As a foreigner in Thailand, you’ll find yourself saying constantly “Sawadee khrup/ka (hello)”, which is a good thing because it means you’re living in a friendly place, right?
This is a bit of a problem if the only two things you can say are “Sawadee krup/ka” and “Sabai dee mai khrup/ka”? Things get a little repetitive and somewhat boring for the recipient.
So, for those of you who don’t speak much Thai, I’m going to arm you with 10 more Thai language sentences you can integrate easily into passing conversation, increasing your ability to speak Thai and subsequently your interaction with Thai people.
- Ben yang ngai bang khrup/ka? – What’s up? / what’s going on?
This is similar to “Saibaidee mai khrup/ka” but less formal and a welcome alternative if you’re kind of bored of the same “how are you” greeting. For many Thais this is the preferred way of asking someone they see on a regular basis “what’s been going on? / what’s happening? / what’s up?”
- Mai jer gaan nan leuy khrup/ka! – I haven’t see you for a long time!
This is a statement you’ll want to use when you haven’t seen a particular person around in a while. And no doubt they’ll be chuffed that you noticed they’d been gone a while.
- Gin khao ruu yang khrup/ka? – Have you eaten yet?
Sounds like a funny thing to ask someone after saying “hello”, right? Not at all. In fact, at one time in Thailand this was used as a primary greeting.
You will regularly hear Thais ask friends and people they see daily around the neighbourhood whether or not they have eaten. For Thai people this similar to asking how someone is because it indicates that you care about their welfare.
If the answer is “Gin leow!” (Eaten already), you can follow up with, “Gin arai khrup/ka?” (What did you eat?)
When the person tells you what they ate, you might like to finish the conversation with, “Arroy mai khrup/ka?” (Was it delicious?)
This will get you a guaranteed chuckle and probably make someone’s day – the farang spoke to me and he can speak Thai!!
- Pai nai maa khrup/ka? – Where have you been?
This question is ideal in passing because you are able to enquire as to where the person is coming back from.
Of course, to ask where the person is going, simply cut out “Maa” and say “Pai nai khrup/ka”. Again this is very commonly used among Thais, so you won’t make yourself look silly in anyway.
When the person in question tells you where they’ve been, you might choose to answer by saying, “Oh, lor”. (Really, okay).
- Wanee du dee jang leuy khrup/ka! – Today you look very good!
This is quite a flattering statement, so don’t over use it. Use it when a lady has changed her hair or has clearly made an effort to dress nicely.
If you are a woman saying this to a Thai man, perhaps reserve it for when you see a friend wearing a suit rather than the security guard of your apartment, he may get the wrong impression!
- Fon ja dok leow khrup/ka! – It’s going to (it will) rain!
An absolute favourite in the Thai small talk dictionary is commenting on the potential for it to rain or the fact that it has already started.
Although you may recognise the word “Leow” on the end of this sentence as meaning “already”, the “Ja” before “Dok” (rain) means “will”. Literally translated, “rain will fall already”.
So if it looks like rain you can say, “Fon ja dok leow!” As you pass by.
- Wanee rawn (lawn) jang leuy khrup/ka! – It’s very hot today!
Yes, it’s weather related again. “Wanee” (today), “Rawn” (hot, often sounds like it starts with an ‘L’ but in fact it’s and ‘R’ sound.
This is a great in and out statement that won’t provoke much more than a “Rawn…” response, at which point you can slip by and prepare your next encounter.
- Wanee tam ngan mai khrup/ka? – Are you working today?
It’s always nice when someone takes an interest in what you are doing. So you might use this question when you see a person working on a Saturday or Sunday, or when you see someone outside of their workplace.
If the person is working the answer might be a short “Chai ka/khrub” with a screwed up mouth to indicate mild discontent, or a nice smile “Yim” because they have a day off (“Wan yuut”).
- Khun nuai mai khrup/ka? – Are you tired?
You might follow up by asking, “(Khun) nuai mai khrup/ka”, meaning “Are you tired?” This recognition of hard work will no doubt put you in the good books of the person you’re speaking to. You can drop the “Khun” (meaning “you”) if you like; most Thai people will do the same and say “Nuai mai khrub/ka”.
- Leow jer gaan na khrup/ka! – See you later!
No conversation is complete without saying goodbye. But rather than say “Goodbyeeee” in that familiar Thai adaptation, use “Leow jer gaan khrup/ka” for “See you later”, or “Jer gaan leow leow nee khrup/ka” for “See you soon”.
Notes: Male speakers use Phom (“I”), and female speakers use “chun” or more formally “deechun”. Male speakers use “khrup” at the end of a sentence, and female speakers use “ka”
All of Jen’s students say she is the best Thai teacher they have had because she is patient with them and teaches at their pace with no pressure to learn quickly.
Jen teaches at her home in Chiang Rai and can be reached on 0814 726 644