I often use ‘this and that’ in Thai when speaking with other people. Especially early on, pointing at things and making use of the small amount of vocabulary you know is usually the best way to get things done. One of the cornerstones of this method is using demonstratives: words like this and that. With these words, you can let the person know what you are referring to as you point or ask a question. To help you out, we are going to look at how to say and use these words in Thai.
Demonstratives are words that point to a specific object or idea being referred to by the speaker. This helps to distinguish it from other similar things. Examples of demonstrative words include this, that, these and those.
In Thai, these follow the same usage of picking out particular things from a group. If you were at one of the many markets around the country, you would say things like ‘I want this carrot’ and ‘I would like that sauce’. These are all around useful words to have in your vocabulary, and can come in helpful in a number of different situations.
So now that we know what they are, how exactly do you say them in Thai? We will look at that now, as it is a little bit confusing. There are actually two different ways to say them depending on how they are used in the sentence.
When you want to say ‘this’ in Thai as a pronoun by itself, you would say ‘nii’ (นี่). For example, ‘I like this dog’ in thai is ‘chan chop sunak dtuua nii’ (ฉันชอบสุนัขตัวนี้).
To say ‘that’ in Thai, you would use ‘nan’ (นั่น). If you were to ask ‘how much is that mountain bike?’ in Thai, you would say ‘jak kra yan puu kao nan raa kaa tao rai’ (จักรยานเสือภูเขานั้นราคาเท่าไหร่).
It is important to note that, when used as pronouns, both of these words should be said with a falling tone. This will differentiate them when used with a noun. When you do want to use them as a noun, you would pronounce them with a high tone instead.
The word ‘these’ and ‘those’ work essentially like plural version of this and that, so we will also have a look at these today. Again, like in English, if there is multiple of something you want, then these are the words you should use.
The Thai word for these is ‘lao nii’ (เหล่านี้). The word for those in Thai is ‘lao nan’ (เหล่านั้น). These are both said with a high tone. As you may notice, it is mostly the same as saying this and that in Thai, but with the word ‘lao’ (เหล่า) in front of it. This is actually a numerical classifier word that refers to a group of items, as you would expect.
As you may imagine, there are many use cases for demonstrative words like this and that, as well as these and those. Whether you are starting out or as you progress with your Thai language ability, these words will help you let people know what you want. It is especially useful if you don’t know the Thai name for a specific thing and so can save a lot of hassle and confusion. Try it out next time you are out at your local market.
To improve your Thai skills, try out the Ling Thai app and start testing yourself and looking for areas to grow. It will make thing more fun and convenient.