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A Top 100 Thai Word List Created from Phrases

Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List

Compiling a top 100 Thai vocabulary list from phrases…

Searching for a top 100 Thai vocabulary list to use with the Loci Method has totally gobbled my interest! Since starting this adventure I’ve found many ways to compile such a list and I’m now on version three. Or four.

In the comments of Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List, the consensus was to create a dedicated top Thai phrases post and then create a top 100 Thai vocabulary list from there. It’s a good idea (and apologies for taking this long). Not wanting to show up to the party nakid, I searched for Thai phrases, shortened the phrases to suit beginners, counted the Thai words used, and then added even more words and phrases.

During the selection I kept in mind the ability to use either iPhone/smart phone apps with pictures and/or hard-copy picture phrase books, and a calculator (either on your phone or dangling from a keychain). The phrasebooks were reviewed last year here: Picture Phrase Books: For When They Can’t Speak Thai. Not reviewed yet (but in my hot little hands) are 3 iPhone apps: ICOON on iPhone and iPod Touch, ShowMe, and Show it!

I also chose words that when combined would make new words, increasing the working word list but not in the original 100 count. And where one basic word would do, I avoided adding another. I’m still not sure I made the best decision with เอา /ao/ and รับ /ráp/!

I also attempted to do without internationally understood words like Thai (ไทย /tai/) for Thai language or Thailand, taxi (แท็กซี่ /táek-sêe/), and OK (โอเค /oh-kay/). But most are included in the phrases.

Oh. And I dropped out (some) words covered by internationally understood hand signals (mimicking a phone call is a good for instance).

Vocabulary list: Top 100 Thai words from phrases…

So here you go, a clean 100 word list from the most basic of ever Thai phrases. The difference between this list and Tony Buzan’s well-known hundred most common words is striking.

And truthfully, staring at my Top Thai Word List created under Buzan’s restraints left me wondering just how sentences are to be cobbled together for actual communication. But I’ll leave that subject for another post. Promise.

