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Thai 101 Learners Series: Everything to all Men

Thai 101 Learners Series

Every, many and more…

Let’s look at the difference between ทั้ง /tháng/ and ทุก /thúk/, remembering that “th” is pronounced as a “T” while breathing out. In rough translation, ทั้ง corresponds to “all” and ทุก to “every”. You use ทั้ง for all of one thing and ทุก for all of many things.

As with typical Thai counting, you’ll need to remember your classifiers. You know, those special little words that make life difficult. The pattern is the same as for counting, but ทั้ง and ทุก go in the slot where the number normally goes.

So where you would say ข้าว หนึ่ง จาน /khâaw nèung jaan/ or “one plate of rice”, now you can ข้าว ทั้ง จาน /khâaw tháng jaan/ or “the whole plate of rice” or ข้าว ทุก จาน /khâaw thúk jaan/ or “every plate of rice”.

Let’s look at some real-world examples. Say you meet a group of friends for dinner. There are many friends, but only one group.

If you want to check whether everyone is present and accounted for, you might ask, มา ครบ ทุก คน หรือ ยัง /maa khrop thúk khon réu yang/ “Has everyone arrived yet?” ทุก คน /thúk khon/ literally means “every person”.

Or if you were a group of picky eaters, upon your departure, an exhausted waiter might remark to the chef with relief, เขา กลับ กัน ทั้ง กลุ่ม เเล้ว /kháo klàp kan tháng klùm láew/ “The whole group has left”. ทั้ง กลุ่ม /tháng klùm/ means the “whole group”.

An easy way to contrast the difference is with ทั้ง วัน /tháng wan/ “all day” and ทุก วัน /thúk wan/ “each day”. It’s true that I eat sticky rice just about every day, ทุก วัน. But if I ate it all day, ทั้ง วัน, I’d need a stomach staple.

We can also throw the numbers back into the mix, putting the number in between ทั้ง or ทุก and the classifier.

ทั้ง สาม คน /tháng sǎam khon/ means “all three people”. As in, if I loan three friends 1,000 baht apiece, how many will still owe me the money a month later? In all likelihood, ทั้ง สาม คน.

ทุก สาม คน /thúk sǎam khon/ on the other hand is “every three people”. This expression is probably used less often, but we can imagine, say, a restaurant without enough menus. They might tell the waiters to give out one menu for every three people:

เมนู หนึ่ง ใบ ต่อ ทุก สาม คน /meenuu nèung bai tòr thúk sǎam khon/ “one menu for every third person”. I think I’ve eaten there before. Probably didn’t leave a tip.

Another phrase that comes in useful is ทั้ง หมด /tháng mòt/, or often just หมด /mòt/. It’s a multipurpose word for “all” that a lot of the time will get you out of having to remember classifiers.

To revisit earlier examples:

The waiter could say, เขา กลับ กัน (ทั้ง)หมด เเลว /kháo klàp kan (tháng) mòt láew/ “they’ve all left”. And which of your no-account friends still owes you that 1,000 baht? Why, ทั้ง หมด – all you were foolish enough to lend to.

It’s easy to find new phrases for ทุก: ทุก คืน /thúk kheun/ “every night”, ทุก ที่ /thúk thîi/ “everywhere”, ทุก บ้าน /thúk bâan/ “every house/home”.

You may have heard the pop song released to celebrate HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 80th birthday in 2007: รูป ที่ มี ทุก บ้าน /rûup thîi mii thúk bâan/ “The picture found in every home”, referring to the omnipresent photographs of HM The King.

There are many other useful ทั้ง phrases, too:

ทั้ง ปี /tháng pii/ “all year”, ทั้ง คู่ /tháng khûu/ “both” – but ทั้ง สอง /tháng sǒrng/ also works, or ทั้ง คืน (tháng kheun) “all night”, which can describe nocturnal activities like, uh, you know, karaoke and heartfelt chats.

Rikker Dockum
Thai 101

The Thai 101 Learners Series first appeared in the Phuket Gazette ’08
@ Copyright 2008-2009 Rikker Dockum

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  1. Interesting and very helpful for where I am right now in one learning area. Now if I could only understand all those squiggles I’d really feel like I was getting somewhere.

  2. If you need to see those Thai squiggles larger (because none of us are getting any younger and the Thai script is usually always smaller in comparison)…

    On a Mac in FF it’s command + to enlarge and command – to reduce.

    If you have the new MacBook Pro, the blinking thing has a mind of its own so be careful when any two parts of your body are sliding across the track pad at the same time because your browser will act accordingly.

    On a PC in FF it’s CTR + and – to make fonts grow larger or smaller.

  3. Rikker/Catherine – Sorry to group you together like that but glancing back you really do look compatible. I have come across thuk (every) before and do use it in conversation. Young Wilai eats som tum each day, regular as clockwork and instead of calling it som tum I often say to her ‘Now you must go make thuk thuk wan pok pok’ in reference to her daily habit. Thang (all) is a new one to me but with my use of thuk under my wing then its introduction will be easy. A more than useful lesson and one that has its uses in everyday (thuk wan) Thai life. A little bit more of these type of lessons please as they are so easy to follow for all (thang) concerned.

  4. Hi Martyn, Lump away. I don’t mind at all as I’m the one getting the intellectual upgrade. This lesson is indeed useful and there are many more to come. A month’s worth. And then I’ll have to see about nudging Rikker for more :-)

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