Dialogue - Thai

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Vocabulary

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ทราย saai sand
อะไร à-rai what (an interrogative)
วันหยุด wan-yùt holiday
ไปเที่ยว bpai thîiao to go out, to go on an excursion, to travel
ยาว yaao long
ที่ไหน thîi-nǎi where
เกาะ gàw island
มั้ย mái informal yes/no question particle
ทะเล thá-lee sea
ใส sǎi clear

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus of this Lesson is on Using Simple "wh" Question Words
ทำไมอยากไปเกาะลันตาล่ะ
tham-mai yàak bpai gàw lan-dtaa lâ.
"
Why do you want to go to Koh Lanta? What's good about it?"


The focus of this lesson is asking simple questions. In English, five key question words all begin with "wh": "who," "what," "where," "when," and "why." In Thai, the equivalent question words all share the same ending vowel sound: ai. They are as follows:

ใคร (khrai) - "who"

อะไร (à-rai) - "what"

ที่ไหน (thîi-nǎi) - "where"

เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài) - "when"

ทำไม tham-mai -"why"

 

Location of Question Words in a Thai Sentence



Question words in English usually come at the beginning of a sentence, but in Thai you'll see them more often at the end of the sentence or after the verb. This is especially true with อะไร (à-rai), "what;" ที่ไหน (thîi-nǎi), "where;" and เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài), "when." Below are examples with these words:
  1. คุณอยากทานอะไร
    khun yàak thaan à-rai.

    "What do you want to eat?"
  2. บ้านของคุณอยู่ที่ไหน
    bâan khǎawng khun yùu thîi-nǎi.

    "Where is your house?"
  3. คุณจะมาเมื่อไหร่
    khun jà maa mûuea-rài.

    "When will you come?"

 

ใคร (khrai) - "who"

The position of ใคร (khrai) in a sentence will depend on whether the question is asking "who" in regards to the subject or object of the verb. If asking about the subject, then place ใคร (khrai) at the beginning of the sentence. Here's a sample sentence:

  1. ใครกินขนม
    khrai gin khà-nǒm.

    "Who ate the snacks?"

However, if we want to use "who" as the object of the verb, then place it after the verb. Notice that in the English translation, it's still more natural to place "who" at the beginning of the sentence:

  1. คุณจะไปกับใคร
    khun jà bpai gàp khrai.

    "Who are you going to go with?"

 

อะไร (à-rai) - "what"

อะไร (à-rai) is a very versatile word in Thai.  In addition to its use in a "what" question, อะไร (à-rai) can mean "something" or "anything." When acting as a question, อะไร (à-rai) will typically come after the verb in the sentence. Here's a sample sentence:

  1. เขามีอะไร
    khǎo mii à-rai.

    "What does he have?"

When it's used to mean "something," it will also come after the verb. The correct meaning can be determined from the context of the sentence. Here's a sample sentence:

  1. เขาไปหาอะไรกิน
    khǎo bpai hǎa à-rai gin.

    "He went to find something to eat."

 

ที่ไหน (thîi-nǎi) - "where"

The word for the question "where" is usually placed after the verb in the sentence. In a casual conversation, ที่ไหน (thîi-nǎi) can be abbreviated to simply ไหน (nǎi). Here's a sample sentence:

  1. ร้านอยู่ไหน
    ráan yùu nǎi.

    "Where's the shop?"

 

เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài) - "when"

With asking a "when" question, using เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài), you can place this word either at the beginning or the end of a sentence. Placing the question word at the beginning of the sentence adds emphasis to it. Often this will be the structure if someone wants to ask a rhetorical question. Here's a sample sentence:

  1. เมื่อไหร่เขาจะขอแต่งงาน
    mûuea-rài khǎo jà khǎaw dtàaeng-ngaan.

    "When is he going to ask me to marry him?"

 

ทำไม (tham-mai) - "why"

ทำไม (tham-mai) can be used equally at the start or end of a sentence, although its placement gives the question different emphasis. When placed before the verb, it signifies a direct question, but when placed at the end of a sentence, ทำไม (tham-mai) carries a more disappointed or accusing tone. Below are two sentences asking the same question, but with different emphasis because of the location of "why."

For example:

  1. ทำไมอยากไปเกาะลันตา
    tham-mai yàak bpai gàw lan-dtaa.

    "Why do you want to go to Koh Lanta?" (I'm curious to know your reasons.)
  2. อยากไปเกาะลันตาทำไม
    yàak bpai gàw lan-dtaa tham-mai.

    "Why do you want to go to Koh Lanta?" (I disagree with your decision.).

 

In addition, when located at the beginning of a sentence, เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài) can carry a disappointed or accusing tone. This is opposite to the way ทำไม works.

For example:

  1. คุณจะมาเมื่อไหร่
    khun jà maa mûuea-rài
    "When are you coming?" (The speaker is simply asking about time.)
  2. เมื่อไหร่คุณจะมา
    mûuea-rài khun jà maa
    "When are you coming?" (The speaker has been waiting for a long time and is getting irritated.)