already (tense marker): แล้ว /láew/
be [v]: เป็น /bpen/
be at, live at, stay: อยู่ /yòo/
beautiful, attractive, pretty: สวย /sŭay/
big: ใหญ่ /yài/
can: ได้ /dâai/
cannot: ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâai/
come, arrive (shows direction to the speaker): มา /maa/
delicious: อร่อย /a-ròi/
do, make: ทำ /tam/
doctor: หมอ /mŏr/
don’t!: อย่า! /yàa/
excuse me, I’m sorry: ขอโทษ /kŏr tôht/
expensive: แพง /paeng/
far: ไกล /glai/
fast: เร็ว /reo/
full (food): อิ่ม /ìm/
get, receive, accept: รับ /ráp/
go, leave, depart (shows direction away from the speaker): ไป /bpai/
good: ดี /dee/
have: มี /mee/
he, she, him, her, they, them: เขา /kăo/
hello, goodbye, see you later: สวัสดี /sà-wàt-dee/
help, aid, assist [v]: ช่วย /chûay/
here: ที่นี่ /têe-nêe/
hot (spicy): เผ็ด /pèt/
hot (temperature): ร้อน /rón/
hotel: โรงแรม /rohng-raem/
how: ยังไง /yang-ngai/
how much, how many: เท่าไหร่ /tâo-rài/
how much, how many: กี่ /gèe/
hungry: หิวข้าว /hĭw kâao/
I, me, my [f]: ฉัน /chăn/
I, me, my [m]: ผม /pŏm/
injured: บาดเจ็บ /bàat jèp/
know (someone, something, someplace): รู้จัก /róo-jàk/
know (something): ทราบ /sâap/ รู้ /róo/
left: ซ้าย /sáai/
like: ชอบ /chôp/
little bit: นิดหน่อย /nít-nòi/
look, see, appear, seem, watch: ดู /doo/
lost: หลงทาง /lŏng taang/
market: ตลาด /dtà-làat/
name: ชื่อ /chêu/
near: ใกล้ /glâi/
no problem, that’s ok, nevermind: ไม่เป็นไร /mâi-bpen-rai/
no, not: ไม่ /mâi/
now, right now, at this moment: ตอนนี้ /dton-née/
stop, park: จอด /jòt/
one more time: อีกที /èek-tee/
person, people, classifier for people: คน /kon/
police: ตำรวจ /dtam-rùat/
P: Polite particle [f]: ค่ะ /kâ/
P: Polite particle [m]: ครับ /kráp/
P: Question particle: ไหม /măi/
P: Question particle [f]: คะ /ká/
P: Question, confirmative [m/f]: เหรอ or หรือ /rĕr or rĕu/
P: Question, “what about …?”: ล่ะ /lâ/
P: Softener, makes it more persuasive: นะ /ná/
P: Softens request or command, a bit: หน่อย /nòi/
P: Used in requests, congratulations or condolences ด้วย (ค่ะ/นะคะ) /dûay/ (ka/ná-ka)
really: จริงๆ /jing-jing/
restaurant: ร้านอาหาร /ráan aa-hăan/
right: ขวา /kwăa/
slowly, slower: ช้าช้า /cháa-cháa/
speak: พูด /pôot/
stop!: หยุด! /yùt/
straight: ตรงไป /dtrong-bpai/
sure [v]: แน่ใจ /nâe-jai/
Thai currency: บาท /bàat/
thank you: ขอบคุณ /kòp-kun/
that: นั่น /nán/
there: ที่นั่น /têe-nân/
there (further): ที่โน่น /têe-nôhn/
think, calculate: คิด /kít/
thirsty: หิวน้ำ /hĭw-náam/
this, these: นี่ /nêe/
tired: เหนื่อย /nèuay/
to, at, that, which, who, the place, area: ที่ /têe/
today: วันนี้ /wan-née/
toilet: ห้องน้ำ /hông-náam/
tomorrow: พรุ่งนี้ /prûng-née/
turn: เลี้ยว /líeow/
understand: เข้าใจ /kâo-jai/
u-turn: กลับรถ /glàp-rót/
very much, a lot, very: มาก /mâak/
want, take, bring: เอา /ao/ (รับ /ráp/)
want to: อยาก /yàak/
we, us, our: เรา /rao/
well, fine: สบายดี /sà-baai-dee/
what: อะไร /a-rai/
when, whenever: เมื่อไหร่ /mêua-rài/
where (shortened version of ที่ไหน), whichever one: ไหน /năi/
where is: ที่ไหน /têe năi/
who, someone, anyone: ใคร /krai/
why: ทำไม /tam-mai/
write: เขียน /kĭan/
yes: key-word response, ใช่, ครับ, ค่ะ /châi, kráp, kâ/
yesterday: เมื่อวานนี้ /mêua-waan-née/
you: คุณ /kun/

100 words doesn’t handle a lot. From that list you can: ask questions, give answers, make the briefest of polite talk, give instructions to a taxi driver, and buy stuff (with mostly pointing and using a calculator).

And while this list doesn’t give you the backbone of sentence structure (as the Buzan-type lists promise) I’m thinking you won’t be left with as many holes either. But what do I know. I’m still waiting to be enlightened! And I will. Be.

The chosen top Thai phrases…

Due to the nature of the project – zero knowledge of Thai – the phrases are as brief as I could make them. Spoken Thai is mostly inferred anyway so a great deal can easily be left out. Two of the most common words to be left out are ผม/ฉัน /pŏm/chăn/ (I) so go easy on me, ok? The polite particles can be thinned out or beefed up too – up to you.

NOTE: This list is just a getting-out-of-the-phrase-gate list. In no way do I consider it final. I didn’t have time to create phrases from everything so I would seriously welcome your help filling it out.

