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Negation in Thai: Learn How to Form Negative Sentences

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One of the first words a baby learns to say is “no.” 

It turns out that this little word will come in handy for the rest of our lives! We use it to express our needs, wants, and boundaries on a daily basis. Whether saying no comes as naturally to you as breathing or you consider yourself a people-pleaser, one thing is certain: 

As a Thai learner, it’s crucial that you learn how to negate in Thai! 

“Negation” refers to the act of making a positive (or affirmative) statement negative, and this is a crucial skill to have for any conversation. It allows you to tell others no, answer questions negatively, and much more. 

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Thai negation. You’ll learn about the rules and steps involved, pick up some useful negation words and phrases, and even gain some cultural insight along the way.

    → Before we start, you may want to look at our article about Thai tenses. This topic plays a large role in negation, so we recommend becoming familiar with it before diving into this article!
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Thai Table of Contents
  1. An Overview of Negation in Thai
  2. Other Words of Negation in Thai
  3. Thai People and Negation
  4. Conclusion

1. An Overview of Negation in Thai 

The Thai word for “negation” is: 

Literally, this word refers to the action of saying no to someone or something. This word is also used as part of a longer phrase (ประโยคปฎิเสธ) which means “negative sentence.”

Fortunately for you, Thai grammar is very easy. Things like gender and number do not affect the structure of Thai sentences at all, and negating in Thai is as simple as adding the word “no” or “not” to the sentence. 

Below are several different ways you can make a sentence negative in Thai. 

1 – Negating Affirmative Sentences [present tense]

Negation particle used: 
ไม่ (mâi) = not

How to negate:
Subject + ไม่ (mâi) + Verb + Object [if any]

Example 1:
แม่ไม่ชอบสีแดง
mâae-mâi-châawp-sǐi-daaeng
Mom doesn’t like the color red.

Example 2:
ฤดีพรไม่เรียนไวโอลินวันเสาร์
rúe-dii-paawn-mâi-riian-wai-oo-lin-wan-sǎo
Ruedeepron doesn’t learn violin on Saturday.

2 – Negating Affirmative Sentences [past tense]

Negation particle used: ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) = not

How to negate:
Subject + ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) + Verb + Object [if any]
Subject + ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) + เพิ่ง (phôeng) + Verb + Object [if any]

Example 1:
ตุลย์ไม่ได้ไปโรงเรียนเมื่อวานนี้
dtun-mâi-dâi-bpai-roong-riian-mûuea-waan-níi
Tun didn’t go to school yesterday.

Example 2:
น้าไม่ได้ซื้อนมมาจากตลาด
náa-mâi-dâi-súue-nom-maa-jàak-dtà-làat
Aunt didn’t buy milk from the market.

Example 3:
ครูไม่ได้เพิ่งสั่งงานมา ทำไมยังทำไม่เสร็จ
khruu-mâi-dâi-phôeng-sàng-ngaan-maa tham-mai-yang-tham-mâi-sèt
The teacher didn’t just order the work. Why isn’t your work finished yet?

Example 4:
แก้วไม่ได้เพิ่งเริ่มเรียนภาษาจีน เธอเรียนมาแล้วสามปี จึงพูดภาษาจีนได้ดี
gâaeo-mâi-dâi-phôeng-rôem-riian-phaa-sǎa-jiin thooe-riian-maa-láaeo-sǎam-bpii jueng-phûut-phaa- sǎa-jiin-dâi-dii
Kaew didn’t just start learning Chinese. She has learned it for 3 years now so she can speak it well.

3 – Negating Affirmative Sentences [future tense]

Negation particle used: 
ไม่ (mâi) = not

How to negate:
Subject + จะ () + ไม่ (mâi) + Verb + Object [if any]

Example 1:
ณัฐจะไม่ไปพัทยาวันอังคารหน้า
nát-jà-mâi-bpai-phát-thá-yaa-wan-ang-khaan-nâa
Nut will not go to Pattaya next Tuesday.

Example 2:
พ่อจะไม่ทานข้าวเย็นกับพวกเราวันนี้
phâaw-jà-mâi-thaan-khâao-yen-gàp-phûuak-rao-wan-níi
Dad will not have dinner with us today.

4 – Negating Affirmative Sentences [present continuous tense]

Negation particle used:
ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) = not

How to negate:
Subject + ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) + กำลัง (gam-lang) + Verb + Object [if any]

Example 1:
นักเรียนไม่ได้กำลังเรียนหนังสืออยู่
nák-riian-mâi-dâi-gam-lang-riian-nǎng-sǔue-yùu
The student is not studying now.

Example 2:
เด็ก ๆ ไม่ได้กำลังนอนอยู่
dèk-dèk-mâi-dâi-gam-lang-naawn-yùu
The kids are not sleeping now.

