Thai Language Basics - Some Helpful Phrases

23 Dec 2016

Whether you are here on Koh Phangan for a day, a month or many years, learning a little Thai language is a brilliant thing to do. 
Going beyond “sawasdee kha/khrap” and “korp khun kha”  (Hello and thank-you for any total beginners out there!) will impress friends and locals alike.  

Even if it's just simple words, most Thai people appreciate your efforts to learn their langauge and this show of courtesey can go a long way. Give it a try! 

Here’s some useful phrases you can use in your daily life here on the island:

1. "I / Me"

In pasa Thai (Thai language) different words are used depending upon whether you are a man or a woman.

Man =  “phom”

pronounced as in the word ‘POM POM’


Woman = “chan:

 pronounced as it appears - CHAN - with a “ch” sound like in the word ‘CHEW’


2. "You"

You = "khun" 

Pronounced like the word PUN if you replace the P with a K


Leading on from here, let's look at how to introduce yourself... 


Learning how to introduce yourself even though it may seem like a small thing, can help you build good relationships and rapport with people you encounter here on Koh Phangan.

Again, this is true for however long you will be here. You could be on great terms with the person you rent your motorcycle with or that cute boy/girl you buy your coffee from every morning in Seven Eleven. Whatever the situation, it's lovely to be able to be friendly and communicate with someone you meet in their native langauge,

So, here goes:

3. "My name is ......."

The Thai word for name is “cheuuuuu”

CHEUUUU pronounced like the word CHEWWW         

:-D     Top tip - say this word with your mouth in a smiling-face    :-D


Male  -     “Phom cheuuuu ….[your name].....


Female  -       “Chan cheuuu …[your name]....


Some examples:

“Chan cheuu Amelia” - “my name is Amelia”
“Phom cheuu Tony” - “my name is Tony”


3. “What’s your name”?

We know that the word for name is “cheuuu” so we’re half way there already!

We also know that the word for you is “khun”

The word for "what" is          “arai”

Pronounced AH-RAI

:-D Top tip: the word “arai” is always used at the end of a sentence in Thai :-D

“What is your name”      is         “khun cheuuu arai”?


It won’t make sense to a Thai person if you say “arai”? in the way that in English you might ask “what”?

In pasa Thai sentences are constructed differently to  the way they are English. You can’t simply swap single words over for their Thai equivalents! 

Literally translated, the above is something more akin to "your name is what"? 


It's a simple as that!

To put it to the test, we sent one of Phanganist's friends Louise out into Thong Sala to introduce herself to someone......




Good try! 


Knowing these few basic things is a great start to communicating in Thai.

Let us know how you get on. We would love you to share your experiences!

In our next article we will look at asking for things in restaurants and bars and go into Thai langauge a little bit more! Stay tuned.