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Celebrating Buddhist Lent Day in Thailand

Would you be willing to give up your guiltiest pleasure for three months?

Well, each year in Thailand, the Buddhist monks and other followers of Buddha’s teachings do just this. The first day of this three-month period is a holiday called Buddhist Lent Day, and this is what we’ll be talking about in this article!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Buddhist Lent Day?

A Buddha Statue

This holiday marks the beginning of the Buddhist Lent, which is a three-month period during which monks are expected ระมัดระวัง (rá mát rá-wang), or “to be careful,” not to venture outside the temple or pagoda.

This three-month period ends on End of Buddhist Lent Day, which is another Buddhist holiday that we’ll be covering in a future article.

If you’re familiar with Christian Lent traditions, you may find a few similarities while reading through this article!

Buddhist Lent Day History

In Thailand, Buddhist Lent Day got its start during the Buddha era. Monks of this time period had a mission to spread Buddhist teachings to as many places and people as possible. However, this constant traveling caused problems during the rainy season, with people complaining that the monks would walk through and ruin their crops.

Hearing of this, the Buddha made a new ระเบียบ (rá-bìiap), or “rule,” that monks were not to leave their temples for the three-month period of the rainy season. The only exception was if a monk had important กิจธุระ (gìt thú-rá), or “business,” that needed to be taken care of right away. In that case, a monk could leave the temple but was not allowed to spend more than seven nights away.

2. Buddhist Lent Day Dates

A Buddhist Temple on a Nice Day

The date of Buddhist Lent Day varies from year to year, as it begins in the eighth Buddhist calendar month. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next few years.

  • 2020: July 6
  • 2021: July 25
  • 2022: July 14
  • 2023: August 3

Also be sure to see our list of the Top Five Important Dates During the Thai Calendar Year!

3. Buddhist Lent Day Activities & Traditions

a Sermon in a Buddhist Temple

The Thai Buddhist Lent Day is largely a time for monks to prepare for their three months of solitude. They’re expected “to say prayers to Buddha,” or ทำวัตร (tham wát), and carefully observe all of the พุทธบัญญัติ (phút thá ban-yàt), or “Buddhist rules.” In addition, it’s very common for men to have a งานอุปสมบท (ngaan u-bpà-sŏm-bòt), or “ordination ceremony,” to become monks during the Buddhist Lent season.

The rainy season generally provides the perfect สภาพอากาศ (sà-phâap aa-gàat), or “weather condition,” to stay inside and study. For this reason, men will sometimes visit the temples to be taught Dharma.

Throughout the Buddhist Lent, Thailand’s non-monk population also gets involved. For the general population, this means attempting to rid themselves of อบายมุข (a-baai-ya-múk), or “all vices,” (or sometimes only one or two, such as drinking alcohol or killing animals). This is also a time to repent of บาป (bàap), or “sin,” in one’s life.

For Buddhist Lent Day, Thailand’s most famous activity is the Candle Festival. This tradition began a long time ago, before electricity was available for lighting. Because monks often had to perform their rituals in the mornings and evenings, Buddhists would make large candles for their local temple and offer these candles to monks in their area. Before handing over the candles, though, they would parade around the town with them.

Today, there are sometimes competitions to see who can carve the best decorative Lent candle. These candles are massive and so awesome to see!

4. Exceptions to Buddhist Lent Rules

You may be wondering when a monk can leave the temple without being in การฝ่าฝืน (gaan fàa fǔuen), or “violation,” of the Buddhist Lent rules.

As mentioned earlier, a monk can only leave the temple during this time for very important business. Here are some examples of when it would be okay for a monk to leave:

  • Taking care of other sick monks or parents
  • Convincing novices who want to leave the religion to change their mind
  • Carrying out essential monkhood duties
  • Accepting an invitation to make merit somewhere else

5. Essential Buddhist Lent Day Vocabulary

Buddhist Monks Praying and Making Merit

Here’s a quick list of some of the vocabulary words and phrases from this article!

