Basic Thai Adjectives

Here are some adjectives in Thai with their English meaning that will help you when describing things. If you want to emphasize that quality or that there was a lot of it, simply add “mak” to the end of the word. Example, “suay mak” means very beautiful. 

You can also make a comparison to another object by adding “mahk gwah,” which mean more than, or “noi gwah,” which means less than. Example, “suay mak gwah” means more beautiful than __________. If you don’t add another object to compare to, it means more beautiful than before.

Beautiful/ ugly                       suay/ nah-gliat

Better/ worse                         dee gwah/ lay-o gwah

Big/ small                                yai/ lek

Cheap/ expensive                  took/ pang

Early/ late                              chao/ sai

Easy/ difficult                        ngai/ yahk

Fast/ slow                              ray-o/ chah

Free/ occupied                      wahng/ mai wahng

Full/ empty                           dtem/ wahng

5 Final Thai Proverbs and Sayings

To fire one shot and get two birds.

Pronunciation– ying tee dieow dai nok sorng dtua

Meaning – To kill 2 birds with one stone.

Dive for a needle in the ocean.

Pronunciation– Ngom kem nai maha-samut

Meaning – Look for a needle in a haystack.

You have to sacrifice something to get something.

Pronunciation– dai yahng sia yahng

Meaning– You can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs.

When the water rises, hurry to get some.

Pronunciation– nahm keun hai reep dtak

Meaning – Make hay while the sun shines.

Dying to spite the graveyard.

Pronunciation– dtai bpra-chot bpah-chah

Meaning – Cutting off your nose to spite your face.

5 More Thai Proverbs and Sayings

One rotten fish makes the whole catch smell.

Pronunciation– bplah dtua dieow nao men mot tang korng

Meaning – A rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.

Bad seven times, good seven times.

Pronunciation– chua jet tee dee jet hon

Meaning – Every cloud has a silver lining.

Crying like a turtle being grilled.

Pronunciation– rorng hai nahm dtah bpen pao dtah

Meaning – Crying your eyes out.

Don’t catch fish with both hands.

Pronunciation– yah jap bplah sorng meu

Meaning – You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To know things in the same way a duck does.

Pronunciation– roo yahng bpet

Meaning – Jack of all trades, master of none.

5 Thai Proverbs and Sayings

These are a few Thai proverbs along with the approximate English pronunciation. A literal translation of the proverb is also given with the English equivalent or meaning. Many of the ideas expressed in these sayings is also found in English and reveals some of the similarities between cultures around the world.

Escape from the tiger and into the crocodile.

Pronunciation– nee seua bpa jo-ra-kay

Meaning – Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

To play the violin for the water buffalo to listen to.

Pronunciation– see sor hai kwai fang

Meaning – Cast pearls before swine.

Don’t worry yourself about the fever before it arrives.

Pronunciation– yah dtee dton bpai gorn kai

Meaning– Cross the bridge when you come to it.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

Pronunciation– mair-o mai yoo noo ra-rerng

Meaning – When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

Catching somebody with the hide and the horns.

Pronunciation– jap dai kah nang kah kao

Meaning – Catching somebody red-handed.

Expressing Basic Needs and Asking Questions in Thai

When you are travelling around Thailand, a few phrases that express your basic needs will go along way to getting the things you want like food and water. In addition, question words are useful when you are purchasing things, getting directions or just having a conversation with someone. Of course, pantomimes and gestures added with your attempts to speak Thai will help others to understand you quicker. 

Basic Needs

  • I’m hungry:hiw
  • I’m thirsty:hiw nahm
  • I’m tired:neu-ay
  • I’m lost:long tahng
  • It’s urgent:man duan mahk
  • It’s important:man sam-kan
  • I understand:kao jai
  • I don’t understand:mai kao jai

Question Words

  • Where?:tee nai
  • How?:yang ngai
  • When?:meua-rai
  • What?:arai
  • Why?:tam-mai
  • Who?:krai
  • Which?:an-nai
  • Where is/are…?:yoo tee nai
  • Is it far?:glai mai
  • How much/many?: tao rai
  • How much is this?:an-nee tao rai
  • 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 jai mai

Polite Phrases in Thai

Other than a few basic Thai phrases, here are a few words and phrases that will help you seem like a polite farang to Thai locals. There are a few pronouns and basic greetings to add to your vocabulary as well.

  • *Hello: sa-was-dee
  • Please: ga-ru-nah
  • *Thank You: korp khun
  • *Yes: chai
  • *No: mai or mai chai
  • I: pom (male), dichan(female), chan (male or female)
  • You: khun, ter
  • He/She: kao
  • Pleased to meet you: yin-dee tee dai roo-jak
  • How are you?: sa-bai dee mai
  • *I’m fine, thanks: sa-bai dee korp khun
  • And you?: laew khun la
  • Pardon?: arai na
  • Sorry/Excuse me: kor toht

* The asterisk indicates that you can add “kaa” if you are a female or “krup” if you are a male to the ending. This makes the phrases even more polite and respectful.

Tuk-tuks In Thailand

The tuk-tuk is a quirky form of public transportation that you can find in Thailand. Tuk-tuks are the Southeast Asian version of a vehicle also known as an auto rickshaw or cabin cycle. It is widely used in urban areas like Bangkok and other Thai cities as they can maneuver on crowded streets and zig-zag around cars. Other major Southeast Asian and South Asian cities also have variations of tuk-tuks on their roads.
Tuk-tuks resemble a three-wheeled motorcycle or tricycle. Tuk-tuks are named from the sound that their two-stroke engines make when they idle. They have handlebar controls like a motorcycle instead of a steering wheel. They usually have a sheet metal body or open frame with a canvas roof. Many times they have ornate hammerings or carvings for decoration. The roof can be either metal or water-proofed canvas. The driver is seated in the small cabin at the front, while the passengers sit on a bench over the two rear wheels.

