learn to read thai Archives - Learn Thai from a White Guy

How to Say Good Morning in Thai

Many cultures use different greetings depending on the time of day.  While Thai language has a couple phrases that are similar to “good morning,” “good afternoon,” and “good night,” Thai people do not commonly use these very much in daily life.

However, you may hear them on Thai dramas or in Thai movies, so it’s ok to learn it.  If you want to know how Thai people say good morning to each other at different times of the day, below are both the formal and informal phrases you’ll come across either in book, classes or other websites.  Be sure to read to the end as that’s where the most common phrases are.

good morning in thai

How to Say Good Morning in Thai

Formal Thai for “Good Morning” Part 1: (What Thai language books and other websites tell you to say…)

—- Examples:

  1. อรุณสวัสดิ์ (ah-roon-sa-wat) Good morning
  2. สวัสดีตอนเช้า (sa-wat-dee ttawn-chao) Good morning

*Disclaimer: We mention these phrases, because it’s the only way to rank this page high enough on Google that you will ever see it, but I will stress that Thai people don’t say these 2 phrases and neither should you.  Except, perhaps to be silly.  If you use it (especially ah-roon-sa-wat), you will probably get a laugh or a smile so there may be some value in learning these 2 Thai phrases  just to get a reaction out of people.

Google is getting better at recognizing what’s actually used as opposed to what the top websites might tell you.

google translate search of "good morning" in thai

Don’t use SA-WAT-DEE-TAWN-CHAO

Formal Thai for “Good Morning” Part 2: (What Thai people REALLY say)

—- Examples:

  1. สวัสดี ครับ/ค่ะ (sawat-dee + khrap/kha) – Hello + (male/female polite particle)
  2. ทานข้าวรึยัง (taan khaao rue yang) – Have you eaten yet?*

*ทาน (taan) is a slightly more polite/formal word for “to eat” in Thai.  If you frequent the same restaurant or cafe, as the staff  start getting to know you, they may use this word for a time instead of กิน (kin) which also means “to eat.”   Using ทาน (taan) instead of กิน (kin) is more formal/polite and maintains a level of distance from the person being spoken to.

Informal Thai for “Good Morning” (What you should use with your friends)

  1. หวัดดี ครับ/ค่ะ (wat-dee + khrap/kha) – Hi
  2. กินข้าวรึยัง (kin khaao rue yanng?) – Have you eaten yet?*

You’ll use *”กิน (kin) – to eat” most of the time when speaking with friends or colleagues.

Want to Know More Thai Greetings and Basic Phrases?

To learn all about the best Thai greetings to use in every situation, check out our “How to Say Hello in Thai” post.  In that post, you’ll find the 2 most useful phrases in the Thai language so don’t miss out.

Want to learn to speak and read Thai language?  Check out my Thai foundation online course here or sign up below to try some free lessons from the program.

 

Paintball

In this short Thai reading exercise, the writer tells briefly about her experiences playing paintball in Hua Hin.  Some of the meaning of the sentences have been translated below.  You can use the linked google doc to see a more thorough breakdown of the vocabulary that appears in this text.

เมื่ออาทิตย์ที่แล้วได้ไปเล่นเพนท์บอลที่หัวหินกับเพื่อนๆ เราแบ่งคนออกเป็นสองทีม แต่ละทีมต้องพยายามบุกไปชิงธงของฝั่งตรงข้าม และต้องระวังตัวไม่ให้ถูกยิงด้วยเพราะถ้าถูกยิงจะถือว่าตายแล้วต้องออกจากสนามเลย ที่สนามมีชุดหมี เสื้อเกราะ หน้ากาก ถุงมือ และปืนให้ยืม

