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New Facebook Group: Farang Can Learn Thai

Farang Can Learn Thai

Farang really can learn Thai…

Farang Can Learn Thai is an exciting Facebook group created in November of last year by language enthusiast Richard Jensen. Two months later (almost to the day), membership is already at 1766. I put the group’s popularity down to Richard’s kind nature guiding the generous spirit of its members.

Too often it has been said that farang (foreigners) either can’t or won’t learn the Thai language. This group has been created to help those who wish to learn Thai. It exists in order that we may help each other by sharing ideas, posting videos or web sites that will aid us in the quest to master the Thai language.

Everyone is encouraged to share experiences related to Thai language learning and anything about Thailand you feel will be beneficial to all. Please feel free to add files by clicking on the Files tab at the top. Invite anyone, farang or Thai. let’s have some fun and learn Thai.

Farang Can Learn Thai is a relaxed, social group. Scanning through the members there’s a good balance of Thais, Asians, and Westerners amongst the mix.

Questions about the Thai language get asked. Thais, Thai teachers, and the more advanced Thai students take turns to answer. And (my passion) learning Thai resources appear round the clock. Richard especially keeps finding great stuff I never knew existed!

Due to the international membership, moderators from different time zones keep watch for spam, so please don’t join the group to sell sunglasses or other unnecessary doodads (your posts will be deleted and you’ll be banned).

Thai teachers, bloggers, developers, and more…

As the word about the Farang Can Learn Thai Facebook group got out, many from the learning Thai community stopped by to share their knowledge.

In alphabetical order, here’s a list (along with their details):

Ann Norman
thailandqa.com: 100 Carabao Songs in English

Benjawan Becker
Site: Paiboon Publishing
Blog: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Facebook: Paiboon Publishing
YouTube: paiboonpublishing

WLT: Interview: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
WLT: Teaser: The Interpreter’s Journal: How it Started
WLT: Teaser: The Interpreter’s Journal: Mistakes and Misinterpretations
WLT: Teaser: The Interpreter’s Journal: Studying Foreign Languages

Jan Badertscher
sites.google.com: Thai Learning Resources

Josh Sager
Blog: Let’s Talk Thai
Twitter: @letsTalkThai

Mia Rongsaiw
Site: Learn 2 Speak Thai
Facebook: Learn2speakThai
YouTube: learn2speakthai
Podcast: Thai Girl Talk Podcast
Twitter: @learn2speakthai

WLT: Questions… Questions… Lani and Mia from Thai Girl Talk

Blog: Learn Thai with Mod
Facebook: Learn Thai with Mod
YouTube: ThaiwithMod
Twitter: @ThaiwithMod

WLT: Learn Thai With Mod

Parisa Koknoi
Blog: Speak Thai with Noi Naa
Facebook: Speak Thai with Noinaa
YouTube: SpeakThaiWithNoiNaa

Ryan Zander
Site: Nagaraja Rivers
Blog: Nagaraja Rivers
Facebook: Nagaraja Rivers
iTunes: Ryan Zander

WLT: Successful Thai Language Learner: Ryan Zander

Stuart Cox
Twitter: @stuartcox (Learning Thai Daily)

Stuart G Towns
Site: Its4Thai
Twitter: @ITS4Thai and @sgtowns

WLT: ITS4Thai DRAW + iPhone and iPad Review

Stu Jay Raj
Site: Jcademy Cracking Thai Fundamentals
Blog: Language and Mind Mastery
Facebook: Jcademy.com by Stuart Jay Raj
YouTube: Stuart Jay Raj
Twitter: @jcademy and @stu_jay

WLT: Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Interview Part One
WLT: Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Interview Part Two

Yuki Tachaya
Site: Pick up Thai
Facebook: Pick up Thai by Yuki Tachaya
YouTube: Yuki Tachaya
Twitter: @PickupThai

WLT: PickUpThai: Colloquial Thai Terms and Expressions
WLT: PickUpThai: Colloquial Thai Compound Words

Steve Kaufmann from Linqq is in lurk-mode for now.

Please join us to talk about the Thai language at Farang Can Learn Thai. You are sure to be warmly welcomed if you do.

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Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Challenge 2014

Cracking Thai Fundamentals

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Challenge 2014…

I’ve reviewed scads of learning Thai projects since starting WLT and Polyglot Stu Jay Raj’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals Thai Challenge is one of the most exciting ever.

To give you a bit of background: Stu’s original Cracking Thai Fundamentals started in Bangkok in 2000. Wanting to learn about the Thai language, I attended a CTF course shortly after arriving in Thailand. Like other students I met in class, I loved it so much that I signed up for second round.

If you are interested in what people are saying about CTF, below are several Cracking Thai Fundamentals interviews:

Stu Jay Raj is Back in Bangkok with Cracking Thai Fundamentals
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Interview with Claudio Sennhauser
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Interview with Scott Eddy
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Interview with Peter Lo

In order to reach more students, six months ago Stu started working his butt off to create an online learning experience: Jcademy. That’s right. You no longer have to physically attend one of Stu’s courses to reap the benefits.

