What would you say to your Thai friend when you see them in morning? Good morning in Thai, naturally. What would you say to them as they tell you that they will go to bed? Good night in Thai, right? It is easy to overlook these small words that you say, but they can prove to be important in these situations. A little while back, we made a post about telling the time in Thai, which looks at the system they use in Thailand to tell time. Today, we will look at some new vocabulary related to different words and greetings you can use at different times of day.
While a simple hello in Thai is more than enough for greeting those you meet, you may want to venture out of your comfort zone a try some new phrases. While it is not very common at all to use time-specific phrases like these compared to a heartfelt ‘sawatdee’ (สวัสดี), it is worth knowing them.
To answer the question of what you should say to your friend first thing in the morning, you should use ‘sawatdee don chao’ (สวัสดีตอนเช้า), which means good morning in Thai.
Ideally, you would also add the politeness particles ‘ka’ (ค่ะ) or ‘khrap’ (ครับ) at the end of the phrase too.
There is also a formal way to say good morning in Thai is ‘aroon sawat’ (อรุณสวัสดิ์). This is hardly ever used in everyday speech, being instead reserved to things like TV or speaking in incredibly formal ceremonies. For the most part, you can just use ‘sawat dee don chao’ with the polite particle and you will be fine.
If you want to wish someone a good morning, just add ‘koh hai’ (ขอให้) at the beginning of the phrase. As you may have guessed, ‘koh hai’ means something like ‘wish/hope you have a…’. So after reading this, I would say ‘koh hai sawat dee don chao’, if you are reading this in the morning, of course.
Imagine this - it has just passed midday and you can see your friend taeng mo approaching in the distance. You can’t say good morning anymore as it is no longer the morning, but it is not night time either. What can you use instead? For the times between morning and night, you have a few options available for you to use, it is just a case of selecting the most appropriate one.
Once again let’s not forget that we can use the basic way to say hello, the trusty old ‘sawatdee’ (สวัสดี) at any time of day. You can use this both as a hello and goodbye too, making it an important phrases to learn. However, if you are looking to get a bit more creative with your greetings, then here are some other, more time sensitive options you can try.
There is no direct translation for saying good day in Thai. You could, of course, use good morning in Thai if it is still before midday and so on, but that can be difficult to remember. What if you don't have a watch on you? Thankfully, there is an equivalent phrase that is used that is understood in a similar way as good day. That would be ‘chohk dee’ (โชคดี), which literally means good luck, but it can be used as a parting phrase throughout the whole day.
If you are looking to be more specific with your afternoon greetings, then you can use ‘sawat dee tohn bai’ (สวัสดีตอนบ่าย) to say good afternoon. This is a more informal way of saying this phrase, but it is much more common to use, especially day to day.
To say good evening, you can use the phrase ‘sawat dee tohn yen’ (สวัสดีตอนเย็น). As you may have noticed, some of phrase reference the vocabulary used to tell time, specifically the words that denote the timeframes for morning, afternoon and evening.
Next, let's take a look at how to say good night in Thai.
With the morning out of the way, it is now time to get ready to sleep. In Thai, you would say ‘non lap’ (นอนหลับ), which means to fall asleep. This is where we need to work on saying the opposite phrase to good morning - good night.
There are many different ways to wish someone good night in Thai. As with other languages, there are plenty of phrases you can use that have the same or similar meaning, offering up some variety. While some are more formal, others can be used with friends and loved ones without sounding weird.
The basic and most formal phrase you can use to wish someone a good night in Thai is ‘ra tri sawat’ (ราตรีสวัสดิ์).
Think of this as meaning simply good night, like you would use in English. Sure, it works but it is far from the most exciting option out there. Here are a few more ways to say good night to someone in Thai.
If you want to say good night to someone in a more round about way, why not wish them good dreams? You can use either ‘fun dee’ (ฝันดี) or ‘fun waan’ (ฝันหวาน), which mean something similar to good dreams and sweet dreams respectively. This is the more common way for Thai people to say good night to each other, so why not try using it yourself?
The ‘fun’ (ฝัน) part means to dream, so when you add ‘dee’ (ดี) which means good, or ‘waan’ (หวาน) which means sweet (yes, like if you were to order a sweet drink), you are wishing that their dreams will be pleasant.
Otherwise, a simple ‘kuud naii’ (กู๊ดไนท์) - the English good night but with a Thai accent - will also be understood. The same goes for night night and other similar varieties. Choose whatever feels right for the situation and the person you are talking to. Something is better than nothing, after all.
To summarize, there are many different phrases for greeting people at different times of day. However, Thai people rarely use them in day to day life. In reality, to say good morning in Thai, they would just say sa wat dee (with the polite particle). To say good night in Thai, they would use fun dee. In between, they would either just say hello as usually or chokh dee.
Thailand has a very relaxed vibe - what you could describe as sabai sabai. Sometimes, this means you will lose track of the time. If that is the case, make sure you don’t end up using the wrong phrase, otherwise you will get some weird looks. Same is true if you are up late partying. Either way, you should now be able to wish someone a good day or night, which is always a pleasant thing.
For more similar phrases, you can use the Ling Thai app to practise and learn more important vocabulary. Soon enough, you will be able to wishing people good night in Thai in your sleep.