วันนั้นสนามแฉะและลื่นมากเพราะฝนเพิ่งตก ตอนเริ่มเกมเราไปแอบอยู่หลังบังเกอร์แล้วได้ยินเสียงคนยิงมาโดนถังที่ตั้งอยู่ข้างๆหลายนัด กลัวเหมือนกันแต่ก็คิดว่าต้องสู้บ้างจะมัวแต่แอบไม่ได้ พอได้จังหวะก็เลยวิ่งไปหลบข้างหลังถังใบใหญ่อีกใบนึง ตรงนี้ตำแหน่งดีมาก เห็นคนนึงโผล่หัวมาจากที่ซ่อนแล้วเขาไม่ทันระวังตัวก็เลยยิงโดนสบายๆ ตอนกำลังคิดว่าจะวิ่งไปหลบตรงไหนต่อดีก็มีเสียง “ตุบ!” แล้วก็เจ็บที่เอว เลยรู้ตัวว่าโดนยิงแล้วต้องยกมือเดินออกจากสนาม วันต่อมาก็เห็นว่าตรงเอวเป็นรอยช้ำสีเขียว กว่าจะหายเจ็บคงอีกหลายวัน

  • เล่นเพนท์บอล – to play paintball
  • แบ่งออกเป็นสองทีม – to break up into 2 teams
  • แต่ละทีม – each team
  • ต้องพยายามบุกไปชิงธงของฝั่งตรงข้าม – must try to capture the opposite (team’s) flag
  • ถ้าถูกยิงจะถือว่าตายแล้วต้องออกจากสนามเลย – if you get shot, you are considered dead and must leave the field
  • ที่สนามมีชุดหมี เสื้อเกราะ หน้ากาก ถุงมือ และปืนให้ยืม – at the field, there was bear suits, armor, masks, gloves and guns you could borrow
  • วันนั้นสนามแฉะและลื่นมากเพราะฝนเพิ่งตก – that day, the field was wet and slippery because it had just rained
  • ตอนเริ่มเกมเราไปแอบอยู่หลังบังเกอร์แล้วได้ยินเสียงคนยิงมาโดนถังที่ตั้งอยู่ข้างๆหลายนัด – when the game started, I hid behind the bunker and heard many shots hit a barrel beside me
  • พอได้จังหวะก็เลยวิ่งไปหลบข้างหลังถังใบใหญ่อีกใบนึง – as soon as I saw the right moment, I ran and hid behind a large barrel
  • ตรงนี้ตำแหน่งดีมาก here is a good position
  • เห็นคนนึงโผล่หัวมาจากที่ซ่อนแล้วเขาไม่ทันระวังตัวก็เลยยิงโดนสบายๆ ​- I saw someone poke their head up from whether they were hiding and they didn’t get back down in time and were easily taken out
  • ตอนกำลังคิดว่าจะวิ่งไปหลบตรงไหนต่อดีก็มีเสียง “ตุบ!”- as I was thinking where to go hide next I heard a “blam”
  • แล้วก็เจ็บที่เอว  – and felt pain at my waist.
  • เลยรู้ตัวว่าโดนยิงแล้วต้องยกมือเดินออกจากสนาม – I knew I had been shot so I raised my hands up and left the field
  • วันต่อมาก็เห็นว่าตรงเอวเป็นรอยช้ำสีเขียว – the next day I saw a green bruise on my waist
  • กว่าจะหายเจ็บคงอีกหลายวัน – It’ll probably be a few days before it goes away

 

Vocabulary and sentences notes.

 

Can’t read the Thai alphabet yet?

My foundation course, Read Thai in 2 Weeks, is just the first of 4 courses in the program designed to help you learn to speak Thai as fast as possible. Learning the script and sounds first is the most important step for learning Thai and requires just a short time investment of part-time study of for a very big payoff.  Ready to learn how to speak and read Thai language?  Try my 4 online course program.

Click Here to Learn More

 

How to Practice Tones

I’ve been making lots of new videos lately.  If you haven’t subscribed to my youtube channel or liked my facebook page then consider doing so.  It’ll take me a while to post everything I’ve filmed in the past few weeks, but much of it is already up there.  I won’t ever post anything spam-y so when I put something up, I assume it will be useful to you, or particularly funny (in a Thai way).

