Note to beginners: Transliteration along with Thai script is in the explanation of the pdf download at the end of the post (tables are Thai only).
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- How to Be Happy
- Don't be Sad
- What to Read Next
How to Be Happy
Before learning the emotion/feeling words, let’s learn about the grammar as it is very important for you to construct a sentence correctly in order to indicate your emotion/feeling in Thai language.
First of all, I would like us to understand the definitions of ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’.
[definition] a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
1. an emotional state or reaction.
2. senses detecting what you feel through your 11 inputs; Hearing, Taste, Sight, Smell, Heat, Cool, Pain, Pleasure, Sense of balance (vestibular), Pressure, Motion (kinaesthetic).
As you can see, emotion and feeling, although different, have a very similar definition and are often interchangeable. In my series, I am writing about feelings as ‘an emotional state or reaction’ and I would like to explain in detail how to construct a sentence to indicate our feelings.
When indicating emotion or feeling in Thai the word ‘รู้สึก, to feel (mentally and physically)’, is used as a verb, yet the word ‘รู้สึก to feel’, is commonly omitted from a sentence if the explanation word that comes after is an emotion/feeling word.
In Thai, we view emotions as they happen in our heart, so the word ‘ใจ [Noun] heart [Noun] mind ; disposition ; spirit’ is used to make up many compound words to denote different types of emotions/feelings. For example, ดีใจ [feeling verb] feel delight / be delighted / be happy, is a compound word combined from the word ‘ดี means [quality modifier] be good, be nice’ and the word ‘ใจ’.
Some modifier (adjective/adverb) words can also be used after the word ‘รู้สึก, to feel’ to describe someone’s emotion or feeling. For example, กระชุ่มกระชวย is [modifier] be hale and hearty, be full of vitality, be energetic, and รู้สึกกระชุ่มกระชวย is feel energised.
Subject + (รู้สึก, to feel) + feeling word/explanation.
I feel delight/happy.
I am delighted/happy.
I feel good.
‘ดี means [quality modifier] be good, be nice’ which is not a feeling word therefore when you are not using the word ‘รู้สึก, to feel’ before the word ‘ดี’, without context the sentence ‘ผมดี would be interpreted as ‘I am nice.’
When you want to connect the emotion/feeling with the causes, you should use the link word ‘ที่, [relative pronoun] … that …’
Subject 1 + (รู้สึก, to feel) + Feeling word/Explanation + ที่ + (Subject 1) or Subject 2 + Explanation.
I feel delight/happy that I receive the reward. / I feel delight/happy to have received the reward.
I feel delight/happy that mum comes to see me.
When someone makes or causes someone to feel something, we use the word ‘ทำให้’.
Subject 1 + ทำให้ + Subject 2 + (รู้สึก to feel) + Feeling word/Explanation.
Mum makes me feel happy.
The prefix ‘ความ’ is an element placed at the beginning of a verb or adjective to adjust or qualify the verb’s or adjective’s function and meaning to an abstract noun.
Examples: ดี [quality modifier] be good/nice, ความดี [noun] goodness, รัก [feeling verb] to love, ความรัก [noun] love, จริง [quality modifier] true, real, ความจริง [noun] truth, สบาย [feeling verb/modifier] be comfortable, be relax, be cozy, ความสบาย [noun] comfortableness.
I truly love him.
I would like to know the truth.
He is comfortably sitting (the place, space and time is comfortable for him).
He likes comfortableness.
The prefix ‘อย่าง+’ is an element placed in front of a modifier (adverb or adjective) or a noun to adjust or qualify the modifier’s function to an adverb and the meaning to ‘having a particular quality’, ‘… in that type of quality’, ‘… in the way of …’. It is similar to the use of the suffix -ly in English e.g. brotherly, quickly.
Examples: ดี [quality modifier] be good/nice, อย่างดี [adverb] nicely, สบาย [feeling verb/modifier] be comfortable, be relax, be cozy, ความสบาย [adverb] comfortably, เร็ว [speed modifier] be quick, อย่างเร็ว = [adverb] quickly.
I do the work nicely.
He is comfortably sitting down (he bends down and sits in a comfortable way).
He is quickly sitting down (he bends down and sits quickly).
- Words in brackets can be omitted.
- The level of intensity of the English feeling words is copied from a research article. I tried my best to explain the intensity of Thai feeling words within the descriptions however I still feel every feeling is unique and words cannot describe our feelings exactly as well as the intensity can be subjective.