  • บาป (bàap) — “sin”
  • อบายมุข (a-baai-ya-múk) — “all vices”
  • ตั้งใจ (dtâng jai) — “to intend”
  • นิมนต์ (ní-mon) — “to invite (monk)”
  • บิดามารดา (bì-daa maan-daa) — “parents”
  • การฝ่าฝืน (gaan fàa fǔuen) — “violation”
  • ลวดลาย (lûuat-laai) — “design”
  • ทำวัตร (tham wát) — “to say prayers to Buddha”
  • แห่ (hàae) — “to throng”
  • สภาพอากาศ (sà-phâap aa-gàat) — “weather condition”
  • งานอุปสมบท (ngaan u-bpà-sŏm-bòt) — “ordination ceremony”
  • วันเข้าพรรษา (wan khâo phan-săa) — “Buddhist Lent Day”
  • อนุญาต (à-nú-yâat) — “to allow”
  • ระมัดระวัง (rá mát rá-wang) — “to be careful”
  • วันแรม (wan raaem) — “waning moon night”
  • พุทธบัญญัติ (phút thá ban-yàt) — “Buddhist rules”
  • ตำหนิ (dtam-nì) — “to reprimand”
  • ระเบียบ (rá-bìiap) — “rule”
  • กิจธุระ (gìt thú-rá) — “business,” “work”

You can hear the pronunciation of each word by logging in to our Buddhist Lent Video Culture Class lesson!

Final Thoughts

Buddhist Lent Day is a major occasion in Thailand, both for monks and the general population.

Are there any special religious days like this in your country? If so, how do you or your country’s religious leaders observe it? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about Thai culture and the language, read some more free articles on

Stay safe out there, and keep studying with ThaiPod101. 😉

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3 Tips For Speaking Thai Like A Native Speaker


When learning a new language, everyone should have an ultimate goal to work towards. Whether you want to be able to connect with a Thai relative, easily order food while traveling, or take part in a spiritual journey in the kingdom, having an end goal for your learning can be very motivating. One of the more popular but difficult examples of this is learning to speak Thai like a native speaker. You would easily become the life of the party if people heard you, as a foreigner, speak like a local. So what ways can you work towards this goal? That is what we will be looking into today. Here are 3 tips you should follow to start speaking Thai like a native speaker.

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Tip 1. Focus On Vocabulary

Man studying

If your goal is to speak like a native, it is easy to get carried away by focusing on speaking and pronunciation. However, what is often overlooked is how big a role vocabulary plays. Your choice of words will reveal a lot about your understanding of the language. 

Anyone who has used a phrasebook for a language has likely come across a situation where they have said something, only to get back the dreaded look of confusion. While what you said may technically be correct, it may have been inappropriate for the situation or just not commonly used. Imagine saying ‘greetings’ to a close friend instead of just saying ‘hey’ or something along those lines. 

This concept is especially important in a language like Thai where there are different words you should use based on who you are speaking with and their social standing. You definitely do not want to sound rude. Try to listen and distinguish how people talk to their friends and how they talk to their superiors – that should help give you an idea of how to talk with others in a more authentic way. 

It is also worth mentioning that Thai can be seen as quite a laid back language in that it is possible to remove words from sentences or phrases and still have them make sense and, importantly, be understood. Pronouns are a prime example of this as they can often be removed if they are obvious from context. 

Colloquialisms and slang are also commonly used in Thai. As this sort of vocabulary is always evolving, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest words. Things like this are something you can only learn by talking with a local Thai person, making them an invaluable resource. Ultimately, knowing the appropriate vocabulary to use for each situation will really help you sound like you know what you are doing.

Tip 2. Perfect Your Accent

Pair of women talking

There are many different layers that go into learning Thai pronunciation. First, Thai is a tonal language, where a change in pitch can completely change the meaning of a word. Then there is the fact that Thailand is a very large country, and so people from one area of the country will sound different from those in another. So what is the best way to listen to the wide range of accents and different pronunciations? That’s right – through video and audio sources.

YouTube in this case is a goldmine, as there are people from all walks of life uploading to the platform. Whether through an educational video or a random vlog, you will start to hear the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in their speech. Everyone speaks in a unique way based on numerous factors. If you are able to replicate this, then you will definitely sound more like a legitimate Thai speaker.

Unless you have a particular reason for learning a more specific type of accent, you would be better off learning the more basic form. In Thailand, this would be Central Thai, which is seen as the standard for the country. Sure, it would be interesting to learn the Isaan way of speaking but for the purposes of having the most people understand you, Central Thai is your best bet.

