Learn Thai Archives - Learn Thai from a White Guy

How to Say I Miss You in Thai

Today we’re going to learn how to say “I miss you” in Thai.  While this is the perfect phrase to show that special someone that you’re thinking of them, it’s also used to say that you miss your family, friends, places and times of your life. 

miss you in Thai

คิดถึงจัง

I Miss You in Thai

The main Thai phrase for “I miss you” is คิดถึง (kít tĕung).

The phrase คิดถึง (kít tĕung) literally translates as something like “thinking of you” or “(my) thoughts reach (you)” however it’s used just like we use “I miss you” in English.  

Thai Grammar Note:

Thai is a very contextual language which means we will very often drop any information that is already understood by both speaker and listener.  The most common example of this is dropping the pronouns as in “I miss you.”  We really only need to say the “miss” part.  If I say คิดถึง (kít tĕung)  to you, everybody involved or in earshot knows who misses who.

How to Say I REALLY Miss You in Thai

You can use any of these phrases to when you want to tell someone you miss them a lot.

In case you really want to impress your significant other, use this one.  Be warned that the person you use this on may very well swoon.

I Miss You NA นะ (NA: The Special Softener Particle)

Thai language has a lot of very short words called “particles.”  Particle words often don’t have a a meaning like most words.  Rather they add a bit of emotional color to the sentence that they are modifying.  In non-tonal languages, we do this with intonation.  NA นะ is one of the most common particle words that you will encounter in Thai.

I call it “the softener” because it makes whatever you are saying sound softer/nicer/more pleasant.  The extent of this “softness” is contextual.  So if people in a relationship say it to each other, or someone says it to a small child, it can have a cute feeling to it.

คิดถึง vs

คิดถึงนะ (not found)
– Both of these phrases mean “I miss you,” but the na adds a pinch of niceness.

More Formal/Polite Ways to Say I Miss You in Thai

The main word for you in Thai is คุณ (khun), but it is not used in Thai like we us “you” in English.  The Thai คุณ (khun) has a very formal feel to it which is similar to “mr.” or “mrs.” so we don’t recommend using it very much.  However, you will come across it in texts and in Thai dramas where the dialogue tends to be unrealistically polite so we’ll give you some examples.

It would sound nice on a card, but it would sound a little silly if you said to someone.  Because, generally, if you are close to someone, you would never call them คุณ (khun) – “you.”

More Useful Thai Phrases Related to “I Miss You”

Learn to Speak and Read Thai

Want to learn how to speak and read Thai language?  My full Thai core skills program teaches you everything you need to know about the script, sounds and tones of Thai.  It also contains courses that teach you all the foundational sentence patterns that you’ll need to function in a conversation.   Sign up below and I’ll send you some free lessons from the program to try out.

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.

 

How to Say I Love You in Thai

 

how-to-say-i-love-you-in-thai

รักต้นไม้บ้างมั้ย = RAK thon-mai baang mai? (Do you LOVE trees?)

How to Say I Love You in Thai?

The quick answer is: chan rak ter or ฉันรักเธอ, but I’d recommend reading further because in context-light language like Thai, choosing the right words and sentences depends on who is talking as well as who you are talking to.

You can click on the blue words and phrases to hear the audio of the Thai word or sentence.

Whether you are studying Thai or just have a significant other that you are trying to impress,  you may be interested in learning how to say I love you in Thai.  Even if you don’t go very deep into Thai language, learning short phrases like this can really win you some bonus points with your partner.

Aside from just knowing how to use and pronounce these Thai phrases correctly, you’ll also hear many of them in Thai songs, Thai soaps and Thai movies.  

In addition to learning the different Thai phrases for “I love you,” we’ll also introduce some of the more common expressions and useful sentences that use the word “love” which is “rak” or รัก in Thai language.