Cultural Insights

Koh Lanta Island

Koh Lanta is not as well-known as other Thai islands such as Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi but nevertheless, it has some of the nicest beaches in the country. Koh Lanta is located in southern Thailand in Krabi Province. It's separated from the mainland by a narrow strait, making it possible to reach the island from Krabi Airport by taking a minivan and then a car ferry. Koh Lanta draws a large number of tourists from northern Europe, particularly from Sweden.

Koh Lanta is about thirty kilometers (18.6 miles) long and six kilometers (3.7 miles) wide, with many beaches lining the long western coast. Since all of the beaches face west, Koh Lanta is one of the best places in Thailand to watch the sunset over the water. Each beach has its own character. Some are more family oriented, some are popular with young backpackers, and some are geared towards luxury tourists.

The majority of local residents on Koh Lanta are Muslim, rather than Buddhist as in most of Thailand. You'll notice that local women dress conservatively, with many wearing a head covering. Despite their different beliefs, the local Muslim and Buddhist populations live together peacefully.

 

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Ohm: สวัสดีครับ
Ja: Hello, and welcome to ThaiPod101.com. This is Lower Beginner, Season 1, Lesson 1: “Where Should We Go on Our Thai Holiday?” I'm Ja.
Ohm: And I'm Ohm. What are we going to learn in this lesson?
Ja: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask basic questions.
Ohm: This conversation takes place at a coffee shop.
Ja: It’s between two friends, Nok and Dao.
Ohm: The speakers are friends, so they'll be using casual Thai.
Ja: Alright, Let’s listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

นก: วันหยุดยาวนี้เราจะไปเที่ยวที่ไหนกันดี
ดาว: เกาะลันตาดีมั้ย
นก: ทำไมอยากไปเกาะลันตาล่ะ ที่นั่นมีอะไรดีเหรอ
ดาว: มีทะเลสวย น้ำใส หาดทรายขาว
Ja: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
นก: วันหยุดยาวนี้เราจะไปเที่ยวที่ไหนกันดี
ดาว: เกาะลันตาดีมั้ย
นก: ทำไมอยากไปเกาะลันตาล่ะ ที่นั่นมีอะไรดีเหรอ
ดาว: มีทะเลสวย น้ำใส หาดทรายขาว
Ja: Now let’s hear it with the English translation.
นก: วันหยุดยาวนี้เราจะไปเที่ยวที่ไหนกันดี
Where should we travel on this long holiday?
ดาว: เกาะลันตาดีมั้ย
How about Koh Lanta?
นก: ทำไมอยากไปเกาะลันตาล่ะ ที่นั่นมีอะไรดีเหรอ
Why do you want to go to Koh Lanta? What's good about that place?
ดาว: มีทะเลสวย น้ำใส หาดทรายขาว
It has a beautiful sea, clear water, and white sand.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Ja: Ohm, why do you think they chose Koh Lanta over one of the more famous islands, like Phuket or Koh Samui?
Ohm: Maybe they wanted to get away from the crowds. Koh Lanta is just as beautiful as those other islands, but it's not as crowded with hotels and resorts.
Ja: So the beaches are still good places to relax?
Ohm: Yes, and they’re also good for watching the sunset because they're all on the west coast.
Ja: That sounds nice. I think our listeners should keep Koh Lanta in mind when they’re planning their next beach holiday.
Ohm: Definitely!
Ja: Okay, now let’s move onto the vocabulary.
VOCAB LIST
Ja: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first word we shall see is:
Ohm: วันหยุด [natural native speed]
holiday
Ohm: วันหยุด [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: วันหยุด [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: ยาว [natural native speed]
long
Ohm: ยาว [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: ยาว [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: ไปเที่ยว [natural native speed]
to go out, to go on an excursion, to travel
Ohm: ไปเที่ยว [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: ไปเที่ยว [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: ที่ไหน [natural native speed]
where
Ohm: ที่ไหน [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: ที่ไหน [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: เกาะ [natural native speed]
island
Ohm: เกาะ [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: เกาะ [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: มั้ย [natural native speed]
informal yes/no question particle
Ohm: มั้ย [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: มั้ย [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: อะไร [natural native speed]
what (an interrogative)
Ohm: อะไร [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: อะไร [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: ทะเล [natural native speed]
sea
Ohm: ทะเล [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: ทะเล [natural native speed]
Next:
Ohm: ใส [natural native speed]
clear
Ohm: ใส [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: ใส [natural native speed]
And Last:
Ohm: ทราย [natural native speed]
sand
Ohm: ทราย [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ohm: ทราย [natural native speed]
KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES
Ja: Now let's take a closer look at the usage of some of the words and phrases used in this lesson. The first one is...
Ohm: ...วันหยุด
Ja: This literally means "stop day."
Ohm: Right. It refers to a day you have off from work or school.
Ja: So you can use it in reference to holidays or weekend days when your school or work is closed. And in the case of a long holiday period, as happens during the New Year or Songkran festival, you can use the phrase วันหยุดยาว (wan-yùt yaao), meaning "long holiday." Okay, what's the next phrase?
Ohm: ไปเที่ยว
Ja: It can mean either "to go traveling" or "to go out for fun."
Ohm: Right. So, you can use it in reference to going on a vacation, just like we heard in the dialogue.
Ja: And what was that sentence?
Ohm: วันหยุดยาวนี้เราจะไปเที่ยวที่ไหนกันดี
Ja: "Where should we go traveling on this long holiday?" And the other way to use ไปเที่ยว (bpai thîiao) is when you’re going out to the movies, going dancing with friends, going on a scenic drive, or some activity like that. So heading out for fun, basically?
Ohm: That's right.
Ja: Okay and what's the last vocabulary word?
Ohm: มั้ย This is the more common pronunciation of the question particle ไหม (mǎi) in regular conversation.
Ja: When spoken quickly, the rising tone changes to a high tone. Its use is very simple. When you put it at the end of any sentence or phrase, it turns that sentence into a yes or no question. Can you give us an example please?
Ohm: เกาะลันตาดีมั้ย
Ja: Meaning, "How about Koh Lanta?" or for a more word-for-word translation, "Is Koh Lanta good?" Okay, now onto the grammar.