To add to the thrill, this week he launched the Jcademy Cracking Thai Fundamentals Challenge.

I’ll say it again. Stu’s CTF Challenge is one the most promising projects I’ve come across. And to help make it even more powerful, please do join in!

For the next few months you can follow Polyglot Stuart Jay Raj as he guides two expats through the CTF course. To do that, Stu created four ways to experience the challenge:

  1. Watch the sessions live via Jcademy’s CTF Challenge section.
  2. Afterwards ask questions of Stu, Andrew, and Richard on Google Hangouts.
  3. Watch the session videos on Jcademy and Stu’s YouTube channel stujaystujay.
  4. Join the CTF Challenge (how can you resist?)

Note: The first CTF Challenge Google Hangout starts at 4pm, Wednesday, January 22.

Be sure to keep up with Jcademy news via:

Web: Jcademy
Facebook: Jcademy
YouTube: stujaystujay
Twitter: @JcademyOnline

And a reminder. This is not a paid ad – I don’t do those – the opinions in this post are unencumbered by personal gain.

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Thai Politics on Facebook: Manee Has a Chair

Thai Politics: Manee Has A Chair

Manee gets into Thai politics on Facebook…

Thai Politics: Manee Has Chair Monday (tomorrow) is the big kickoff for #BKKshutdown. On twitter the protests are also hashed as #BangkokShutdown and #ShutdownBKK and #ShutdownBangkok and #ปิดกรุงเทพ. Starting early, the anti-government protesters have already shut down Bangkok. Oh joy.

If you are interested in the Thai protests and would like to learn how to read Thai at the same time, there’s a Facebook page that you ‘might’ fancy: Manee Has Chair (มานีมีเเชร์).

Old Thai schoolbook illustrations revived in satirical cartoons: “Manee. Manee has eyes.” These are the first simple words most Thai children in the 1970s and 80s (and possibly every foreign student learning Thai) read in school.

Created by the Ministry of Education and published in 1977, the books – plainly titled “Thai Lesson Book” – aimed at primary school students became a recognizable childhood item for introducing them to reading Thai and also a stable of characters such as the young girl Manee (มานี), her older brother Mana (มานะ) and also a dog called Toh (โต).

Just like the Manee series, the words used are short and sweet. To understand what’s going on in the cartoons, of course you’ll need to follow what’s happening in Thai politics and perhaps dig around some. Oh. And your Thai will get a real workout if you also read the comments below each drawing.

You can see the complete set of artwork here: Maneehaschair Photo Stream

More about Manee…

Download 12 FREE Manee Books
Learn2SpeakThai: Learn Thai with Manee
Manee on Thai Text Reader

More about (present) Thai politics…

Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Words for This Time of Political Unrest
Keeping Cool (Tempers) in Thailand
Christopher G. Moore: The Kreng Jai System and Thai Politics
Thai Protests 2013: Who to Follow on Twitter

Stay safe everyone.

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Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary: Yes/No Question Patterns

Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary to learn Thai

Yes/No Question Patterns…

In this latest posting we will use the vocabulary from the High Frequency Thai Vocabulary List to work with Yes/No question patterns.

Please note that there are many many Thai question patterns and as usual we are only going to give examples of a few of the more common ones here. If you have questions on other question patterns that we haven’t covered please drop a comment and we’ll try to answer it.

Yes/No Thai and English Question Patterns Differ…

English Yes/No question patterns usually begin with a “be” verb (Are you …?, Is she …?), or a “do” verb (Does she …?, Did they …?), or a sentence followed by a tag question (She …, doesn’t she?, We …, didn’t we?).

Sometimes we simply raise the tone of our voice at the end of a sentence. This causes even a simple English sentence to become a question. “He’s here.” Becomes “He’s here?” when the final word gets what in Thai would be a rising tone (Never say that English doesn’t have tones.)

One reason so many speakers of other languages have difficulty forming Thai Yes/No questions is that they retain the English way of using rising tone endings. Doing this in Thai doesn’t make for question, it simply makes the final word a rising tone, which may change the final word’s meaning and may or may not be comprehensible to the listener.

Question Words…

Thai makes Yes/No questions by ending a sentence with a question word. The two most basic Yes/No question words are:

มั้ย and ใช่มั้ย

Most Yes/No questions have basically the same pattern. Yes/No questions can be asked about an activity (verbs) or an attribute (adjectives).

Pattern 1 (Simple Yes/No Questions):

verb + question word
ไป + มั้ย
adjective + question word
สวย + มั้ย

Pattern 2 (Tag Questions):

verb + tag question words
ไป + ใช่มั้ย
adjective + tag question words
สวย + ใช่มั้ย

Examples for all Yes/No questions…

The Patterns change depending on the tense we are using.

Present or Past (and sometimes future):

Are you going? Did you go?