Words for ‘I Love You’ in Thai

how-to-say-i-love-you-in-thai2

หมีมีความรักด้วย

 

The most common expression you’ll probably encounter for “I love you” in Thai across all forms of media is ฉันรักเธอ (chan rak ter).  ฉัน (chan) is generally used as the primary female pronoun, but guys use it in love songs and sometimes on Thai tv and movies. I don’t recommend using this in real life, however if you are male as it can sound a little silly.  You can either drop the pronoun entirely, or use one of the other choices below.  

One thing you will notice pretty quickly in Thai is that the pronouns (like ‘I’ and ‘you’) is often dropped.

When in doubt, just pay attention to how Thai people talk to each other (in real life as opposed to on tv) and copy what they do.  It may take a while sometimes before you can find the answer, but it’s worth the effort.

ฉันรักเธอ (chan rak ter) – I love you.  

ฉัน chan I (primarily used by females)
รัก rak love
เธอ ter you (intimate); she

 

Basic Phrases for “I Love You” in Thai

Choosing the best phrase isn’t always easy.  You’ll probably come across these phrases in textbooks, phrasebooks and other web sites.  I don’t really recommend using them, but they won’t do you any harm.

ผมรักคุณ (not found)
phom rak khun I love you.  (male speaker)
ฉันรักคุณ (not found)
chan rak khun I love you.  (female speaker)

 

Thai Sentence Pattern: A รัก B

Here’s the basic sentence pattern saying ‘I love you’ in Thai.

“A loves B,” is what you want to start with, but choosing the correct pronouns to use in Thai can be a little complicated.  Gender, status, age and relationship all have an affect on the words that you should use to refer to both yourself and to whom you are speaking to.

As a learner of the language, you are expected to make mistakes so don’t worry about it too much.  It’s a pretty soft minefield so you won’t lose any limbs. Just keep in mind that the more familiar/intimate/close you are with a person, the more freedom you’ll have to use the informal expressions.

In Thai, it’s very common to drop pronouns when it’s obvious who the target is.  We’ll look at this more in the next section.

Informal ‘I Love You’ in Thai

Since declaring your love for someone tends to be a pretty informal situation to begin with, I’d really recommend becoming familiar with the more informal Thai love phrases you can use with your partner.  You can almost always drop one or both pronouns if it’s clear who is saying what to who.  You can also do this if you just aren’t sure which pronoun to use.

  • รักเธอนะ (not found)
    (rak ter na)
    • รักนะ (not found)
      (rak na)
  • พี่รักเธอ (not found)
    (pee rak ter)
    • รักเธอนะ (not found)
      (rak ter na
  • พี่รัก (not found)
    [name] นะ (pee rak NAME na) 
  • รักกันนะ (not found)
    (rak gan na)

Which Thai pronoun to use?

How to Refer to Your Partner in Thai

Informal;
ผัว poo-ah husband (often used even if not married)
เมีย mia wife (often used even if not married)
Formal:
สามี (not found)
saa-mee husband
ภรรยา pha-ra-yaa wife

 

General:
แฟน fan boyfriend/girlfriend/partner
ที่รัก thee-rak dear/lover/babe/sweetie

Bonus Thai Love Phrases

 

รักผมรึยัง (not found)
rak phom rue yang Do you love me yet? (male speaker)
รักฉันรึยัง (not found)
rak chan rue yang Do you love me yet? (female speaker)
รักไม่เป็น rak mai ppen I don’t know how to love.
ตกหลุมรัก (not found)
tok lum rak Fall in love (fall-hole-love)
แสดงความรัก (not found)
sa-dang kwaam rak to show or express love

 

 

Noun vs Verbs in Thai

The word รัก (rak) that we looked at above is going to act as a verb in most cases.  In order to form the noun version of “love” in Thai, you just add the word ความ (kwaam) in front of รัก (rak).  You’ll use the noun form in sentences where you are talking about the concept or idea of love.