PDF and Audio Downloads
As this resource is enormous (20+ pages filled with examples and tables, plus audio files to boot) we’ve created downloads for you. Enjoy!
Note: These files are for personal use only (please do not place on other websites).
Don’t be Sad
It may have made you feel a bit downhearted when seeing so many different feeling words to learn in order to express yourself naturally in Thai. When you think you can express yourself quite well sometimes you may be misunderstood by native speakers and/or do not understand why they react in such a way when you feel differently.
To elaborate, to feel like a Thai I mean to understand how Thais would think and feel towards different situations. In my opinion, you probably would never be able to feel like native Thais unless you have been living, working and socialising with Thais for decades and/or have Thai family since in order to understand how natives think and feel, you should understand Thai culture, customs, beliefs, personality, attitudes and the ways Thais express themselves.
To understand these aspects can take a lifetime. Moreover, words cannot always be translated directly into another languages. To understand a word you need to understand the elaborated meanings of that word.
For example, if you were looking in a phrase book or in a dictionary for a Thai translation of the word ‘sorry’, most of the time you probably translate the meaning as ขอโทษ /kŏr-tôd/ however, did you know that this is only used when you would like to make an apology to someone and not when you feel sorry when you hear sad news, in which case we would use the word เสียใจ /sĕar-jai/.
For that reason, you should also learn to look up the definition; a statement of the exact meaning of a word, not just a direct translation. Personally, I believe a good language book or good dictionary should include comprehensive definitions, usage explanations and example sentences to help you correctly understand the meaning of new words.
There are many factors, as stated above, that may effect how and when to use different feeling words. Therefore, in this series, I write a list of different types of feelings to help you to use correct words to indicate your feeling in Thai language as well as explanations on how and when to use them. There are six posts in total; ‘Be happy’, ‘Don’t be sad’, ‘Oh no! A Thai is angry!’, ‘So scary!’, ‘I’m confused. What have I done wrong?’ and lastly, ‘Wheel of Feelings’.
For those who haven’t read my first post, I suggest you to have a read before learning the vocabulary in this post. There are principles and grammar points that you need to understand to help you correctly construct a sentence to express your feelings. After reading that, you are ready to continue with this one. Good luck and don’t feel discouraged!
In language, there is not always a direct feeling verb that can be used to indicate one’s feeling. We sometimes use other types of words, e.g. modifier (adjective or adverbs) or nouns, to try to describe our feelings as best as we can and there are certain grammar rules you should know.
The following are different ways to construct a sentence to indicate one’s feeling.
Direct verb / Direct form of verb (Active Voice)…
เขาเสียใจ /kăo sĕar-jai/ = He/She is sad.
เสียใจ /sĕar-jai/ is a direct feeling verb which can be used after a subject to clarify the subject’s feeling.
เขาเศร้าใจ /kăo săo-jai/ = He/She is sorrowful.
เขาเหนื่อยใจ /kăo nùeay-jai/ = He/She is drained.
เขาอับอาย /kăo ub-aai = He/She is disgraced.
1) Negative modifier ไม่ /mâi/ is used before the word it modifies except a noun e.g. เขาไม่เสียใจ /kăo mâi sĕar-jai/ = He/She is not sad.
2) Negative in grammar & logic (of a word, clause, or proposition) is to express denial, negation, or refutation; stating or asserting that something is not the case.
Expressing one’s feeling by using quality modifiers (adjective or adverb)…
เขารู้สึกแย่ /kăo rûu-sùek yâe/ = He/she feels bad/terrible.
Feeling verb รู้สึก /rûu-sùek/ = to feel.
แย่ /yâe/ is a quality modifier (adjective or adverb) meaning be bad, be terrible and is not a direct feeling verb. Therefore you need to use the word รู้สึก /rûu-sùek/, meaning to feel, which is a direct feeling verb used after a subject to clarify that the subject feels as in the stated quality modifier.
เขารู้สึกล้มเหลว /kăo rûu-sùek /ó’m-lăew/ = He/She feels defeated.
เขารู้สึกไร้ค่า /kăo rûu-sùek rái-kâa/ = He/She feels worthless.
เขารู้สึกต่ำต้อย /kăo rûu-sùek dtùm-dtôi/ = He/She feels humbled.