Tip 3. Copy What You Hear

Woman listening to her headphones

Do you remember how you learnt to speak as a child? It was rare to learn a new word just by reading or listening. Instead, we would imitate what we hear by saying it out loud. While you are talking to a Thai friend, watching videos and listening to audio in Thai, you can do this and try to replicate the way they speak.

This method enables you to master several things: the flow of the language, the accent, and the pronunciation. Of course, you can also learn some new vocabulary this way. Repetition can be a great way to remember things, after all.

Try doing this using a number of different mediums and sources. That way, you will be exposed to the diversity that the language offers and master the fundamentals of pronunciation. So yes, watch and imitate several different YouTube videos and audio CDs, but try a few different sources to help you cover the nuances of the Thai language. 

For example, the Ling app is a great option for learning to speak Thai through imitation. As a companion, it helps to promote proper pronunciation using speaking activities. The voice samples used in the app are all from native Thai speakers as well, allowing you to hear the authentic sound of spoken Thai and imitate them accordingly. Pair this with the chatbot feature which walks you through a typical conversation with voice clips and you are well set to perfect your pronunciation of Thai and take another step closer to native-level speaking.

Take Your Thai Ability To The Next Level

The ability to speak Thai like a native is a popular goal for many people learning Thai. There is no better feeling than saying something perfectly when the people you are talking to are expecting basic level or broken Thai. With these four tips, you should find that you are able to enhance your Thai speaking ability much closer to a native level. With some time and persistence, you may just end up sounding like you have lived in the country your whole life. Now that would be something to feel pride in.

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Communicate Like a Native Using Thai Hand Gestures and More


Have you ever wondered why foreigners make weird faces or perform strange actions? Well, they may be how they communicate non-verbally with each other.

Just as in every language, you should learn about Thai non-verbal communication, such as hand gestures and body language, so that you can completely communicate like a Thai native. Thai hand gestures, Thai hand signs, and Thai body language are part of Thai culture and represent how Thai people think in general. Knowing about nonverbal communication in Thailand will make your trip so much better.

Thai people use body language as nonverbal communication in daily life. อวัจนภาษา (àà-wát-jà-ná-phaa-săa) is “nonverbal communication” in Thai. This article will teach you everything you need to know about nonverbal communication in Thailand, including the meanings of body or hand gestures, good Thai custom and etiquette, and what you should and shouldn’t do.

Below is our list of everything you should know on this topic, categorized for easy understanding. These are the most important gestures to learn when having a trip to Thailand, so we’ll do our best to explain the body language meanings in Thailand for you!

If you’re ready, let’s get started and delve into all the facets of Thailand nonverbal communication. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Thai Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. Thai Greeting
  2. Thai Gestures Used to Show Your Opinion
  3. Thai Number Hand Gestures
  4. Actions
  5. Rude Gestures / Rude Manners or Etiquette
  6. Conclusion

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1. Thai Greeting

Thai Hand Gestures

Apart from saying สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii), there are more Thai greetings and gestures Thai people use for greeting as well. These include the following:

1- ไหว้ (wâi)

Meaning: A way of greeting in Thai society, and one of the most common Thailand hand gestures.

How to do: Put your hands together in front of your chest and bend your head toward your forefinger. You can say สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii) while doing this gesture.

When to use: You can use this gesture when you meet someone or when you say goodbye.

Example situation: Students should ไหว้ (wâi) their teacher after class, before she goes back home.

Additional note: If you greet someone who’s younger, you should wait for another party to ไหว้ (wâi) you first.

How Thai People ไหว้ [Wâi]

2- Nod Your Head Once

Meaning: This is a way to show that you recognize or acknowledge a greeting from another party.

How to do: Nod your head slightly one time.

When to do: Sometimes, when people greet you by ไหว้ (waî) or by saying สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii), you may not be able to greet them back. So you nod your head once as a sign that you acknowledge that greeting.

Further, in Thailand, you may be greeted by a security guard, staff member at a restaurant, or staff member at a condo. It’s not rude to simply nod your head once as a way to show that you acknowledge their greeting.

Example situation: You drive into a parking lot and a security guard greets you. However, you’re driving and can’t greet them back, so you nod your head as an acknowledgement. Slight eye contact, in Thailand, may also come in handy in a situation like this.