  • รัก – (rak) to love (verb)
    • Jane
      รักสัตว์ (not found)
      (Jane rak sat) – Janes loves animals.
    • หมารักแมว (not found)
      (maa rak maew) – Dog loves cat.
  • ความรัก (not found)
    (kwaam rak) – love (noun)
    • ความรักคืออะไร (not found)
      (kwaam rak keu a-rai) – What is love?
    • ความรักมีจริงไหม (not found)
      (kwaam rak mee jing mai) – Is love real? / Does love exist?  

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of ways to say “I love you” in Thai and this list is not exhaustive, but hopefully we’ve given you enough to get started with.  Remember, that part of learning a language (or any skill!) involves making mistakes and embracing this early on will make the journey go much smoother.

Want to Learn to Read Thai?

Perhaps, the most important part of learning Thai is mastering the script, sounds and tone rules.   It’s very difficult to learn the correct pronunciation using any type of English transliteration and the sooner you get away from it, the faster your Thai will improve.

Try a couple free lessons from my Thai foundation course which teaches everything you need to know about the script, sound system and tone rules of Thai.

Winter is Coming

A large Christmas tree

 

In this short Thai reading exercise the writer talks about the atmosphere of winter in Thailand each year.  You can listen to the audio and check out the vocabulary list below.  There’s also a link the a version Google doc that you can copy and use for your own studies.

 

 

Read/Download/Edit as a Google Doc

 

หน้าหนาวของทุกปีก็จะลุ้นให้อากาศเย็นขึ้นจะได้เอาเสื้อกันหนาวออกมาใส่ เมื่อสองอาทิตย์ก่อนมีข่าวว่าอากาศที่กรุงเทพจะเย็นขึ้นแต่จนถึงวันนี้ก็ยังร้อนอยู่เหมือนเดิม ผิดหวังนิดหน่อยแต่ก็ชินแล้วเพราะเป็นอย่างนี้เกือบทุกปี

บรรยากาศตามห้างก็จะสนุกกว่าปกติ ชอบตรงที่มีต้นคริสต์มาสและโซนให้ถ่ายรูปเยอะมาก ตอนกลางคืนก็ไปดื่มเบียร์กับเพื่อนๆที่ลานเบียร์ได้ ถ้าวงดนตรีที่ลานเบียร์เล่นเพลงถูกใจก็จะยิ่งสนุก บางที่คนอาจจะเยอะมากควรไปเร็วหน่อยหรือจองโต๊ะไว้ล่วงหน้า

 

  • หน้าหนาว – the “cold” season
  • อากาศ – weather; climate
  • เสื้อกันหนาว – sweater; long-sleeved shirt (shirt + protect-against + cold)
  • เหมือนเดิม – same as usual; same as previously
  • ผิดหวัง – disappointed
  • ชิน – to get used to; to become accustomed to
  • เกือบ – almost
  • บรรยากาศ – atmosphere (both for SPACE and a place like a restaurant or a mall)
  • ห้าง – shopping mall
  • ปกติ – usual; normal
  • ต้นคริสต์มาส – Christmas tree
  • วงดนตรี band; music group (circle + music)
  • กลางคืน – night (time)
  • จอง – to reserve
  • ล่วงหน้า – in advance

 

Examples:

  • ช่วงนี้อากาศกำลังจะร้อน – It’s getting pretty hot these days.
  • ตอนที่ไปกรุงเทพ ไปกินข้าวที่ห้างเกือบทุกวัน – When I’m in Bkk, I eat at the mall almost every day.  
  • ถ้าจะไปเที่ยวคืนนี้ควรจะโทรไปจองโต๊ะก่อน – If you are going to go out tonight, you should probably call and reserve a table.

 

Mike Learned to Speak Thai

Today’s guest post is from Mike of Portland, Oregon.

Update: Oct, 2016 – Mike has been in Thailand for about 2 years now.  Here’s a video of him speaking Thai.

