Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List

Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

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Compiling a top 100 Thai vocabulary list…

Hey all, I need your help putting together a top 100 Thai vocabulary list. The aim is to create a word list for newbies to communicate in Thai at a basic level. Only the barest Thai words are needed, but which ones?

I compiled a sample list of Thai words (below) but I took a kitchen sink approach. So what I need are opinions (yours) on words that are missing or unnecessary. Bottom line: What 100 words do/did you absolutely need to get by in Thai?

EDIT: If you gravitate towards phrases instead of individual words, please share your top sentences as well.

To explain my search for 100 Thai words…

My last post, The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, hooked me on the Loci Method for learning more Thai vocabulary.

Following his instructions (sort of) I experienced the beauty of Loci. Excited about the possibilities, I dropped everything to discover ways to actually show how Loci works for learning Thai. Theory is all fine and good, but…

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So I downloaded everything I could find on amazon (co and uk) to my Kindle regarding Loci and read the language related bits.

After getting as much as I could into my head, and as I have an anal nature, I decided that a top 100 Thai vocabulary list was needed.

Well, there isn’t an actual top 100 vocabulary list for the Thai language.

Ok, there is a Thai 100 word list on Glenn’s forum, Most Frequently used words in Thai. But… I wasn’t 100% happy with it so after copying it off I kept hunting.

Tony Buzan has several versions of an English top 100 vocabulary list in a book called Use Your Memory. An early version of the book was published by BBC Books (1995) with the list shared around the Internet (take a peek if you like).

Oxford Online also created a top 100 English vocabulary list: Most common words in English.

The Reading Teachers Book of Lists claims that the first 25 words make up about one-third of all printed material in English, and that the first 100 make up about one-half of all written material.

Note that the items listed may represent more than one actual word; they are lemmas. For instance the entry “be” contains within it the occurrences of “are”, “is”, “were” and “was”.

Note also that these top 100 lemmas listed below account for 50% of all the words in the Oxford English Corpus.

Ok, that’s all well and good but I’m going for spoken, not written (and in Thai to boot). But it does outline the importance of learning a select few words in your target language. So again, for good measure (and the lack of a spoken list) I copied off this one as well.

So I ended up with three lists of 100 top words each. The top Thai, Buzan’s list, and one from Oxford Online. I threw them together, added Thai to the English, and then added Thai words I felt were missing. I also peppered polite particles and classifiers around (I couldn’t resist). Figuring that they could be acquired as needed, I ignored category lists such as food, animals, colours, numbers, days of the week, months, such as that. Hmmmm…

But after compiling the list I realised that there wasn’t a focus on the bare minimum words to get by in Thai. What I have instead is a list of Thai words one should know but that’s not the same. And that’s why I need you.

Below is the list so far. In your opinion, what Thai words are missing? What are not needed at this stage? Please leave your advice in the comments or send it via my contact form. Up to you 😉