3- Wave Your Hand

Meaning: Waving in Thailand is a hand gesture for goodbye. However, it’s not a formal action so you shouldn’t do this in or after a business meeting.

How to do: Put your hand up near your face and wave your hand a few times. You can say บ๊ายบาย (báai-baai) which means “goodbye” in Thai when doing this hand gesture.

When to do: Use this gesture when you want to say goodbye to someone.

Example situation: After going out on a date, you can do this gesture when you say goodbye before going home.

2. Thai Gestures Used to Show Your Opinion

Once you’ve mastered the above Thai gestures and greetings, you can move on to other Thai gestures. Thai people have a lot of hand gestures and body language signals that show if they like something or don’t like something. Here are some you might see Thai people do often.

1- Thumbs-up

Meaning: Thumbs-up in Thailand means “This is good.”

How to do: Make a fist and stick your thumb up.

When to do: Use this when you want to tell another party that something is good.

Example situation: You tried a food and it’s tasty. Since your mouth is full, you do the thumbs-up sign to show that it’s good.

This is Good

2- Thumbs-down

Meaning: Thumbs-down in Thailand means “This is bad.”

How to do: Similar to doing a thumbs-up gesture, you make a fist and stick your thumb out, but point down instead of up.

When to do: Use this when you want to tell another party that something is bad.

Example situation: Your friend tried on some clothes in the store, but you think it doesn’t look good on her so you do the thumbs-down sign.

This is Bad

3- Okay

Meaning: This hand sign means “This is okay.” It’s another one of the most common Thai hand symbols and is so easy to do.

How to do: Make a circle using your thumb and forefinger while pointing the rest of your fingers up.

When to do: This sign is used to show that you’re okay with the situation or that you’re okay with something.

Example situation: You’re checking whether the room is ready for the company event or not. You think it’s okay, so you use this sign to show other staff members this instead of shouting.

Okay Sign in Thai

4- Nod Your Head a Few Times

Meaning: This Thai body gesture means “yes” or “agree.” This is considered somewhat polite body language in Thailand for showing agreement.

How to do: Nod your head a few times.

When to do: When you want to say “yes” or indicate that you agree with someone or something.

Example situation: Your mother asked if you want her to cook dinner for you or not, so you nod your head a few times as a way to say “yes.”

5- Shake Your Head a Few Times

Meaning: This Thai gesture means “no” or is used to show disappointment.

How to do: Shake your head a few times. If you shake your head quite fast, it means “no.” But if you shake your head slowly, it’s used to show disappointment.

When to do: You can use this gesture when you want to answer “no” to someone, or to show that you feel disappointed with some action by doing this after seeing that action.

Example situation: You saw your child not being careful and accidentally dropping their food and making a mess in the kitchen. You didn’t want to be mad at him as he seemed to know that what he did was wrong. So you show your disappointment by shaking your head slowly a few times.

Additional note: When using this Thai body gesture to show disappointment, some people also sigh at the same time.

3. Thai Number Hand Gestures

The concept of numbers is universal. Apart from Arabic numbers, hand gestures for number are easy to understand as well. In each country, number hand gestures are slightly different. For example, the sign for “3” in some countries can be “8” in other countries.

For this reason, you should know how Thai do number hand gestures. ภาษามือ (phaa-sǎa muue) is “hand gesture” in Thai. Thai people often use number hand gestures when going shopping, making number gestures in Thai culture extremely useful.

1- How to Do

  • 0 — Make a fist.
  • 1 — Make a fist and point your forefinger up.
  • 2 — Make a fist; point your forefinger and middle finger up.
  • 3 — Point your forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger up while folding your thumb over your pinky finger in your palm area.
  • 4 — Point your forefinger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger up while folding your thumb to your palm.
  • 5 — Open one of your hands.
  • 6 — Do the thumbs-up sign (you can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer).
  • 7 — Make a fist; point your thumb and forefinger out. (Your thumb and forefinger should make an “L” shape.) (You can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer.)
  • 8 — Open your hand and then fold your ring finger and pinky finger to your palm (you can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer).
  • 9 — Open your hand then fold your pinky finger to your palm (you can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer).
  • 10 — Open both of your hands.

