Word Study

Click on each word in Thai to listen to the speech files.

Formal English
Informal English
บิดา father พ่อ dad
มารดา mother แม่ mom
แพทย์ physician หมอ doctor
ภาพยนตร์ cinema หนัง movie

You have now learned several pairs of words of the same meaning, one of which is formal, the other informal. If you study the English equivalents of the words given above, you will notice that English makes distinctions which are strikingly similar. In speaking Thai formal words are used when speaking to one's elders or superiors and also in formal situations, such as making an application for a position and the like. In speaking English , the shift from formal to informal speech is automatic, depending on the situation, and at first you may think that English has no formal vs. informal words. But as soon as you compare a formal situation with an informal one you will see that English and Thai are much alike in the use of such words. Thus when you are speaking to your professor, you will probably say 'my father', but if you are speaking to a friend you will be very likely to say 'dad'.


Countries ประเทศอังกฤษ England
  ประเทศฝรั่งเศส France
  ประเทศจีน China
  ประเทศไทย Thailand
Inhabitants ชาวอังกฤษ Englishman
  ชาวฝรั่งเศส Frenchman
  ชาวจีน Chinese (person)
  ชาวไทย Thai (person)
Languages ภาษาอังกฤษ English
  ภาษาฝรั่งเศส French
  ภาษาจีน Chinese
  ภาษาไทย Thai

Words like akrit 'English', faraseet 'French', ciin 'Chinese', and thay 'Thai' are combined with the word pratheet 'country' to make the name of the country, with the word chaaw 'inhabitant of' to make the term for an inhabitant of that country, and with the word phaasaa 'language' to form the term for the language of that country.
The word ma may also be used in place of pratheet, but ma is informal while pratheet is formal. Moreover, ma also has the additional meaning 'city'.
It should also be noted that khon may be used in place of chaaw but that the terms are different in meaning. Since the word khon means 'person', khonakrit means 'English person', but chaaw- means more specifically 'inhabitant of, native of' and chaawakrit therefore means 'inhabitant of England, native of England.' Note also that chaaw- is not used by itself but occurs only in compounds.

A meter (Thai met) is equivalent to 39.37 inches, that is 3.37 inches over a yard. A centimeter (Thai sentimet) is 1-100 of a meter. A kilogram (Thai kilookram) is equivalent to 2.2046 pounds.

khraaw nâa
next time (lit., 'the time ahead')
ʔaathít nâa
next week (lit., 'the week ahead')
dyan nâa
next month
pii nâa
next year

Memorize these phrases and contrast them with the ones made with kn (e.g., ma aathit kn 'last week') which you have already memorized.


khǎw pìt fayfáa mòt
They turned out all the lights.
phǒm càay ŋən mòt lɛ́ɛw.
I've spent all my money.

The word mòt meaning 'to be all, to be used up, to be exhausted (in supply)' is usually employed as a secondary verb, as in the examples above. However, it is also occasionally used alone, particularly in certain set expressions, such as:

mòt lɛ́ɛw
That's all (in the sense of 'that's all there is').

The important thing to remember about all the examples quoted here is that while mòt is a verb in Thai it is usually not translated as such in English, because of the different modes of expression employed in the two languages.