50 Most Common Thai Words

December 29, 2020

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

Research into frequently used Thai words

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

Ranking English Transliteration Thai
50 morning, a.m. (6am - 11am) chao เช้า
49 to like, be fond of chob ชอบ
48 to pay, spend jaai จ่าย
47 from jaak จาก
46 to be easy ngaai ง่าย
45 to be sleepy nguang ง่วง(นอน)
44 polite particle, the statement by a female ka ค่ะ
43 to understand, understood khao jai เข้าใจ
42 to go up, get on kun ขึ้น
41 to sell kai ขาย

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 next to (something or someone), beside kaang ข้างๆ
39 to drive (a car) kap (rot) ขับ(รถ)
38 of, belonging to kong ของ
37 far glai ไกล
36 old (of things), former, previous gao เก่า
35 kilogram (metric system) gi loo gram กิโล(กรัม)
34 to eat, drink, consume, have gin กิน
33 in the process of… gam lang…yuu กำลัง … (อยู่)
32 trousers, pants gaang geeng กางเกง
31 before, first gorn ก่อน

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 to return glap กลับ
29 father, papa, daddy (khun) phaw (คุณ)พ่อ
28 again, new mai ใหม่
27 to be cold (feeling, weather) nao หนาว
26 to wash (e.g. dishes, hands) laang ล้าง
25 car, a general word for transportation rot รถ
24 knife miit มีด
23 to have miit มี
22 grandfather (father's father), father-in-law (husband's father), crab bpuu ปู่
21 midday, noon tiang wan เที่ยงวัน

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.

As hot as the weather in Thailand is, some indoor places have quite cold air conditioning. That is when you will need to know ‘nao’ (หนาว), which means cold. A couple of family words appear here too.

20 - 11

20 right, correct, cheap tuuk ถูก
19 south, under (for objects) dai ใต้
18 can, could, be able, get, obtain, procure dai ได้
17 name, to be named chuu ชื่อ
16 money, silver ngern เงิน
15 work ngan งาน
14 who, what (in some constructions) krai ใคร
13 you, คุณ + name khun คุณ
12 to be near, close glai ใกล้
11 red (sii) daeng (สี)แดง

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 black dam (สี)ดำ
9 big, large yai ใหญ่
8 behind, back, classifier for houses and buildings lang หลัง
7 to learn, study riian (ruu) เรียน(รู้)
6 I (male speaker), hair (on the head) pom ผม
5 in, of, within (casual) nai ใน
4 phone, telephone, to call too (sap) โทร(ศัพท์)
4 at, that, which, times, occasions; general classifier for orders of food tii ที่
3 to arrive tung ถึง
2 body, physique; classifier for animals, objects with legs dtuua ตัว

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.

1

Finally, we arrive at the top spot. And the most common word used in Thai is…

1 with, by, at, and gap กับ

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.

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