Hand Gestures for 1-10 in Thailand

4. Actions

There are some action-oriented gestures that Thai people use. has prepared a list of the most useful ones for you below.

1- Call bus/taxi

Meaning: This gesture means you want a bus or taxi to stop so that you can get on.

How to do: Extend your arm around 45 degrees from your body, and wave your hand a few times while looking at the bus or taxi.

When to do: In Thai, there’s no place for you to call a taxi so if you don’t use an app, you have to do this gesture for a taxi to stop. As for a bus, sometimes the bus may not stop at a bus stop if there’s no passenger getting off, so you have to do this gesture for the bus to stop as well.

Example situation: You want to get home by taxi, so you wait for the taxi in front of your office. Once you see a taxi coming, you do this gesture to make the taxi stop.

2- Make a Promise or Reconcile

Meaning: This hand gesture is used when you promise another person something or if you want to reconcile with another person.

How to do: Make a fist and stick your pinky finger out.

When to do: You use this gesture when making a promise. If the other party acknowledges the promise, he/she will do the same hand gesture and then link his/her pinky finger with yours. Then, you move your hands together up and down a few times.

When doing this to reconcile with another party, you make this hand gesture and stick your hand out to the other party while saying ดีกันนะ (dii gan ná) which is “Let’s reconcile” in Thai. Similar to making a promise, if another party is no longer mad at you, he/she will do the same hand gesture and then link his/her pinky finger with you before moving your hands together up and down a few times.

Example situation: Joy accidentally made her sister’s doll dirty, making her sister mad at her. She wanted to reconcile with her sister, so she did this hand gesture and told her sister ดีกันนะ (dii gan ná).

I Promise

3- Wave Your Hand Quickly

Meaning: Waving your hand in Thai has a meaning other than “Goodbye.” If you wave your hand quickly, it can also mean “don’t have” or “not.”

How to do: Put your hand up near your chest and wave your hand quickly a few times.

When to do: Use this when you want to tell another party that you don’t have something they’ve asked for.

Example situation: A friend asks if you have another eraser or not. Since you don’t have another one, you wave your hand quickly to let them know this.

5. Rude Gestures / Rude Manners or Etiquette

มารยาท (maa-rá-yâat) is “manner” or “etiquette” in Thai. There are many actions that Thai people consider to be bad Thai etiquette, that are perfectly fine to do in other countries. So if you live in Thailand, want to live in Thailand, or know Thai people, you should be aware of these gestures.

1- Foot Gestures

Feet are considered to be ของต่ำ (khǎawng dtàm) which means “things that are dirty” in Thai. Thus, it’s rude to put your feet on a table or desk that you use for work or study. Also, it’s considered bad manners in Thailand to point to things with your foot.

2- Manners at the Dining Table

There are certain things you shouldn’t do during the meal as they’re considered bad etiquette. To be a person with good table etiquette, please avoid doing these things:

  • Making noise by hitting the tableware. For example, when you’re listening to music, you may feel like hitting something to sound out the music’s beat. Don’t use your spoon or fork to hit the plate or bowl to make that beat. Using chopsticks as drumsticks isn’t okay either.
  • Using chopsticks, spoons, or forks to point at people. This is considered rude and you shouldn’t do it. This is definitely considered a rude hand gesture in Thailand.
  • Chewing or slurping loudly. When you eat, try not to make noise when chewing or slurping. It isn’t rude, but Thai people think that people who slurp have poor etiquette.
  • Speaking while eating. Don’t speak when you’re eating or chewing. It doesn’t look good in Thai’s view.

3- How You Stand and Sit

This part may sound a little bit weird. How can standing or sitting relate to manners? Well, these things are important in Thailand. Here are the things you should be aware of:

  • You shouldn’t sit with one knee up. Thai people think it doesn’t look good, especially when women do it.
  • Thai people are concerned with seniority. They believe that people who are older are higher in rank, so you should respect them and act as such. Thus, your position shouldn’t be higher than people who are older than you. For example, you shouldn’t stand while your senior is sitting.
    • In Thai, there’s a phrase called อย่ายืนค้ำหัวผู้ใหญ่ (yàa yuuen khám hŭua phûu yài) which means “standing near senior who is sitting” in Thai.