I’ve been living in Bangkok for about 11 months now. I’ve seen lots of expats who spend way too much (sometimes all!) of their time inside the farang bubble. Anticipating this dilemma before I arrived in Thailand, I decided that I’d seek out a neighborhood with a more “local” flavor – I didn’t want to be just another dude whose Bangkok life was limited to a 2 block radius of the nearest BTS station. This decision has had a significant effect on my continuing progress with the Thai language. Everyday I’m forced to ask questions to the people who live on or near my soi – and these questions often lead into smaller conversations that challenge me and force me to seek out new vocabulary so I can keep up. This is how to learn Thai.

The day I moved into my apartment, I told myself that I needed to get right out there into my surroundings and start using my limited Thai skills. I would practice saying a phrase out loud many times before I went out to use it. One of the early ones being: “I don’t want milk in my coffee, please.”

The first time I got in line to get a coffee at the stand near my local 7-11, I kept saying the phrase over and over in my head. I was so sure I had it down perfect.
When it came time to place my order: “hot coffee please.” Then a slight pause as the smiling server grabbed a cup, at which point I added “and I don’t want milk in my coffee, please.” He glanced at me sideways with a slightly confused smile. I beamed back with confidence – he had understood me! Then, in utter disbelief, I watched him add not one, but two types of milk to my coffee. Too bewildered to utter another word, I handed him 20 baht and stared down at my cup filled with a liquid that made it the exact opposite of black coffee.

A couple weeks later, after many failed attempts to get a coffee with no milk, someone finally pointed out what I was doing wrong. I had been screwing up the vowel on the word for milk (นม) and saying it too much like an (อะ) so they thought I might be trying to say “water” (น้ำ). One simple vowel had derailed my quest for the perfect cup of joe. It may have been slightly defeating watching all those milky coffees being poured day after day, but in the end, it was an experience that solidified my efforts to be precise with this new language. It may seem like a small victory, but my mornings are now complete with endless cups of black coffee just the way I like it.

That first cup of coffee was just the beginning of my quest to improve my Thai.
Everyday I go out and speak Thai. If I make a mistake (and I’m aware of it), I try to find out what I did wrong and give it another try next time. Eventually, I know I’ll get it right and I move on to the next thing.

Whether it’s talking with 80 year old men who hang out near the coffee stand next to the 7-11, or fumbling my way through the open air market asking what every vegetable is called (over and over again because sometimes I forget), my use of Thai is constantly being nudged in the right direction with each brief encounter with the people in my ‘hood. Bangkok can either be a blockade or a boon to your Thai language skills – the choice is yours! If you want to improve though, you really gotta get out there and talk to people.

Mike learned to read Thai in less than 3 weeks* using an earlier version of my my online Thai program. You can hear him talk about it here: Mike’s Video

*Your own results on time of completion for the course may vary. If you spend at least 30 minutes a day on the lessons, you can reasonably expect to get through everything in about 2 weeks or so.

Italki Review: Learning to Speak a Language Anywhere

Italki

Italki: Find language teachers online.

What is italki?

Italki is an online language learning service which allows you to browse, meet and hire teachers from around the world. It also has a journal section so you can practice writing and get corrections from native speakers for free.

Before I ramble on about all the deals, here’s the bottom line:

The Good

  • It’s on the internet! – Technology is great!
  • Access to native speakers no matter where you are.
  • It’s easy to “speed-date” through teachers and this has multiple benefits.

The Less Good

  • It’s on the internet! – Not everyone has fast internet. Maybe you! Stuff will go wrong. The internet is slow in Thailand when it rains….
  • Access to native speakers. – Just because someone is a native speaker doesn’t mean they have any idea what they are doing in regards to teaching. Love ‘em and leave ‘em until you find a good one.
  • Talking on technology like Skype isn’t quite the same as meeting someone in person, but it’s a step or 2 up from talking to yourself.

How much time have I logged in italki?

In total, I’ve done 75 sessions over the past 2 years. Last year, there was a while where I was trying to be more active in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Alas, I have discovered that running a business does not necessarily mean you get to stop working and practice languages all day by the pool.

I did 28 sessions in August for Russian. Almost all of those were 45 minutes long.

