Exploring the big cities in Cambodia lime Phnom Penh will make you want to learn basic words and phrases in Khmer like Hello ជំរាបសួរ (choum reap sour), Thank you ឣរគុណ (au kun), and Please សូម (som). The basic Khmer phrases will go a long way from the airport to the hotel, and in different places and like restaurants in Cambodia.
If you want to make friends with the locals, start learning the basic words and phrases in Khmer. Whether you are from South East Asia, Europe, the U.S.A, or any part of the world, you will surely love Cambodia’s rich culture, tradition, and of course, language.
Basic Khmer Phrases And Words You Need To Know
One of the most effective strategies in learning a new language is to start with the basics. This will be your foundation for deeper learning and understanding. Knowing the basic words and phrases in Khmer will help you get by in different situations, such as when you are dining in a restaurant, asking directions, shopping at the market, or having a short chat with the locals. Learning Khmer can be treated as a precious investment that can give you priceless memories. So, if you want to go to Cambodia and connect with Cambodian people, you need to know some phrases and words.
Greetings And Essentials
Let us start with the basic words and phrases in Khmer related to greetings and essential words and phrases in Khmer. These words will be sued often in talking with the locals.
Hello (Formal) – Chum Reab Suor (ជំរាបសួរ,)
If you’re new in the country, how will you start a conversation? A good greeting is one of the effective ways to start a conversation, whether formal or informal. Of course, you could always do this in English, but would it be too much for you to learn how to say hello in Khmer the language?
In Cambodian culture, there is a proper way to greet someone. This includes the tone and the use of Sampeah. Greetings are not just good conversation starters, but they are also a sign of politeness and respect.
Hello (Informal)- Suo Sdei (សួស្តី)
If you want to be a bit less formal, Cambodians use Suo Sdei (សួស្តី). This also means hello/hi in English but in an informal way. If you’re just new in the country, it is better to go formally.
There are other Khmer greetings that you can learn like Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening, Good night, and many more. So, if you are interested, go straight to this blog.
Thank You – Or Kun (ឣរគុណ)
Someone did you a favor? Thank them immediately. When we were young, “Thank you” is one of the very first words that our parents want us to learn because it symbolizes gratitude. If you come to visit Cambodia, you’ll be saying a lot of “Thank You (Au kun ឣរគុណ).” Whether it is a small or big favor from other people, you have to make sure that you show your gratitude.
Talking about saying Thank you, there are different ways to express your gratitude in the Khmer language. If you would like to know more about it, you can read the blog entitled 4 Ways To Say Thank You In Khmer.
How Are You – Sok Sabay Te / Taeu Neak Sok Sabay Te (សុខសប្បាយទេ / អ្នកសុខសប្បាយទេ)
Want to know the current state of the person you are talking to? Learn how to ask them How Are You? Another form of greeting is How are you? Using this greeting, you will be able to catch up with the current happenings on their someone’s life.
On the other hand, if you were asked this question, you can simply respond by saying Khnhom Sok Sabay ( ខ្ញុំសុខសប្បាយ)
Sorry/Excuse Me – Soum Tous (សូមទោស)
What if you bumped into someone accidentally while exploring the beauty of Cambodia? What if you have offended a local because of an honest mistake? What if you want to interrupt someone to ask for directions if you are lost? These are just situations where you can use this word/phrase.
Saying sorry is part of being kind towards people. It symbolizes humility and acknowledgment that you did something wrong towards other people. If you are new in Cambodia, it is easy to make mistakes and offend someone because you don’t know their culture. This is when learning how to say sorry in Khmer will come in handy. There are also different ways to apologize in the Khmer language, so check out this blog if you want to know more about it.
Please – Soum (សូម)
Are you asking a favor to someone? Remember to use the word Please Som / Sohm (សូម). Other words and phrases usually follow this word. This is used to ask more respectfully and politely when asking for a favor.
Yes – Baht (បាទ) Or Jah (ចា) , No – Te (ទេ), Ok – Yol Prom (យល់ព្រម)
Learning how to say Yes, No, and Ok will totally make your life easier. Usually, locals will try to ask you with Yes or No questions. Instead of nodding, try learning these words. There are different ways to say Yes, No, Ok in Khmer. If you want to know more, check out this blog post.
Goodbye – Lea Haeuy (លាហើយ)
Saying goodbye is also one of the essentials words that you may use when talking with the locals. If you start the conversation with a greeting, it is also nice to end it with a greeting. Goodbye is one of the most common ways to close a conversation. That’s why it is included in the basic words and phrases in Khmer.
If you are talking with your close friend, you can use Lea Haeuy (លាហើយ), which is the less formal way to say goodbye or bye in Khmer.
Eating And Dining
What’s a trip without a food trip? If you travel to Cambodia, you will not just want to learn Khmer, but you will also want to taste the Cantonese food that Cambodians are truly proud of. Learn these basic words and phrases in Khmer related to eating and dining to give you a head start.