You’re going, aren’t you? You went, didn’t you?

Are they hungry?

They’re hungry, aren’t they?


Is Somchai going to eat?

Somchai’s going to eat, isn’t he?

Are we going to have fun?

We’re going to have a good time, aren’t we?

Past (grammatically the present perfect tense):

Have they seen it?

They’ve seen it, haven’t they?

Did your girlfriend/boyfriend used to be fat?

Your girlfriend/boyfriend used to be fat, right?

Answering Thai Yes/No questions…

Sometimes it is almost if the Thai language just wants to make it hard for us. In the case of answers to Thai Yes/No questions we normally never use “Yes” or “No” (with the exception of tag questions).

In English if we ask “Are you going?” We answer “Yes, I am.” or “No, I am not.”; “Is he handsome?” we answer “Yes he is?” or “No, he is not.”

We often hear speakers of other languages answering a Thai Yes/No question with “ใช่” (Yes) or “ไม่ใช่” (No). And most of the time this is incorrect.

Answer Pattern (for simple Yes/No):

Positive answer (yes) – use the verb from the question
Negative answer (no) – use ไม่ + the verb from the question

Question: คุณไปมั้ย
Are you going?

Answer: ไป – “Yes, I am (going).” or ไม่ไป – “No, I’m not (going).”

Question: พวกเขาหิวมั้ย
Are they hungry?

Answer: หิว – “Yes, they are (hungry).” or ไม่หิว – “No, they aren’t (hungry).”

Question: แฟนเคยอ้วนมั้ย
Did your girlfriend/boyfriend used to be fat?

Answer: เคยอ้วน “Yes, she used to be (fat)” or ไม่เคยอ้วน “No, she has never been (fat).

Answer Pattern (for tag questions):

Note: A simple ครับ or คะ is usually sufficient for a “Yes” answer to a Thai tag questions but we have given the other ways to answer them below.

Question: สมชายจะกินใช่มั้ย
Somchai’s going to eat, isn’t he?

Answer: ใช่ “Yes he is (going to eat).” or ไม่ใช่ “No he isn’t (going to eat).”

Question: พวกเราจะสนุกใช่มั้ย
We’re going to have a good time, aren’t we?

Answer: ใช่ “Yes we are (going to have fun).” or ไม่ใช่ “No we aren’t (going to have fun).”

Yes/No Exercises (answers below)…

Interpreting question patterns – How would you interpret the following?









Creating Complete Thai Questions…

Render the following into Thai.

Is Somchai sleeping?
You’re going to school, aren’t you?
Are the children hungry?
Did she buy the skirt?
They are having a good time, aren’t they?
Have you ever been to Vietnam?
Are you full (satiated)?
They were angry, weren’t they?
Now answer the question you just created.
Challenge Question…
Render the following into Thai and then answer the questions.
She is going to study English, isn’t she?
She isn’t going to study English, is she?

Here are the answers to the questions…

Interpreting question patterns:

Are you having fun?
Have you ever seen him?
It is finished, isn’t it?
Is he going to study?
Is she coming here?
She’s pretty, isn’t she?
Are you sleepy?
He’s smart, isn’t he?

Creating Complete Thai Sentences:









Answers to the question you created:

สมชายนอนมั้ย – นอน or ไม่นอน

คุณจะไปโรงเรียนใช่มั้ย – ใช่ or ไม่ใช่

เด็กหิวมั้ย – หิว or ไม่หิว

เธอซื้อกระโปรงมั้ย – ซื้อ or ไม่ซื้อ

พวกเขาสนุกใช่มั้ย – ใช่ or ไม่ใช่

คุณเคยไปเวียดนามมั้ย – เคยไป or ไม่เคยไป

คุณอิ่มมั้ย – อิ่ม or ไม่อิ่ม

พวกเขาโกรธใช่มั้ย – ใช่ or ไม่ใช่

Challenge question…



The term ใช่มั้ย can be used in both “She isn’t …., is she?” and “She is …, isn’t she?”


Note the answers using the same words will mean the opposite depending on which question is being answered.


ครับ/คะ or ใช่ – Yes I am going to study English.
ไม่ใช่ – No I am not going to study English.


ครับ/คะ or ใช่ – You are correct. I am not going to study English.
ใช่มั้ย – You are incorrect. I AM going to study English.