Here’s an easy way for beginners to practice tones in a tonal language like Thai:

Thai Tone Rules Chart

Tone Rules Chart

The Middle Class Story

The Middle Class Story

I came up with the middle class story is a quick hook to help total beginners quickly learn to recognize the 7 important Thai middle class consonants.  Although I had been teaching Thai for a few years at this point, it was the first time that I taught a large group and also the first time that I had to adapt my system for people who didn’t know any Thai at all.  It was definitely a catalyst for ramping up the effectiveness of my methodology.  If I could teach a bunch of American exchange students to read Thai, I could teach anybody.

ก็อักษรกลาง อักษรกลางภาษาไทยจะมีทั้งหมด 9 ตัว ก็จะมี  จ ด ต ฎ ฏ บ ป อ ซึ่งการจะจำแบบนี้ มันจะเป็นเรื่องที่ยาก Brett ก็เลยแนะนำวิธีการจำเป็นเรื่องเป็นราวให้ง่ายๆ ดังต่อไปนี้ ก็คือ มีเด็กอยู่ 1 คน เค้าชอบเลี้ยงสัตว์ซึ่งสัตว์ที่เค้าเลี้ยงจะมีอยู่ 3 ชนิดก็คือ มีลา มีเต่า แล้วก็มีไก่ ซึ่งทั้ง 3 ชนิดเนี่ย เด็กคนนี้ก็เลยต้องเลี้ยงให้มันสามารถดำรงชีวิตอยู่ได้ ก็เลยเอาไปใส่ไว้ในอ่าง ซึ่งเป็นอ่างน้ำที่ใหญ่ๆ แล้วก็จะต้องเลี้ยงอาหารให้กับมันเพราะว่าไม่งั้นมันก็จะไม่มีชีวิตรอด ซึ่งอาหารที่เค้าจะให้ก็คือ ใไม้ แล้วถ้าเกิดว่าเราเลี้ยงมันแล้วเราไม่ ไม่ปิดมันเงี่ย มันก็จะทำให้มันสามารถหนีออกไปได้ใช่ไหม หลบหนีออกไปได้ ฉะนั้นเราต้องหาอะไรสักสิ่งหนึ่งมาปิด ซึ่งฝามันก็หายไปแล้ว ก็เลยใช้านที่มีอยู่ที่บ้านมาปิด ก็จะทำให้มันสามารถที่จะดำรงชีวิตอยู่ในบ้านเรา ที่เราเลี้ยงได้ก็ จบ ก็จะมีครบหมดเลยทั้ง 9 ตัวลองไปหาดูในเรื่องราวเมื่อกี้ (อืม…)

หมายเหตุ….ตัว ฎ ฏ จะไม่มีเพราะมันออกเสียงเหมือน ด ต ตามลำดับอยู่แล้วเลยไม่มีในเรื่อง

 

Sentence Breakdown

ก็อักษรกลาง – So, these middle class consonants…

อักษรกลางภาษาไทยจะมีทั้งหมด 9 ตัว Thai has 9 middle class consonants.

ก็จะมี – They are..ก จ ด ต ฎ ฏ บ ป อ

ซึ่งการจะจำแบบนี้ – and so remembering them like this

มันจะเป็นเรื่องที่ยาก – can be difficult

Brett ก็เลยแนะนำวิธีการจำเป็นเรื่องเป็นราว – So Brett came up with a story

ให้ง่ายๆ – to make it easier.

ดังต่อไปนี้ – As follows…

ก็คือ มีเด็กอยู่ 1 คน – So there is this kid…

เค้าชอบเลี้ยงสัตว์ – and he likes keeping pets.

ซึ่งสัตว์ที่เค้าเลี้ยงจะมีอยู่ 3 ชนิด and he has 3 different pets (kinds).

ก็คือ มีลา He’s got a fish.