6. Conclusion

If you’ve reached this part, it means that you’ve learned a lot of Thai gestures, Thai hand signs, and Thailand’s body language. Some of these body language signs may be similar to what people in your country do, but some may not be. Still, if you keep practicing them, you’ll remember to do them while in Thailand. We hope you enjoyed this article on gestures to learn when having a trip to Thailand, and that you learned lots!

Once you’re good at Thai nonverbal communication, don’t forget to practice Thai verbal communication as well. You can visit to learn more interesting Thai lessons. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Thai Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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Your Guide to Thai Words with no English Equivalent


Like every other language in the world, the Thai language has unique Thai words with no English translation. These untranslatable terms in Thai are naturally not very easy to learn. The reason is that you, as a foreigner, are learning something that you’re not familiar with at all, since the term doesn’t exist in your language. But don’t worry, will help you master untranslatable Thai words in no time.

Among Thai untranslatable words, the ones that are most often used in daily life (and confuse foreigners the most) are untranslatable words about feelings. Of course, seeing as these are feeling untranslatable words, Thai people understand them and use them regularly, but if you ask them to explain or describe each word, they may find it difficult.

Untranslatable Thai words represent Thainess, a uniqueness in Thai which you’ll be able to see from the list of untranslatable Thai words that has prepared for you. This is especially true of those feeling untranslatable Thai words, as they reflect how Thai people feel and behave. So apart from communication, this topic will also give you a fresh point of view about Thai culture.

We hope you can now see why the untranslatable word in Thai language-learning is such an essential aspect to go over and understand. Let’s get started with our list. Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. List of Untranslatable Thai Words
  2. Conclusion: How ThaiPod101 Can Help You Learn More Thai

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1. List of Untranslatable Thai Words

Best Ways to Learn

As mentioned above, there are many untranslatable words in Thai. Here’s the list of words you’re likely to see and use, put into three categories.

Our goal here is to help you learn what each untranslatable word literally means in Thai. From there, we’ll introduce you to each untranslatable Thai word’s meaning in English, so that you have a better idea of how to use them. Finally, we’ll show you each untranslatable word in Thai phrases and tell you when to use it.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

1- Thai Untranslatable Words about Feelings

There are many Thai words with no English equivalent in this category. If you interact with Thai people a lot, whether in work or a relationship, you should learn these words so that you understand more about Thai people.

1. งอน (ngaawn)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: งอน (ngaawn) is “a sulky feeling toward someone because of their action” in Thai. This word represents a negative feeling, but it’s not quite as strong as being angry or upset. The feeling ngaawn happens only between people who are close to each other, such as a couple, family members, or friends. There are many actions that indicate if someone feels ngaawn toward you, for example:
    • Someone talks to you sarcastically.
    • Someone has stopped talking to you, or isn’t willing to talk to you.
    • Someone doesn’t want to meet you.
    • Someone doesn’t act well toward you as they used to.
    • Someone will tell you how they feel directly.
  • Example situation:
    เมื่อวานตอนไปเที่ยวกัน เธอเอาแต่สนใจโทรศัพท์มือถือ เราเลยงอนเธอแล้ว
    mûuea waan dtaawn bpai thîiao gan thooe ao dtàae sŏn jai thoo-rá-sàp muue-thǔue rao looei ngaawn thooe láaeo
    “When we went to travel yesterday, you paid attention to nothing but your phone. I ngaawn you.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + ngaawn + name of person 2 = person 1 feels ngaawn toward person 2.

A Woman Ngaawn Her Friend

2. น้อยใจ (náauy-jai)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: น้อยใจ (náauy-jai) is the hurt or sad feeling you feel from not getting attention from people you care for. This word can also be used when those people don’t behave toward you like they should. Being noíjai or náauy-jai can lead to feeling ngaawn. People only feel noíjai toward the people they care for or are close with, such as a couple, family members, or friends. It’s one of the untranslatable sad Thai words, as noíjai is used to show unhappiness.
  • Example situation:
    thooe rúu-sùek náauy-jai thîi mâae sŏn-jai dtàae náawng-săao
    “She feels noíjai that her mother only pays attention to her younger sister.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + náauy-jai + name of person 2 = person 1 feels náauy-jai toward person 2.

