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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: How many ways can you say “I” in Thai?
In Thai, we have many different ways to refer yourself. In fact, we have almost 10 synonyms for the word “I” alone. Today, I’m going to teach you some of the most useful ways of saying “I” and some that you’ll encounter in everyday life.
First, we have to understand the most basic and common way of saying “I,” which can be used in just about every situation. This is ฉัน chăn. For example, ฉันทำงานในเมือง. (chǎn tham ngaan nai muueg, “I work in the city.”) However, there are several other ways which are suitable for specific situation, such as gender-specific forms, situations when you’re with friends, and formal situations.
Some of the words you can use when you’re with friends are เรา rao, เค้า kháo, and กู guu. The most informal of these is กู guu. This is usually used with close friends. For example, กูมีสอบวันนี้ guu mee sòp wan née (“I have exams today”) or เรามีสอบวันนี้ (rao mee sòp wan née) or เค้ามีสอบวันนี้ (káo mee sòp wan née). เรา rao and เค้า káo are usually used when you’re not that close to that friend yet or when you want to sound more polite when talking with friends.
Moving on to formal words for “I.” There are ผม phŏm กระผม grà-pŏm ดิฉัน dì-chăn ข้าพเจ้า kâa-pá-jâo First, I’ll talk about the gender-specific forms of “I.” It’s very easy to understand. If you’re a male, you address yourself as ผม pŏm or กระผม grà-pŏm. If you’re a female, you address yourself as ดิฉัน dì-chăn. These are often used in very formal situations, such as giving a formal speech or talking to your boss. For example, in a job interview, you want to say “I have a bachelor’s degree.” As a woman, you can say ดิฉันจบปริญญาตรีค่ะ (dì-chăn job bpa-rin-yaa-three khâ). If you’re a man, you can use ผมจบปริญญาตรีครับ (pŏm job bpa-rin-yaa-three khráp).
As for ข้าพเจ้า kâa-pá-jâo, it’s used most of the time in official announcements from the government or the royal family. The degree of formality has to be really high. For example, ข้าพเจ้าขอมอบหมายให้ทำสิ่งนี้ kâa pá jâo khaaw maawp mǎai hâi tham sìng niî. (“I assign you to do this.”) The prime minister would likely say this sentence to his staff or to the public.


If you’re unsure of which one you should use, stick with ฉัน chăn, as it’s the safest one that can be used both formally and informally.
Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
Bye! สวัสดี ค่ะ (sà-wàt-dii khâ)