#1 Best Guide To Must-Know Polite Lao Phrases

Lao phrases

Are you tired of looking for the right phrasebook to help you with your Lao language fluency? Don’t worry. Almost every student and language trainee learning Lao faces the same issue. Lao is indeed a tricky language with multiple dialects and a set of phonetic alphabets, which is challenging to grasp in the first three trials. You must be more persistent and regular in your training to understand the essence of the Lao language fully.

Thus, to help you speak Lao from the basics and keep your practice intact, this blog will cover some of the polite Lao phrases you must know during your visit. Although the language may be a hassle to learn, Lao people are generous and highly polite. So, to make sure that you do not bother them or unconsciously disrespect the Lao culture, this blog will take you through the essential polite Lao words and phrases like ສະບາຍດີ (Hello), ຂອບ​ໃຈ (Thank you), etc., and also give a brief insight into the rules of Lao people. Want to learn more? Continue reading!


The Body Language Of Lao Culture

The most important rule in Lao culture is the “nop.” If you have read other blogs like “Thank you in Lao,” you must have learned that almost every country under the influence of Buddhism follows the rule of nop or, as we call it, “wai” in Thai. It is a body gesture where you are somewhere between a bow and a prayer. It is a posture that every local performs to show respect and greet each other daily. Moreover, there are different postures according to one’s position in the hierarchy. Likewise, young people have different poses from the old and other gestures for the Buddhist monks and friends.

Patience is another fundamental rule of Lao culture. A person, be it your friend or boss, will make you wait, which is quite common. Relaxed time is more of the rule in Lao, and you should be fine with any staff in the hotel or store making you wait for more than usual. They go by the phrase, “Take it easy.” There are not too plan-minded and like to go with the flow. Your patience would, thus, show a sign of respect, and if you try to rush, they might mock you.

Lastly, you must be very careful while interacting with the Buddhist monks. For example, Buddhism preaches monks are spiritual beings free from worldly affairs and held in an exalted societal position. So, whenever you greet or interact, never make eye contact or touch them, especially if you are a woman, and it is impolite to do otherwise.


Essential Polite Lao Phrases And Vocabulary

Polite lao phrases

In this section, we will grasp some of the must-know polite phrases with proper pronunciation and translated versions to help you speak Lao better. Also, now that you know some of the country’s basic rules, it would be best if you use the following phrases accordingly while remembering the “nop” and social hierarchy that exists in the society. Give a thorough read and try to analyze the Lao alphabet in every word.

1. Hello, How Are You?- ສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​, ເຈົ້າ​ສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​ບໍ່?

Whenever you meet someone in Laos, the first thing you need to do is bow a little and greet them with phrases like ສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​, ເຈົ້າ​ສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​ບໍ່?. It is pronounced as sabai dee,  chao sa bai di bo. It is essential to greet your friends and elder adults and ask them how they are doing right when you meet them. If you cannot bow or “nop” entirely, you can nod and say hello. This is also an acceptable form of greeting someone in Laos.

The most thoughtful reply to such phrases, if reciprocated at you, is to say ຂ້ອຍ​ສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​ຂອບ​ໃຈ- khony sa bai di, khob chai, meaning “I’m fine, Thank you.”

2. Thank You- ຂອບ​ໃຈ

As you saw in the phrase above, you must always use the expression “Thank you”, pronounced as Khob chai or Kop chai, after phrases like “I’m fine.” Further, in any situation where you see fit that a favor has been done for you or you have received something, you must bow and say ຂອບ​ໃຈ without any failure.

Generally, locals find it quite disrespectful when others don’t appreciate their work and generous behavior. Even in written Lao, you must not forget to insert ຂອບ​ໃຈ every now and then.

3. Please- ກະລຸນາ

Another common polite word that you must be used to if you speak English is “Please”. In Lao, they call it ກະລຸນາ- kaluna. Just like in western culture, locals in Laos appreciate using the word kaluna in a majority of scenarios with different meanings according to the need. For example, they use it for transport, while ordering food, requesting at the mall or the shop, and many more. It is a sign of politely asking someone for a favor or inquiry. Also, when it concerns older adults, kaluna is a must-use word.

4. I’m Sorry- ຂ້ອຍ​ຂໍ​ໂທດ

When it comes to polite words, you cannot miss out on ຂ້ອຍ​ຂໍ​ໂທດ- khony kho othd. While you already know the use of the phrase “I’m sorry,” and although most Lao people speak English, it is essential to understand how to pronounce khony kho othd. You must be careful when to use it and not overuse it at times.

Even when you are sorry, you should not forget to “nop”. As noted, it is one of the primary signs of politeness in Laos and almost every other Buddhist country like Northern Thailand and Vietnam.

5. Excuse Me- ຂໍ​ອະ​ໄພ

Excuse me- kho a phai is, of course, another polite phrase in Lao. You can use it at necessary times, such as when you are calling for someone’s attention while ordering food, calling for a taxi, or asking for a favor from a stranger. In times when you are scrolling around the country, kho a phai will help you get help in the most polite way possible.

