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Ten Essentials of Thai Conversation: Please and Thank You and Excuse Me: Part 2

The Ten Essentials of Thai Conversation

Ten Essentials of Thai Conversation…

You’re my love, your my angel, you’re the girl of my dreams
I’d like to thank you, for waiting patiently
– Daddy’s Home Shep and the Limelites

Please and Thank You and Excuse Me…

I say “Thank You” to almost everybody for almost everything. It works for me.

Almost all Thai words for thank you have the root word ขอบ /kòp/. It has a few other meanings but ขอบ /kòp/ as a word-fragment cannot really be define other than it is used with a Thai Thank You.

A Thai thank you is expressed in much the same way as we would in English with an exception or two.

Interestingly enough, I do not often hear a thank you expressed by the customer when one buys something from a vendor or shopkeeper. In English we usually will offer a thank you as the shopkeeper hands you the thing you are buying, or when they return your change, but I rarely hear this from a Thai shopper. On the other hand, vendors will almost always offer a thank you to their customer.

It doesn’t matter to me though, I give a thanks anyway, as will most Thais who have empathy for those serving them. It just feels right.

ขอบคุณ /kòp kun/

Example of a simple thank you exchange.

You: ขอบคุณ /kòp kun/
Answer: ไม่เป็นไร /mâi bpen rai/

ขอบคุณ /kòp kun/ has the word คุณ /kun/ embedded in it, which makes up the “you” of thank you. We might say this simply, with no ending particle, possibly to a waitress as she places your order on the table, or the postman as he hands you a package.

The answer ไม่เป็นไร /mâi bpen rai/ is sometimes translated as It’s nothing” which is the literal meaning, or “Never mind” which was made famous (although only partly accurate) in a popular book written by an American in the 1960s, Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind, Carol Hollinger (subtitled, an American Housewife’s Honest Love Affair with the Irrepressible People of Thailand), Asia Books, an early attempt to try and understand the Thai culture. But as a response to ขอบคุณ /kòp kun/, ไม่เป็นไร /mâi bpen rai/ should be interpreted as “You’re welcome”.

We can give a thanks with a little more politeness, and a little more gratefulness.

ขอบคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp kun kráp/ká/

Adding the polite particle at the end is always a good idea, especially if someone has given us something or done something for us.

Even more:

ขอบคุณ มาก ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp kun mâak kráp/ká/

The word มาก /mâak/ adds a “very much” to our thank you, but don’t worry, you won’t sound too much like Elvis’ “Thank you very much.”

More still:

ขอ ขอบคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kŏr kòp kun kráp/ká/

The ขอ /kŏr/ as we remember adds a “please” to your thank you. And since it is a bit formal could be interpreted as something like “Allow me to offer you my thanks.”

ขอบใจ /kòp jai/

This is not a term we would use with adults, even close ones. It is more reserved to be used with children, although some people will use it with someone serving them, especially if they are much younger. It doesn’t mean one is looking down on the person being spoken to and in many cases can be a term of endearment, especially if one uses the Thai ending particle จ้ะ /jâ/.

ขอบใจ จ้ะ /kòp jai jâ/

Thank you in context.

Thank you when someone gives you something:

A friend gives you a birthday present
ขอบคุณ สำหรับ ของขวัญ วันเกิด /kòp kun săm-ràp kŏng kwăn wan gèrt/

Thank you for the birthday present.

You ask someone for a pen and she gives it to you
ขอ ปากกา หน่อย /kŏr bpàak gaa nòi/
(She gives you a pen)
ขอบคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp kun kráp/ká/

May I have a pen please? Thanks.

You borrow some money from your father-in-law.
ขอขอบคุณ มาก ครับ/ค่ะ ที่ ให้ ผม ยืม เงิน
/kŏr kòp kun mâak kráp/ká têe hâi pŏm yeum ngern/

Thank you so much for lending me the money.

Your daughter hands you a plate for dinner.
ขอบใจ หนูจ้ะ /kòp jai nŏo jà/
Thank you dear.

When a guard at a gate hands you a card you will need to present when exiting. As he hands you the card you can say thank you using a contraction.

คุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kun kráp/ká/
Thanks.

Thank you when someone does something for you:

Your daughter visits you in the hospital
ขอบใจ ที่ มา เยี่ยม พ่อ /kòp jai têe maa yîam pôr/
Thanks for visiting Dad (me). Thanks for coming.

Thank you when someone helps you:
ขอบคุณ ที่ ช่วย /kòp kun têe chûay/
Thanks for the help (for helping).

ขอบพระคุณ – /kòp prá-kun/ A very formal way to say thank you. Your mother-in-law gives you a new motorcycle. The in-fix of พระ, a word often used for monks and clergy, makes it special.

ขอบพระคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp prá-kun kráp/ká/
Thank you sooo much.

Honorable Mentions…

ยินดี /yin dee/ (Lanna Thai for thank you)

The word ยินดี in Central Thai means to be “happy” to do something, “to be pleased”. (Ex. ยินดี ที่ รู้จัก /yin dee têe róo jàk/ – Good to know you, Glad to meet you). But in the Lanna dialect of Chiang Mai and the north it means thank you.