มีเต่า a turtle

แล้วก็มีไก่ and a chicken

ซึ่งทั้ง 3 ชนิดเนี่ย and so all 3 of these animals

เด็กคนนี้ – so this kid

ก็เลยต้องเลี้ยงให้มันสามารถดำรงชีวิตอยู่ได้ – takes care of all of these animals

ก็เลยเอาไปใส่ไว้ในอ่าง and keeps them in a basin (that shower bucket thing)

ซึ่งเป็นอ่างน้ำที่ใหญ่ๆ a big bucket/basin

แล้วก็จะต้องเลี้ยงอาหารให้กับมัน – and of course he needs to feed them

เพราะว่าไม่งั้นมันก็จะไม่มีชีวิตรอด because if he didn’t how would they survive?

ซึ่งอาหารที่เค้าจะให้ก็คือ and he feeds them

ไม้ leaves

แล้วถ้าเกิดว่าเราเลี้ยงมันแล้วเราไม่ so if we have these animals

ไม่ปิดมันเงี่ย and we don’t close/cover (up the basin)

มันก็จะทำให้มันสามารถหนีออกไปได้ใช่ไหม they’d be able to get out (of the basin where they are kept) right?

หลบหนีออกไปได้  they’d be able to escape

ฉะนั้นเราต้องหาอะไรสักสิ่งหนึ่งมาปิด – so we need to have something to cover the basin with

ซึ่งฝามันก็หายไปแล้ว – but we lost the lid

ก็เลยใช้าน – so we use a plate

ที่มีอยู่ที่บ้านมาปิด from the house to close it up

ก็จะทำให้มันสามารถที่จะดำรงชีวิตอยู่ในบ้านเรา which allows them to stay in the house

ที่เราเลี้ยงได้ก็ จบ so we can take care of them.  That’s it.

ก็จะมีครบหมดเลยทั้ง 9 ตัว Oh, and there are actually 9 letters in all.

ลองไปหาดูในเรื่องราวเมื่อกี้ (อืม…) But if you check the story I just told…

หมายเหตุ….ตัว ฎ ฏ the reason the othe other 2 letters ฎ ฏ

จะไม่มี are left out

เพราะมันออกเสียงเหมือน ด ต  because they sound the same as ด and ต

Remembering the Middle Class Consonants

I came up with this story the other day while making flashcards for one of my students.  Mnemonics are great.

In order for this mnemonic to work properly, you should try to imagine the story in your mind.  Pictures you make in your head are easier to remember than actual images.

To reinforce it you might make SRS cards to quiz you on the story.   Ex – Q – What pets does the middle class kid keep?  A ปลา ไก่ เต่า

There is a middle class kid (เด็ก) who likes to keep pets.

He has a fish (ปลา), a turtle (เต่า) and a chicken (ไก่).

Where does he keep these pets?  In his basin (อ่าง) of course.  (Actually try to imagine a big bucket with a chicken, a turtle and a fish swimming around inside it always bumping into each other)

He needs to feed the pets.  They eat leaves (ใบ ไม้).

Also, he needs to make sure they don’t get out so he keeps a big plate (จาน) on top of the อ่าง.

Yes, I left out the other 2 as they aren’t vital when you first start reading.  If you are solid on this story its easy to add in the other ones.

Low Class Consonants

There are 24 low class consonants in Thai.  This is the largest group of letters.  This post will just cover some of the more common ones.  It is assumed you are familiar with the vowels covered in previous alphabet-related posts.  These vowels are  – อา อิ อี  เอ เอา ไอ ใอ ออ  อุ  อู

If you’d like to learn the entire Thai script, check out my 4 course online program, the Learn Thai Inner Circle.  The program has audio for all Thai , flashcards and much more detailed explanations than this old post.

If it isn’t already obvious, the best way to go about this is to memorize the 2 other groups of letters (high and mid) so that when you encounter a letter that you know isn’t high or mid, you know its low.  With a bit of time spent trying to read, it will all become second nature and you will no longer need to think in terms of high, mid or low.

