Top 5 Most Useful Thai Phrases

Bangkok

อยู่ไหนเนี่ย

If I were to start learning Thai from the beginning all over again, these are the most useful 5 Thai phrases that I wish my first phrase book taught me. You can use all 5 of these phrases every single day and you’ll hear Thai people say them all the time.

How to Say Hello in Thai

You probably have heard of sawasdee (สวัสดี), but in real life you don’t usually use this word with you friends. It’s much more common to ask them if they’ve eaten yet. If you see them out, you’d ask them where they are going or where they are coming back from. So the next time you run into one of your Thai friends, try one of these:

ไปไหน ppai nai Where are you going?
ไปไหนมา ppai nai maa Where are you coming (back) from?
กินข้าวรึยัง gin khaao ru yang Did you eat yet?

 

How to Say “What are you doing?” in Thai

This is another short, simple and super useful Thai phrase that you should learn right away.

ทำอะไรอยู่ (thum a-rai yuu) – What are you doing?

**Notes:

  • You can add a อยู่ (yuu) after any VERB in Thai to make it function like the -ing ending in English. We don’t need to use any pronouns when it’s obvious that the speaker is talking about themselves.
    • ทำงานอยู่ (tum ngaan yuu) – I’m working
    • กินข้าวอยู่ (gin khaao yuu) – I’m eating
    • ดูหนังอยู่ (duu nang yuu) – I’m watching a movie.
    • นั่งกินกาแฟอยู่ (nang gin gaa-fae yuu) – I’m sitting having a coffee. *The word “eat” is used informally for both eating and drinking.

How to Say “Where are you?” in Thai

Whether or not you are planning to meetup with someone, it’s pretty common to ask where people are in any language. In Thai, you’ll hear it all the time and it’s a super easy phrase.

If you are speaking to a friend online/phone you just say:

อยู่ไหน (yuu nai) – where are you? / Where is it?

If you want to ask where something is or in cases where you need to specify a person, you put it/them before the phrase above:

  • แม่อยู่ไหน ​(mae yuu nai) – Where is mom?
  • กุญแจอยู่ไหน (kun-jae yuu nai) – Where is the key? / Where are the keys?​

 

 

How to Say OK in Thai

There are a few options in Thai for saying ok. You can always just say OK like we do in English, but using Thai pronunciation โอเค (ohh-kay), the main difference being that the Ohh sound tends to be longer than how you might say it in English. While this works fine in many situations, there’s a special phrase you should definitely learn.

ก็ได้ (gaw dai) – ok; I’m ok with that; that works; sounds good to me

A: วันนี้กินอะไรดี (wan nee gin a-rai dee) – What should we eat today?
B: อยากกินพิซซ่า (yaak gin pit-saa) – I want to eat pizza.
A: พิซซ่าเหรอ กินก็ได้ (pit-saa raw … gin gaw dai) – Pizza huh? Yea, I could eat (pizza) / that works

It doesn’t always translate exactly as “ok,” but it express that you are satisfied with or accepting of whatever is being talked about.

  • ไปคนเดียวก็ได้ (ppai khon diaw gaw dai) – I’m fine with going (there) by myself
  • ซื้อให้ก็ได้ (sue hai gaw dai) – I can buy it for you (I’m ok to buy it for you)
  • ไม่ไปก็ได้ (mai ppai gaw dai) – It’s ok if I/we don’t go.

 

How to Say “I don’t understand” in Thai

You may have heard of mai khao jai ไม่เข้าใจ which means “I don’t understand,” but I’m going to give you a more fun phrase that you can use when you REALLY have no idea what’s happening. If you can pronounce that เอือ vowel correctly, you can get some good laughs with this one.

ไม่รู้เรื่อง (mai ruu rueang) – I have no idea what you are talking about / I have no clue / I don’t understand at all

You use this phrase when you didn’t understand a word of what was just said, or in cases where you have no idea what someone is going on about.

Now get out there and practice these phrases. You can use them all the time forever.

How to Say Congratulations in Thai

Congrats

ดีใจด้วยนะมึง

If you ever want to say congratulations or praise a friend in Thai for a job well done, some meaningful event or success in their life, you may want to do it in Thai. These are all the phrases you are going to need.

In Thai, there are 2 main phrases you’ll usually congratulate people with, but as is often the case in this language, you may need to adjust or change the phrase you use depending on who you are speaking with, your relationship to them and what you are congratulating them for.

How to Congratulate your Friends in Thai (Informal)

There are a two main phrases you should use and there are a few variations that are worth noting.  While they all mean the same thing, the particles we add at the end can change the feeling behind the sentence. Please note that age does matter here. If someone you are close to is considerably older than you, in most cases, you should add on the polite gender particle at the end of the sentence ครับ/ค่ะ (khrap/kha).