How much does it cost?

The teacher sets the rate per time unit so the price can vary quite a bit depending on the language chosen.

The teacher chooses:

  • What lesson time lengths they are willing do: 30/45/60/90 minutes
  • The price per each lesson block (e.g. 50 ITC)
  • Whether or not they want offer a bulk discount. E.g. A block of 5 lessons for 10-20% off.

Italki uses their own “currency” which they call ITC or iTalki credits. 10 ITC = $1 USD so just move over one decimal place to convert ITC to USD.

For Russian, I have been paying on average, $8 (80 ITC) per 45 minute session.

Total Cost for August 2015: $225 USD for 28 sessions.

How do I choose the right tutors?

This is the tricky part. What follows is my own personal opinion and feel free to place value on or disregard anything I say. I’ve spent 13 years learning languages and

Italki has 2 categories tutors: Professional and Informal

I don’t know what the criteria is for someone to be a “professional” teacher on italki. I also don’t care. I only choose informal lessons. I generally find people who don’t have years of experience teaching in schools more malleable to my own particular methodology. Oh yea, and informal lessons are cheaper. If anybody finds an awesome “professional” tutor of Russian, please let me know and I’ll be happy to try them out for a couple lessons.

Free language exchanges are also an option with italki. If you are short on cash and are willing to trade your time, then this may be a good option for you.

And there’s a review system….

Do reviews even matter anymore? Did they ever? I may skim reviews when looking for new teachers to try out, but I’m always looking for a few specific things:

    • How many total sessions have they done?

I’d always pick a 3-4 star rating with 400 sessions over somebody with a 5 star rating with 30 sessions. *Note: It seems like everyone has a score of 4.9-5.0 anyways so this number shouldn’t really affect your decision.

    • Is the description good? Do they have an awesome or funny vid?

Not hugely important, but if somebody’s video or description makes me laugh, I’m more likely to give them a try. I want to feel comfortable in a lesson and it shows, they have put forth some effort.

How long should a study session be?

This will depend on a few factors, so if you don’t know what an ideal session length is, I’d recommend 45 minutes and I would never go over 90. My brain is a usually a wreck after 45 minutes and I need a rest to process any of the new information otherwise I’m just going to be wasting time, money and stressing myself out. Overworking yourself is a good way to fall off the wagon and give up.

How often should I study?

This will be influenced by your budget and free time, but I’d recommend doing at least 3 sessions a week or more. Time spent trying to talk to people is far more important than studying grammar or doing flashcards.

How much progress can I expect to make?

See previous question. That’s up to you. Nobody likes to hear it, but it ultimately comes down to you. It doesn’t matter how many years you studied a language. The only 2 things that matter in regards to actual studying, are how much time you put in every single day and how you spend that time. Can you stay motivated long enough to succeed? Of course you can, just stop looking at the end goal and look a few steps ahead. Know that you will probably want to give up sometimes and that sometimes it will be hard. Take a break, do something else and get back on the language learning bus.

Additional Italki Tips:

  • Avoid buying blocks until you’ve done 2-3 lessons with a teacher. There have been a number of times where the first session went exactly how I wanted and in the next session they started dumping complex grammar explanations on me or they froze up and started saying “Ok, what should we do now?”
  • Use multiple teachers:
    Find at least 2-3 teachers and use them all regularly.
    You should make an effort to practice things with multiple people.
    Learn a sentence pattern with one teacher, then go try and use it on another who doesn’t know you’ve learned it. Impressing your teachers brings compliments which makes us feel good, which makes us push past the tough times. Oh yea, and any sentence you say to 3 different speakers over 2-3 days will be probably stay in your head forever.*
    *Google has forced me to add disclaimers anywhere I make strong statements like “probably forever” even in cases such as this where I am reviewing a site and recommending a particular style of study. I obviously can’t guarantee that you will remember anything forever no matter what you do, but this is exactly what happens when I learn a language. I don’t make any of this stuff up and I strongly believe that this method will work for anyone.Try to steer the lessons towards practice of sentence pattern that you studied on your own beforehand, or learned with another teacher.
    Why don’t you just give it a try and see for yourself? It’ll take a bit to find the right teacher(s), but it’s worth it if you don’t have any other access to native speakers.

