Learning Thai: The Basics

6:07 AM Shannon McLeod 0 Comments

So I've been living in Thailand for over six months now. I've picked up some of the basics that you need to know to get by. If you're visiting Thailand, most likely you'll be in a place where everyone speaks enough English to communicate with you, but if you venture from the touristy areas, you need to know some Thai. I'm also a believer that you should know some of the native language, regardless of which city you're in. You're in a different country, and I think it's respectful to at least know how to say hello and thank you in the native language.

So let's break this down.


Thai has five tones: mid, low, falling, high, and rising. The tones are difficult to differentiate, but do your best to learn them. Thai people will appreciate you trying to speak their language and won't yell at you if you say something wrong. Because there are five tones, there are less words in the Thai language then there are in English. The same word could have two or more meanings because it means one thing in the low tone and another in the high tone. In my case, this makes learning Thai difficult. But I always do my best.

How to be Polite

A way to always be polite in any language is to say thank you, but in Thai, you can take it a step further. It's seen as polite to put the word 'ka' or 'kahp' at the end of a sentence. If you are female, you use 'ka'. Males use 'kahp'. So as a female, if I wanted to be polite when saying hello, I would say 'sa wat dee ka' as opposed to just saying 'sa wat dee'. When I say anything in Thai, I always put 'ka' at the end of my sentences.

Basic Words

Hello: Sa Wat Dee
Thank you: Kahp Khun
Bathroom?: Hong Nam
Yes: Chai (Sometimes people who speak fluent Thai will just say ka/kahp instead of Chai.)
No: Mai

I hope this post helps those of you traveling to Thailand. If you have any questions, please leave them down below and I will answer them as best as I can. Have a great day, friends!


Check out my previous post here.

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