This can get a little tricky if you are unfamiliar with particles.  Particles are usually single words that don’t mean anything by themselves, but add some color or feeling to the sentence they are modifying much in the way intonation works in a non-tonal language.

Best Choice for Congrats

ดีใจด้วย (dee jai doo-ay) – Congrats!

Variations of Congrats:

Can't read Thai yet? Try a few free lessons from my basic Thai course.

Very Close Friends

If you are really close to someone, you may reach a point where you call each other มึง (mung).  Be very careful with this word as it will come across as very rude if you aren’t sufficiently close.  I’d recommend not using this at all until someone uses it with you.  But, keep your ears open as you’ll hear it when Thai friends speak to each other.

 

How to Congratulate Someone Older/Higher Status in Thai

In most cases, you can use the same 2 phrases, but you’ll want to be sure to always include the polite gender particle.  I feel like ยินดีด้วย (yin dee doo-ay) is slightly more appropriate than ดีใจด้วย (dee jai doo-ay) in this situation as the latter feels slightly more informal.

ยินดีด้วย (yin dee doo-ay) + ครับ/ค่ะ/นะคะ (khrap/kha/na-kha)

How to Say Congrats for * in Thai?

While often times a discussion will play out with someone telling you about their news or accomplishment and then you congratulate them, there will inevitably be times when you hear thew news second hand and want to indicate what you are congratulating them for.  We’ll still use the same phrases above, but we’ll need to add ที่ (thii) + event.

Want to REALLY Learn to Speak Thai?

A really important part of learning Thai is mastering the script and sounds.  It’s very difficult to learn the correct pronunciation using any type of English transliteration and spending a lot of time learning to pronounce sentences incorrectly is just plain silly. If you are going to learn a language, is it worth 10 hours of your time to master the sounds if it makes the rest of the journey much easier?

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.

How to Order Coffee in Thai

coffee in thai

เอากาแฟเย็นแก้วหนึ่ง

If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, learning a few simple Thai phrases for ordering food and drink is going to make your life a lot easier when in Thailand. Many Thai cafes will automatically add sugar and the staff may not speak English very well so if you want to avoid your drinks being sweet or make sure there’s no milk in it, learn these Thai ordering phrases.

How to Say Coffee in Thai

First off, let’s learn how to pronounce coffee in Thai correctly.

กาแฟ consists of 2 syllables. กา + แฟ – If you can read a little bit of the Thai script, it’s easy to identify the 2 very distinct vowel sounds happening in this word. However, when we try to write it in English using transliteration we are left with something like gaa-fae which can be very misleading so I highly recommend you click on both syllables a few times and try to remember the correct vowel sound.

If you can pronounce กาแฟ, then you’re halfway to saying cafe or coffee shop. As with many types of shops in Thai, you just add the word ร้าน in front which means store or shop.

Ordering Coffee in Thai

เอา (ow) + FOOD/DRINK + (# + classifier)

If you don’t know much or any Thai yet, just start by learning the shortest easiest version. Once you’ve said this a few times and are comfortable with it, come back and learn how to add in additional informationใ

*Staff at cafes often shorten the names of the coffee drinks:

Can't read Thai yet? Try a few free lessons from my basic Thai course.
Thai sign that says "a little sweet, super sweet, just let us know!"

ไม่หวานเลย

How to Say “No Sugar” or “Not Sweet” in Thai

It’s Thailand and Thai people like their drinks SWEET so if you go to one of the many cafes that automatically adds sugar or syrup, you need to let them know if you don’t want any. You generally don’t need to use these on things like an americano at places that make real barista-type coffee, but watch out at the big Thai franchises as well as small shops which tend to automatically add sugar unless you tell them not to.

How to Say “Don’t put in milk/sugar/etc” in Thai

If your pronunciation isn’t good yet (because you haven’t learned the script) it’s a really good idea to have a backup sentence just in case you are having trouble getting understood.
These sentences say to not add in any sugar/syrup.

Non-Dairy Alternatives for Your Coffee/Tea

Apart from hipster cafes and Starbucks, it’s still not very common in Thailand for cafes to have non-dairy milk alternatives. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but you may get clueless stares back.

How to Say “I’ll have the usual” in Thai

One of the more useful phrases in Thai is เหมือนเดิม which depending on the context means something like “the usual,” or “the same as last time,” or “the same as before.” You can use this phrase once you are known to the staff a particular place. If you go to the same place a lot, they’ll likely start asking you at some point: เอาเหมือนเดิมมั้ย or เหมือนเดิมมั้ย.

เอาเหมือนเดิม (ow muan doem) – I’ll have the usual / I’ll have the same as last time

Thai Phrases for Ordering Food/Drink:

Here are a few common Thai phrases you might need while ordering food or drink at a cafe or restaurant.

Thai Vocabulary for Ordering Food/Drink

Sizes in Thai

You can use these

Starbucks Sizes in Thai