Lesson focus

Ohm: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask simple questions in Thai.
Ja: In English, the main question words all begin with "wh" – who, what , where, when, and why.
Ohm: In Thai, these question words all share the same vowel sound, ai.
Ja: And these five words in Thai are...
Ohm: ใคร (khrai)
Ja: Meaning "Who."
Ohm: อะไร (à-rai)
Ja: "What."
Ohm: ที่ไหน (thîi-nǎi)
Ja: "Where."
Ohm: เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài)
Ja: "When."
Ohm: ทำไม (tham-mai)
Ja: "Why." In English, question words usually come at the beginning of a sentence.
Ohm: But it’s not the same in Thai.
Ja: In Thai, you'll see them more often at the end of the sentence or after the verb. But it depends on the particular question word and what type of question you're asking. Okay, let's run through each of the five words to see their use.
Ohm: Let's start with "who." The position of ใคร (khrai), or “who,” in a sentence will depend on whether the focus of the question is the subject or the object of the verb.
Ja: So if it's asking about the subject, then the question word comes at the beginning of the sentence. For example..
Ohm: ใครกินขนม
Ja: "Who ate the snacks?" However, if we want to ask about the object of the verb, then it appears after that verb. For example...
Ohm: คุณจะไปกับใคร
Ja: Meaning "Who are you going to go with?" Notice that the word order of this sentence is actually, "You will go with who?"
Ohm: คุณจะไปกับใคร
Ja: Okay, our next question word is "what."
Ohm: อะไร (à-rai) typically comes after a verb in the sentence. For example, เขามีอะไร
Ja: "What does he have?" But, sometimes อะไร doesn't mean "what." Instead, it means "something." You can tell from the sentence and context if this is the meaning. For example...
Ohm: เขาไปหาอะไรกิน
Ja: "He went to find something to eat." Okay, the next word is "where."
Ohm: ที่ไหน is usually placed after the verb in the sentence. And in a casual conversation, ที่ไหน (thîi-nǎi) can be abbreviated to just ไหน (nǎi). For example, ร้านอยู่ไหน
Ja: Meaning, "Where's the shop?" How about the question "when?"
Ohm: With “When” or, เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài), you can use it at either the beginning or end of the sentence.
Ja: Placing it at the beginning of the sentence adds emphasis to it. Often this will be the structure if someone wants to ask a rhetorical question.
Ohm: Yes, that's right. For example, เมื่อไหร่เขาจะขอแต่งงาน
Ja: "When is he going to ask me to marry him?" Also, when located at the beginning of a sentence, เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài) can carry a disappointed or accusing tone. For example...
Ohm: เมื่อไหร่คุณจะมา
Ja: “When are you coming?” This implies that I have been waiting, and maybe getting angry. Whereas, if we put เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài) at the end, the sentence will just show curiosity.
Ohm: คุณจะมาเมื่อไหร่
Ja: “When are you coming?” And that brings us to the last question word, "why."
Ohm: ทำไม (tham-mai). Just like เมื่อไหร่ (mûuea-rài), ทำไม (tham-mai) can be used both at the start or at the end of a sentence.
Ja: And the meaning changes in the opposite way. When you place ทำไม (tham-mai) before the verb, it results in a straight question. For example..
Ohm: ทำไมอยากไปเกาะลันตา
Ja: "Why do you want to go to Koh Lanta?" This structure suggests that "I'm curious to know your reasons." But, for example,
Ohm: อยากไปเกาะลันตาทำไม
Ja: Means "Why do you want to go to Koh Lanta?" And it implies that I disagree with your decision.
Ohm: Well, it looks like that's all the time we have for this lesson.
Ja: Be sure to check out the lesson notes for more examples and explanations. And if you have any questions or comments, please leave us a post at ThaiPod101.com.
Ohm: We’re here to help!
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Outro

Ja: Thanks for listening, and we'll see you in the next lesson. Bye!
Ohm: แล้วเจอกันนะครับ สวัสดีครับ