3. ไม่เป็นไร (mâi bpen rai)

  • Type of word: Phrase
  • Meaning: ไม่เป็นไร (mâi bpen rai) is a phrase that shows you feel okay with the current situation, and there’s no need to do anything more for you. The phrase mâipenrai can be used in many situations, listed as follows:
    • As a reply when someone says thank you. It’s like “you’re welcome” in English.
    • As a reply when someone says sorry to you and you don’t feel angry toward them.
    • As a reply when someone asks if you’re okay or not, and you are okay.
  • Example situation:

    Situation 1
    เอ: ขอบคุณที่ช่วยฉันเรื่องงาน
    A: khàawp-khun thîi chûuai chăn rûueang ngaan
    A: “Thank you for helping with my work.”

    บี: ไม่เป็นไร
    B: mâi bpen rai
    B: “You’re welcome.”

    Situation 2: B accidentally stepped on A’s foot.
    เอ: โอ๊ย
    A: óoi
    A: “Ouch.”

    บี: ขอโทษด้วยค่ะ เป็นอะไรมั๊ยคะ
    B: khǎaw-thôot dûuai khâ bpen à-rai mái khá
    B: “Sorry, are you okay?”

    A: ไม่เป็นไรค่ะ
    A: mâi bpen rai khâ
    A: “I’m okay.”

  • Usage in sentence:
    You can use this phrase alone.

4. หมั่นไส้ (màn-sâi)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: Naturally, when you see that someone else has a good life or is happy, you may feel happy for them, feel indifferent, feel jealous, or feel หมั่นไส้ (màn-sâi).This untranslatable word means in Thai a feeling toward someone who acts over-the-top or shows off too much about something. This feeling isn’t quite jealousy, dislike, annoyance, or anger.
  • Example situation:
    เห็นรูปบนเฟสบุ๊คของแป้งมั๊ย อวดว่าไปเที่ยวญี่ปุ่นมา ช่างน่าหมั่นไส้
    hĕn rûup bon féet-búk khǎawng bpâaeng mái ùuat wâa bpai thîiao yîi-bpùn maa châang nâa màn-sâi
    “Have you see photo on Bpaaeng’s facebook,showing off that she has been to Japan. So
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + màn-sâi + name of person 2 = person 1 feels màn-sâi toward person 2.

5. เกรงใจ (greeng-jai)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: เกรงใจ (greeng-jai) is the feeling of being afraid to disturb other people, or afraid to have other people do something for you (even if the other parties are willing to do it for you).
  • Example situation:
    ไปเที่ยวให้สนุกนะ ไม่ต้องซื้อของฝากมาก็ได้ เกรงใจ
    bpai thîiao hâi sà-nùk ná mâi dtâawng súue khǎawng fàak maa gâaw dâi greeng jai
    “Have a fun trip!! And no need for a souvenir, greeng-jai.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + greeng-jai + name of person 2 = person 1 feels greeng-jai toward person 2.
  • Additional note: In Thai, there’s a term, which is ความเกรงใจเป็นสมบัติของผู้ดี (khwaam greeng jai bpen sŏm-bàt khǎawng phûu dii). Its literal meaning is “greeng-jai is a characteristic of noble people.” But to put it simply, it means “greeng-jai is a good manner.” This shows that Thai people are considerate.

6. เสียดาย (sǐia-daai)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: This feeling isn’t quite the same as regret. เสียดาย (sǐia-daai) is the sorry or negative feeling you feel when you’re in the following situations:
    • You’ve lost someone or something that used to be yours.
    • You don’t get someone or something you want.
  • Example situation:
    sǐia-daai thîi rao mâi dâi raang-wan thîi nùeng
    “I feel sǐia-daai that we didn’t win the first prize.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + sǐia-daai + thîi (the situation you feel sorry about) = person 1 feels sǐia-daai that (the situation you feel sorry about).
  • Additional note: This untranslatable Thai word is used in an idiom as well: รักพี่เสียดายน้อง (rák phîi sĭia-daai náawng). Its literal meaning is “love older sister/brother, but sǐia-daai little sister/brother.” Thai people use it to explain the situation where you can’t choose between two choices because you want both.