Hello/goodbye/see you later.
สวัสดี /sà-wàt-dee/

How are you?
สบายดีหรือ /sà-baai dee rĕu/

(I’m) fine, thank you.
สบายดี ขอบคุณ ค่ะ/ครับ /sà-baai-dee kòp-kun/

I’m fine, and you?
สบายดี แล้วคุณล่ะ /sà-baai-dee láew kun lâ/

What about you?
แล้วคุณล่ะ /láew kun lâ/

What is your name?
คุณชื่ออะไร /kun chêu a-rai/

My name is ______.
ผม/ฉัน ชื่อ ______ /pŏm/chăn chêu/
Or just plain ‘ole…
ชื่อ _______ /chêu _______ /

Thank you.
ขอบคุณ /kòp-kun/

Thank you very much.
ขอบคุณมาก /kòp-kun mâak/

You’re welcome.
ไม่เป็นไร /mâi-bpen-rai/

What do you want?
รับอะไร คะ/ครับ /ráp a-rai/ [ká/kráp]

Do you want ___?
เอา ___ ไหม /ao ___ măi/

Yes please.
ค่ะ/ครับ ขอบคุณ ค่ะ/ครับ /kâ/kráp kòp-kun kâ/kráp/

Have: มี /mee/
มี /mee/ ____

(I) have a doctor.
มีหมอ /mee mo/

Do you have?
มี ____ ไหม / mee ____ măi/

Do you have a doctor?
มีหมอไหม /mee mŏr măi/

I don’t have a doctor.
ไม่มีหมอ /mâi mee mŏr/

yes: ใช่, ครับ, ค่ะ /châi, kráp, kâ/
no: ไม่ใช่ /mâi-châi/
can: ได้ /dâai/
cannot: ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâai/

Excuse me.
ขอโทษ นะคะ/นะครับ /kŏr tôht ná-kâ/ná-kráp/

I’m sorry.
ขอโทษ /kŏr tôht/

I speak Thai only a little bit.
พูดไทยนิดหน่อย /pôot tai nít-nòi/

Please speak slowly.
พูดช้าช้าหน่อย /pôot cháa-cháa nòi/
ช้าช้าหน่อย /cháa-cháa nòi/
ช้าช้า /cháa-cháa/

slow: ช้า /cháa/
fast: เร็ว /reo/

I don’t understand – I only speak Thai a little.
ไม่เข้าใจ พูดไทยนิดหน่อย /mâi kâo-jai pôot tai nít-nòi/

I don’t understand.
ไม่เข้าใจ /mâi kâo-jai/

I understand.
เข้าใจ /kâo-jai/

Help write (it for me) please.
ช่วยเขียนหน่อย ค่ะ/ครับ /chûay kĭan nòi kâ/kráp/

How do you say it in Thai?
ไทยพูดยังไง /tai pôot yang-ngai/

Repeat it please.
พูดอีกที ค่ะ/ครับ /pôot èek-tee kâ/kráp/

ช่วยด้วย /chûay dûay/

How: ยังไง /yang-ngai/
v + ยังไง /yang-ngai/

What: อะไร /a-rai/
What? อะไร คะ/ครับ /a-rai ká/kráp/

What happened?
อะไร คะ/ครับ /a-rai ká/kráp/

No, nothing happened.
ไม่ มี อะไร /mâi mee a-rai/
(polite for “none of your business” if asked “what happened?”)

What is this?
นี่อะไร /nêe a-rai/

What is that?
นั่นอะไร /nân a-rai/

What do you want?
รับคะ/ครับ /ráp ká/kráp/

When? เมื่อไหร่ /mêua-rài/
v + เมื่อไหร่ /mêua-rài/

When are you coming?
มาเมื่อไหร่ /maa mêua-rài/
เมื่อไหร่ /mêua-rài/

Today: วันนี้ /wan-née/
Tomorrow พรุ่งนี้ /prûng-née/

Where are you going?
ไปไหน /bpai năi/
(Thai for “hello, how are you doing?”)