5 – Negating Affirmative Sentences [perfect tense]

Negation particle used:
ไม่ (mâi) = not
ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) = not

How to negate:
Subject + ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) + Verb + Object [if any] + มา (maa) or ตั้งแต่ (dtâng-dtàae) + Time
Subject + ไม่ (mâi) + เคย (khooei) + Verb + Object [if any]

Example 1:
การะเกดไม่ได้ทำงานมา 3 วันแล้ว เธอป่วย
gaa-rá-gèet-mâi-dâi-tham-ngaan-maa-sǎam-wan-láaeo thooe-bpùuai
Garaget hasn’t worked for 3 days now. She is sick.

Garaget Hasn’t Worked for 3 Days Now. She Is Sick.

Example 2:
พิพัฒน์ไม่ได้อ่านหนังสือมาหลายอาทิตย์แล้ว เขายุ่งมาก
phí-phát-mâi-dâi-àan-nǎng-sǔue-maa-lǎai-aa-thít-láaeo khǎo-yûng-mâak
Pipat hasn’t read any books for many weeks now. He is very busy.

Example 3:
รำไพไม่เคยไปประเทศเกาหลี
ram-phai-mâi-khooei-bpai-phrà-thêet-gao-lǐi
Ramphai has never been to Korea.

Example 4:
ตั้มไม่เคยกินผลไม้ชนิดนี้มาก่อน
dtâm-mâi-khooei-gin-phǒn-lá-mái-chá-nít-níi-maa-gàawn
Tum has never eaten this kind of fruit before.

6 – The Negation of “Can” in Thai

Negation particle used:
ไม่ (mâi) = not
ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) = not

How to negate:
Subject + ไม่ (mâi) + สามารถ (sǎa-mâat) + Verb + Object [if any] + ได้ (dâi)
Subject + Verb + Object [if any] + ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi)

Example 1:
นทีไม่สามารถกินเผ็ดได้
ná-thii-mâi-sǎa-mâat-gin-phèt-dâi
Nathi can’t eat spicy food.

Example 2:
นทีกินเผ็ดไม่ได้
ná-thii-gin-phèt-mâi-dâi
Nathi can’t eat spicy food.

Example 3:
ปริณไม่สามารถขับรถได้
bpà-rin-mâi-sǎa-mâat-khàp-rót-dâi
Prin can’t drive.

Example 4:
ปริณขับรถไม่ได้
bpà-rin-khàp-rót-mâi-dâi
Prin can’t drive.

Additional note: 
These two Thai negation patterns are completely interchangeable! The meaning of the sentence will not change if you use one instead of the other.

7 – Negating Thai Adjectives and Adverbs

Negation particle used: 
ไม่ (mâi) = not

How to negate:
ไม่ (mâi) + adjective / adverb

Example 1:
เสื้อตัวนี้ราคาไม่แพง
sûuea-dtuua-níi-raa-khaa-mâi-phaaeng
This shirt is not expensive.

This Shirt Is not Expensive.

Example 2:
คุณตาเดินไม่เร็ว เพราะ พื้นลื่น
khun-dtaa-dooen-mâi-reo-phráw-phúuen-lûuen
Grandpa doesn’t walk fast because of the slippery floor.

8 – Giving Negative Instructions and Commands

Negation particle used:
ห้าม (hâam) = do not
อย่า (yàa) = do not

How to negate:
ห้าม (hâam) + Verb + Object [if any]
อย่า (yàa) + Verb + Object [if any]

Example 1:
ห้ามเข้า
hâam-khâo
Do not enter.

Example 2:
ห้ามใส่กางเกงขาสั้น
hâam-sài-gaang-geeng-khǎa-sân
Do not wear shorts.

Example 3:
อย่ากลับบ้านดึกนะ
yàa-glàp-bâan-dùek-ná
Do not come home late.

Example 4:
อย่าใส่พริกเยอะ เดี๋ยวจะเผ็ดเกินไป
yàa-sài-phrík-yóe dǐiao-jà-phèt-gooen-bpai
Do not add too much chili or else it will be too spicy.

Additional note:
Both ห้าม (hâam) and อย่า (yàa) are commonly used when giving negative commands in Thai. However, the two are slightly different in meaning. ห้าม (hâam) is used when giving a strong order, while อย่า (yàa) is typically used for giving a suggestion.

9 – Answering Yes-or-No Questions

Negation particle used:
ไม่ (mâi) = no

How to negate:
ไม่ (mâi) + Verb in the question

Example 1

Question:
เธอจะเอาขนมหวานมั๊ย
thooe-jà-ao-khà-nǒm-wǎan-mái
Do you want dessert?