Round 1: The top 100 Thai words one must know…

about, regarding, concerning a problem, trouble, matter, affair, thing: เรื่อง /rêuang/
– classifier: movie, story or tale
again, once more, more: อีก /èek/
already: แล้ว /láew/
– general marker indicating a specified action has happened or a state has been attained
also, likewise, then, so, therefore, well, umm, err, in addition, as a result: ก็ /gôr/
– often used when trying to think what to say
as well, also, too: ด้วย /dûay/
as, like, way, sort, variety: อย่าง /yàang/
– converts an adjective to an adverb, equivalent to English -ly suffix or saying “in a … way”
– classifier: types, kinds or sorts of objects
ask for, request for, ask: ขอ /kŏr/
back side: ข้างหลัง /kâang lăng/
bad (not good): ไม่ดี /mâi-dee/
be (+ noun), to be something: เป็น /bpen/
be at, live at, stay: อยู่ /yòo/
beautiful, attractive, pretty: สวย /sŭay/
because, because of, beautiful (voice): เพราะ /prór/
before, first, former: ก่อน /gòn/
big: ใหญ่ /yài/
but, only: แต่ /dtàe/
can, be able to, get, have done, have chance to: ได้ /dâai/
can’t, cannot (when used after verb): ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâai/
case, item: ราย /raai/
cause, make, to do for: ทำให้ /tam-hâi/
come, arrive: มา /maa/
– shows direction to the speaker
day: วัน /wan/
delicious: อร่อย /a-ròi/
didn’t, did not (when used before verb): ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâai/
do, make: ทำ /tam/
don’t have, there isn’t: ไม่มี /mâi-mee/
excuse me, apologize, sorry: ขอโทษ /kŏr-tôht/
far: ไกล /glai/
follow, come after: ตาม /dtaam/
for, in order to: เพื่อ /pêua/
for, to, on behalf of: สำหรับ /săm-ràp/
friend: เพื่อน /pêuan/
from, depart, leave, go away from: จาก /jàak/
front: ข้างหน้า /kâang-nâa/
get, receive: ได้รับ /dâai-ráp/
give, offer, let, have someone do something, to become, for: ให้ /hâi/
go, leave, depart: ไป /bpai/
– shows direction away from the speaker
good, nice: ดี /dee/
happy, well, fine: สบาย /sà-baai/
have, there is: มี /mee/
have to, must: ต้อง /dtông/
he, she, him, her, they, them, horn, mountain: เขา /kăo/
heart, mind, spirit: ใจ /jai/
hello, goodbye, good morning, good afternoon, good evening: สวัสดี /sà-wàt-dee/
help, aid, assist: ช่วย /chûay/
here: ที่นี่ /têe-nêe/
home, house: บ้าน /bâan/
how much: เท่าไหร่ /tâo-rài/
I (to someone younger), you (to someone older), he, she, him, her (referring to someone older): พี่ /pêe/
I, me (feminine): ฉัน /chan/
I, me (masculine): ผม /pŏm/
if: ถ้า /tâa/
in front of, front, face, front, top, next, following, upcoming: หน้า /nâa/
in, of: ใน /nai/
– intensifier: 1. ‘So… !, Extremely… !, 2. therefore, as a result, 3. to go further
it, potato, greasy, the fat, to be fun (slang): มัน /man/
keep, save, store: ไว้ /wái/
know (someone, something, face, place, know at a basic level): รู้จัก /róo-jàk/
know (something, know in detail): รู้ /róo/
like: ชอบ /chôp/
little bit: นิดหน่อย /nít-nòi/
little, few, not many: น้อย /nói/
love: รัก /rák/
maybe: อาจจะ /àat-jà/
name, be named: ชื่อ /chêu/
near: ใกล้ /glâi/
never mind, no problem, it’s ok: ไม่เป็นอะไร /mâi-bpen-a-rai/
new, recent, the latest, again, once more: ใหม่ /mài/
no, not: ไม่ /mâi/
now, right now, at this moment: ตอนนี้ /dton-née/
of, item: ของ /kŏng/
ok, right? (confirmative particle masculine): นะครับ /ná-kráp/
ok, right? (confirmative particle feminine): นะคะ /ná-ka/
old (humans, animals): แก่ /gàe/
old, to be old: เก่า /gào/
one: หนึ่ง /nèung/
out: ออก /òk/
particle: softens a sentence: หน่อย /nòi/
particle: softens a sentence, makes it more persuasive: นะ /ná/
particle: used by female speakers at the end of questions to make them more polite: คะ /ka/
particle: used by female speakers at the end of sentences to make them more polite: ค่ะ /kâ/
particle: used by male speakers at the end of sentences to make them more polite: ครับ /kráp/
person, people: คน /kon/
– classifier: people
play: เล่น /lên/
prefix: กำลัง… /gam-lang/ 
– put before a verb to show action is happening (present/past continuous tense)
reach, arrive, get to, until: ถึง /tĕung/
really: จริงๆ /jing jing/
say, tell, blame, criticise, sentence connector ‘that’: ว่า /wâa/
search for, look for, to meet: หา /hăa/
self, oneself: ตัว /dtua/
– character, letter, entity
– body, physique
– prefix: for an actor or character
– prefix: meaning “someone or something that does/is…”
– classifier: animals, all pieces of clothing (except ones that come in pairs, but including trousers), chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture, letters and numbers of the alphabet, musical instruments and also functions as a general purpose classifier for things and objects.)
send, send something to someone: ส่ง /sòng/
sense, meaning, substance: ความ /kwaam/
– prefix: converts a verb or adjective into an abstract noun
small, little: เล็ก /lék/
still, yet: ยัง /yang/
suffix: อยู่ /yòo/
– put after verb show the action is happening (present/past continuous tense)
task, work, job: การ /gaan/
– prefix: converts a verb or adjective into an verbal noun
tell, say, describe: บอก /bòk/
Thai currency: บาท /bàat/
Thai, Thailand: ไทย /tai/
thank you: ขอบคุณ /kòp-kun/
that, those: นั้น /nán/
– marker: used after a noun or pronoun to emphasize it as the subject of the sentence, or to show the end of a relative clause
there: ที่นั่น /têe-nân/
there (further): ที่โน่น /têe-nôhn/
think, calculate: คิด /kít/
this (+ noun/classifier): นี้ /née/
time, when: เวลา /way-laa/
to, at, that, which, who, the place, area: ที่ /têe/
together, jointly, one another, each other, obstruct: กัน /gan/
very much, a lot, very: มาก /mâak/
want (+ noun), take, bring: เอา /ao/
want to: อยาก /yàak/
watch, look, see, appear, seem: ดู /doo/
we, us, our: เรา /rao/
what about? (question particle masculine): ละครับ /la-kráp/
what about? (question particle feminine): ละคะ /la-ká/
what, something, anything: อะไร /a-rai/
where, which place: ที่ไหน /têe-năi/
who, someone, anyone: ใคร /krai/
why: ทำไม /tam-mai/
will, shall: จะ /jà/
with, together with, and: กับ /gàp/
work, job, task, event, ceremony, festival: งาน /ngaan/
yes (masculine): ครับ /kráp/
yes (feminine): ค่ะ /kâ/
you, he, she, him, her (used when referring to someone younger): น้อง /nóng/
you (to a friend, teacher to student…): เธอ /ter/
you, your: คุณ /kun/
you; your (to a child, someone younger), I; me (used by young children, and by women when speaking to their elders): หนู /nŏo/

Other top Thai vocabulary lists…

sealang.net: Thai Vocabulary List
thai-language.com: Most Frequently used words in Thai
thai-language.com: Common Words of the Thai Language
womenlearnthai.com: The Top 39 Thai Words You Must Know
womenlearnthai.com: FREE: Quick & Dirty Thai Vocabulary Download

And lastly, an ongoing conversation: Putting together a 100 word list for conversation in Thai.

Note: The transliteration comes from T2E as is. The English translations are also from T2E and late last night it was edited by Thai Skype Teacher Khun Narisa. The final edits were made by me so I will obviously take the responsibility for any snafus found. Coding this in was a pain and my brain fuzzed out when it came time to do a final edit so there might be some weirdness going on too…

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