Word Study


Point 1. Omission of khráp or of khâʔ and kháʔ A man frequently omits khráp when speaking to another man who is an intimate friend (as in the Basic Sentences of this unit) or when speaking to his younger brothers and sisters. In the same way a woman frequently omits khâʔ or kháʔ when speaking to another woman who is an intimate friend or when speaking to her younger brothers and sisters. Note carefully that a man does not treat a woman who is not a relative as an initmate, and vice versa. Note also that parents, teachers, employers, or other superiors are not treated as intimates by either men or women.

Point 2. Repeated words. Many Thai words are at times repeated in order to reinforce or strengthen the meaning, e.g.,

pròot phûut cháacháa

'Please speak slowly.' (or 'more slowly, rather slowly')

dii ciŋciŋ

'It's really good' or 'That's really good.'

nay mʉaŋ nii mii ráan yàyyày máy khráp

'Are there any large stores in this town?' (or 'rather large stores' or 'largish stores')

khǎw sʉ́ʉ sʉ̂achə́ət sǔaysǔay lǎay tua

'He bought several pretty shirts' (or 'quite pretty shirts').

In English, too, we sometimes repeat words in almost exactly the same way, e.g.,

'Oh, this is very, very good.'
'It was so, so pretty.'
'I told him the story again and again' or 'over and over again.'

The principal difference between Thai and English in regard to the use of this type of repetition is that in Thai the repetition is common with a very large number of words, while in English it is done with only a limited number of words.

Point 3. khɔ̀ɔpkhun and khɔ̀ɔpcay. Both of these words mean 'thank you, thanks,' but khɔ̀ɔpkhun is somewhat more formal than khɔ̀ɔpcay. Moreover, khɔ̀ɔpcay is often preferred among intimates, not because it is less formal, but because it is warmer in feeling.
In addition note that both words may also mean 'to thank, to be grateful to,' as in the following:

phǒm khɔ̀ɔpcay kháw mâak thiidiaw

'I thanked him heartily.'

thâa khun hây phǒm yʉʉm nǎŋsʉ̌ʉ khɔ̌ɔŋ khun, phǒm càʔ khɔ̀ɔpcay khun mâak
ถ้าคุณให้ผมยืมหนังสือของคุณ ผมจะขอบใจคุณมาก

'If you lend me your book, I'll be very grateful to you.'

Point 4. The Thai words meaning 'to wash.' In English we generally use the single word 'to wash' whether we are talking about washing the face, the hair, or clothing. In Thai, however, three different words must be used, namely:


'to wash' (anything but hair or clothing)


'to wash (the hair), to shampoo'


'to wash (cloth or clothing), to launder'

To help you remember the distinction made between these words, you should memorize the following:

láaŋ nâa

'to wash the face'

láaŋ mʉʉ

'to wash the hands'

láaŋ thûay

'to wash the cups'

sàʔ phǒm

'to wash, shampoo the hair'

sák phâa

'to wash clothes, to do the laundry'

Point 5. A new use for mʉ̂a. When it is used before words whose meaning indicates a particular time, the word mʉ̂a means that that particular time is in the past. Thus, while khʉʉnníi means 'tonight,' mʉ̂a khʉʉnníi means 'last night.' Other similar phrases are:

mʉ̂a cháawníi
'this morning' (previous to now)
mʉ̂a hòk mooŋ cháaw
'at six o'clock this morning.'
mʉ̂a waanníi

You are already familiar with another use of mʉ̂a, namely its use in the meaning 'when.' When it has this latter meaning it is used not only of the past but also of the future. Examples:

mʉ̂a phǒm tham ŋaan sèt, phǒm càʔ pay duu nǎŋ
เมื่อผมทำงานเสร็จ ผมจะไปดูหนัง
'When I finish working, I'll go to the movies.'
mʉ̂a kháw pay bâan, kháw ráppràthaan ʔaahǎanthîaŋ
เมื่อเขาไปบ้าน เขารับประทานอาหารเที่ยง
'When he went home, he ate lunch.'


Point 6. Position of sèt. This word means 'to finish; to be finished, to be through, to be ready.' Examples:

khun sèt lɛ́ɛw rʉ̌ʉ yaŋ
'Are you ready yet?' or 'Are you through yet?' or 'Have you finished yet?'
phǒm sèt lɛ́ɛw
'I'm ready' or 'I'm through' or 'I've finished.'
phǒm tham ŋaan sèt lɛ́ɛw
'I'm through working,' lit., 'I'm through doing work.'
khun càʔ láaŋ nâa sèt mʉ̂aray
'When will you be through wasing up?' lit., 'When will you be through wasing [your] face?'

You will notice at once that Thai and English use a completely different arrangement of the words in the last two examples. In English the word 'through' or 'finish' precedes the word for the activity that is 'through' or 'finished,' but in Thai the word for the activity comes first. The best way to remember this is to think of some simple example, such as, phom tham ŋaan sèt lɛ́ɛw, and let that serve as your model for any other sentence containing sèt that you wish to use. Note also that in the last two examples above the object of the verb expressing the activity is put in bold face.