As I mentioned above, there are 24 letters in the low class.  Today we are just going to cover 14 of them.   As usual, I strongly recommend learning the alphabet ASAP as it is very difficult to separate sounds within a language while you are associating the sounds with your native alphabet/syllabary.  So learn the damn alphabet already.  It’s easy.   If you are going to be in Chiang Mai (or Bangkok if I happen to be there) and need help, I can pound the bulk of the alphabet into your head in 6-8 nearly painless hours and help you start reading (fun easy stuff) so it stays put.

ค ง ช ซ ท น พ ฟ ภ ม ย ร ล ว

(คอ ควาย) is very much like the ‘k’ in English.  You should note that the only difference (in appearance) between this letter and ด (ดอ เด็ก) is the circle placement.

Mnemonic – The line in the middle is an arm.  The circle is a fist holding a dagger.  If you are trying to kill someone the blade of the dagger is coming out the bottom of your hand while you stab them you might shout “I’m gonna kill ya!” in order to remember the ‘k’ sound — ค

If you are holding the dagger the other way (blade up) you are more likely to be ‘defending yourself.’ — ด

ง  (งอ งู) is like the ‘ng’ in singing, but in Thai it can be the first sound in a word.  The letter is called snake and it looks like one.  Or it looks like a lower-case ‘g’, whatever works for ya.  I’d go with a snake that makes งงงงง  sounds rather than hiss instead.

(ชอ ช้าง) This one is like a ‘ch.’ The name of the letter ‘ช้าง’ (chaang + high tone) means elephant so you might consider the last line which heads off to the top right being the elephant’s trunk.

(ซอ โซ่) This is the only ‘s’ sound that is low class (the rest are high).  โซ่ means chain and has a nick in the tail of the elephant, so lets imagine a chain wrapped around the poor creature’s tail.  It helps to create a mental image.

*This letter is the only ‘s’ sound that can be any tone (high class consonants leading a word restrict the word to rising, falling or low)

(ทอ ทหาร) is just like a ‘t’ and the letter’s name means soldier.  Maybe this soldier is holding one fist (the circle) high in some sort of salute….

(นอ หนู) – ‘n’  the name of the letter is ‘mouse’ or ‘rat.’  This letter looks a lot like an ‘N’ to me.  The connecting line in the English letter is mousing its way along the floor only to scamper up the other side.

(พอ พาน) like a ‘p,’ and the name of the letter is a type of tray or dish that has a pedestal base.  Let’s just think of it as pedestal-ed plate (จาน) with a big P on it.

(ฟอ ฟัน) like an ‘f,’ and the name means ‘tooth.’

(ภอ สำเภา) – ‘p’ – type of boat (junk).

(มอ ม้า) ‘m’ – horse

(ยอ ยักษ์) ‘y’ – ‘giant’ *often used as a semi-vowel

(รอ เรือ) – ‘r’ (often pronounced as ‘l’ or half-ass’d ‘r’ *correct pronunciation involves a trill, but this is almost always dropped in colloquial speech)  – boat (any kind)

(ลอ ลิง) ‘l’ – monkey *monkey down on all 4’s with unusually long tail extending high over its head

(วอ แหวน) ‘w’ – a ring *Mnemonic – here someone has presented you with a very odd ring – its far too small to fit on your finger (the circle) and it has a long curved claw jutting out of the top.  Maybe if you just hung the claw over your finger… 

 

Middle and High Consonants Review

*This is an old post that has some points that I still consider valid.  If you’d like to learn to read and speak Thai, check out my Learn Thai Inner Circle program.

I keep noticing lots of posts on other blogs about ways to learn the alphabet.  This has been going on for years.  Just learn the alphabet already.  It doesn’t matter how you memorize it, but you must realize that if you just memorize it and don’t actually try to read with someone who can correct your pronunciation (both to make sure you are reading the letters correctly and learning to work out which class rules apply to the syllable) then you are just wasting your time.  If you are in Chiang Mai for a week or so sometime and need some help learning the alphabet let me know.