Sign Up for Italki

How to Determine the Tone of a Thai Word

How to determine tone of a Thai word?

Each syllable gets its own tone and there are a few steps we need to take to find out the tone of a word in Thai.  If you aren’t yet familiar with what tones there are in Thai or how a tonal language works, start here.

First, we need to determine the CLASS of the syllable or word.  We do this by having memorized the Middle and High Class letters so we can identify them instantly.  If it’s not Middle Class or High Class, it must be Low Class.  If you haven’t already done so, start with the MIDDLE CLASS STORY which will help you tie together the 7 most important middle class consonants.

  • Step #1: The class of the first letter determines the the class of the word.  This rule applies even if the first letter of the word is silent.
  • Step #2: Check the word for any “modifiers.”  There are 2 types of modifiers: TONE MARKS and HARD ENDINGS.
  • Step #3: Apply rules for consonant CLASS + STATE.

There are 3 possible “states” for a Thai word or syllable.  Each “class” or group has a formula to follow once you know the state of the word.  Remember, CLASS = the group of letters of which there are 3 in Thai.  STATE refers to whether or not the word/syllable has any modifiers.  There are 2 types of modifiers: TONE MARKS and HARD ENDINGS.  If a word has no modifiers, it will always take the DEFAULT tone for its consonant CLASS.  If it has a modifier, you will need to apply the rule for that consonant CLASS + the corresponding rule.  Read this paragraph a couple of times.  It’s not as hard as it sounds, but you probably won’t get it on your first read through.

  1. Default
  2. Has Tone Mark
  3. Has Hard Ending

The tricky part is that each class has its own default starter tone and its own set of rules.  Middle and High class are very similar which is why we want to master them first.  Low class turns everything upside down and is considerably more difficult so it’s a good idea not to even get into it until you have completely mastered the middle and high class rules. If you want to do it the easy way, than at least have a look at my course which holds your hand and guides you though all of this.

Default tones for each class: =

  • Middle Class = Mid Tone
  • High Class = Rising Tone
  • Low Class = Mid Tone

Did you ever study trigonomotry?  I didn’t until I was at university here in Thailand and I was very surprised to see that Thai works in a similar way.  When you look at a word, you have to determine which of the 3 classes(groups of letters) that the word is a part of.  This is based on the first letter of the word (even if it is a silent letter).  Then, you go follow the formula for that CLASS.  So if we take a couple middle class words as  examples:

บ้าน = house

  1. What class is บ ? = Middle Class
  2. Does it have a tone mark? = Yes (middle class + 2nd tone mark = Falling Tone)

ไก่ = chicken

  1. What class is ? = Middle Class
  2. Does it have a tone mark? = Yes (middle class + 1st tone mark = Low Tone)

ตาย = to die

  1. What class is ต? = Middle Class
  2. Does it have a tone mark? = No
  3. Does it have a hard ending? = No
  4. Default tone = Mid Tone (We checked for 2 modifiers.  There were none so we apply the default tone for Middle Class)

จาก = from

  1. What class is จ? = Middle Class
  2. Does it have a tone mark? = No
  3. Does it have a hard ending? = Yes (Middle Class + Hard Ending = Low Tone)

Now practice it until your eyes bleed!  Mastering the process =  Mastering the tone rules

Want to read more about Thai tones?  Check out this post for more examples:

Thai Tones

  • จาน
    จาน
    mid tone
  • แจก
    แจก
    low tone
  • จ้าง
    จ้าง
    falling tone
  • จอด
    จอด
    low tone
  • จ่าย
    จ่าย
    low tone
  • จน
    จน
    mid tone
  • All Done!

