Ever wondered which words you say the most? The answer might surprise you, as there are some words that you often overlook. Languages like Thai and English have different categories of words, which are based on the roles that play in the structure of a sentence. Some of these are used more often than others, but since many people don’t see them as ‘words’, you kind of forget that you use them.
Anyway, let’s move onto why this important for language learning, and why knowing the 50 most common Thai words can be of great use to you.
Word Frequency And Language Learning
As you may know, learning a new language can be pretty daunting, not only due to the new grammar rule you must learn that may differ from your own language, but also the seemingly vast amount of new vocabulary you must remember.
However, things may not be as daunting as they first seem. Think about it, do you use every single word you know on a daily basis? Do you even know every word in your native tongue? Unless you read through the dictionary on a daily basis, I highly doubt you do.
There are some words you use more than others in day to day conversations. Think about it, is it worth learning the word ‘photosynthesis’ in Thai right as you are starting out? Probably not, unless you are working in some sort of plant-focused field. By the way, photosynthesis is ‘gaan sang krah seng’ (การสังเคราะห์แสง) in Thai.
Depending on where you look, you would need to know somewhere around 800 words in order to understand 75% of the language spoken on a daily basis. That may still sound like a lot, but it is certainly less than thousands.
Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to optimize your learning by focusing on this vocabulary first? That way, you not only reduce the burden of learning thousands of random words but also are able to start using your language faster, as you are learning actually useful vocabulary.
That is why we advise Thai learners to have an idea of the most frequently used Thai words. Use this data to inform your learning, which will make learning Thai less difficult.
How We Made This List
This is how I imagined we looked when researching this
Another important question to answer is how we actually put this list together. Well, as a developer of language learning apps like Ling and Vocly, we know a thing or two about languages and have been able to gather all this data together.
From there, it is just a case of sorting out the list based on the frequency that the words are used. Hopefully, you will find this as interesting as we do, and use it to help you learn Thai. Without further ado, here is the list:
50 Most Commonly Used Thai Words
Here is what you have been waiting for: the breakdown of the most common words used. Here are the first lot.
50 – 41
- 50: เช้า (chao) – morning, a.m. (6am – 11am)
- 49: ชอบ (chob) – to like, be fond of
- 48: จ่าย (jaai) – to pay, spend
- 47: จาก (jaak) – from
- 46: ง่าย (ngaai) – to be easy
- 45: ง่วง(นอน) (nguang) – to be sleepy
- 44: ค่ะ (ka) – polite particle, the statement by a female
- 43: เข้าใจ (khao jai) – to understand, understood
- 42: ขึ้น (kuen) – to go up, get on
- 41: ขาย (kai) – to sell
As you can see, there are some interesting words here. The female polite word ‘ka’ (ค่ะ) makes its appearance much lower than I would have thought. You will hear it used often in Thailand. The word for the morning, which you need to tell the time of day, is here too.
Understand or ‘khao jai’ (เข้าใจ) will be a word you will become familiar with when you visit, and may also be necessary for emergencies. Otherwise, we see some other verbs like the word you would use when talking to a loved one in Thai (or just in general) – ‘chob’ (ชอบ).
40 – 31
- 40: ข้างๆ (kaang) – next to (something or someone), beside
- 39: ขับ(รถ) (kap (rot)) – to drive (a car)
- 38: ของ (kong) – of, belonging to
- 37: ไกล (glai) – far
- 36: เก่า (gao) – old (of things), former, previous
- 35: กิโล(กรัม) (gi loo (gram)) – kilogram (metric system)
- 34: กิน (gin) – to eat, drink, consume, have
- 33: กำลัง … อยู่ (gam lang…yuu) – in the process of…
- 32: กางเกง (gaang geeng) – trousers, pants
- 31: ก่อน (gon) – before, first
Some more useful words appear here. The word for a kilogram in Thai (‘gi loo gram’ (กิโล(กรัม)) is a good one to know. Some clothes like trousers are here too. Of course, you have the word for eating – ‘gin’ (กิน) – which is another you would think would appear later as Thai cuisine is such a big part of the culture.
