Thai Language Thai Culture: A House is a Home

Thai Language

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A Thai house is a home…

In English the word “house” indicates a structure whereas “home” includes the idea that this is where you “live”, thus we have the song “A House is Not a Home”. But all my Thai dictionaries (I have 8 now) define “house” and “home” the same – บ้าน /bâan/

บ้าน /bâan/ is the root of lots of other Thai words too. Here are a couple:

Birthplace: บ้านเกิด /bâan-gèrt/
– to be born: เกิด /gèrt/

Countryside: บ้านนอก /bâan-nôk/
– outside: นอก /nôk/

Vacation home: บ้านพักตากอากาศ /bâan-pák-dtàak-aa-gàat/
– to rest: พัก /pák/
– get outside, literally: to air out: ตากอากาศ /dtàak-aa-gàat/


Country, e.g. Thailand: บ้านเมือง /bâan-meuang/
– city, country, town: เมือง /meuang/

Address: บ้านเลขที่ /bâan-lâyk-têe/
– number: เลขที่ /lâyk têe/

Village: หมู่บ้าน /mòo-bâan/
– group, constellation: หมู่ /mòo/

A house is to be lived in of course. There are a number of Thai words for “to live”. The most frequently encountered is อยู่ /yòo/, and then there is the more formal อาศัย /aa-sǎi/. And, as Thai will often do, there is the combination of two words that mean the same thing อยู่อาศัย /yòo aa-sǎi/. Or to make it even more fun, we can flip the two giving us อาศัยอยู่ /aa-sǎi yòo/.

So all the following mean “he lives with his parents” which is probably not so great in any language. Although many Thais do live with their parents until, and sometimes after, marriage.

kăo yòo têe bâan pôr mâe

kăo aa-săi têe bâan pôr mâe

kăo aa-săi yòo têe bâan pôr mâe

kăo yòo aa-săi têe bâan pôr mâe

Making word lists…

A reader recently sent me a nice email saying that he thought these vocabulary building posts were helpful to him. It is always encouraging (ให้กำลังใจ /hâi-gam-lang-jai/) to hear that. He’s been using a list of beginning Thai vocabulary. I wrote back saying that I found a neat way to create vocabulary lists. Just look around you and list as many “things” as you see. Then you can look them up in your target language (this works for any language of course). Later you can add words that describe these things (adjectives) and then activities you can do with them (verbs). So I looked around my house and thought that the following short list of things would be useful.

Encouraging: ให้กำลังใจ /hâi-gam-lang-jai/

Parts of a House…

Bathroom: ห้องน้ำ /hông-náam/
Dining room: ห้องกินข้าว /hông-gin-kâao/
Kitchen: (ห้อง)ครัว /(hông)-krua/
Living room: ห้องนั่งเล่น /hông-nâng-lên/ also ห้องรับแขก /hông-ráp-kàek/
Room: ห้อง /hông/

Ceiling: เพดาน /pay-daan/
Door: ประตู /bprà~dtoo/
Floor: พื้น /péun/
Roof: หลังคา /lǎng-kaa/
Wall (of a room): ผนัง /pà~nǎng/
Window: หน้าต่าง /nâa-dtàang/

Things in a house…

Air conditioner: เครื่องปรับอากาศ /krêuang-bpràp-aa-gàat/ or แอร์ /ae/
Bed: เตียง /dtiang/
Chair: เก้าอี้ /gâo-êe/
Drapes: ม่าน /mâan/
Fan: พัดลม /pát-lom/
Furniture: เฟอร์นิเจอร์ /fer-ní~jêr/ or เครื่องเรือน /krêuang-reuan/
Rug: พรม /prom/
Sofa: เก้าอี้นวม /gâo-êe-nuam/ or โซฟา /soh-faa/
Table: โต๊ะ /dtó/
TV: โทรทัศน์ /toh-rá~tát/ or ทีวี /tee-wee/

I spy with my little eye…

Try this vocabulary building exercise while looking around your house. I call it the “I spy with my little eye” technique of vocabulary building (a game my kids loved to play when they were little ones).

As you are reading this post you are probably sitting at a computer. Doesn’t matter if it is a desktop, laptop, iPad, etc. Now look around you and make a list (in your own native language) of some of the things you can see around you. Find their meaning in Thai. Then think of some words that describe the thing and some actions you can do with it. Now try and compile all these words into a short simple sentence.