Vocabulary used…


depart; go: ไป
drink; eat: กิน
look (see): เห็น
learn; study: เรียน
come: มา
purchase (buy): ซื้อ


skirt (garment): กระโปรง
school: โรงเรียน
child (young person): เด็ก


angry: โกรธ
hungry: หิว
enjoy: สนุก
corpulent (fat): อ้วน
complete (done, finished): เสร็จ
attractive (beautiful): สวย
dozy (drowsy); sleepy: ง่วงนอน
able (good at); adept (proficient, brave); clever: เก่ง
full (from eating): อิ่ม


already: แล้ว
used to: เคย

High Frequency Thai Vocabulary downloads…

High Frequency Thai Vocabulary: download
Yes/No Question Patterns Audio: download

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Self Study Thai: In-depth Study of VOA News Articles

Self Study Thai: In-depth Study of VOA News Articles

Study Thai with VOA news articles…

Selfstudythai.com creates study materials from news articles with corresponding audio from the voathai.com website. Articles are broken down so you can listen to and read them a line at a time, and for each line an English translation is also provided. As some of you may be aware, articles on the VOA Thai website don’t always match the audio provided, but selfstudythai changes this so can read along with what you’re hearing. The site is for people who have at least a basic understanding of how to read Thai. For those who can’t, I highly recommend starting as soon as possible. That way you can learn from material that’s out in the real world, instead of being stuck learning what someone else has decided is important.

Currently over 50 articles are available covering a wide range of topics. Aside from the first few, I’ve made an effort to choose topics I hope others will find interesting. I try to cover the hot topic of the day, whether it’s political unrest in Egypt, the latest US mass shooting incident, the resignation of the Pope or even the Gangnam Style craze. I also try to add diverse topics to gain exposure to different vocabulary, like online dating and winemaking, plus I’ve also added a few Thailand related topics, like looking back on the 2004 Tsunami, a recent Lese Majeste violation, and hunting for criminals in the Thai entertainment districts. I hope to keep adding at least one article a week to keep the site from becoming stale. Next up are a couple of articles related to outer space.

There are many ways to use selfstudythai. Extensive vocabulary lists are provided in alphabetical order at the end of each article and for each study page. This makes it easy to either choose an article with vocabulary you’d like to learn or choose an article to reinforce the vocabulary you’re already familiar with. Since you can listen to an article one line at a time, you can also use the study pages to help improve your reading skills. Simply try reading a line and then hit the play button to see how you did. The study pages also include a way to listen to a paragraph or two at a time. This way you can see how well you understand everything when it’s all put together before moving on. Of course you don’t need to use the study pages at all and can use the site similar to thairecordings.com, where you play audio and follow along reading the article text.

The project started as a way to help me improve my Thai language skills while at the same time helping others. Having lived in Thailand for just over a decade, I was hoping I would have picked up more of the language by osmosis. Unfortunately the word a week I was learning wasn’t cutting it. When I posted selfstudythai’s 50th article, I decided it was time to go back and proofread everything, taking all I had learned and applying it to my earlier work. I’ve made a huge number of changes, and feel the site is now the best it has ever been. That said, I’m always looking for ways to improve the site and welcome any comments or suggestions.

Mike Arnstein,

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Re-Introducing FLTR + the Thai Text Reader

Re-Introducing FLTR + the Thai Text Reader

FLTR + Thai Text Reader…

Goodness have we ever been busy. As soon as the post Please Vote to add Thai Language to LingQ! hit the stands, Scott Smith, programmer Rick Bradford, and myself starting discussing other (free) possibilities for reading Thai.

Both Learning With Texts (LWT) and Foreign Language Text Reader (FLTR) were in the running. Due to ease of use, FLTR was selected. If you’d like to know more about FLTR, read Andrej’s post, FLTR: The Foreign Language Text Reader.

A mere 21 days later, and mostly thanks to Rick, we give you: Thai Text Reader (TTR).

In a nutshell: TTR hosts the parser and Thai dictionary created by Rick that makes FLTR work with the Thai language. Also on the site are files to download (pdf’s and mp3’s), as well as other resources where you’ll find even more Thai reading materials.

Now here’s the thing. This project could be better. At the moment users have to paste Thai into the parser, parse, copy the results, open FLTR, and then drop in the parsed materials. To take out extra steps, coding them into one program is doable … but …

Rick Bradford: There are some minor improvements in the pipeline to do with the dictionary and some context help via mouse-over, but as this is a volunteer project, the ultimate goal of an integrated FLTR clone would probably only be implemented if there was serious interest from the user community.

So if you are serious about being able to use a FLTR clone to work with Thai, please contact Rick: parser@thaitextreader.com

Giving thanks for the generous donations to TTR…

The aim of TTR is to make your life easier with a Thai parser, dedicated dictionary, and materials for download. To help get this project started four sites quickly stepped up to contribute materials: Bangkok Post, Paknam Web, Thai Recordings, and the newly updated Self Study Thai. Time was extremely short and they delivered. My thanks goes to all.

You can locate the downloadable files in the downloads folder on TTR. Below are the direct links to the materials:

Bangkok Post
Paknam: Gor’s World
Self Study Thai
Thai Recordings

More downloads are in the pipeline but as this project demanded a fast turnaround, there wasn’t enough time to get them compiled before the soft launch.

If you’d like to donate materials to Thai Text Reader the details can be found here: Donating materials. If you know of more decent resources for reading Thai, do contact us.

A recap…

I would LOVE an FLTR clone to work with Thai. Seriously. If you do too, please contact Rick at parser@thaitextreader.com to let him know.