2- Untranslatable Thai Action Words

Reasons to Study

Thai people have unique actions that only we do. Here are two examples:

1. ไหว้ (Wâi)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: ไหว้ (wâi) is an action that Thai people use to pay respect, politely greet each other, or worship God.
  • Example situation:
    mûuea nák-riian jooe khruu khuuan tham khwaam khao-róp dooi gaan wâi láe glàao sà-wàt-dii
    “When students meet a teacher, they should pay respect by wai and saying hello.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 + wâi + name of person 2 = person 1 greets/pay respect to person 2 by wâi.

Thai People Wai As A Way of Greeting

2. บน (bon)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: บน (bon) is to ask God for help and promise something (such as doing a certain action) in return if your wish is fulfilled later on. Thai people can ask God for help with anything from love, to work, to studying, to asking for a child. The things or actions people promise in return can be anything as well. The famous ones are: offering a boiled pig head, a boiled egg or a flower; to be vegetarian; to do a Thai dance; and the list goes on.
  • Example situation:
    เธอบนไว้ว่า ถ้าเธอคลอดลูกอย่างปลอดภัย เธอจะกินมังสวิรัติ 1 เดือน
    thooe bon wái wâa thâa thooe khlâawt lûuk yàang bplâawt phai thooe jà gin mang-sà-wí-rát nùeng duuean
    “She bon to God that if she delivers her child safely, she will be vegetarian for one month.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Subject + bon + wâa + (thâa……) = Subject bon that if…… (It is normally used with “if”).
  • Additional note:
    If you come to Thailand, you’ll see temples and shrines almost everywhere. There are many gods that Thai people respect, and Thai people still have much spiritual belief. Some gods Thai people like to bon are listed below:

King Rama V

3- Untranslatable Words about Cooking

Thailand is famous for its cuisine and desserts. So would like to introduce some interesting untranslatable words about cooking.

1. รวน (ruan)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: รวน (ruuan) is to cook meat (of any type) until it’s almost cooked by stir frying it in a pan or pot. The meat will normally be cooked again at a later stage. This is one of the methods Thai people use in cooking.
  • Example situation:
    naaen gam-lang ruuan mûu sàp phûuea ao bpai tham yam
    “Nan is ruuan ground pork for spicy salad.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Subject + ruuan + type of meat.
  • Additional note:
    Some examples of dishes that use the ruan method of cooking are ยำ (yam) which is spicy salad and ลาบ (lâap).

2. หัวกะทิ (hǔua gà-thí) and หางกะทิ (hǎang gà-thí)

  • Type of word: Noun
  • Meaning: หัวกะทิ (hǔua gà-thí) and หางกะทิ (hǎang gà-thí) are types of coconut milk. The process of making coconut milk is to add water to the shredded coconut meat, and then squeeze it until the water becomes coconut milk. The first part of coconut milk we get from this process is called hǔua gà-thí, while the coconut milk we get at the later stage is called hǎang gà-thí. Hǔua gà-thí is richer in taste than hǎang gà-thí.
  • Example situation:
    เวลาทำแกง ต้องใส่หัวกะทิไปผัดกับเครื่องแกงก่อน แล้วเติมหางกะทิทีหลัง
    wee-laa tham gaaeng dtâawng sài hŭua gà-thí bpai phàt gàp khrûueang gaaeng gàawn láaeo dtooem hăang gà-thí thii-lăng
    “When making curry, you have to stir fry hǔua gà-thí with curry paste first before adding hăang gà-thí later.”
  • Usage in sentence: There’s no specific way to use this word, and sentences can vary.
  • Additional note: In Thai cuisine and desserts, coconut milk or gà-thí is an important ingredient. If you like cooking, you should know the difference between hǔua gà-thí and hăang gà-thí, as it really matters in how the dish tastes.

Thai Curry with Coconut Milk as Ingredient

Conclusion: How ThaiPod101 Can Help You Learn More Thai

Thai words with no English equivalent isn’t an easy topic, so it may take some time for you to understand. The hardest ones are those related to feelings, which you may not really understand at first.

Here’s a tip for you: It will help you to understand better if you imagine yourself as the person in the given example situations throughout this article. It will be easier for you to imagine the feeling that Thais feel in various situations. Once you understand this topic, you can visit for more Thai lessons to master your Thai!

Before you go, let us know in the comments which untranslatable word in Thai vocabulary is your favorite! Was our untranslatable words in Thai lesson helpful to you? We look forward to hearing from you.

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