6. May I Help You?- ມີ​ຫຍັງ​ໃຫ້​ຊ່ວຍ​ບໍ?

Using the phrase ມີ​ຫຍັງ​ໃຫ້​ຊ່ວຍ​ບໍ?, pronounced as mi jang hai suany bo, another way of behaving politely. Whenever you see someone tackling something or struggling to get things done, it is always kind and generous of you to reach out and help that person. However, to make sure that your help does not turn the situation in a negative way, instead of directly helping someone out, first ask whether you should help them. In such cases, mi jang hai suany bo is the right phrase for you.

7. Pardon Me- ຂໍໂທດ

Since the language barrier is already there, sometimes you might not catch what the locals have said. So, to ask them politely to repeat themselves, you can say ຂໍໂທດ- khoothd. It will allow them to understand that you were unable to catch their words. You can also use the word “sorry,” if that suits you best.

8. Nice To Meet You- ຍິນ​ດີ​ທີ່​ໄດ້​ຮູ້​ຈັກ​ເຈົ້າ

No matter with whom you are chatting or introducing yourself, it is always courteous to tell them ຍິນ​ດີ​ທີ່​ໄດ້​ຮູ້​ຈັກ​ເຈົ້າ- nyin di thi dai hu chak chao. It is a way of assuring them of their kindness and that you would like to meet them again. It is a primary introductory phrase you should keep in mind and use before you part ways with your mates in Laos.


Other Polite Phrases In The Lao Language

Lao polite words

Here is a list of some more Lao words and phrases you can use while conversing with the locals. Keeping these in mind will help you serve your refined personality and allow you to receive replies with the same sentiment. Moreover, speaking and practicing common words and phrases in Lao will always be the best guide to understanding the Lao alphabet and the essence of the spoken Laotian language.

No Thanksບໍ່​ຂອບ​ໃຈbo khob chai
You’re welcomeທ່ານຍິນດີຕ້ອນຮັບthan nyinditonhab
Sleep wellນອນດີnon di
My name is…ຊື່​ຂອງ​ຂ້ອຍ​ແມ່ນ..su khong khony aemn/ Kháwy seu…
What is your name?ເຈົ້າ​ຊື່​ຫຍັງ?Jâo seu nyãng?
Thank you for the foodຂອບໃຈສໍາລັບອາຫານkhobchai soalab ahan
I like itຂ້ອຍ​ມັກ​ມັນkhony mak man
I ate wellຂ້ອຍກິນດີkhony kindi
No problemບໍ່ມີບັນຫາbomibanha
Just a momentຄາວໜຶ່ງkhauanung
See you laterແລ້ວພົບກັນໃນພາຍຫຼັງaelv phobkan nai phairang
Have a good journeyມີການເດີນທາງທີ່ດີ/ ເດິນທາງໂຊກດີmi kandoenthang thidi/ doen thang sok dee
Sorry for the botherຂໍໂທດທີ່ລົບກວນkhoothdthi lobkuan
Can you help me, pleaseເຈົ້າ​ສາ​ມາດ​ຊ່ວຍ​ຂ້ອຍ​ໄດ້​ບໍ່chao sa mad suany khony dai bo
You look goodເຈົ້າເບິ່ງດີchao boeng di
I would love to meet you againຂ້ອຍຢາກພົບເຈົ້າອີກkhonyyak phob chao ik
How are you doing?ເຈົ້າ​ສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​ບໍ?chao sa bai di bo
Are you okay?ເຈົ້າສະບາຍດີບໍ?chao sabaidi bo
Good morningສະ​ບາຍ​ດີ​ຕອນ​ເຊົ້າsa bai di ton sao
Good nightຝັນດີຝັນດີ
May I join you?ຂ້ອຍຂໍເຂົ້າຮ່ວມເຈົ້າໄດ້ບໍ?khonykho khaohuam chao daibo
Have a nice day!ມີມື້ທີ່ດີ!mi mu thidi
It was a pleasure to meet youມັນດີໃຈທີ່ໄດ້ພົບເຈົ້າman dichaithi daiphob chao
Get well soon!ດີ​ຂຶ້ນ​ໄວໆ!di khun vai


Wrapping Up!

Now that you know all the polite sentences, you are sure to make the best out of your trip. In most cases, foreigners fall into the trap of ignorance, and locals tend to judge their carelessness. But with the proper knowledge, you are set to experience the best time and make hundreds of friends with your cordiality. Keeping the fun part aside, you have also enhanced your vocabulary and language skills with the phrases above. With regular practice, your distant dream of speaking Lao fluently will become a reality soon.

If you think this blog was helpful, do not forget to check out more such posts on the Ling App. You can download the app from Appstore or Playstore for free and use it on any device you like.


Learn Lao With Ling

Although learning polite words is a solid start to your language fluency journey, there is still much more to learn. And to give you the best guide without any trouble for search in google, Ling is here with all the necessary resources in precise detail.

It is an app developed for language learners opting for not just Lao but 60+ other languages with content on various topics like Lao food, Lao alphabets, sports, weather, and more. The app also has an AI Chatbot that provides interactive lessons with proper spelling and translations, dialogues, and quizzes curated with the help of an expert team. This will give you a stronghold of the language you are learning. And the most fantastic part is that you can download the app without any cost. So, what are you waiting for? Download the Ling app now and start learning Lao and any language you like right away!

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