Thai Language Basics

The Thai Language is as rich and diverse as the country itself.

It's said to have originated on the northern Vietnam border to China, with influence from the Mon (Myanmar) and Khmer (Cambodia) languages. The adaption of Buddhism saw the introduction of words from the Indian languages of Sanskrit and Pali, also shaping the written form of the language.

There are 4 regional dialects of the Thai language, northern, north eastern, central and southern. Some small groups and pockets of Thais in remote rural areas speak their own languages not related to Thai.

The Thai language also has languages within the language. Certain words and phrases are only used in certain social circles or circumstances and not in others. This is not a language based ideal but related to Thai culture and structure, another story.

Just to round it off, there are five different tones that can influence the actual meaning of one word. The five different tones give a beautiful grace to the language. If you listen and observe each word seems to link smoothly in to the next, sounding like a song to someone who does not speak the language.

Not the easiest language to learn, but a few phrases wrote learnt to get you through your travels are easier than you might think. If you attempt to use the language, it's greatly appreciated by the Thais, even if you get it wrong.

Simple Words
No|(Mai) Chai**
Thank you|Korp Khun**
You're welcome|Mai bpen rai**
Bus stop|Tar rot may**
Train station|Sa-tar-nee rot-pai**
Airport|Sa-nam bin**
Toilet|Hong nam**


Hello/Goodbye|Sa-wat dee**

See you later|Jer gan mai**

Pleased to meet you|Yin dee tee dai roo-jok**

My name is|chan phom cheu**

How are you?|Sa-bai dee reu**

I'm fine, thanks|Sa-bai dee krop khun**

And you?|Laew khun la**

Pardon?|Arai na**

Sorry/Excuse me|Kor toht**

Good luck|Kor hai chok dee!**

Happy New Year|Sawasdee pee mai**

Useful Phrases

Please call me a taxi|Garunaa khien thee nee noi**

The bill please|Gep taang**

May I take a picture?|Thaay-ruup dai mai**

I cannot speak Thai|Phoot Thai mai dai**

Does anyone speak English?|Mee krai pood pasa ang-grit dai bang mai?**

Just a little|Nid-noi**

Can you help me?|Chuay-chan**

Where is/are?|Yoo tee nai**

Is it far/|Glai mai**

How much/many?|Tao rai**

How much does this cost?|An-nee tao rai**

Very expensive|Paeng maag**

Do you have something cheaper?|Mii tuuk gwaa nee mai?**

What is this called in Thai?|Nee pah-sah tai riak wah arai**

What does that mean?|Nan bplae wah arai**

Do you understand?|Kao chai mai**

I understand|Kao chai**

I don't understand|Mai kao chai**

It's important|Man sam-kan**

Never mind|Mai pen rai**

I really like it|Chan/phom-chob-man-mak**

I'm lost|Long tahng**

I need a doctor|Tong karn mor ma raksa**