In Thai language, the use of “yes” and “no” isn’t quite as universal as it is in English and there isn’t always a direct translation that can be used in every situation.
How you say “no” in Thai will usually depend how the question is worded.
How To Say No In Thai
No – ไม่ (mai)
If you’re looking for the quick answer, the closest translation of “no” in Thai is:
- ไม่ (mai)
However, this word is often not the best way to answer “no” to a question in Thai. Read on to find out how to say “no” like a real Thai.
How To Say “No” Like a Real Thai
When someone asks you a question in Thai that ends with the yes or no question word ไหม (mai) the answer to the question is not simply “yes” or “no” as it would be in English. To answer “yes” you need to repeat the verb or adjective that was used in the question. To answer “no” you use the word ไม่ (mai) – which means “no” or “not” – plus the verb or adjective that was used in the question.
It may sound strange at first, but this is perfectly normal exchange in Thai:
- ร้อนไหม (rawn mai?) = Is it hot? / Are you hot?
Although ไม่ (mai) alone can be used (without the verb or adjective) to answer “no” to a question, it may come across as somewhat blunt so it’s usually better to include the verb or adjective from the question that you were asked. Where ไม่ (mai) is used without the verb or adjective, it may be followed by นะ (na). นะ (na) is a Thai particle which makes the word or sentence preceding it sound softer.
เหนื่อยมั้ย (nèuay mai?) – Are you tired?
- ไม่เหนื่อย – (mai nèuay) – I’m not tired
- ไม่เหนื่อยนะ – (mai nèuay na) – I’m not tired (softer/informal)
How To Say “No Thank You” In Thai
ไม่เอา (mai ao) – (I) don’t want (something)
This phrase literally means something like “not take” or “not want”.
ไม่เอา (mai ao) is a handy phrase to learn when you are in Thailand. If you are walking through a touristy area there will often be hawkers trying to sell you everything from suits to massages to tuk tuk rides.
Some common phrases you might hear are:
- Hello, massage!
- You want tuk tuk?
- Hello, taxi!
To say “no thank you” in these types of situations you can just say:
Even though it can be kind of annoying having people trying to sell you stuff on every corner, it’s still best to try and keep it polite and not get into any kind of confrontation in Thailand. So just remember to add the polite particle ครับ (khrap) for a male speaker or ค่ะ (kha) for a female speaker.
เอา (ao) is also used when asking if somebody wants something. The structure is:
- เอาน้ำมั้ยคะ (ao nam mai kha) – Would you like some water? (female speaker)
- ไม่เอาครับ (mai ao khrap) – Literally: not want (male speaker)
Remember: if you want to say “yes” to the question you use the verb that was asked in the question. So in this case, the way you say yes is:
If someone is giving something to you, remember to say thank you – ขอบคุณครับ (khop khun khrap) for a male speaker or ขอบคุณค่ะ (khop khun kha) for a female speaker
How To Say “Not” In Thai
We can use the same structure from ไม่เอา (mai ao) to form other sentences too. The structure is just:
- ไม่ (mai) + verb or adjective
Most common phrases with ไม่ (mai)
ไม่มี (mai mee) – I don’t have it
Customer (female speaker):
- มีโค้กซีโร่มั้ยคะ(mee coke seero mai kha) – Do you have Coke Zero?
Shopkeeper (male speaker):
- ไม่มีครับ (mai mee khrap) – Literally: not have
You can use this when you are shopping or in a restaurant. Just add the item that you want after the word มี (mee):
ไม่ชอบ (mai chorp) – I don’t like it
- ชอบทุเรียนมั้ย (chorp tu-rian mai) – Do you like Durian?
- ไม่ชอบมันเหม็น(mai chorp man men) – I don’t like, it smells
ไม่เผ็ด (mai ped) – not spicy
This is handy when you are ordering food. After you’ve ordered your food you can add at the end:
ไม่สวย (mai suay) – Not beautiful
สวย (suay) – beautiful – is a useful word to have in your arsenal as you can use it to describe people, places, clothes and objects. A similar word is น่ารัก (naarak) which is the Thai word for “cute”. You can use this to describe people, animals, clothes and objects.
ไม่อร่อย (mai aroi) – Not delicious
Other common ไม่ (mai) + verb or adjectives
- ไม่กิน (mai gin) – I’m not going to eat
- ไม่ไป (mai ppai) – I’m not going
- ไม่ร้อน (mai rawn) – It’s not hot.
- ไม่หิว (mai hiw) – I’m not hungry
- ไม่พูด (mai pood) – I’m not talking
Thai Pronunciation Tip: What’s the difference between ไม่ (mai) and ไหม (mai) and มั้ย (mai)?
ไม่ (mai) means “no” or “not” and is a falling tone. ไหม (mai) is a question word that is used at the end of a sentence to turn a statement in to a yes or no question. It has a rising tone in formal written Thai but when used in everyday speech it is usually spoken with a high tone – มั้ย (mai). Click on the audio a few times to try to differentiate between the two tones, but know that your brain takes time to get used to tonal differences. There’s no need to panic if you can’t hear the difference yet. If you stick with Thai language, it will eventually be super easy.
For now, just know that even before you can hear the tones you will almost always know from the context which version of the word you are hearing.
ไม่ใช่ (mai chai) – No
Some questions in Thai end with ใช่ไหม (chai mai). This is roughly similar to how we use “right?” or “isn’t it?” at the end of a statement in English to turn it into a question. This question is usually used when seeking confirmation for something. For these questions you can respond with ใช่ (chai) – yes – or ไม่ใช่ (mai chai) – no.
- เป็นคนอเมริกัน ใช่ไหม (not found)(ppen kon amerikka chai mai) – You’re American right?
เปล่า (pplao) – No
Although เปล่า (pplao) translates as “no” it is not commonly used when answering a question. It is more commonly combined with รึ (ru) “or” to make รึเปล่า (ru pplao) and then used at the end of a sentence to make an “or not” question.
- จะมารึเปล่า (ja maa ru pplao) – Are (you) going to come or not?
If we want to say “no” to this question, we can just use the same structure that we learned above: ไม่ + verb or adjective.
So the best way say “no” to this question is:
- ไม่มา (mai maa) – I’m not coming (Literally: “not come”)
Bonus: How To Say “No Way” In Thai
ไม่มีทาง (mai mee taang)
If you want to say “no way” in Thai to show that you strongly disagree with something or say “no” in the strongest terms then you can say:
- ไม่มีทาง (mai mee taang) – no way / impossible! Literally: not have way
- ซื้อรถให้หน่อย (seu rot hai noy) – Will you buy a car for me?
- ไม่มีทาง (mai mee taang) – no way!
ไม่เลย (mai leoi)
Another way to say “no” in the strongest terms is:
- ไม่เลย (mai leoi) – absolutely not / not at all
- อยากไปมั้ย (yaak ppai mai) – Do you want to go?
- ไม่เลย (mai leoi) – Not at all!
Now you’ve got a good understanding of how to say “no” in Thai, it’s time to get out there and practice. You can also ask Thai people questions too and practice listening to the different ways that Thai people say “no”.
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