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Thai Language Thai Culture: Do Thais Want Me to Speak Thai?

Thai Language

Do Thais Want Me to Speak Thai?…

Since I have been submitting a bit of grammar in the series Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary, I thought it was time to comment a little more on the cultural side of living and attempting to communicate here in Thailand, especially as this series is called Thai Language Thai Culture. So today I would like to tackle a cross cultural misunderstanding that I have observed for a long time now – and luckily in describing it we can come up with a language lesson.

The Misunderstanding…

The Thais don’t want me to learn how to speak Thai! Every time I try speaking Thai to them, they tune me out, or switch to talking to me in their broken English.

First of all I have a few general comments about the above complaint. Whenever you hear someone say “Thais” do this, or “Thais” do that, be aware that there are over 65 million Thais and the person speaking probably has only met a few of them, so his knowledge of what they ALL do is limited. It is quite difficult to stereotype Thais when dozens of languages and dialects are spoken, and when many cultures and sub-cultures are represented.

Also, I wonder if the same percentage of people who feel this way (that Thais don’t want them to learn Thai), are the same people who tell us that it really isn’t necessary to learn Thai tones. I would bet the correlation is high.

I have found that if it is a language misunderstanding, then 95% of the time it is because I am either saying something incorrectly, or more likely, I have gotten my tones, vowels, or consonants completely bungled.

Thais really don’t want me to speak Thai?…

We can maybe find the answer in this short anecdote.

I was at the golf course the other day, at the 19th hole having a cold drink, when two Farang golfers went up to the desk and asked for some soft drinks. Here is how the interchange went:

Serving girl: กี่ขวดคะ /gèe kùat ká/
Golfer: ซ่อง /sông/

The girl looked at him strangely, and in fact took a step back with a confused and fearful look on her face.

So the Farang golfer, getting a little annoyed at her reluctance to understand what he was saying, shouted back at her:

Golfer: ซ่อง, ซ่อง /sông, sông/

Finally, obviously irritated, he raised two fingers. It was only then that the girl knew what he wanted, so got him the two drinks he was supposedly asking for.

I am sure this is a situation which would make someone think that the girl just didn’t want to understand a person speaking perfectly understandable Thai – and in the context of ordering drinks she should have figured out what he wanted. Right?

Except, here is the translation of what was said:

Serving girl: How many bottles would you like?
Golfer: Brothel.
Golfer: Whorehouse! WHOREHOUSE!

You see, the Thai word used by the golfer was ซ่อง /sông/ (falling tone) meaning “brothel”. Or if shouted angrily as he did, it would be more like “whorehouse”. Our golfer wanted to say the number “two”, สอง /sǒng/ (rising tone) in Thai. Instead, he sounded more like crazy Hamlet yelling at the equally crazy Ophelia, “get thee to a nunnery!” – nunnery being an Elizabethan slang for “whorehouse”.

Let’s put ourselves in the serving girl’s place. First off, when answering the question of how many bottles of the soft drink he would like, the customer replies “brothel”, confusing you a bit. And then he follows up by angrily shouting “whorehouse” at you. Is he pulling a Hamlet, telling me I should get myself to a whorehouse? Even in the context of ordering soft drinks wouldn’t you be a bit perplexed at someone yelling “whorehouse” at you?

I have found that when we are communicating with someone using their language (doesn’t matter which language), and they do not understand us, then we are probably not saying it correctly. The onus is on us.

Our listener really does want to understand us, but when gibberish comes out of our mouths then he/she sometimes go out of their way to try using their own limited skills in our language to make the communication happen.

The Silly Farang…

Here is another example. A silly Farang wants to ask the shop owner for his business card.

Silly Farang: มีนามบาทมั้ย /mee naam-bàat mái/
Businessman: Same confused look as the serving girl above.

Silly Farang: นามบาท นามบาท /naam-bàat, naam-bàat/
Businessman: No change in expression.

Silly Farang: มีชื่อ บ้านเลขที่ บอร์โทรศัพท์ /chêu bâan-lâyk-têe ber-toh-rá~sàp/
Businessman: Oh! นามบัตร naam-bàt

Here is the translation:

Silly Farang: Do you have a name baht (long “aa”, บาท = “baht”, currency)
Businessman: (To himself: “What the hell is a name baht?”)

Silly Farang: Name baht, Name baht
Businessman: (To himself: Please let this crazy man leave my shop!)

Silly Farang: It has your name, address, telephone number.
Businessman: Oh! A “business card”. (short “a”, บัตร = “card”)

And BTW, that silly Farang getting his vowels all wrong was yours truly, and it happened to me just last week. So I still know, and probably will forever, how it feels to make a fool of myself in Thai.

Advice: If you say something in Thai and everyone either looks confused or begins to burst out laughing at you, then at best you got the tone, vowel, or consonant wrong. Or worse, the mistakes you made have turned what you wanted to say into something off color or ridiculous. Or even worse, you’ve insulted the listener’s family or his manhood. When this happens, don’t blame the listener.