ไป _____ /bpai _____ /

Who? ใคร /krai/
n + ใคร /krai/
ใคร /krai/ + verb

Who is that person?
คนนั้นใคร /kon nán krai/

Who does it? Who makes it?
ใครทำ /krai tam/

Who is it?
ใคร คะ/ครับ /krai ká/kráp/

Why?: ทำไม /tam-mai/

How much, how many?: เท่าไหร่ /tâo-rài/, กี่ /gèe/

How many baht?
กี่บาท /gèe bàat/

What’s the matter?
เป็นอะไร /bpen a-rai/

What do you think?
คุณคิดยังไง /kun kít yang-ngai/

Are you sure?
คุณแน่ใจไหม /kun nâe-jai măi/

Is it possible?
เป็นไปได้ไหม /bpen bpai dâai măi/

Is it good?
ดีไหม /dee măi/

What is this?
นี่อะไร /nêe a-rai/

จริงๆเหรอ /jing jing rĕr/

It’s fine.
ดี /dee/

O.K./All right.
โอเค /oh-kay/

That’s all right, no problem, never mind.
ไม่เป็นไร /mâi-bpen-rai/

I don’t know (something).
ไม่ทราบ /mâi sâap/
ไม่รู้ /mâi róo/

I don’t know (someone, something, someplace).
ไม่รู้จัก /mâi róo-jàk/

Beautiful: สวย /sŭay/

Is it beautiful?
สวยไหม /sŭay măi/

It’s not beautiful.
ไม่สวย /mâi sŭay/

Delicious: อร่อย /a-ròi/

Is it delicious?
อร่อยไหม /a-ròi măii/

It’s not delicious.
ไม่อร่อย /mâi a-ròi/

Wonderful, very good: ดี มาก /dee mâak/
Expensive: แพง /paeng/

Is it expensive?
แพงไหม /paeng măi/

No, not expensive.
ไม่แพง /mâi paeng/

Is it ____?
_____ ไหม /măi/

Hot (temperature): ร้อน /rón/
Hot (spicy): เผ็ด /pèt/
Hot (really spicy): เผ็ดเผ็ด /pèt-pèt/
Not spicy: ไม่ เผ็ด /mâi pèt/

I’m… hungry, thirsty, full, tired, sad…
ฉัน/ผม ___ chăn/pŏm ___

Hungry: หิวข้าว /hĭw-kâao/
Thirsty: หิวน้ำ /hĭw-náam/
Full (of food): อิ่ม แล้ว /ìm láew/
Tired: เหนื่อย /nèuay/
Unwell: ไม่ สบาย /mâi sà-baai/

Here: ที่นี่ /têe-nêe/
There: ที่นั่น /têe-nân/
There (further): ที่โน่น /têe-nôhn/

ฉัน/ผม ___ chăn/pŏm ___
Like: ชอบ /chôp/
Don’t like: ไม่ ชอบ /mâi chôp/

Don’t! อย่า! /yàa/
Stop! หยุด! /yùt/
Police! ตำรวจ! /dtam-rùat/

I’ll call the police.
ฉัน/ผม จะบอกตำรวจ! /chăn/pŏm jà bòk dtam-rùat/

ช่วยด้วย /chûay dûay/

I’m sick.
ฉัน/ผม ไม่สบาย /chăn/pŏm mâi sà-baai/

I’ve been injured.
ฉัน/ผม บาดเจ็บ /chăn/pŏm bàat jèp/

I’m lost.
ฉัน/ผม หลงทาง /chăn/pŏm lŏng taang/

Where is?: ที่ไหน /têe năi/

Where is ___?
n + อยู่ที่ไหน /yòo têe năi/

Where is the toilet?
ห้องน้ำอยู่ที่ไหน /hông-náam yòo têe năi/

Where is the hotel?
โรงแรมอยู่ที่ไหน /rohng-raem yòo têe năi/

Where is the restaurant?
ร้านอาหารอยู่ที่ไหน /ráan aa-hăan yòo têe năi/

Where is the market?
ตลาดอยู่ที่ไหน /dtà-làat yòo têe năi/

How do I get to _____ ?
จะไป _____ อย่างไร /jà-bpai _____ yàang-rai/

Is it far? ไกลไหม /glai măi/
Is it near? ใกล้ไหม /glâi măi/

go straight: ตรงไป /dtrong-bpai/
turn left: เลี้ยวซ้าย /líeow sáai/
turn right: เลี้ยวขวา /líeow kwăa/
u-turn: กลับรถ /glàp-rót/
(or just say U turn (with a Thai accent)
traffic lights: ไฟแดง /fai-daeng/

(I’m) going to _____ (market, hotel, hospital, shopping…)
ไป _____
bpai _____

Stop here please.
จอดที่นี่ ค่ะ/ครับ / jòt têe-nêe kâ/kráp/

Kidding, joking: พูดเล่น! /pôot lên/

Posts in the Top 100 Thai Words series…

Ok, that’s it for me. I didn’t use all of the words because I’m short on time (and I’d like to do something else this Saturday afternoon). But, I did have fun creating short sentences from these 100 words of Thai.