Point 7. A new number-word. The word khrʉ̂ŋ 'half' is a number-word, but it has some special uses not shared by other number-words. In its regular usage it has the same position as all other number-words, namely immediately before the classifier. Examples:

kháw dʉ̀ʉm kaafɛɛ khrʉ̂ŋ thûay
'He drank half a cup of coffee.'
phǒm yùu bâan khrʉ̂ŋ wan
'I stayed home half a day.'
phǒm tɔ̂ŋkaan khày sàk khrʉ̂ŋ lǒo
'I want half a dozen eggs.'
kháw ráppràthaan kày khrʉ̂ŋ tua
'He ate half a chicken.'

But khrʉ̂ŋ is also found to come immediately after the classifier in certain cases, e.g.,

kháw dʉ̀ʉm kaafɛɛ sɔ̌ɔŋ thûay khrʉ̂ŋ
'He drank two and a half cups of coffee'
phǒm yùu bâan sǎam wan khrʉ̂ŋ
'I stayed home three and a half days'
khǎw tham ŋaan sèt weelaa hâa mooŋ khrʉ̂ŋ
'He finished working at five thirty'

From these examples it is easy to see that when khrʉ̂ŋ comes after the classifier it means 'and a half.' In all the examples above where khrʉ̂ŋ follows the classifier, there is another number-word preceding the classifier. But if the number-word intended before the classifier is nʉ̀ŋ 'one', it is generally omitted. Examples:

kháw dʉ̀ʉm kaafɛɛ thûay khrʉ̂ŋ
He drank a cup and a half of coffee..
phǒm yùu bâan wan khrʉ̂ŋ
I stayed home a day and a half.

This makes it clear at once that there is considerable difference in meaning depending on whether khrʉ̂ŋ comes before or after the classifier. Memorize the two following phrases:

khrʉ̂ŋ wan
'half a day'
wan khrʉ̂ŋ
'a day and a half'

Point 8. Some classifiers.

a. ʔan. This classifier is used for certain small objects, generally of a long and slender shape, such as, prɛɛŋ 'brush' and prɛɛŋsǐifan 'toothbrush.'

b. lêm. Aside from its use as the classifier for certain sharp-pointed objects, such as knives. In addition many people use this classifier for combs, while some use ʔan instead, e.g.,

wǐi sɔ̌ɔŋ lêm
'two combs' (said by many people)
wǐi sɔ̌ɔŋ ʔan
'two combs' (said by other people)

c. kɔ̂ɔn. You have learned this word as the classifier for things having the form of a Jump, such as a cloud or a lump of sugar. It is also the classifier for cakes of soap, e.g.,

sàbùu hâa kɔ̂ɔn
'five cakes of soap'

d. khûu. This classifier is used for pairs of anything except pairs of pants or trousers. You have already learned to use it for rɔɔŋtháaw 'shoes' and in this unit we find that it is also used for thǔŋtháaw 'socks, stockings.'

e. tua. This is the classifier which is used for pairs of pants or trousers. As an aid in remembering this, you should keep in mind the fact that tua is also used with sʉ̂a 'coat' and with sʉ̂achə́ət 'shirt.' Examples:

kaaŋkeeŋ sɔ̌ɔŋ tua
'two pairs of pants'
kaaŋkeeŋ tua nǎy
'which pair of pants?'
sʉ̂achə́ət tua diaw
'a single shirt'

f. phʉ̌ʉn. This classifier is used for pieces or strips of cloth provided they are already in a form ready for use, e.g., towels, curtains, rugs, and the like. Of the new words learned in this unit, you should use it with phâachéttua 'towel.'

g. The words nâa 'face' and línchák are used as their own classifiers, just like hɔ̂ŋ 'room' and tiaŋ 'bed' which you learned in Unit 8

Point 9. Some compounds.

'to bathe, take a bath,' lit. 'to water-bathe,' from ʔàap 'to bathe (in general)' + náam 'water.'
'breakfast,' lit. 'morning meal' or 'morning food.'
'laundryman, launderer,' lit. 'cloth washing person.'
'toothbrush,' lit. 'tooth-rubbing brush.'
'store,' lit. 'selling-shop' Compare the word: khonkhǎaykhɔ̌ɔŋ 'salesman.'
'barber-shop,' lit. 'hair-cutting shop.'
'shirt' from sʉ̂a 'coat, upper garment' + chə́ət, borrowed from the English word 'shirt.' Note that the Thai people use the full form sʉ̂achə́ət for 'shirt' and that chə́ət is not used by itself.
'clothes, clothing,' from sʉ̂a 'coat, upper garment' + phâa 'cloth' (formerly, 'lower garment'). Thus the primary meaning of sʉ̂aphâa is 'upper and lower garments,' hence the meaning 'clothing.'
'to dress, to get dressed; to be dressed,' lit. 'to adorn the body,' from tɛ̀ɛŋ 'to adorn, decorate,' + tua 'body.'