 

Learn To Read Thai

Learning to read again in a new language can seem rather daunting, even painful at times.  Even after you’ve gotten comfortable with the Thai script and can learn how the Thai tone rules work,  moving on to longer sentences and eventually short texts can be intimidating.

How I Learned to Read Thai

I spent a couple of years crazily trying to read whatever Japanese books I could get my hands on. Manga, language learning theories, fiction, old literature, etc. What I’ve discovered is that it was a mistake to read manga  or whatever solely because it was manga (or because I heard lots of Japanese learning websites recommend doing so) and it was in Japanese. I just wasn’t couldn’t get into it.   If you are going to invest a lot of time in something, it’s better to spend lots of time trying to read things that you might enjoy.  Be picky.  Because of the enormous amount of time and exposure required, we want to spend as little time as possible being bored and/or frustrated

What I ended up doing is trying to re-read many of the books I read when I was younger.  And when I was a kid, I read lots of Stephen King. So, I went to amazon.jp and ja.wikipedia.org and started to read about Stephen King books that I’ve read in the past and know pretty well. Reviews, summaries, character descriptions, etc. And its been great. Even though every single page has plenty of words that I don’t know, I know enough that can skip as many of those words as I want. I mine everything for sentences of things that I want to see again in my SRS. But the two most important things going on here are that I’m enjoying reading, and I am READING. I only read as long as it stays interesting. If I start spacing out or getting bored or frustrated…I do something else, or go look for something else to read. I can always come back to the current one if I feel like it or just try again tomorrow.

So anyways, I’ve devoured a lot of Stephen King stuff in the past few days and tonight I’m poking around summaries of Star Wars and Robocop. I also really wanna get my hands on some of the Jp translations of SK’s books. (I eventually did)

What YOU Should do to Learn to Read Thai

Anyways, how does this help you? Well, I’d say Thai is more limited than Japanese as far as I know in regards to translations from English when it comes to books. However, there are loads of movies and tv series to work with. So as I’m writing this, Lost is on tv so I figured that was good enough to start with. If you watch that, or Prison Break, Heroes some other show (the early version of this post was written in 2012!), we might have some material to work with.  If there isn’t a Thai wiki for whatever show/movie you’d like to read about, just Google it.  There’s always some Thai people talking about any popular drama out there somewhere.  If you don’t care about tv and movies, then read wiki pages and blogs about whatever interests you.  Find translations of books you read a long time ago and try and read them again in Thai.  You’ll probably remember some of the story which makes it a lot easier to access.  There will likely be loads of words that you don’t know and that’s ok.  Just work out what you can and don’t look up every word.  The important stuff will keep appearing.

So again, how do we go about reading this stuff when we still suck?  Let’s look at a few sentences and how we can break them down into smaller chunks that we might want to put in our notes (and/or flashcards if you use them).

Practice Reading Thai with Wikipedia Articles

First sentence from the Prison Break Wiki
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์แอ็กชัน ดราม่า ทางโทรทัศน์ ออกอากาศครั้งแรกทางช่องฟ็อกซ์
This one is full of SRS goodness. What have we got?

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ – PB is a series

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์แอ็กชัน PB is an action series

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ดราม่า PB is a drama series

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ ทางโทรทัศน์ PB is a tv series

PB เป็นซีรีส์ออกอากาศครั้งแรกทางช่องฟ็อกซ์ – PB is a tv series that was first broadcast on/by Fox.

Get the idea yet? Let’s look at the the first line from the Lost Wiki. A bit longer you may notice.

Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ที่อเมริกา ที่มีเนื้อหากล่าวถึงผู้รอดชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุเครื่องบินตก บนเกาะลึกลับ

See anything from the Prison Break sentence in this one?

Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ – Lost is a drama series

Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ที่อเมริกา – Lost is a drama series in America

Lost เป็นซีรีส์ ที่มีผู้รอดชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุเครื่องบินตก = Lost is a series about survivors of a plane crash

Lost เป็นซีรีส์ ที่มีผู้รอด เครื่องบินตก บนเกาะ – Lost is a series of plane crash survivors on an island

บนเกาะลึกลับ – on a mysterious island

Tear apart the sentence until its only got 1 thing it in you don’t know. And if you are still trying to practice reading at a basic level then keep the phrases really short, but don’t waste time with single words. Words out of context are forgotten too easily. There isn’t anything wrong with having a few of the same sentence with only one word changed.

Now, go try and skim through a few of those. Set goals.  Do a few sentences like this each day.  You don’t need to make flashcards for everything.  But, it’s often worth noting down stuff that you see a lot of and want to remember or anything that jumps out at you. Its always ok to delete flashcards and toss your notes.   And when you get up into the thousands it’s a good idea.

Learn To Speak Thai: Tone Drills by Class

Back in the day when I was learning the tone rules, I spent about 5-10 min nearly every day for 2 months going over the  tone exercises found in the The Fundamentals of The Thai Language.  I used it for years with my students and gradually over the past few months I’ve put together a better version that reflects words that you are actually going to be using.   The purpose being that you are practicing working out the tone rules for words that you will eventually know and should be able to say correctly.   Having the English would be distracting so there won’t be any of that.  I’m off to Japan this weekend am I’m feeling particularly generous so here is the link to the drills I use with my students.

If you can go through the entire page and can work out each tone in under 5 minutes you are doing something right.  If you aren’t there yet, remember to divide and conquer one class at a time.

Tone Drills by Class

Be a Cheater

Language learning shouldn’t be a competition and you shouldn’t be graded on the rate at which you progress based on someone else’s program or book.  There are no levels in life.  Words like beginner and advanced are relative.

Learning a language isn’t (rather it shouldn’t be) difficult.  It doesn’t take a genius to speak a language.  You can go outside and hear stupid people talk everywhere you go.  A very common problem which stops most people from getting good at something are the preconceived notions about how things are.  You say it’s hard because you’ve heard people say a language is difficult to learn, but you’ve never even tried.
People say silly stuff all the time like
  • Ooh, you must have a special gift because you are good at _________
  • I’m too old/young to start doing that…..
  • I can’t learn tonal languages because I’m tone deaf
  • I like chocolate
  • Oi, that is a really hard language because blahblahblah
  • I can’t read/watch/listen to that because it’s too hard

The bottom line is you can learn to do anything you want.  It takes time and loads of practice and even more than that it takes discipline and dedication.  There is no secret method or hack that is going to make you a master of something overnight.  It’s just like exercise or playing a musical instrument you gotta keep going.  There is no end.

Cheat.  It doesn’t matter what you do to get there.  You don’t have to read those boring ass Manee books.  Read stuff that you like. Watch movies or tv shows that you like.  If you don’t know what’s good then ask someone else for recommendations.  If you hate Thai movies, then watch Western movies dubbed in Thai (or whatever language).  Keep plugging away.  If you don’t dig it then toss it and find something else.   Just don’t stop and do it every day.  You’ll get better.  I promise.

You will never understand tv/movies/news if you never watch them.

You will never be able to read a book if you don’t actually ever try and read one.

Here’s how to learn Thai or any language:

  1. Learn the Thai script and sounds
  2. When you are comfortable with the sounds, start drilling short high frequency sentences (ไปไหน, กินข้าวรึยัง, ทำอะไรอยู่)
  3. Once you have about 20 or 30 short sentences in your head, start trying to use them on people.  You may want to start practicing short dialogues at this stage.
  4. When you get to a point where you can handle 50-100 short sentences and you know around 500-1000 words, you should start spending a little bit of your study time attempting to read.  Try to find interesting content.  This could be attempting to read the first (or random) sentence in a Thai wikipedia article on a topic you are interested in every day.  It will be really hard at first, but if you do it every day for a month, you will learn so many new words and before you know it, you’ll be reading 1 paragraph per day.