Answer:
ไม่เอา
Mâi-ao
No, I don’t

Example 2

Question:
มะลิชอบสีเขียวมั๊ย
má-lí-châawp-sǐi-khǐiao-mái
Does Mali like the color green?

Answer:
ไม่ชอบ
mâi-châawp
No, she doesn’t.

Additional note: 
Sometimes questions end with รึเปล่า (rǔe-plào), which is a casual version of ใช่หรือไม่ (châi-rǔue-mâi) meaning “yes or no.” To answer negatively in this case, you would say เปล่า (plào), meaning “no.”

10 – Double Negation in Thai

Negation particle used:
ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) = not
ไม่ใช่ (mâi-châi) = not

How to negate:
ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) or ไม่ใช่ (mâi-châi) + Normal negation form

Example 1

Question:
เธอไม่ชอบฉันเหรอ
thooe-mâi-châawp-chǎn-rǎaw
Do you not like me?

Answer:
ฉันไม่ได้ไม่ชอบเธอ
chǎn-mâi-dâi-mâi-châawp-thooe
I don’t dislike you.

Example 2

Question:
ไอศครีมร้านนี้ไม่อร่อยเหรอ
Ai-sà-khriim-ráan-níi-mâi-à-hràauy-rǎaw
Does ice cream at this shop not taste good?

Answer:
ไอศครีมร้านนี้ ไม่ใช่ไม่อร่อย แต่แพงเกินไป
ai-sà-khriim-ráan-níi mâi-châi-mâi-à-ràauy-dtàae-phaaeng-gooen-bpai
The ice cream at this shop is good but too expensive.

This Ice Cream Is Delicious but Too Expensive.

Additional note:
Thai people often use double negation when answering questions. You can use both ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi) and ไม่ใช่ (mâi-châi), as there’s no difference in meaning between the two words.

2. Other Words of Negation in Thai

Of course, there might be situations where you want to give a stronger (or more colorful) negative response. Following are several words and phrases you can use to add flavor to your speech and sound more like a native speaker. 

1 – ไม่มีทาง

Pronunciation:
mâi-mii-thaang

Literal translation:
No way

Explanation:
This phrase is used exactly like “no way” is in English. It’s used to express that you strongly disagree with an offer.

Example 1:
ไม่มีทางที่ฉันจะให้เธอยืมเงิน
mâi-mii-thaang-thîi-chǎn-jà-hâi-thooe-yuuem-ngoen
There is no way that I will let you borrow my money.

Example 2:
ไม่มีทางที่ปราณแต่งงานกับอรณี เขาไม่ชอบเธอ
Mâi-mii-thaang-thîi-bpraan-jà-dtàaeng-ngaan-gàp-aawn-rá-nii khǎo-mâi-châawp-thooe
There is no way that Pran will marry Onranee. He doesn’t like her.

2 – หัวเด็ดตีนขาดก็ไม่…

Pronunciation:
hǔa-dèt-dtiin-khàat-gâaw-mâi-…(verb)

Literal translation:
Even my head and leg are cut, still no.

Explanation:
This phrase is stronger than the one above. It means that even if someone tries to force you into agreement by threatening to cut off your leg or head, you’ll still say no.

Example 1:
หัวเด็ดตีนขาดก็ไม่ไป
hǔa-dèt-dtiin-khàat-gâaw-mâi-bpai
I WON’T GO.

Example 2:
ข้อเสนอบ้าบออย่างนี้ หัวเด็ดตีนขาดก็ไม่ตกลง
khâaw-sà-nǒoe-bâa-baaw-yàang-níi hǔa-dèt-dtiin-khàat-gâaw-mâi-dtòk-long
I WON’T AGREE with this ridiculous offer.

3 – ฝันเอา / ฝันไปเถอะ

Pronunciation:
fǎn-ao / fǎn-bpai-thòe

Literal translation:
Dream it

Explanation:
This phrase is used much the same way as the English phrase “in your dreams.”

Example 1:
ฝันไปเถอะ ยังไงฉันก็ไม่ตกลง
fǎn-bpai-thòe yang-ngai-chǎn-gâaw-mâi-dtòk-long
You have to dream it. I won’t agree nonetheless.

Example 2:
ใครจะไปซื้อไหว แพงขนาดนั้น ฝันเอาแล้วกัน
khrai-jà-bpai-súue-wǎi phaaeng-khà-nàat-nán fǎn-ao-láaeo-gan
Who will be able to buy that? It is that expensive. You have to dream it.

4 – บ้ง

Pronunciation:
bông

Literal translation:
Worm

Slang translation:
Not good

Explanation:
This is a slang term used among youngsters. It means “not okay.”

Example 1:
เธอใส่ชุดนี้แล้วบ้งมาก ไม่ควรซื้อ
thooe-sài-chút-níi-láaeo-bông-mâak mâi-khuuan-súue
You don’t look good in this dress, so you shouldn’t buy it.

