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Vowels

There are twenty-eight vowel sounds in Thai, which can be divided into simple vowels and complex vowels or diphthongs. They can also be grouped as short vowels and long vowels.

The Thai characters for vowels can be placed before, after, above, or below the given consonant letter, as will be discussed in more detail in the section on the Thai writing system. In the table below, a dash indicates the placement of a consonant with respect to a vowel. For example, to form a word using the vowel – (a), a consonant, such as (k), has to be placed in front of it, so we get กะ (ka`).

Thai simple vowels

Simple vowels in Thai can be either short or long. Note that some Thai characters for vowels have more than one part to them. (Also note that most examples below are practice syllables, not actual Thai words with meaning.)

Short Vowels

VOWEL PRONUNCIATION EXAMPLE
-ะ a กะ
ka`
–  i กิ
ki`
–  ue: กึ
kue:`
– u กุ
ku`
e: เกะ
ke:`
ae: แกะ
kae:` (to carve, sheep)
o: โกะ
ko:`
าะ aw: เกาะ
kaw:` (to cling to something, an island)
-อะ ə: เกอะ
kə:`

Long vowels

VOWEL PRONUNCIATION EXAMPLE
aa กา
kaa (cattle, crows)
–  ii กี
kii
–  ue กื
kue
– uu กู
kuu (I, me [impolite])
e เก
ke (twisted, slanted)
ae แก
kae (you [very informal])
o โก
ko
aw กอ
kaw (bush)
ə เกอ

Thai complex vowels or diphthongs

Complex vowels or diphthongs are combinations of two or more vowels in a single syllable. They can be short and long as well. (Note that most examples below are practice syllables, not actual Thai words with meaning.)

Long diphthongs

VOWEL PRONUNCIATION EXAMPLE
เ– ียะ ia: เกียะ
kia:`
เ– ือะ uea: เกือะ
kuea:`
– ัวะ ua: กัวะ
kua:`
– ำ am กำ
kam (to hold)
ไ–
ไ–
ai ai ไก
kai ใก
kai
เ–า au เกา
kau (to scratch)

Short Diphthongs

VOWEL PRONUNCIATION EXAMPLE
เ– ีย ia เกีย
kia
เ– ือ uea เกือ
kuea
– ัว ua เกัว
kua