, ยัง /yang/ is the absolute opposite of แล้ว /láeo/: it is an unfulfilled particle. It shows that the action is still ongoing, or it has not even started yet. The action feels somewhat pending and incomplete. It is often translated as “still” or “yet”:

yang mâi rúu weelaa nát loei
I don’t know the appointment time yet.

At the moment of speaking he doesn’t know what time the appointment will be. The ‘knowing’ part is therefore unfulfilled.

เล็กเค้ายังอายุแค่ 15 เอง
Lek káo yang aayú kâe sìphâa eeng
Lek is still only 15.

The implication of this phrase is that Lek’s still not old enough for whatever purpose that requires him to be older.

On a different note, when you use the ‘Have you…?’ question (แล้ว)รึยัง? /(láeo) rúe yang?/, you now know that you literally say: แล้ว + หรือ + ยัง /láeo/ + /rǔe/ + /yang/: ‘fulfilled or unfulfilled’!

ได้ /dâi…/ – achievement particle…

Although they’re written the same, this ได้ /dâi…/ does NOT have the same function as /…dâi/ ‘can, able to’. /dâi…/ is dubbed an achievement particle and is always put in front of the verb. The deeper meaning is something like “I got (the chance) to …” or “I succeeded in (doing something)”. It’s often used to describe past events (but not always).

mâi dâi gin kâao mûeacháao
I didn’t eat this morning.

This means the speaker didn’t get the chance to have anything for breakfast. If you drop ได้ /dâi…/ from this sentence: ไม่กินข้าวเมื่อเช้า /mâi gin kâao mûeacháao/, it means that the speaker made a conscious decision not to have breakfast, not because he didn’t have the chance to do so.

duean nâa jà dâi bpai fáràngsèet
I get to go to France next month.

This demonstrates how ได้ /dâi…/ doesn’t necessarily talk about the past, because in this case the event will take place in the future! The speaker of this sentence feels that his ‘going to France’ is an achievement and he’s looking forward to it.

มา / …maa/ – perfect particle…

Now this particle is probably the only Thai time marker that actually has a tense in a traditional sense. มา /…maa/ describes events that started in the past and lead up to the present moment, or as it is popularly known, the “present perfect tense”:

gin kâao maa rúe yang?
Have you eaten?

In many situations, กินข้าวรึยัง? /gin kâao rúe yang?/ would perhaps suffice. However, since กินข้าวรึยัง? /gin kâao rúe yang?/ has no temporal reference, it can also mean something like “Are you ready to eat?” or “Do you want to eat now?”. มา / …maa/ is there to eliminate this ambiguity.

Essentially, this word is the same มา /maa/ as in ‘to come’, but when it’s used as a time marker it follows the main verb:

รอมา 5 ชั่วโมงแล้ว
ror maa hâa chûamoong láeo
I have been waiting for 5 hours now.

/ror maa/ roughly translates as ‘have been waiting’. Although this guy has been in constant anticipation for 5 hours, he may have been doing other things while waiting. Whereas,

มารอ 5 ชั่วโมงแล้ว
maa ror hâa chûamoong láeo
I came here to wait 5 hours ago.

/maa/ in this case is NOT a time marker and literally means “to come”, so /maa ror/ in this case just means “come to wait”. Whoever this poor soul is, he hasn’t left the spot for 5 hours now. Frightening thought…

The deep sense of this time-marking มา /…maa/ is explored thoroughly in Stuart Jay Raj’s Thinking in Meanings – Cracking Thai Fundamentals Part 2 in which he explains that the famous Thai greeting ไปไหนมา? /bpai nǎi maa?/ doesn’t literally mean ‘to come’ but rather in a metaphorical sense: “Where have you been to arrive at this point (in time)?”

จะ /jà/ – intention particle…

/jà/ is widely understood as ‘will’ or ‘the future tense word’, and it often refers to the future. But more fundamentally, /jà/ is an intention particle, expressing the intention of a person to do something e.g. เค้าจะสอน /káo jà sǒrn/ can be translated as “She will teach”, “She’s going to teach” or “She intends to teach”.

jà norn dtorn sìi tûm
I will go to bed at 10 p.m., I intend to go to bed at 10 p.m.


por jà òrk jàak bâan, fǒn gôr dtòk
As I was leaving home, it started to rain.

In this case, จะ /jà/ does not refer to the future. It shows that the speaker intended to leave home, but it started to rain before she could do so. So it’s really not valid to keep calling จะ /jà/ a future tense marker. It’s not.

chán jà mâi jer káo ìik loei
I never want to see him again.

In this sentence, the speaker has made a conscious decision not to see him again. It is by choice. If you remove จะ /jà/ from this sentence, it takes on a whole new meaning: ฉันไม่เจอเค้าอีกเลย /chán mâi jer káo ìik loei/ means that the speaker has not seen him for some time (perhaps even though she wanted to).