Example 2:
วันนี้ขายของไม่ได้เลย บ้งมาก
wan-níi-khǎai-khǎawng-mâi-dâi-looei bông-mâak
I can’t sell anything today, not good.

5 – มองบน

Pronunciation:
maawng-bon

Literal translation:
Look up

Slang translation:
Not happy with something

Explanation:
This is another slang term used by youngsters. It’s used to imply that one is not happy with something.

Example 1:
เธอได้ยินปัญหาแล้วก็อดมองบนไม่ได้
thooe-dâi-yin-bpan-hǎa-láaeo-gâaw-òt-maawng-bon-mâi-dâi
Once she heard of the problem, she was not happy with it.

Example 2:
ทำไม่ต้องมองบนขนาดนั้น
tham-mai-dtâawng-maawng-bon-khà-nàat-nán
Why are you that unhappy?

6 – เซ็งเป็ด

Pronunciation:
seng-bpèt

Literal translation:
Bore of the duck

Slang translation:
Not in a good mood

Explanation:
This slang term is used to say that you’re not in a good mood or that something has put you in a bad mood.

Example 1:
เห็นงานที่ต้องทำแล้วเซ็งเป็ดเลย
hěn-ngaan-thîi-dtâawng-tham-láaeo-seng-bpèt-looei
I’m not in a good mood now after seeing the work that I have to do.

I’m Not in a Good Mood Now After Seeing the Work that I Have to Do.

Example 2:
อากาศแบบนี้ออกไปข้างนอกไม่ได้ เซ็งเป็ด
aa-gàat-bàaep-níi-àawk-bpai-khâang-nâawk-mâi-dâi seng-bpèt
I can’t go out in this weather. I’m not in a good mood now.

3. Thai People and Negation

Now that you know how to properly use negation in Thai, there are a couple of cultural aspects you should be aware of. 

1 – เกรงใจ

เกรงใจ (greeng-jai) is a trait that many Thai people possess. This word refers to the feeling of not wanting to disturb, inconvenience, or cause problems for another person. Someone who feels เกรงใจ (greeng-jai) will find it hard to say “no” to someone who has asked a favor of them. They may also try to make life as easy as possible for others. 

For example, imagine that a Thai person is visiting their neighbor’s home. If the neighbor asks this person if they would like anything to drink, the person may feel เกรงใจ (greeng-jai). As a result, they might ask for something simple (like plain water or juice) even if they would prefer something else (like a smoothie or cocktail). 

If you were asked a favor by a coworker in the workplace to assist his/her tasks, in the case that you were feeling เกรงใจ (greeng-jai), you might end up agreeing to help that coworker complete their tasks—even if you already had a lot of work to do and needed to stay overtime for that. This is because saying “no” would hurt the feelings of your coworker.

So, when you ask a Thai person to do something, you have to look at their body language as well. If they look reluctant but still say yes, you should know that they are เกรงใจ (greeng-jai) and may not actually be willing to help.

Thai People Can’t Say No

2 – Using Negation to Save Someone’s Feelings

Sometimes, saying things directly can hurt other people’s feelings. To avoid doing so, Thai people use negation in order to convey the same message in a more indirect manner.  

Example 1: เตี้ย

Saying that someone is short can hurt that person’s feelings. Instead, you could use “not tall” instead of “short.”

  • เขาเตี้ย
  • khǎo-dtîia
  • He is short.
  • เขาตัวไม่สูง
  • khǎo-mâi-sǔung
  • He is not tall.

Example 2: ถูก

Since quality and price are often related, some Thai people feel that saying that something is cheap is like looking down on its quality. So instead of using “cheap,” you could use “not expensive.”

  • อาหารร้านนี้ถูกมาก
  • aa-hǎan-ráan-níi-thùuk-mâak
  • The food at this restaurant is very cheap.
  • อาหารร้านนี้ราคาไม่แพง
  • aa-hǎan-ráan-níi-raa-khaa-mâi-phaaeng
  • The food at this restaurant is not expensive.

4. Conclusion

As you can see, Thai negation is relatively simple. The only thing you really need to worry about is how to correctly use the negating words ไม่ (mâi), ไม่ได้ (mâi-dâi), and ไม่ใช่ (mâi-châi). It might take some time, but with enough practice you’ll become familiar with them. 

What are your thoughts on this lesson? Did you find it difficult, or was this pretty easy for you? And how does negation in Thai differ from that in your language? 

We look forward to hearing from you! 

If you would like to continue learning about the Thai language and culture, make sure to explore ThaiPod101.com and create your free lifetime account today. Not sure where to start? How about you try these lessons:

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