Don’t think they don’t want you to speak Thai. They just want you to speak intelligible Thai. There are so many variables in producing a Thai word, tones, vowels, consonants, that any one of them being just a little off will cause you to produce a completely different word than the one you wanted to. Hey, no one said this was going to be easy.

So when you make a mistake and everyone is laughing, just smile (I myself do a big belly laugh when this happens) and throw up your hands and say, “I’m just a silly Farang” and laugh along with them. And everything will be fine.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary: Adjective Patterns

Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary to learn Thai

Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary: Adjective Patterns…

Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Thai and English treat adjectives a bit differently. The word order is different. English uses adjective + noun as in “big dog”, and “white rabbit”. The Thai word order is the opposite, noun + adjective, as in “หมาใหญ่” and “กระต่ายสีขาว”.

Thai adjectives also do not use the “be” verb as English ones do as in “the dog is big.” But use the simple noun + adjective pattern as in “หมาใหญ่”. Thai adjectives in fact act very much like Thai verbs do.

There are many adjective patterns in Thai. The following are six common patterns. Simple examples are given here. You can use the vocabulary below to substitute in the patterns to make your own phrases and sentences. To get sound files recorded for your sentences, please put them in the comments of this post.

All the vocabulary needed is listed below in the samples from the High Frequency Vocabulary List (you can download the list here).

Pattern 1…

The first pattern is a simple noun with a describing adjective.

Noun + adjective
หมา + ใหญ่


A big dog.

A white dog.

A vicious dog.

Pattern 1a…

All adjective patterns can also be negative.

Noun + not + adjective
หมา + ไม่ +ใหญ่


The dog isn’t big.

The dog isn’t white.

The dog isn’t vicious.

Pattern 2…

All Thai nouns have classifiers. These are usually used when counting nouns but can also be used when describing them. They aren’t required and if left out carry the same meaning as Pattern 1.

Noun + classifier + adjective
หมา + ตัว + ใหญ่


The big dog.

The white dog.

The vicious dog.

Pattern 3…

The verb “be” is usually not used with Thai adjectives but can be used in sentences.

Pronoun/noun + be + noun + (classifier) + adjective
มัน + เป็น + หมา + (ตัว) + ใหญ่


It’s a big dog.

It’s a white dog.

That dog (over there) is a white dog.

It’s a vicious dog.

Pattern 4…

Other verbs can be used in sentences with adjectives also.

Pronoun/noun + verb + noun + (classifier) + adjective
ผม + ชอบ + หมา + (ตัว) + ใหญ่


I like big dogs.

I like white dogs.

I don’t like vicious dogs.

Pattern 5…

Thai can also use the equivalent of which/that when describing nouns.

Noun + ที่ + (classifier) + adjective (+ phrase)
หมา + ที่ + (ตัว) + ใหญ่ (+ อยู่ที่วัด)


(the following can be read “dog” or “dogs”)

The dog, which is big, is at the temple.

The white dog is at the temple.

The vicious dog is at the temple.

Pattern 6…

Thai adjectives all have “intensifiers”, words that make the adjective stronger. English has words like “very”, and “really”, and other general-use intensifiers. Thai also has general intensifiers (มาก, จริงๆ) as well as at least one specific intensifier for each adjective.

Sometimes there are two Thai adjectives that have the same meaning. When said together they also intensify the meaning (ดุร้าย is “quite fierce, vicious”; อ้วนท้วน is “truly fat, plump”).

One more way adjectives can be intensified is simply by repeating them (ใหญ่ ใหญ่, or ใหญ่ๆ).

Listen to how a native Thai speaker says repeated adjectives and you will find something interesting. Each one is said with a different tone. This is a case where the written tone rules don’t apply. It is why listening to a native speaker is the only way to get it right.

Noun + adjective + intensifier
หมา + ใหญ่ + มาก


A very big dog (general intensifier).

A really big dog (general intensifier).

A huge dog (specific intensifier for “ใหญ่”).

An incredibly vicious dog (a double adjective).

A truly big dog (repeating the adjective).

Exercise: Interpreting adjective patterns (answers below):

How would you interpret the following?

ห้องนี้ไม่แพง ห้องนี้ถูก

Exercise: Creating complete Thai sentences (answers below):

Render the following into Thai.

She has a white dog.
I want a big room.
That car is really fast.
The tree isn’t green.
She bought some red flowers.
The temple is huge.
That is a small rabbit.
It a green snake.
She has an expensive house.
The red car is expensive

Challenge question:

Translate the following. Listen to your inner voice and create a sentence that feels right. There are probably lots of ways to say this. I’ll give my try below.

The big, white, vicious dog is hungry.

