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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Jay here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Thai questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: Does ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi mean “cannot” or “did not”?
ไม่ mâi is a Thai word for “no” and is a negative word. ได้ dâi, on the other hand, means both “can” and “already” in English. When these two individual words are combined to make ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi, it creates some two, similar meanings for the word when put in sentences. So, does this word mean “cannot” or “did not”? There’s an easy and simple way for you to notice and understand.
First, the word ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi means “cannot” when put at the end of sentences or after the verb in sentences. Take, for example, ฉันไปดูหนังไม่ได้ chǎn bpai duu năng mâi-dâi (“I cannot go to the movies”). As you can see here, the verb in this sentence is ไปดูหนัง bpai duu nuang. Since we put ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi after the verb, which comes to mean “cannot.”
Now let’s take a look at the meaning of ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi as a past tense form. If we put ไม่ได้ mài-dâi before the verb in sentences, the meaning automatically changes to “did not.” For example, ฉันไม่ได้ไปดูหนัง chǎn mâi-dâi bpai duu năng means “I did not go to the movies.” As you can see the meaning shifted completely compared to ฉันไปดูหนังไม่ได้ chǎn bpai duu năng mâi-dâi. (“I cannot go to the movies.”)
Remember, we put ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi before the verb to mean “did not,” and we put ไม่ได้ mâi-dâi after the verb to mean “cannot.”


Pretty simple, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
Bye! สวัสดีค่ะ (sà-wàt-dii khâ)