There are 3 main ways to say “for” in Thai. Luckily, there is often some overlap with their English equivalents, but it may take a bit to get used to which word you’ll need to use in each situation. I’ll include some key examples in this post so you can get an idea which is which.
“FOR” in Thai
The first version of “for” that we will look at is “สำหรับ” (sam-rap).
This version of “for” is often used when talking about what the purpose of a thing is or what it’s intended use is. Let’s look at the sentence “games for kids”. The “for” in this sentence essentially means “intended to be used by”. This is how the word สำหรับ (sam-rap) is used in Thai.
สำหรับ (sam-rap) + NOUN = for (use by/of)
- เกมส์สำหรับเด็ก games for kids
- ท่ายืดสำหรับคนตัวแข็ง – stretches for people who are stiff
- แชมพูสำหรับผมแห้ง – shampoo for dry hair
- เว็บไซท์สำหรับคนรักหมา – web site for dog lovers (people who love dogs
- เหมาะสมสำหรับผู้ชมทุกวัย – appropriate for viewers of all ages
- เครื่องมือสำหรับการวิจัย – research tools (tools for research)
สำหรับ can also be attached to a verb phrase. This is similar to how we would say a phrase like “a pen for ipad.” The “for” means something like “for the purpose of.”
The usage is just sap-rap สำหรับ + the verb:
สำหรับ (sam-rap) + VERB = “intended to used to do X”
Here are some more examples:
- ผ้าสำหรับถูพื้น – cloth for cleaning floors
- เว็บสำหรับดูทีวี “internet TV websites / (websites for watching TV)”
- โปรแกรมสำหรับเขียนบล็อก “blogging software / (program for writing a blog”)
For in Thai (for the benefit of)
The next Thai version of “for” that we’re going to look at is the word เพื่อ (phuea). เพื่อ (phuea) means something like in order to; for the benefit of; for the purpose of someone or something. For example “to work for my family”. The “for” in this sentence means something like “for the benefit of”.
This word is used for all the organizations and foundations. School for the blind, for the people, etc.
เพื่อ (phuea) – for the benefit/purpose of someone/something; in order to
- ทำงานเพื่อจะได้เงิน – to work in order to get money
- สละชีวิตเพื่อประเทศชาติ – to sacrifice one’s life for one’s nation
- ทำงานเพื่อครอบครัว – to work for one’s family
- มูลนิธิเพื่อผู้บริโภค Consumer Foundation (foundation for consumers)
- อาหารเพื่อสุขภาพ Healthy Food (Food for Health)
- เพื่อความเข้าใจธรรมชาติ for understanding nature
For in Thai (on behalf of/ in case of)
The third version of “for” that we will look at is เผื่อ (phuea). This can mean something similar to the English “in case of something” or “on behalf of”
In these examples, เผื่อ works like “in case.”
- ไม่อยากออกบ้านเผื่อว่าเขาโทรมา – I don’t want to go out in case he/she calls.
- เอาชุดว่ายน้ำไปด้วยเผื่อมีสระว่ายน้ำ – Bring a bathing suit in case there is a swimming pool.
While in these very commonly used examples, เผื่อ functions as “on behalf of”
These are often used when you are telling someone you are going to do something…go eat, go out, go on a trip, etc and the person you are speaking to says this to mean something like “do it/one for me too!”
English example, you are heading out to the pub, but your friend is sick or has to stay home in work – they might say ‘Drink one for me!”
เผื่อ (phuea) –
Thai Tone Tip:
Although the word เผื่อ (phuea) and เพื่อ (phuea) above share the same vowel and same initial consonant sound, they are spoken with a different tone. As Thai is a tonal language, this can change the meaning of a word. Click on the audio for both words again and pay attention to tones of each word. เพื่อ (phuea) is spoken with a falling tone – meaning the tone rises and then falls again, while the word เผื่อ (phuea) is spoken with a low tone.
These 2 words take different tones because of 2 factors: their initial consonant AND the tone mark.
- เผื่อ – Is a LOW tone, because it begins with the because class consonant ผ and has the 1st Tone Mark.
- เพื่อ – takes a FALLING tone because it’s a low class consonant with the first tone mark.
While you need to know the 4 tone marks in order to determine the tone of a word or syllable in Thai, you ALSO need to know the CONSONANT CLASS of the word as each of the 3 classes has slightly different tone rules that you’ll need to master in order to learn to speak Thai fluently.
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For in Thai: Bonus Round ให้
ให้ (hai) is a very versatile word which has lots of different uses. Depending on the sentence it can mean: to give; to allow; to make someone do something; and it can also be used as the preposition, “for.” If this sounds intimidating, try to explain to a non-native English speaker what “get” means.
- ลูกทำอาหารให้แม่– The kid cooked some food for his mother
- เขาซื้อของขวัญให้แฟน – He bought a present for his girlfriend
Sentences Where “For” Isn’t Used in Thai
Even though there are lots of ways to say “for” in Thai, there are a number of sentences where “for” is not used.
Below are some situations where we use “for” in English but not in Thai.
Situation 1: When talking about how long something has been or will be done for.
- ผมอยู่เมืองไทยมาห้าปี – I have lived in Thailand for five years
- วันนี้ผมวิ่งสามสิบนาที – Today I ran for thirty minutes.
Even though in English we need to use the word “for” in these sentences, in Thai there is no equivalent version of “for” used.
Situation 2: When thanking someone or saying sorry for doing something.
Once again, there is no version of “for” used in these Thai sentences.
We understand that trying to memorize all of this will be impossible for most people. Just bookmark this page and come back to reference it as needed. Whenever you run into a situation where you want to say something and you don’t know how, make a note somewhere and look it up, send us a message, or ask on a app like HiNative.