Samples from the High Frequency Vocabulary List:

Nouns (classifiers):

dog: หมา, สุนัข (ตัว)
rabbit: กระต่าย (ตัว)
temple: วัด (วัด)
house: บ้าน (หลัง)
car: รถ, รถยนต์ (คัน)
tree: ต้นไม้ (ต้น)
flower: ดอกไม้ (ดอก)
woman: ผู้หญิง (คน)
snake: งู (ตัว)
room: ห้อง (ห้อง)


it: มัน
I (female)
: ฉัน
I (male speaker)
: ผม
you, she
: คุณ
they: พวกเขา


like: ชอบ
want: อยากได้, ต้องการ
have: มี:
buy: ซื้อ
sell: ขาย
belong to: ของ


Color (all color words begin with สี, which itself means “color”, but the word สี is not required and can be left out).

white: สีขาว
black: สีดำ
green: สีเขียว
red: สีแดง
yellow: สีเหลือง
blue: สีฟ้า


big: ใหญ่
small: เล็ก
vicious: ร้าย, ดุร้าย
kind: ใจดี
fast: เร็ว
slow: ช้า
tall: สูง
short: เตี้ย
expensive: แพง
cheap: ถูก
cute: น่ารัก
beautiful: สวย
ugly: น่าเกลียด
hungry: หิว

Answers to “interpreting adjective patterns”:

I want a very big house.
It is a white temple.
It is an ugly dog.
Their car is slow.
This room is inexpensive. It is cheap.

Answers to “creating complete Thai sentences”:


Below is my attempt at the challenge sentence: “The big, white, vicious dog is hungry”. Please add yours in the comments below.


Here’s the High Frequency Thai Vocabulary download. The sound files for this post, along with any pertinent Thai sentences added in the comments below, will be in the followup post.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Roots

Thai Language

Thai Roots…

I am always looking for new ways to learn Thai vocabulary so that this ancient brain of mine can retain new words. I usually find that if I can learn a new word in some kind of context it makes it easier to remember.

Lots of Thai vocabulary use root words which are then combined with other words to build new compound ones. Example: If we take the root word โต๊ะ /dtó/ (table), and add กิน /gin/ (to eat), and ข้าว /kâao/ (rice), we get โต๊ะกินข้าว, which is dining table.

It is fun to learn a new “big” word and break it down into its constituent parts. That way we can learn lots of little words too.

I was browsing through a dictionary the other day (yes, I “have a life” but once in a while I do weird nerdy things like read dictionaries) and I came across some good root words that can help us learn lots of new vocab.

The two words we’ll play with today are quite simple and even most new learners will know them. Let’s see how many new words we can find which use these root words to build upon.

The root words are:

clock, watch, o’clock: นาฬิกา /naa-lí~gaa/
vehicle, auto, car, wagon, etc.: รถ /rót/

I’ll give you the root and the word’s constituent parts. See if you can figure out the meaning. Answers will be below.

นาฬิกา /naa-lí~gaa/

นาฬิกาข้อมือ /naa-lí~gaa-kɔ̂ɔ–mʉʉ/ = นาฬิกา + ข้อ + มือ
joint: ข้อ /kɔ̂ɔ-/
hand: มือ /kɔ̂mʉʉ/
wrist: ข้อมือ /kɔ̂ɔ–mʉʉ/

นาฬิกาจับเวลา /naa-lí~gaa-jàp-wee-laa/ = นาฬิกา + จับ+ เวลา
to get, grab: จับ /jàp/
time: เวลา /way-laa/
to keep time: จับเวลา /jàp-wee-laa/

นาฬิกาแดด /naa-lí~gaa-dɛ̀ɛt/ = นาฬิกา + แดด
sunlight: แดด /-dɛ̀ɛt/

นาฬิกาทราย /naa-lí~gaa-saai/ = นาฬิกา + ทราย
sand: ทราย /saai/

นาฬิกาบันทึกเวลาทำงาน /naa-lí~gaa-ban-tʉ́k-wee-laa-tam-ngaan/
= นาฬิกา + บันทึก + เวลา + ทำงาน
to record: บันทึก /ban-téuk/
time: เวลา /way-laa/
to work: ทำงาน /tam-ngaan/

นาฬิกาปลุก /naa-lí~gaa-bplùk/ = นาฬิกา + ปลุก
to wake (someone up): ปลุก /bplùk/

นาฬิกาลูกตุ้ม /naa-lí-gaa-lûuk-dtûm/ = นาฬิกา + ลูก + ตุ้ม
a classifier for round objects: ลูก /lûuk/
ตุ้ม /dtûm/ = a hanging object
ลูกตุ้ม /lûuk-dtûm/ = pendulum

Answers for นาฬิกา:
นาฬิกาข้อมือ /naa-lí~gaa-kɔ̂ɔ-mʉʉ/ = wristwatch
นาฬิกาจับเวลา /naa-lí~gaa-jàp-wee-laa/ = stopwatch
นาฬิกาแดด /naa-lí~gaa-dɛ̀ɛt/ = sundial
นาฬิกาทราย /naa-lí~gaa-saai/ = hourglass
นาฬิกาบันทึกเวลาทำงาน /naa-lí~gaa-ban-tʉ́k-wee-laa-tam-ngaan/ = time clock
นาฬิกาปลุก /naa-lí~gaa-bplùk/ = alarm clock
นาฬิกาลูกตุ้ม /naa-lí-gaa-lûuk-dtûm/ = grandfather clock