On with the learnings…

While one may be intimidated by the rather large number of letters in the low class group, its not really that big of deal as you don’t actually need to memorize which letters are in this group.  If you’ve memorized the middle and high class consonants then the low class letters consist of the leftovers.

So if you have it down fairly well that the following consonants:

ข ฉ (ฐ) ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส and ห  are all high, then you are well on your way.

If you are also pretty solid that

ก จ (ฎ ฏ) ด ต บ ป and อ or middle class, then you are set.  Everything else is low class.  The ones in ()’s are less important and while you should note them – you don’t need to stress about them.

Thats 10 high class and 9 low letters whose class you NEED to know.  Years ago when I memorized these on my own, I memorized the following poem for Middle class.

ไก่ จิก เฎ็ก ฏาย เด็ก ตาย บน ปาก โอ่ง

let’s break it up even more –

  • ไก่ จิก  – chicken pecks
  • เฎ็ก ฏาย – kid dies (ฎ and ฏ are identical in sound to ด and ต this is just funky spelling of the words ‘kid’ and ‘die’ to help us remember the middle class group)
  • เด็ก ตาย – kid dies
  • บน ปาก โอ่ง on-mouth-basin

So imagine 2 kids standing by a big basin (its the big bucket-like thing that was/is used to bathe with when there is no running water) who are attacked and pecked to death by a rabid chicken.   Spend at least 15-20 seconds picturing that image and once you have the vocab down, you are set on the middle class.  Don’t just read my words, you need to actually create an image in your mind for it to stick.

ไก่ จิก เฎ็ก ฏาย เด็ก ตาย บน ปาก โอ่ง

Next up – High class.  While there is a poem for this one as well, I didn’t know about it when I was trying to figure out how to learn the different groups and a friend told me that he went with the circles on the letters.

ข ฉ (ฐ) ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส and ห

Notice that except for the first and last letters, all the rest have circles that are ‘inside.’  You can argue about ฉ, but I consider the tail going up over the circle keeping it inside.  So let’s make those circles balloons.  Balloons float up.  Up = high.  Thats it.  Worked for him and it worked for me.

If you want poems for high class, here is one, but it’s more useful for a Thai kid who is comfortable with the vocab already.  I’d give the balloons a shot if I were you.

ฃวด ของ ฉัน ใส่ ถุง ผ้า ฝาก ให้ เศรษฐี

bottle-of-mine put (in) bag-cloth leave-with-rich person

  • ฃวด ของ ฉัน – my bottle
  • ใส่ ถุง ผ้า put in cloth bag
  • ฝาก ให้ เศรษฐี leave with rich person

Thai Alphabet – High Class Consonants

ผี ฝาก ถุง ข้าว ส่งให้ ฉัน

That was a somewhat strange sentence which makes use of the main 7 high class consonants of Thai.  See if you can pick them out in the words above: ผ ฝ ถ ข ส ห ฉ

First up – ข [ขอ ไข่] This is the 2nd letter of the Thai alphabet. Yes the one right after ก [กอ ไก]่. What does this letter’s name mean? Well, ไข่ is an egg. Its pronounced much like a ‘k’. Along with its vowel, it sounds a something like ‘kai’. Can’t think of any words in English that have it. How about the last syllable in the name Malachai (that guy that chills behind the rows). As you no doubt remember ไก่ means chicken and ไข่ is egg. 1st and 2nd. The debate is over. The chicken came first.

Rules of the high class are kind of interesting. Any time there is no tone mark and no hard ending (endings that are like k/g, p/b or t/d) the words will take on a rising tone.  This applies for both long and short vowels.  Too easy eh?  Let’s go over 3 letters and then try some simple words.

[หอ หีบ]  This letter is the closest thing to an ‘H’ that you’ll find in Thai.  But remember its not an ‘H’, so its gonna do some things the English ‘H’ version doesn’t do.

ฝ [ฝอ ฝา] Here we have one of the ‘F’ – like letters.   Also, high class so rising tone on open endings.