Note: Negative modifier ไม่ /mâi/ is used before the word it modifies except a noun e.g. เขาไม่รู้สึกแย่ /kăo mâi rûu-sùek yâe/ = He/she does not feel bad/terrible.
Expressing one’s feeling by using a state noun…
1) เขารู้สึกทุกข์ /kăo rûu-sùek tóok/ = He/She feels miserable.
2) เขาเป็นทุกข์ /kăo bpe’n tóok/ = He/She is in misery.
3) เขามีทุกข์ /kăo mee tóok/ = He/She has miserableness.
All three = He/She are unhappy, distressed or in misery.
1) Feeling verb รู้สึก /rûu-sùek/ = to feel
ทุกข์ /tóok/ is a state noun meaning adversity, misery, hardship, suffering and is not a direct feeling verb. Therefore you need to use the word รู้สึก /rûu-sùek/, meaning to feel, which is a direct feeling verb used after a subject to clarify that subject feels something as sentence 1 above.
2) Status / state of being verb เป็น /bpe’n/ = to be, is/am/are (used in front of a noun). We can also describe that a person be in the state of having adversity as sentence 2 above.
3) Existence verb มี /mee/ = to have/has/had, to own, to possess, there is/are/was/were, consist of, contain of (used in from of a noun), to undergo. Or we describe that a person has or undergo adversity in ones mind as sentence 3 above.
เขาเป็นแผลในใจ /kăo bpe’n plăe nai jai/ = He/She be in the state of having a wound in the heart (feels wounded).
เขามีแผลในใจ /kăo mee plăe nai jai/ = He/She has a wound in the heart (feels wounded).
เขาไม่มีความสุข /kăo mâi mee kwaam+sóok/ = He/She doesn’t have happiness. He/she is not content. He/she is unhappy with life.
Note: Negative modifier ไม่ /mâi/ is used before the word it modifies except a noun. Therefore we would not say ‘เขารู้สึกไม่ทุกข์ /kăo rûu-sùek mâi tóok/’.
Expressing one’s feeling by using an abstract noun…
(existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence)
1) เขา(รู้สึก)มีภาระหนักหน่วง /kăo (rûu-sùek) mee paa-rá nùk-nùang/ = He/She feels having a heavy burden. He/She feels undergoing a heavy burden.
2a) เขา(รู้สึก)มีความทุกข์ /kăo (rûu-sùek) mee kwaam+tóok/ = He/She feels having adversity. He/She feels undergoing adversity.
2b) รู้สึกมี /rûu-sùek mee/ = to feel having/undergoing or มี /mee/ = (see explanation above).
1) ภาระ /paa-rá/ is an abstract noun meaning burden and is not a direct feeling verb therefore you need to use the word (รู้สึก)มี /(rûu-sùek) mee/ after a subject to clarify that subject feels or have/undergo something.
2) ความทุกข์ /kwaam+tóok/ is an abstract noun meaning adversity, misery, hardship, suffering and is not a direct feeling verb therefore you need to use the word (รู้สึก)มี /(rûu-sùek) mee/ after a subject to clarify that subject feels or have/undergo something.
1) You do not need to say รู้สึก /rûu-sùek/ with abstract noun if the explanation obviously exhibits one’s feeling.
2) We cannot say เขารู้สึกภาระ /kăo rûu-sùek paa-rá/, as it would mean ‘He/She feels burden’ which is weird to say.
3) We also cannot say เขาเป็นภาระ /kăo bpe’n paa-rá/ as it would mean ‘He/She is a burden’ not ‘‘He/She feel/is burdened’.
4) Negative modifier ไม่ /mâi/ is used before the word it modifies except a noun. Therefore we can either say: ‘เขารู้สึกไม่มีภาระหนักหน่วง /kăo rûu-sùek mâi mee paa-rá/ = He/She feels not having a burden. He/She feels not undergoing a burden’ or ‘เขาไม่รู้สึกมีภาระหนักหน่วง /kăo mâi rûu-sùek mee paa-rá/ = He/She does not feel having a burden. He/She does not feel undergoing a burden.’
Although, the two sentences above have subtle different meanings they can exhibit the same feeling.
PDF and Audio Downloads
The 25 pages filled with examples and audio files are in downloads for you to enjoy.
Note: These files are for personal use only (please do not place on other websites).
Credits: ครูเจี๊ยบ: Kru Jiab