Learning Thai!

I have a confession to make. I love Thailand, I love Thai food, I love Thai people (this is not the confession). The confession is that I do not love the Thai language or maybe it’s that the Thai language doesn’t love me. I find Thai very difficult to learn and to pronounce. Just the other day, I found out that when I thought I was saying “take home” instead of the word for take I was actually using a rather common word for vagina! I can only imagine how the food vendors must have been laughing!



I really want to do better! So starting today, I commit to learning and practicing a new Thai word or phrase daily. I already know how to say “Hello and Goodbye” (same word) as well as “How are you?”, “I am fine.” and “Thank you.  I also use “delicious!” and “cute!” a lot. Delicious because the food always is and cute because I love babies and little children.  Two other really great phrases that I love are “mai pen rai” which basically means “no worries” and “jai yen” which literally means cool heart and is a great reminder to stay calm and composed. The philosophy of “jai yen” is one of the many reasons I love Thailand so much!



I am going to start with learning my numbers, 1-10, which I understand will also give me everything I need to say 20, 30, 100, etc.  Today I am also practicing “How much?” which is “Gee Baht?”.


One thing I have mastered is to put the feminine “kha” at the end of every phrase. Men should say “krap”.

Of course, there are lots of websites, etc for learning Thai. I found this one helpful, here are their suggestions:

  1. Sa-wat dee (hello)
    Used for both hello and goodbye.
  2. Khop koon (thank you)
    How to show your appreciation once you’ve been handed your Singha beer and pad Thai.
  3. Gee baht? (how much)
    Essential for all the shopping you’ll be doing, or when haggling with tuk-tuk drivers.
  4. Yoo tee nai…? (where is…)
    Invaluable when lost!  Just point at a place on your map or in your guidebook and say ‘yoo tee nai’. Also useful when you are trying to find the right bus to go to Phuket or otherwise.
  5. Mai ow (don’t want)
    Useful for fending off persistent street vendors.
  6. Khor tort (sorry)
    Stood on someone’s foot at the Chatuchak market?  Now you can apologise.
  7. Neung, song, saam, see, haa, hook, jet, baat, gow, sip (one to ten)
    Impress the locals by reciting one to ten.
  8. Lot noi dai mai?  (can you make it cheaper?)
    If you are doing a lot of shopping then try this handy phrase. By speaking a little Thai you might just get a better discount.
  9. A-roi (delicious)
    Show your appreciation for that delicious Thai meal!  You never know, if you go back to the same place you might get an extra helping.
  10. Mai pen lai (never mind)
    A common phrase in the Thai language – if someone apologises to you (khor tort) then reply with ‘mai pen lai’.  If someone thanks you (khop koon) say ‘mai pen lai’.  If there’s a mix up (which invariably happens with a language barrier) have a chuckle and say ‘mai pen lai’!

So I say to you now: Sawadee Kha! (Goodbye!)


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