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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Thai.
My name is Alisha, and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Jay.
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Thai grammar.
Fundamental Thai Grammar
On a fundamental level, Thai grammar is extremely simple, especially in comparison with more “complicated” European languages like French or German.
For example, verbs do not inflect in Thai.
It means that when you form a sentence, you don't need to worry about tenses such as past, present, and future tense. Instead, tense is expressed by adding a separate time word.
There are also no plural forms of nouns and no conjugation of verbs.
Also, no articles and no noun genders in Thai language either, and much fewer prepositions are used.
Any words that aren't essential to the core meaning of a sentence are usually optional and can be omitted.
Wow, doesn't it sound very easy to learn?
Yes, it’s also very easy just to learn a couple of words and immediately start building some of your own phrases and sentences.
But being a simple language does not mean it is less "challenging" than other languages.
How to Form Basic Sentences
Do you know that the basic Thai sentence is incredibly simple? It is structured by an "SVO (subject–verb–object)" order, just like in English.
For example, ฉัน-รัก-คุณ (chăn rák khun). This has the same word order, as in "I-Love-You."
Thai verbs don't change their form for tense; instead, tenses are indicated mostly by context or with the use of words like...
จะ (jà) "will" or "going to"
แล้ว (láaeo) "already."
So, if you want to talk about the future, you just add the word "ja" in the sentence
ฉัน-จะ-ไป-โรงเรียน (chăn jà bpai roong-riian) "I-will-go-to-school"
คุณแม่-จะ-ทำอาหาร (khun-mâae jà tham aa-hăan) "Mom-is-going-to-cook"
It is the same in other tenses, like present continuous tense. You just have to add a word to change the tense.
For present continuous tense, we just add the word กำลัง (gam-lang) before the verb.
ฉันกำลังอ่านหนังสือ (chăn gam-lang àan năng-sǔue) "I am reading a book."
เจนกำลังทำความสะอาดบ้าน (jeen gam-lang tham khwaam sà-àat bâan) "Jane is cleaning her house."
And to indicate a sentence in past tense, just add a time indication such as yesterday, last week, one month ago, etc., in the sentence.
เมื่อวานฉันอยู่บ้าน (mûuea-waan chăn yùu bâan) "Yesterday, I was at home."
เดือนที่แล้วฉันไปพัทยา (duuean thîi láaeo chăn bpai phát-thá-yaa) "Last month, I went to Pattaya."
Yesterday : เมื่อวาน (mûuea-waan)
Last month: เดือนที่แล้ว (duuean thîi láaeo)
Lastly, the present perfect tense: just add the word láew or "already."
ฉันทำการบ้านแล้ว (chăn tham gaan-bâan láaeo) "I've already done my homework."
ฉันกินข้าวแล้ว (chăn gin khâao láaeo) "I've already eaten."
So, now you know how to form a basic sentence in Thai in different tenses. Just remember that the basic structure will always stay the same. However, tense can be expressed by adding certain words.
How to Form Negative Sentences in Thai
Questions and negations are represented by adding meaningful particles to a sentence without destroying its basic structure.
In Thai, a negative sentence is made by using negative words, such as...
ไม่ (mâi) ไม่ใช่ (mâi châi) ไม่ได้ (mâi dâai)
The most common negative word is ไม่ (mâi), and it's used by simply placing the word ไม่ (mâi) in front of the verb:
For example, "I'll go" in Thai is ฉันไป (chăn bpai). The negative sentence is ฉันไม่ไป (chăn mâi bpai) or "I won't go."
Do you have other examples?
Yes, I do! how about this sentence? "My friend has a book." That's เพื่อนมีหนังสือ (phûuean mii năng-sǔue). As a negative sentence, it's เพื่อนไม่มีหนังสือ (phûuean mâi mii năng-sǔue). "My friend doesn't have a book."
Another example will be ฉันจะมาที่นี่อีก (chăn jà maa thîi nîi ìik), "I will come here again." And the negative sentence of this will be ฉันจะไม่มาที่นี่อีก (chăn jà mâi maa thîi nîi ìik) "I won't come here again."
How to Form Questions in Thai
There are two ways of forming a question.
First, questions can be made by adding the word mai (with a rising tone) at the end of a sentence.
For example, คุณหิวข้าวไหม (khun hĭu khâao mái)
คุณรักฉันไหม (khun rák chăn mái)
คุณเคยมาที่นี่ไหม (khun khooei maa thîi nîi mái)
Or add one of the question words at the end of a sentence.
Common Thai question words are
ใคร อะไร ที่ไหน เมื่อไร ทำไม อย่างไร (khrai, a-rai, thîi-năi, mûuea-rai, tam-mai, yàang rai) ("Who," "What," "Where," "When," "Why," "How")
For example, "What is this?"
อันนี้คืออะไร (an níi khuue a-rai)
"Who are you?"
คุณคือใคร (khun khuue khrai)
"Where is it?"
ที่นี่คือที่ไหน (thîi nîi khuue thîi-năi)
Note that the question mark isn't used in Thai.
When answering a question, Thais don't typically use "yes" and "no" as in English. Instead, they repeat the main verb, either by itself or with ไม่ (mâi) ("no; not") before it .
For example, to answer the question, "Are you hungry" คุณหิวข้าวไหม(khun hĭu khâao mái), we will say หิว (hĭu), "hungry" or ไม่หิว (mâi hĭu), "not hungry," instead of saying "yes" or "no."
How about if I want to ask, "do you want to catch a movie with me?"
The question will be คุณอยากไปดูหนังกับฉันไหม (khun yàak bpai doo năng gàp chăn mái)
If you do, you will say, อยาก (yàak) or "want."
But, if you dont, then ไม่อยาก (mâi yàak), or "don't want."
Well done! Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that Thai sentences are formed using a subject, verb, object, or "SVO" word order, just like in English.
Secondly, you learned how to form negative sentence by adding one word before the verb.
Lastly, you learned that asking questions in Thai is easy, because you only have to add the question word at the end of the sentence.
We've covered only the very basics of Thai grammar. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "Thai in 3 minutes" video series. In that course, we teach you useful phrases while covering the fundamentals of Thai grammar, and each lesson is only 3 minutes long!
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Thai writing.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!