  • หา – haa (long vowel + rising tone) to look for
  • ฝา – faa  (long vowel + rising tone) lid; cover

Now then, we need to learn some new vowels. These 2 are related and look very similar so lets learn ’em together.  Remember that is just a placeholder which you need in order to read the vowel.  The vowels are the semi-circle-ish shapes on top.  The only difference is that the long vowel has a line sticking up from it.

  • อิ /i/  as in ‘he’ but usually a bit shorter then English
  • อี /ii/ as in ‘he’ but usually a bit longer than English

ผี Remember this from above?  ผ is much like a ‘p’ – As this one is high class and we are throwing on that อี above, we are getting a sound just like when they say ‘P’ on Sesame Street.  Well its a long vowel, so make it a bit longer than normal. Um with a rising tone.  Lets change that …think something along the lines of …”I gotta peeee” and send that tone up high.

ผี means ghost btw

ฝี VS ผี – Notice that these letters are mighty similar.  Long vowels, rising tones.

  • ฝี – /fii/ Like the English ‘fee’
  • ผี – /pii/ ‘peeee’

Mnemonicalafrageous time – You hopefully remember from 3-5 seconds ago that ผี means ‘ghost’ – Um …maybe when you were a kid and you saw a ghost you had to ‘peeee’ or something?  Not great, but it might work.

ฝี – this means ‘boil’ as in the pus-filled kind – so lets say that the long part sticking up is a pus-filled abcess just waiting to burst.  And we can even take that a step farther and imagine that the boil is just so friggin large that if it does burst (and the long part falls off) you die and become a ghost.

Not working?  Go back and read the above again, but this time visualize it in your mind. Imaginative memory is an extremly powerful tool.  You won’t need to remember this stuff forever, but the quickest way to get through an alphabet is by making sure its stuck in your short-term memory until you can process the letters fast enough to graduate to basic reading.

Moving along…consider the following word

ฝาก Do you remember that last letter?  It’s our old friend the CHICKEN, a middle class consonant [กอ ไก่]

How about the vowel อา ?

ฝ + า = ฝา  lid – see above.  But if we throw on that last letter, everything changes!

ฝาก – Now that we have thrown a hard [k, p, t, b] ending on the tone is gonna change.  Remember I said only open vowels are rising.  With hard endings, we need to switch to a low tone.  The low tone is created in your chest as opposed to your neck or head.  You should feel it in your upper chest if you are producing the sound correctly.  It is difficult to say this tone loudly especially at first.

ฝาก /faaak/ all k + g- like letters in Thai end with the same sound.  An unaspirated ‘k’ – This means you need to cut off the air before it comes out.

Think of how you say ‘Duck, duck, duck Goose’ to find that cut off ‘k’  and you’ll catch on.

ฝาก – to deposit

So if we refer to that stuff at the top we now hopefully can read the first 2 words!  Wow, we sure are amazing.

ผี ฝาก – ghost /piii/long vowel, rising tone + deposit /faaak/ long vowel, low tone

What is this ghost trying to deposit?  We’ll get there in a sec.  Be patient.

First we need more vowels!  Did I mention that the Thai alphabet has over 30 vowels?  Don’t worry, they each have only one sound so it’s not really that bad.

อุ VS อู  –  As you may have already guessed, these vowels are also related.  The first one is of course the short vowel.

  • อุ is a short /u/ like in ‘where to?’
  • อู is a long /uu/ similar to ‘cool’ but your lips should be pursed into a fishy ‘o’ and hold it for a tad longer.

Now lets make some words.

Remember [งอ งู]  ?  Yea, well me neither, but we are going to need to if we are ever going to be able to talk about snakes.  Anyways, ง is like the /ng/ in sing and thing and bring.

งู (not a high class consonant!) is pronounced /ngoo/ refer to this post if you need a refresher on the wonders of the งู (snake).  If you still can’t figure out how to pronounce it, do tell me and I can explain in better detail how to find your งู.

Back to High Class – [ถอ ถุง] This letter is just like the T in ‘Mr. T’.  Well almost.

