Do you know numbers in Thai yet? That is quite an important question to ask yourself. Numbers are used surprisingly often in everyday life. While we likely don’t think about it often, we need to use numbers to express many things. How many bananas will you buy? Or how much do coconuts cost? And how many kilometres away is this address? And, quite importantly, what is the date today? When is my important meeting?
Learning the numbers in your target language should be, along with learning greetings, one of the first things you do. It makes communication of so many things much easier. That’s why, for today, we will look at counting and numbers in the Thai language.
So, we will start with looking at the Thai number system. Here is your first surprise: Thailand has its own numerical characters. Just like the many Thai vowels and consonants, there is a Thai script for numbers. While they are not as commonly used today as in the past, you may still come across them. Thai Baht notes have it written on them, after all.
Let’s have a look at the numbers in Thai.
|English||Arabic Numerals||Thai||Thai Numerals|
|Twenty One||21||yii-sip-et (ยี่สิบเอ็ด)||๒๑|
|Twenty Two||22||yii-sip-song (ยี่สิบสอง)||๒๒|
|One Hundred||100||neung-roi (หนึ่งร้อย)||๑๐๐|
|One Thousand||1000||neung-pan (หนึ่งพัน)||๑๐๐๐|
In case it wasn’t obvious, I wanted to show the general pattern, so these are the give a general impression of how counting in Thai works.
While it generally follows a regular order, there are a couple things to note. First, let’s look at twenty. Looking at the pattern, you would thing that twenty in Thai would be ‘song-sip’. Instead, ‘yii-sip’ (ยี่สิบ) is used. I am not entirely sure the reason, but it is easy enough to get used to. Then there is twenty one, thirty one, and so on. These are said as ‘yii-sip-et‘ (ยี่สิบเอ็ด) and ‘sam-sip-et‘ (สามสิบเอ็ด), where the ‘et‘ seems to mean one. Otherwise, it should be straight forward. Even the Thai numerals follow the same construction as their English counterparts.
Ordinal numbers are the numbers that signify an order. This includes first, second, third, etc. these are used for dates most often. For anyone worried about having to learn another set of numbers, no need to worry. To change a number to its ordinal form, all you need to do is add ‘tii’ (ที่) before the number. For example:
You get the idea. This is a very simple concept to learn so, as soon as you learn the numbers, you can figure out the ordinal form.
On a side note, when it comes to dates, you will need to add another word to the beginning. This word is ‘wan’ (วัน), which will make ‘wan tee’ (วันที่). Just so you know, ‘wan’ means day in English, while ’wan tee’ actually means date. Anyway, just add this to the front of numbers like before to make the dates.
|First (day)||wan-tii-neung (วันที่หนึ่ง)|
|Second (day)||wan-tii-song (วันที่สอง)|
|Third (day)||wan-tii-sam (วันที่สาม)|
|Fourth (day)||wan-tii-sii (วันที่สี่)|
|Fifth (day)||wan-tii-ha (วันที่ห้า)|
Again, this is a really simple concept so it shouldn’t take long to get used to.
Learning to count numbers in Thai is not particularly difficult to do. It is mainly a case of repetition, where you will get used to saying the numbers over time. While there are some small deviations, it generally follows a typical pattern, so counting up to 100 or 1000 shouldn’t take long after learning one to twelve. The date is also simple to learn after learning the regular numbers. These are very important skills, so you should take the time to get to know them before you visit.
If you want some more interesting ways to practise Thai numbers, you can use the Ling Thai app. There are plenty of tests and games that will help you to remember the new vocabulary and enable you to learn more efficiently.L