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Lesson Transcript

Intro

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 Thai have a past tense?
Explanation
Probably the main challenge of Thai language is that Thai’s past tense is quite ambiguous. In fact, there’s no difference between past and present tense in Thai. In this lesson, we’ll learn how to address the past in Thai sentences.
To address the past and to distinguish it from the present tense, we use adverbs of time, either at the beginning or end of the sentence. Adverbs of time include เมื่อวาน mûuea waan (“yesterday”), เมื่อวันจันทร์ mûuea wan jan (“last Monday”), ปีที่แล้ว bpii thîi láaeo (“last year”), เดือนที่แล้ว duuean thîi láaeo (“last month”), and วันก่อน wan gàawn (“the day before yesterday”).
Let’s see some examples that show how we can put these either at the beginning or the end of the sentence. For example, ฉันไปอเมริกาปีที่แล้ว chǎn bpai à-mee-rí-gaa bpii thîi láaeo. (“I went to America last year.”) In present tense, it’s simply ฉันไปอเมริกา chǎn bpai à-mee-rí-gaa. (“I go to America.”)
We can also put adverbs of time at the beginning of the sentence. For example เมื่อวาน ไปตลาดมา mûuea waan bpai dtà-làat maa. (“(I) went to the market yesterday.”) The sentence ไปตลาด bpai dtà-làat, “(I) go to the market,” is in present form only because there are no adverbs of time.
So, if you want to tell someone you did something in the past, you can make sentences like you would with present tense, but add an adverb of time. This way, they’ll know you’re talking about a past action.

Outro

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

17 Comments

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ThaiPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 06:30 PM
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What Thai learning question do you have?

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 04:43 AM
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Hi Kevin


Thank you. วันก่อน day before; a few days ago(not specific) เมื่อวานซืน is specific to "the day before yesterday". 👍 Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help.


Have a good day.

ปริษา Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Kevin Scrase
Tuesday at 05:28 PM
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Hello, could you please illustrate the differences between: วันก่อน and เมื่อวานซืน.

Which one would normally be preferable?

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 05:22 PM
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Hello K Myrvang,


Thank you. In case of time they are exchangeable but ที่แล้ว is just more common. 👍 Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help.


Have a good day.

ปริษา Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

K Myrvang
Saturday at 11:33 AM
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โอเค แต่ก่อนและ​ที่แล้ว​ไม่ตลอดแลกเปลี่ยนกันได้ใช่ไหม

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 02:52 AM
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Hi K Myrvang,


Thank you. Sure, you could used ก่อน to refer to time in the past that why it place as a prefix for วันก่อน / เมื่อก่อน and etc. "I was there 3 hours ago," ผมอยู่ที่นั่น สาม ชั่วโมงก่อน but more commonly we say ที่แล้ว instead 3 ชั่วโมงที่แล้ว Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help.


Have a good day.

ปริษา Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

K Myrvang
Friday at 07:48 AM
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Can we extend the วันก่อน logic to refer to something that happened hours ago? For example, to say "I was there 3 hours ago," can we say "ผมอยูที่นั้นสองโมงก่อน"?

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 08:00 PM
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Hello Xin Rui,


Thank you. No different just เมื่อวาน shorter, easier to speak. Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help.


Have a good day.

ปริษา Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Xin Rui
Sunday at 06:41 PM
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สวัสดีค่ะ


May I ask if there's a difference between using เมื่อวาน and เมื่อวานนี้?


Thank you in advance! 😄

ThaiPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 07:39 PM
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Hello Blythe,


Thnak you for comment. Mostly "adverb of time" will be place at the begining of a sentence, especially questions. Hope that's help. Please let me know if you have any future questions. I will be glad to help.


Have a great day.

Parisa

Team ThaiPod101.com

Blythe
Monday at 02:54 PM
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Hello, are you able to choose if you want to put an 'adverb of time' at the start or end of a sentence? Or do specific 'adverbs of time' have to be added at the start or end?

Thank you 😄