Tuk-tuks do not have meters and you must bargain with the driver and settle on the price before getting in. Foreigners must bargain harder with tuk-tuk drivers and be careful of drivers that take you to stores for you to shop at. Many times, the drivers get a kickback from the stores when you make a purchase.

Bangkok Tuk-tuk
Tuk-tuks can be found in Bangkok around the Grand Palace, Hua Lampong and Khao San Road. In Chiang Mai, they are also found around the Night Bazaar. In the south, different versions of tuk-tuks are found in different towns. In Hat Yai, you’ll find a tuk-tuk that is a four-wheeled vehicle that resembles a small truck with two rows of benches in the back. It is essentially a “song thew,” but locals call it a tuk-tuk. Travellers to Thailand to make sure and take a ride in one of these special vehicles. Three passengers can fit in a tuk-tuk comfortably, although I have seen as many as six people squeezed into one tuk-tuk. I guarantee that a ride in a tuk-tuk will be a thrilling experience in your Thailand adventures.

Thai Dialects

Within Thailand, there are four major dialects. The four primary dialects of Thai are not are not considered a different language. Rather, they are the regional form of Thai that is spoken by the locals, each with their distinctive pronunciations, phrases and words. All of the dialects are forms of the standard Thai language.

These dialects correspond with the four major regions of the country: the southern, the northern (“Yuan”), northeastern (“Isaan”), and central regions. There are a few minor Thai dialects such as Phuan and Lue, spoken by small populations. Official or Standard Thai is based on the idealized speech of the educated people of Bangkok and Central Plains. Northern Thai is spoken around Chiangmai and Chiangrai. Northesatern Thai is spoken to the east of Korat. Southern Thai is spoken south of Chumpon and to the Malaysian border.

There are different types of Thai “language” used by Thais in different social circumstances. For example, certain words or patterns of speech are used only by Thai royalty – called the royal language. There are also languages used for religious figures, polite everyday interactions and gruff or crude communications. The younger, education populations of the Northern, Southern, and Northeastern regions are bi-dialectal since they receive schooling in Standard Thai. However, in their homes and communities they maintain their regional identities and the local dialects are kept alive. Standard Thai is the language that is used when speaking with non-locals and aids in the ability of the peoples from different regions to communicate with each other.

History of the Thai Language and Thai Alphabet

History of Thai

The national and official language of Thailand is Thai. It is spoken by around twenty million residents of the Southeast Asian country. The spoken language is thought to have originated in the area around Vietnam and China. Thai is related to the languages spoken in eastern Myanmar, northern Vietnam, Yunnan and Laos. Thai is a tonal language in the Tai group and the Tai-Kadai language family. Today, standard Thai is spoken nationwide with regional dialects differing widely from north to south and east to west, including Issan (Northeastern Thai), Passa Neua or Lanna (Northern Thai) and Thai Tai or Pak Thai (Southern Thai).

Early Thai settlers in the late Dvaravati period gradually enlarged their Chinese-influenced, tonal, monosyllabic language by borrowing certain Mon and Khmer words. Later, the language absorbed polysyllabic Sanskrit (the classical language of Hindu India) and Pali words as Brahmanism and Theraveda Buddhism were infused. Foreign traders and Chinese immigrants made minor additions in later centuries.

Thai as a written language was introduced by King Ramkamhaeng in the Sukothai period. The writing system has undergone very few modifications since this time. Writings from the Sukothai period can be read because it retains many similarities to modern Thai writings. The writing was based on Pali, Sanskrit and Indian concepts, and many Mon and Khmer words entered the Thai languages as well.

Thai Alphabet

King Ramkamhaeng created the first Thai alphabet in 1283. The Thai alphabet uses forty-four consonant and fifteen basic vowel characters. These are horizontally placed, left to right, with no intervening space, to form syllables, words and sentences. Vowels are written above, below, before, or after the consonant they modify, although the consonant always sounds first when the syllables is spoken. The vowel characters (and a few consonants) can be combined in various ways to produce numerous compound vowels (dipthongs and tripthongs).

Forbes list of World Billionaires 2008

After 12 years at the top of the list, Bill Gates has been dethroned as the World Wealthiest Man by fellow American billionaire, Warren Buffet. Only four of the list released by Forbes Top 20 are Americans. The total net worth of the people of the list is $4.4 trillion and includes the fortunes of 226 newcomers. The youngest of the list is Mark Zuckerberg, 23, who is the founder of facebook.

Top 20 from the Forbes World Billionaires List 2008

  1. Warren Buffet
  2. Helu Slim and Family
  3. William Gates III
  4. Lakshmi Mittal
  5. Mukesh Ambani
  6. Anil Ambani
  7. Ingvar Kamprad and Family
  8. KP Singh
  9. Oleg Deripaska
  10. Karl Albrecht
  11. Li Ka-shing
  12. Sheldon Adelson
  13. Bernard Arnault
  14. Lawrence Ellison
  15. Roman Abramovich
  16. Theo Albrecht
  17. Liliane Bettencourt
  18. Alexei Mordshov
  19.  Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsau
  20. Mikhai Fridman