Restaurant – Phochaniyathan (ភោជនីយដ្ឋាន)
Changkran Khmer Restaurant, Malis Restaurant Phnom Penh, and Watbo Kitchen are a few of Cambodia’s most famous and highly rated restaurants. However, if you really want to eat in the best restaurants in Cambodia, try to learn first how to say the word restaurant in Khmer.
Food- M’houb (អាហារ)
Knowing the Khmer word for food is also important. You can just simply say this to indicate that you are looking for something to eat (Boripouk បរិភោគ). If you want to learn more about Cantonese food, you can read the blog post entitled 10 Khmer Foods That Will Satisfy Your Cravings.
I’m Hungry – Khnhom Khlean (ខ្ញុំឃ្លាន)
Knowing how to express your feelings that you are hungry is one of the first things you should learn. If you say this to locals, they will suggest good places that offer delicious food at affordable prices.
Can You Bring Me The English Menu? – Teu Neak Ach Yok Banchi Muk M’houp Phea Sa Angles Aoy Khnhom Ban Te? (តើ អ្នក អាច យក បញ្ជី មុខ ម្ហូប ភា សា អង់ គ្លេស អោយ ខ្ញុំ បាន ទេ?)
Waiters usually ask customers “Soum Komang M’houp (សូម កម្មង់ ម្ហូប។) ” which means “Please order food. ” For first-timers, understanding the menu in the Khmer language may be hard for you. Restaurants usually have their separate English menu for non-Khmer speakers. But, some restaurants already have the English translation in the main menu.
Water, Please! – Soum Tuek (សូមទឹក)
While waiting for the food, you’ll probably feel thirsty while traveling. You can ask for water from the waiter by saying “Soum Tuek (សូមទឹក).” As you can see, we used the word “please” to say a polite request. Always remember to be polite, especially if you are a foreigner in their country.
Bill Please – Soum Kuet Luy (សូមគិតលុយ)
For billing out, there is also a polite way to do that. Making a hand gesture is fine, but remember that you are new in the country, so saying it politely will make them feel respected.
Asking For Directions
Are you afraid of getting lost in a beautiful country? Worry no more and start learning the basic words and phrases in Khmer related to directions. If you want to learn Khmer, include this on your list, especially if you are traveling to Cambodia. Here are a few words and phrases to start with.
Turn Left – Bot Chveng (បត់ ឆ្វេង), Turn Right- Bot Sdam (បត់ ស្តាំ), Go Straight- Tov Trang (ទៅ ត្រង់)
If you’re going to ask for places and directions, this is the most common way you’ll hear from the locals. Of course, this is only applicable for short-distance places. But, if you are going to far places, you should use different means of Cambodian public transportations like Tuk-tuk to get to other places.
Stop – Chhoub (ឈប់)
Saw something interesting while riding a tuk-tuk? You can tell the driver to stop (chhoub ឈប់) to take pictures or buy interesting stuff.
Where Is …? / How Can I Get To …? Taeu … Nov Ti Na? (តើ … នៅទីណា?)
You can use these phrases to ask for directions to your destination place.
It’s hard to visit Cambodia without buying something that will remind you about the country and your fun travel experience. Here some basic words and phrases in Khmer related to shopping.
Money – Luy (លុយ)
Of course, the very first thing you need to consider is your budget if you want to go shopping. There are lots of souvenirs that you can buy in their local shopping malls and stores.
How Much Does This Cost? Ah Nih Thlay Ponman? (អានេះថ្លៃប៉ុន្មាន?)
This is one of the most important words that you need to learn is asking the price of the stuff you are buying. Beware of over-pricing, which is a common occurrence if you are a foreigner. Some stores accept debit or credit cards if you don’t have cash.
That’s Expensive! – Thlay (ថ្លៃណាស់! )
You should also know how to react when you feel that the stuff is over-priced. Cambodians are naturally kind, but of course, they have ways to earn more when it comes to doing business, especially the smaller ones.
What Is The Khmer Language?
Before we go any further, we should first define what’s Khmer language. If you are going on a trip to Cambodia, one of the first things you should know is their official language. Khmer, a Mon-Khmer language, is spoken by most people in Cambodia. But, interestingly, some people also say it in different countries like Vietnam and Thailand because of the two-way borrowing.
The history of the Khmer language can be traced down to their history, but we will not go that further. What’s important is you know that Khmer is the official language in Cambodia. If you want to start learning Khmer now, you can go to Ling App’s website.
Learn More Than Just Basic Khmer Words And Phrases
Learning languages will be easy when you start with the basics, and that’s what you have done in reading this blog. But after that, you should take a step higher. Learning Khmer should not just begin and end with the basic words and phrases in Khmer. Learn more using the Ling App.
Experience fun mini-games and quizzes in mastering a new language quickly. Audios, dialogues, and pictures are also available for audio-visual learning, which is really important in learning communication. Say goodbye to books and say hello to a convenient way to learn new languages. Start learning Khmer with Ling App Now!