One interesting fact about จะ /jà/: it also appears in a lot of words such as อาจ(จะ) /àat (jà)/ ‘perhaps’, คง(จะ) /kong (jà)/ ‘possibly’, น่า(จะ) /nâa (jà)/ ‘likely, should’, เกือบ(จะ) /gùeap (jà)/ ‘almost’, ควร(จะ) /kuan (jà)/ ‘should, ought to’, etc. Unpredictability, conditionality and subjectivity seem to be the theme for the word จะ /jà/ here. Note that จะ /jà/ in all these cases can almost always be dropped.

กำลัง /gamlang/ VS อยู่ /yùu/ – ongoing action VS ongoing state…

กำลัง…อยู่ /gamlang…yùu/ pattern is more or less an equivalent of ‘to be …ing’ in English. One difference from the English counterpart is that this pattern strictly refers only to an ongoing present and not to a future plan such as “I’m going to New York next week”. You can use both of these words together for any ‘to be…ing’ structure most of the time, but the two words have slightly different functions. I’ll start with กำลัง /gamlang/:

กำลัง /gamlang/ literally means ‘power, labour, energy’. When it is used as a time marker, it focuses on the ongoing ACTION (the action is being carried out at the time of the event):

pǒm gamlang gin kâao
I’m eating; currently what I’m doing is eating.

This sentence illustrates the movement of the speaker having his meal. The focus is on the action.

aagàat gamlang dii
The weather is just about right.

I believe this needs an explanation. While it is true that in this sentence there cannot be any literal ‘action’ going on because nobody controls weather, ‘กำลัง /gamlang/’ in this case shows that the weather itself is keeping its balance; it’s not too cold or too hot, as if some effort is being made to make it so. Therefore the event seems “active”.

อยู่ /yùu/ on the other hand literally means ‘state of being, to be in a state of…’ (The word อยู่ /yùu/ itself means to live or to be alive as well.) When it is used as a time marker, it focuses on the ongoing STATE (that the current state exists at the time of the event):

pǒm gin kâao yùu
I’m eating; the current state that I’m in is eating.

This sentence illustrates the ongoing state of the speaker having his meal. Although the meaning is almost identical to the similar sentence we’ve seen previously, the focus of this sentence is actually on the state. Imagine you’re enjoying a meal and someone calls you on the phone, interrupting your blissful ‘state of eating’. This sentence would better suit the situation than ผมกำลังกินข้าว /pǒm gamlang gin kâao/, although both sentences would be grammatically accurate. The difference is insignificant.

pǒm gamlang gin kâao yùu
I’m eating; currently what I’m doing is eating and the current state that I’m in is eating.

The translation of the sentence above is probably somewhat repetitive to you, but it is a good description of how กำลัง /gamlang/ and อยู่ /yùu/ work together. If you use them both, it simply shows that both the action and the state of that action’s result are ongoing. They more or less have the same referent: eating.

แม่มีเงินอยู่ 10 บาท
mâe mii ngern yùu sìp bàat
Mum has 10 Baht.

This sentence is interesting. Verbs like ‘to have’, ‘to be’ or ‘to know’ are called static verbs–verbs that describe a state (rather than an action like ‘to go’ or ‘to eat’). Possessing something is not an action–you don’t ACT out your possession over it. In this sentence, the mother has 10 Baht. It is a state of having money, not an action.

Therefore, you cannot use กำลัง /gamlang/ instead of อยู่ /yùu/ in this case:

*แม่กำลังมีเงิน 10 บาท
*mâe gamlang mii ngern sìp bàat
Mum has 10 Baht; currently what she’s doing is having 10 Baht.

As you can see from this erroneous example above, although the difference between กำลัง /gamlang/ and อยู่ /yùu/ is minute and they can coexist most of the time, in some cases the interchangeability ceases and you’re forced to choose only one.

But most of the time you can use them both or either one. No need to overthink this.

These are some of the most common time markers in Thai. By this time you have probably realised that the irony of this post is that almost all of these ‘time markers” can’t decisively mark, ‘past’, ‘present’, or ‘future’ tense! The way they express time is entirely relative to the actual event and context, among other things.

The objective of this part 1 is to guide you through the conceptual thinking of the words’ function rather than finding a non-existent equivalence for each of them in your language.

In my next post, part 2, we will create a whole new dimension of time expression by combining these words! Sounds fun? You’re such a geek!

Download Tense Audio: 987kb zip

Until next time!

(Bingo) Arthit Juyaso
Principal of Duke Language School
My book on reading Thai fast: Read Thai in 10 Days

« Older posts