30 – 21
- 30: กลับ (glap) – to return
- 29: (คุณ)พ่อ ((khun) phaw) – father, papa, daddy
- 28: ใหม่ (mai) – again, new
- 27: หนาว (nao) – to be cold (feeling, weather)
- 26: ล้าง (laang) – to wash (e.g. dishes, hands)
- 25: รถ (rot) – car, a general word for transportation
- 24: มีด (miit) – knife
- 23: มี (mii) – to have
- 22: ปู่ (bpuu) – grandfather (father’s father), father-in-law (husband’s father), crab
- 21: เที่ยงวัน (tiang wan) – midday, noon
Perhaps the most important word in any language, which is to have or ‘mii’ (มี) is in 23rd place. Make sure you know this one as it will be used in many different contexts. The first transport option appears here. Cars are called ‘rot’ (รถ) in Thai, though scooters or motorbikes seem to be more common.
20 – 11
- 20: ถูก (tuuk) – right, correct, cheap
- 19: ใต้ (dai) – south, under (for objects)
- 18: ได้ (dai) – can, could, be able, get, obtain, procure
- 17: ชื่อ (chuu) – name, to be named
- 16: เงิน (ngern) – money, silver
- 15: งาน (ngan) – work
- 14: ใคร (krai) – who, what (in some constructions)
- 13: คุณ (khun) – you (คุณ + name)
- 12: ใกล้ (glai) – to be near, close
- 11: (สี)แดง ((sii) daeng) – red
We have a question word here, ‘krai’ (ใคร), which means who in Thai. These are also a big necessity when learning a new language so that you can form questions. Then we have the color red, known as ‘daeng’ (แดง) in Thai.
Let’s not skip over the Thai word for money either. Money is called ‘ngern’ (เงิน), while the currency itself is ‘baht’ (บาท). Remember that when exchanging your money.
10 – 2
- 10: (สี)ดำ ((sii) dam) – black
- 9: ใหญ่ (yai) – big, large
- 8: หลัง (lang) – behind, back, classifier for houses and buildings
- 7: เรียน(รู้) (riian (ruu)) – to learn, study
- 6: ผม (pom) – I (male speaker), hair (on the head)
- 5: ใน (nai) – in, of, within (casual)
- 4: ที่ (tii) – at, that, which, times, occasions; general classifier for orders of food
- 3: ถึง (tung) – to arrive
- 2: ตัว (dtuua) – body, physique; classifier for animals, objects with legs
As we get closer to the most frequently used Thai word, we start to see some important ones appear. First, there is a classifier for the body – ‘dtuua’ (ตัว) – one of the orders – ‘tii’ (ที่) – and the one for houses – ‘lang’ (หลัง).
We have the word to learn or study, which is ‘riian’ (เรียน). Use this to tell people that you are learning Thai. There is also the word for large in Thai. This is ‘yai’ (ใหญ่). Otherwise, we see the male pronoun ‘pom’ (ผม). Pronouns in Thai can be pretty confusing, so make sure you set aside enough time to cover that.
Finally, we arrive at the top spot. And the most common word used in Thai is…
- 1: กับ (gap) – with, by, at, and
Gap – with, by, at, and
As we have discussed previously, Thai prepositions, like prepositions in all languages, show the relationship between the subject and object in a sentence.
You will find that these are used in almost every sentence you speak in some form. While the subject and object change depending on what you talk about, there are few prepositions that are used very frequently. What I am getting at here is that you should get to learn them now.
Besides that, it is also the word for and, the most common conjunction in Thai. With all of these reasons combined, it is obvious to see why this Thai word made the top of the list.
Put This Knowledge Into Action
So, what do you think? Were there any surprising inclusions on this list? When seeing things like this, you really do start to think about how you use language and the vocabulary you really should be learning. Take this into account as you move forward learning Thai, and you could greatly reduce the amount of time you need to become at least fluent in basic everyday conversation.
Another way to practice common Thai words is with the Ling Thai app. Taking just a few minutes to play through the different tests and challenges will improve your ability and set you on the right path.