ถ /taw/ /u/ /ng/ = ถุง /toong/ (like the ‘too’ in too much with an ‘ng’ attached to it)  rising tone

ถุง means ‘bag’  as in the paper or plastic variety – not backpacks or luggage.

ผี ฝาก ถุง – /piii/ /faaak/ /toong/  Ghost deposits bag

Letters letters letters!  Too many letters!  Gotta keep moving..

This next word is one of those you will here every day in Thailand.

ข้าว –  ข [ขอ ไข่] + า = ขา + ว = ขาว +    ้ = ข้าว

kaw + า  = kaah (rising tone because high class and open ending) +  ว = kaaaow **Imagine an excited kid saying “Wooow!” Now imagine that he is dyslexic, stutters and occasionally slips up with a lisp – erm..just change the ‘w’ sound to a ‘k’ might be easier.  So…

Wait, did I mention yet?  [วอ แหวน] is a semi-vowel.  Distant cousin of the ‘W’.  แหวน means ‘ring’.  When it comes at the end of a word it ‘w’-afies the word before it.  Think about what your mouth must do to change the word ‘Ho’ to ‘How’ and you should have a pretty good idea of what it does.

ข้าว is pronounced kaaow (becomes a falling tone due to the tone mark).  If it didn’t have the tone mark it would be a rising ขาว because its a high class consonant with a soft or open ending.

Alphabet – Part 4 – More Letters

If you’ve been following along, you might be able to read these words below.  Click on any highlighted word to play the audio.

  1. กา  crow
  2. เจ   vegetarian
  3. ด้าน side
  4. บ้าน house; home
  5. อ่าง basin; sink

Let’s go over these a bit.

First there is กา.  This is that kinda Gaah when certain people with certain accents say ‘garden.’  Long vowel, to say it properly you need to hold that vowel a moment longer than you would in English.

เจ – uh-oh.  Did I even cover this letter yet?  Lets just say its a not too distant Asian cousin of the letter ‘J.’ Added on to that vowel that is pretty close to the vowel in words like pay, stay, ray, day.  Why you might even get away with this word by simply saying the letter “J,”  because in English we throw vowels into our letters without writing them.  How confusing!

ด้าน The sperm on top of the here changes the tone to falling.  So its that “D-ish” letter with a long aaah + n-like consonant at the end.  Got it?

บ้าน Just like ด้าน except our “D-izm” turns into a “B-izl.”  It can’t get any easier than this.  No really it can’t and it won’t so please enjoy the moment while you can.

อ่าง So the อ is as usual just a placeholder here.  Since it is paired up with า ..we simply say ‘aaah’ and then throw in the last consonant to make a fun syllable thats great for washing your hands or bathing out of a large barrel.  The tone mark makes it a low tona-fied word.  More on tonal-y stuff later.  What is that funny letter at the end anyways?  Why its a ง [งอ งู] of course.  If one was forced to transliterate it, and I feel forced at the moment, we would do so as Ng.  Some people have lots of trouble with this sound, so I will spend more time on it later.  But the way I learned it was simply to keep saying words in English (which I could pronounce fairly well to begin with) that ended in -ing and then practice adding vowel sounds onto the end of that until I could drop the English in the beginning.  You just need to find what your mouth is doing when you say English words and train it to be able to use it to start the word.   sing–uu, sing–aaah, sing–ohh.  Eventually it just falls into place and you give up all that sin and just have gnuu งู, gnaah

งา (not found)
, gnoo
โง่ (not found)
. All useful words ( snake, sesame seed, stupid).

Are you feeling fluent yet?  Don’t worry, we’re almost there.  We’ve almost done it.  We’ve almost mastered the middle class consonants.  The smallest group of letters in Thai.  We will need to memorize that these are middle class consonants at some point so I’m going to just keep reminding you until we’ve covered them all.

*ง and น are low class consonants.  The middle consonants are จ ฎ ฏ ด ต บ ป อ.

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