When you visit a country, one of the most common words or phrases you would like to know is “Thank you”. In Thailand, people are impressed when they hear foreigners say ‘Thank you’ in their language. It shows a level of respect for the country and culture.
First of all, in the Thai language, we differentiate the gender of the speaker. But don’t worry, it is not complicated at all to learn!
You only have to remember the words for ‘I’ (female: ดิ(di)ฉัน(chan) / male: ผม(pom)) and the polite word ‘female: ค่ะ(ka)/ male: ครับ(krab)’. Most other words will be the same no matter who is speaking.
The Thai 'thank you' is actually made up of three words:
The word “Thank you” is kob (low tone) khun (normal tone), followed by the polite word:
Female: ขอบคุณค่ะ - kob khun ka
Male: ขอบคุณครับ - kob khun krab
After saying this word, I am sure you will see a big smile on the face of the person you are talking to. This is the most basic way to say thank you, and the one you will likely be saying the most.
For example, if you just finished some delicious Thai food, you can let them know with this phrase. Make sure to remember it for when you are in Thailand!
Sometimes, the reply is just as important as the thanks itself. Now you have learned how to thank, you will also need to learn how to reply back too. You should prepare yourself with a couple of phrases ready for when your kindness gets recognized.
Of course, you may also find that the person you are speaking to may say something back to you in reply after you thank them, and you should know what they mean too.
In response to a thank you, you can say "You're welcome" :
ไม่เป็นไร - mai (falling) bpen rai
Female: ไม่เป็นไรค่ะ - Mai bpen rai ka
Male: ไม่เป็นไรครับ - Mai bpen rai krab
People say that the phrase ‘mai bpen rai’ is the national motto of Thailand. It represents the kindness of Thai people, and can also be translated as ‘don’t worry about it’.
Another way to reply to thank you in Thai is to use this somewhat nicer sounding phrase:
ยินดี - Yin Dee (normal tone)
This means something closer to ‘my pleasure’ or, as Google Translate puts it, ‘pleased’. While this wouldn’t be an appropriate response in every situation, it is nicer to hear.
Practiced your Thai writing skills and want to put them to the test? Then get your calligraphy pen ready - you are going to learn how to write thank you in Thai! While we recommend you try out the writing activity on the Ling App to get a better idea of how to write using the Thai alphabet, you can also try it freehand. Here is a larger image with the word ‘Thank You’ written in Thai so you can see each character better:
How did it go? It can be tricky starting out. Remember that, like in every other language, there are different fonts that affect how the characters look. I tried to choose a rather typical-looking one for your reference. But, with some practice, you will be awkwardly writing it out every time you want to thank someone just to show off. Let everyone know you know how to write thank you in Thai!
Now, let’s imagine a situation where you are traveling in Thailand. You want to know where the toilet is. After you got the answer you would reply with a Thank you. Here is an example of an exchange.
|You (female)||Hello, excuse me! Where is the toilet?|
|สวัสดีค่ะ ขอโทษค่ะ ห้องน้ำอยู่ที่ไหนคะ |
Sawatdee ka, kor-tod ka! Hongnam yoo tee nai ka?
|Thai woman||It's at the corner|
Yoo dtrong hua-mum
|You (female)||Thank you!|
|Thai woman||You are welcome!|
In this case, the speaker is female. As we mentioned before, the polite word for females is ‘ค่ะ(ka)’ so she says ‘ขอบคุณค่ะ(kob khun ka)’.
In this YouTube video, you can hear how to say this exchange. Remember that Thai is a tonal language, so listen carefully for that. Don’t worry too much about it though. You will get used to them over time and Thai people are very understanding.
Another way in which you can reply to thank you is by just saying these polite words. So let’s say you (male) hold the door open for someone (female) and as they walk past they say ‘khob khun ka’.
In reply, you can simply say ‘krab’. It is a quick and polite answer for smaller gestures like this, but it is not super common.
With a language like Thai, you need to be careful when choosing how to say something. There are so many different ways to say thank you and other words and phrases based on the situation and your relationship to the person you are speaking to. With that said, how do you say thank you to friends in Thai?
It would be a bit weird if you use the basic way we mentioned above because it is a bit formal. You could drop the polite word from the end of the phrase to make it less awkward:
ขอบคุณ - kob khun!
But you can also go with something a bit more different to really show off your Thai skills. For example, you could go with this phrase which interestingly enough also means thank you in Lao:
ขอบใจ - kob jai!
Bear in mind that this one is very informal, so you should definitely only use this amongst close friends and people you know well. This is the equivalent of saying ‘thanks’ in Thai, and here, this is not something you would say to someone of a higher status. Instead, you can use it to say thank you in Thai to friends and younger siblings.
There may also be situations where you feel a normal ‘thank you’ isn’t enough, or maybe you are bored of that and want to say something different. There are ways to better get your thankfulness across. One way is to add the word ‘maak’ at the end:
ขอบคุณมาก - Kob khun maak!
This means ‘thanks a lot!’, which is a bit more informal, so you can use it with your friends and people you are close to.
There is another phrase you can use to highlight how helpful or kind a person has been to you. This phrase is:
คุณใจดีมาก - Khun jai dii maak!
Translated, this would mean something like ‘You are so kind!’, which would definitely make someone feel appreciated. Save this one for people who go out of their way to help you.
As you may have noticed, we keep mentioning the words like krab and ka. You may also notice that these polite words are commonly used in other phrases like ‘hello’ (สวัสดีค่ะ – sawatdee ka) and ‘excuse me’ (ขอโทษค่ะ – kor tod ka).
This is because Thailand has a hierarchy system, where a person's status affects how you should talk to them. Therefore, you should try to act politely and use these polite words when speaking to someone like your boss of elders.
In a situation where you are thinking of someone, being polite will also add to the sincerity. However, we will look further into this another day.
Saying ‘Thank you’ in Thai will help you to make friends and will help to make you popular, as everyone likes a polite person. Not everyone can speak English well either, so it may be necessary to use Thai. From here, you can go on to learn other common and important phrases that will help you day to day in Thailand.
Want to know one of the best ways to learn Thai? The Ling App has many different games and tests to help you remember all the important things. ขอบคุณครับ - Kob khun krab!
Next, you can learn Thai phrases for "I love you" and other sweet things to make people happy when you say that to them.