This is the first lesson of the new series on “Thai personal pronouns”, many more pronouns are used in Thai than in English. Therefore, this subject is very complicated because it depends on age, gender, social status, the relationship between speaker and formality of situations.
Some pronouns can be used in a variety of ways depending on the context. And they don’t change with part of speech, you will find that some words are both “I/me” or “He/him”
In Thai, pronouns are often omitted in informal conversation, especially “I” and “You”, but also “she/he/they” if understood in context whom you are referring to.
Personal pronoun for male speakers
ผม/phǒm is the most convenient word for men and can be used on any occasion and with almost everybody. It’s neither too formal nor informal.
phǒm chôb bpai tîew
I like to go out, I like to travel.
(ผม/phǒm is being used as “I”)
Khǒo chôb phǒm
She likes me.
(ผม/phǒm is being used as “ME”)
Personal pronoun for female speakers
Most commonly used in written Thai. It’s more formal , could be used, for example, in a meeting you don’t know the people well. Too formal for everyday conversation. In a spoken Thai is changed to ดิชั้น/dì-chán.
In everyday conversation women prefer to use ฉัน/chăn or ชั้น/chán instead. It’s more informal and intimate when used by men.
(Formal situation )
Khun pôod à-rai? dì-chán mâi kâo jai kâ
What did you say? I don’t understand.
อะไรนะ ? ชั้นไม่เข้าใจ
à-rai ná? chán mâi kâo jai
What ? I don’t understand.
If you want to learn more about the use of อะไร/à-rai please click here
Personal pronoun for young children or girls
It can be used as the 1st or the 2nd person pronoun and it is mostly used by young children or young girls when speaking to their elders.
Note : หนู/nǒo literally means mouse
khun kru ká, nǒo mee kamtǎam kâ.
Teacher, I have a question.
(หนู/noo is being used as “I”)
nǒo mee kamtǎam a-rai krub?
What is your question?
( หนู/noo is being used as “YOU”)
Did you know that มี/mee is not only have the meaning as to have or to has? มี/mee can be used as verb to be in Thai language as well.
Personal pronoun for similar age
it’s can be used by women or men in informal or intimate conversation.
rao chôb gin kâ-nôm
I like to eat snack.
rao gôr chôb gin kâ-nôm
I like to eat snack too.
(เรา is being used as “I”)
ก็ /gôr /also, too
ขนม / kâ-nôm /snack
Now, let’s see how “เรา” works as “me” in a Thai sentence.
káo ma hǎa krai
Who is she looking for?
káo maa hǎa rao
She is looking for me.
มาหา /maa hǎa/ to come, to visit, to look for
ใคร/ krai / who
First name or nick name as a personal pronoun
Thai people call each other by first names. Therefore when you ask someone’s name, only the first name is usually given. Thai people normally will not give their last names, unless asked specifically.
Most Thais have nicknames or ชื่อเล่น /chêu lên. Nicknames are used in informal situations or among friends and family.
Thais nicknames are usually have one syllable, for example
They are often nonsense words and seldom related to the registered name.
If someone has a first name as เจนจิรา/Jenjira she maybe has the nickname as เจน/Jen
Below are an example of nonsense Thai nickname :
Read an interesting article about weird Thai nickname written by Kaewmala
A : คุณชื่ออะไร
kun chêu à-rai?
What is your name?
B: ชื่อ พัชราวลัย
I am Patcharawalai
A : มีชื่อเล่นมั้ย
mee chêu lên mái?
Do you have any nick name?
Learn more about question word มั้ย/mái
B : เมย์/ May
rao chêu Foo
I am Foo.
B : เมย์เบื่อ
I am bored
(Nickname is used as “I”)
B : ให้เมย์เหรอ?
hâi May rěu ?
(is this) for me?
(Nickname is used as “ME”)
B : ขอบใจนะ
kòb jai ná
ขอบใจนะ/kòb jai means thank you but mostly the speaker will use this word with younger people, subordinates or friends. When ขอบคุณ/kòb kun is more commonly used with everybody and every occasion.
Don’t miss my podcast on the subject of “Thai word of appreciation“
Impolite/cursing personal pronoun in Thai language
Well, in Thai, there are not only the formal or informal words for the personal pronouns but there are also some vulgar words used. Which we call คำหยาบคาย/kaam yaab kaii in Thai.
Please note : it’s not recommend to use
“กู” is the 1st personal pronoun. It is considered a very impolite way to address oneself. Most of the time it will be used in informal situations, such as showing anger. But, it is also used among close friends when they talk to each other or in the family when the elderly people talk to the younger one. However, foreigners should not use this word.
กูบอกว่า กูจะรออยู่ที่นี่ มาหากูที่นี่
goo bòk wâa, goo jà ror yòo tîi nîi, maa hǎa goo tîi nîi.
I said, I’ll wait here. Come to see me here!!
บอก – Bok – to describe
จะ – ja – will
ที่นี่ – tee nee – here
Now, it’s your turn to answer my question
kun mii chêu lên wâa à-rai?
what is your nickname?
For those of you who don’t have a nickname or would like to have a Thai nickname please leave your name, thing that you like or tell me about yourself. I will give you a Thai nickname and, of course, it will have a good meaning