Are you sure?
As of June 30, 2018, live e-Tutoring has been discontinued. Please click here for more information.

Want more lessons? Sign up today.

Choose the subscription that is right for you in order to access your full language learning experience.

Some basic features of Thai

Before moving on, we should point out a few important grammatical features of Thai.

Thai has no articles; instead noun classifiers play an important role in the language. Thai nouns do not show any distinction between the singular and plural, however, the numeral classifier construction helps communicate this information. The general construction is ‘noun + number + classifier’. For example:

แก้ว 1 ใบ kaewˆ nue:ngˋ bai a glass
แก้ว 2 ใบ kaewˆ sawngˇ bai two glasses

Like many other languages in Southeast Asia, classifiers play an important role in the Thai language.

Thai verbs do not change their form to show tense (i.e., the time when an action takes place, e.g. English I walk vs. I walked), or person (i.e., the distinction between the speaker, listener, and third person, e.g. English I walk vs. he walks). The time when an action takes place, or the tense, is indicated with expressions of time and various particles.

Another feature of Thai verbs you should know is that they can be “serialized,” meaning that they can be put one after the other to indicate one complex event. These constructions are very frequent in spoken language. For instance:

ผมเดินออกไปเจอเขา pho:mˇ dən awkˋ pai jə khauˇ I went out to meet him (lit. I walk exit go meet him.)

The structure of Thai simple sentences

The structure of a simple sentence in Thai is similar to that in English: the subject of the sentence (or the person or thing performing an action or being in a certain state) is followed by the predicate (the verb describing the action performed by the subject or another word describing the subject).

ลิน มา จาก ประเทศ จีน
lin maa jaak` pra`-thedˆ jiin.
Lin comes from China.

ผม ชื่อ ทิม
phomˇ chueˆ thim.
My name is Tim.

While there is no difference between Thai and English in the structure of simple sentences, there are differences in the word order used in phrases. So, for example, the modifier — such as an adjective — always follows the noun in Thai.

ภาษา ไทย
phaa-saaˇ thai
Thai language