รถ /rót/ There are lots and lots of compound words using รถ as their root. We’ll just give a sample here:

รถยนต์ /rót-yon/ = รถ + ยนต์
machine: ยนต์ /yon/

รถกวาดหิมะ /rót-gwàat-hì-má/ = รถ + กวาด + หิมะ
to sweep: กวาด /gwàat/
snow: หิมะ /hì-má/

รถพ่วง /rót-pûuang/ = รถ + พ่วง
to tow: พ่วง /pûuang/

รถเก๋ง /rót-gěng/ = รถ + เก๋ง
cab (of a truck), sedan: เก๋ง /gěng/

รถขุด /rót-kùt/ = รถ + ขุด
to dig (with a tool): ขุด /kùt/

รถเข็น /rót-kěn/ = รถ + เข็น
to push: เข็น /kěn/

รถเข็นเด็ก /rót-kěn-dèk/ = รถ + เข็น + เด็ก
to push: เข็น /kěn/
child: เด็ก /dèk/

รถแข่ง /rót-kɛ̀ng/ = รถ + แข่ง
to compete, race: แข่ง /kɛ̀ng/

รถเช่า /rót-châo/ = รถ + เช่า
to rent: เช่า /châo/

รถดับเพลิง /rót-dàp-pləəng/ = รถ + ดับ + เพลิง
to extinguish: ดับ /dàp/
fire: เพลิง /pləəng/

รถไถนา /rót-tǎi-naa/ = รถ + ไถ + นา
to plough: ไถ /tǎi/
field, rice field: นา /naa/

Answers for รถ:
รถยนต์ /rót-yon/ = automobile
รถกวาดหิมะ /rót-gwàat-hì-má/ = snowplow
รถพ่วง /rót-pûuang/ = trailer
รถเก๋ง /rót-gěng/ = car; sedan (saloon car)
ถขุด /rót-kùt/ = backhoe; excavator
รถเข็น /rót-kěn/ = barrow; shopping; pushcart; wheelbarrow
รถเข็นเด็ก /rót-kěn-dèk/ = baby buggy; baby carriage
รถแข่ง /rót-kɛ̀ng/ = race car
รถเช่า /rót-châo/ = rental car
รถดับเพลิง /rót-dàp-pləəng/ = fire engine; fire truck
รถไถนา /rót-tǎi-naa/ = tractor

Now try finding a Thai root word and using a dictionary to look up all the words that are built upon it. Here is a suggestion,
start with น้ำ /nám/ (fluid, water).

Here is a word we found using น้ำ:
น้ำมัน /nám-man/ = น้ำ + มัน
fat, grease: มัน /man/
oil, fuel, petrol: น้ำมัน /nám-man/

The word น้ำมัน /nám-man/ (oil) itself can also act as a root word. Back to the dictionary we find an example:
น้ำมันพืช /nám-man-pʉ̂ʉt/ = น้ำมัน + พืช
plant, vegetation: พืช /pʉ̂ʉt/
vegetable oil: น้ำมันพืช /nám-man-pʉ̂ʉt/

Who knows; try doing these exercises a few times and you might find yourself reading the dictionary in your free time too.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Learn Thai Through Stories, Grammar and Exercises

Learn Thai Through Stories, Grammar and Exercises

Learn Thai Through Stories, Grammar and Exercises…

I’m going to do something I rarely do, and that’s share a project I haven’t seen (yet). But the concept is so good, I just had to share asap.

Chickynet Interview – Karine from Kawee Publishing: For many years Karine searched, without success, for a language book which she could use to teach Thai to her young son. Two years ago she decided to write her own book. Instead of using standard phonetic symbols which is she found too difficult for young readers, she uses the Roman alphabet to teach Thai. The stories and exercises have been beautifully illustrated by Jessica Emmett. Fun to know is that Karine’s son Alec is one of the characters, Kawee.

Learn Thai Through Stories, Grammar and ExercisesIllustrator Jessica Emmett: I can’t believe! The book “Learn Thai – Through Stories, Grammar & Exercises – Book 1″ by Karine Jones has finally been printed and went on sell! It has been a great project. After months of throwing ourselves into finishing the book, my copy finally arrived in February 2013! =D As someone that has a been a long digital artist I had almost forgotten the feeling of holding an object in your hands.

Kawee Publishing: Learn Thai Through Stories, Grammar and Exercises – Book 1″ is a fun and educational book for complete beginners. Each lesson consists of an illustrated story with fun characters, simplified grammar notes and exercises and games. Thai script has been added for the Thai readers. Children easily associate with the characters of the book and love the fun games.

You can order your copy from Kawee Publishing (I’m off to do that right now).

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