Two more posts in the series:
Learning Languages: The art and science of remembering everything
Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.


  1. These are great Catherine. They’re extremely relevant for new learners and for use in everyday life. Although I would have been lost without our collection of phrase books (in the beginning) I really do have to question some of their inclusions sometimes…or perhaps I should just skip the romance sections :)

  2. Thanks Snap! And ta for sending over that correction (by the time I pushed ‘send’ my mind was elsewhere).

    Phrase books and now word lists are a mystery to me. Romance aside, some of the slimmer courses include words that one wouldn’t use often in English (I’m talking mostly nouns here). And with a limited amount of words / phrases to teach, why not go for the top? Why would words like dinosaur make their way into a beginner’s vocab?

  3. If you have do deal with Thai bureaucracy dinosaur is a very useful word to have.

  4. But only to mumble.. not to use out loud :-D

  5. nice list – wish i had it years ago. personally, i would translate “jing-jing” as “truthfully” and not as “really” just for clarity. it’s the very equivalent of the Chinese “zen” word. thanks.

  6. MJ, my Thai teacher was unsettled at my lack of clarity in this post (I didn’t show it to her until this morning) so there will be edits. Nothing major mind you.

  7. Catherine, pretty please ask your teacher to keep it informal, like we would say on the street :) I’ve saved the original post so I can compare…will you let us know when you’ve edited it? Ta

  8. Snap, I can send you my notes with edits if you like (then you’ll see the reasons behind the tweaks).

  9. Thanks a million. I was going to print off both versions, put them on top of one another, and hold them up to the sunlight to spot the differences ;) Don’t laugh, I had a boss that used to make me do that with legal contracts!

  10. Snap, so funny :-) But really, that method sounds like a great way to check (rereading doesn’t always work). These you can see rather easily because they’ve been marked in a bright yellow, with a note attached: “we’ll talk later”…

  11. Catherine – Questions are a great way to learn more of a language. The answers, when understood, invariably lead to more questions and the building blocks stack higher. Your list of phrases is full of many questions and that’s good.

    How about?

    What are you doing? tam-arai krap.

    The answer to that is endless.

  12. Thanks Martyn.! That’s a good one (it’s used often). I’ll add it when I go to fill out the rest of the phrases created from the words above. There might only be 100 words but this list has potential.

  13. Isn’t it the less common but still words that you need a list for.
    A first day tourist is going to learn hello and thank you right away..
    Isn’t it harder to get a grasp of the everyday words that you might not use everyday.. Mirror, bald, ceiling, brush, grab, etc..

  14. Hi Adam, the idea is to help with basic words plus sentence structure in everyday Thai. And while some tourists might learn the basics, leaving them out in a mere 100 word list (basic words) would be a problem.

  15. I’m clearly late to this party, but wanted to add my thanks. I can see how you would have enjoyed the compilation, and what a nice idea. The only word I didn’t expect was UTurn, but I understand it.

    I’m wondering what would be the equivalent for the intermediate learner of conversational everyday speech phrases – a completely different list of 100 headed with gor, hai, etc. Just wondering…

  16. Good idea Roger. That’d make an interesting exercise to tackle.

  17. Dear mam,
    Thanks for your useful words.
    It’ll be helpful for us if you add some words which are related to shop or buy something and some main words related to emergency. It’ll also be useful if the numbers are also get translated.

  18. Thank you so much, i’ve been looking for a list to learn with my memory palace/method of loci. My partner and i are newly married and I’m learning to speak thai so i can communicate with her (our) 2 children.

  19. You are welcome Alex. There are many more lists with audio files dotted around the site (just waiting to be downloaded).

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