If you want to throw in a polite particle as a male you could say it the way northern Thais say it, without the initial consonant cluster. It is pronounced คับ /káp/. The northern Thai woman say the lyrical เจ้า /jâo/.

ยินดี คับ/เจ้า /yin dee káp/jâo/

Then there is Issan Thai. This is a term that lots of Bangkokians use to sound humerous.

ขอบใจหลาย ๆ เด้อ /kòp jai lăai lăai dêr/
Issan for Thanks a lot.

Note: Just yesterday I heard a Bangkokian say “thank you หลาย ๆ” /thank you lăai lăai/, mixing the two languages in a humorous way, when I gave him a glass of beer. I think maybe the beer helped his creativity.

ขอบคุณ ที่ อ่าน /kòp kun têe àan/
Thanks for reading.

Vocabulary used in this chapter…

ของขวัญ /kŏng kwăn/ present
ช่วย /chûay/ to help
ปากกา /bpàak gaa/ pen
พ่อ /pôr/ father
มา เยี่ยม /maa yîam/ to come for a visit
ไม่เป็นไร /mâi bpen rai/ Never mind, Don’t mention it, You’re welcome
ให้ ยืม เงิน /hâi yeum ngern/ to lend
รู้จัก /róo jàk/ to know
วันเกิด /wan gèrt/ birthday
สำหรับ /săm-ràp/ for

Examples of Thai Thank You sentences…

ขอบคุณ /kòp kun/

ขอบคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp kun kráp/ká/

ขอบคุณ มาก ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp kun mâak kráp/ká/

ขอ ขอบคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kŏr kòp kun kráp/ká/

ขอบใจ จ้ะ /kòp jai jâ/

ขอบคุณ สำหรับ ของขวัญ วันเกิด
kòp kun săm-ràp kŏng kwăn wan gèrt

ขอขอบคุณ มาก ครับ/ค่ะ ที่ให้ผมยืมเงิน
kòp kun mâak kráp/ká têe hâi pŏm yeum ngern

คุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kun kráp/ká/

ขอบใจ ที่ มา เยี่ยม พ่อ /kòp jai têe maa yîam pôr/

ขอบคุณ ที่ ช่วย /kòp kun têe chûay/

ขอบพระคุณ ครับ/ค่ะ /kòp prá-kun kráp/ká/

ยินดี คับ/เจ้า /yin dee káp/jâo/

ขอบใจหลาย ๆ เด้อ /kòp jai lăai lăai dêr/

ขอบคุณ ที่ อ่าน /kòp kun têe àan/

Audio and Pdf Downloads…

Pdf download (with transliteration): Ten Essentials of Thai Conversation: Please – Part 2
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Audio download: Ten Essentials of Thai Conversation: Please 2 Audio

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Hugh Leong loves explaining things. And during his 40 plus years of trying to learn Thai and its culture, he learned to love the cross-cultural aspect of living in a foreign country and speaking its language. His series, Thai Language Thai Culture, covers various aspects of learning Thai, and how the Thai culture influences how we say things.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks a lot, Hugh. Even if I’m no more a complete beginner, I find each time something interesting at reading your lessons.

  2. Hi Hugh,
    As it is so commonly used could you also consider covering when it is appropriate to use ครับผม which I most usually hear from doormen/guards etc. but sometimes also used by other Thai men that would be considered to be of much higher status in a “Thank you/You are welcome” kind of scenario?
    ขอบใจหลาย ๆ เด้อ

  3. Thank you very much! All the texts are just great and show understanding and love for the Thai culture.

    One remark: to my knowledge เจ้า is not only used by women but also by men when speaking the very nice Northern dialect.

  4. Gordon and Volker,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Re: เจ้า. The only time I have heard men use เจ้า is in a joking manner, and they are almost always foreigners trying to be cheeky with young northern women. I could be wrong though. If there are any Lanna Thai readers maybe you can clarify.

    Thai-language.com says this about it: “(In the northern dialect a) word added by a female speaker to the end of every statement to convey politeness; equivalent of ค่ะ”

    Re: ครับผม. This is a variation on the polite male ending particle ครับ. I hear it almost solely from lower ranking men to higher status ones, or when one wants to be extra polite. Since foreigners are usually always in the higher rank (not that we did anything to achieve that), I left that one out. I myself have never used it, but it has been used with me often.

    Thai-language.com does not carry ครับผม. Thai2english.com says this about it “(a) particle used by male speakers to sound polite and deferential, sometimes corresponding to ‘Sir’ or ‘Yes, sir'”

  5. I should also have noted that the words ครับ, ค่ะ, เจ้า, ครับผม, are also the answer “Yes” to a Yes/No question. We will be covering this in a later chapter.

  6. Thanks Hugh,
    Yest that is what I expected you to say. I queried it solely because some Thais who I would have expected to rank as high or higher than me have used it with me as you have suggested, i.e. they are just being “extra” polite or they are unsure where in the status ranks this particular foreigner sits. (Probably lower than they think, lol).

  7. ครับผม is used when making a formal speech or presentation to an audience, even when the speaker is quite high status. Other than that, I mostly hear it used by servants or military subordinates, or sometimes sarcastically in response to a request that is delivered a little too brusquely.

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