Here we go: I spy with my little eye – my computer speakers.

Computer: คอมพิวเตอร์ /kom-píw-dtêr/
Speakers: ลำโพง /lam-pohng/

Cheap, inexpensive: ถูก /tòok/

Listen: ฟัง /fang/

Putting it all together:

chǎn fang lam-pohng kom-píw-dtêr têe tòok mâak
I’m listening to very cheap computer speakers.

This can keep you busy all day.

Hugh’s fun Thai word for the month…

Really good, outstanding: ดีดเด่น /dee dèn/

This is another of those Thai double words (like อยู่อาศัย above). The different parts of many Thai double words, many of which are alliterative, mean close to the same thing and when combined they accentuate each other.

Good: ดี /dee/
Outstanding: เด่น /dèn/

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

13 thoughts on “Thai Language Thai Culture: A House is a Home”

  1. Great post Hugh. I enjoy your word lists and I thought your I Spy game was perfect. I teach English and this is one of the games we play, along with naming all the things in our classroom, in a purse, at the school, at 7-11, etc. I don’t know why I never thought about doing that consciously as a vocab builder. And just plain crazy exercise! Thanks for the idea 😀

  2. Martyn,

    I love getting asked questions like these since it forces me to learn new words myself and also to analyze them – which to me is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Thanks for the questions.

    Tin roof

    The Thai word for roof is หลังคา /lǎng-kaa/ and the word for tin is ดีบุก /dee-bùk/ but ดีบุก refers to the metal “tin” which is not really what these roofs are made from. The roof you are thinking of is หลังคาสังกะสี /lǎng-kaa sǎng-gà~sěe/ where สังกะสี /sǎng-gà~sěe/ is “corrugated or galvanized iron”.

    Stilted house

    The Thai word for “stilt” or “post” is เสา /sǎo/. So a house on stilts would be บ้านบนเสา /baan bòn sǎo/ – “house on posts”. But there is a more specific word in Thai that is used for a house on stilts or posts, บ้านใต้ถุนสูง /baan dtâai tǔn sǒong/. The word ใต้ถุน /dtâai tǔn/ means the space under the floor of the house. สูง /sǒong/ means tall or high. So the word basically means “a house that is high off the ground”.

    Creaky floorboards

    The floor of a house is พื้น /péun/. So you could say something like พื้นไม่แน่น /péun mâi nâen/ – “the floor isn’t tight”. But if you want to be really cool (and I got this one from my lovely linguistic informant Pikun, also my wife of almost 40 years and the proofreader of most of my stuff) you could say พื้นเอี๊ยดอ๊าด /péun íat aát/ (lots of high tones in this one) – “the floor is creaky”. The fun thing about the word เอี๊ยดอ๊าด /íat aát/ is that it is an onomatopoeic word describing the sound of squeaking or creaking. I think you would be a big hit if you used it.

  3. Hugh a very useful post. I’ve saved the word lists and will be printing them off via Wordpad, that way I can make the text as big as I like which is useful for the Thai script.

    As you started the post with a mention of the countryside and หมู่บ้าน (mòo-​bâan)could you tell me what these words are in Thai;

    Tin roof
    Stilted house
    Creaky floorboards

    They’ll be most handy to know in rural areas.

  4. Hugh,
    Great post. I never really thought of making my own lists of things around me but I now see where this could be extremely helpful.

  5. Hugh, rightly or wrongly? I’d get a wrap over the knuckles from my kruu, if I were to omit the chǎn 😉 Stray ‘did’ know the word for grandmother (which I am) once, but I’m quite happy he’s forgotten. I like phanráyaa 🙂

  6. I had been in Thailand several times already and I find their place very fastidious. I love their culture and the attitude of the people there. Although I can’t really understand their language yet but I am trying my best to know familiarize it even better. Thanks for posting these useful Thai vocabulary. It would really an immense help to those who wants to learn Thai language even on the basic forms only.

  7. Yes, แม่บ้าน /mâe-bâan/ can also mean maid. You can leave out the “chǎn” in “sǎamii chǎn” or do like my wife does when referring to me. She calls me พ่อ /pôr/ or “father”. At least it is better than
    ปู่ /bpòo/, grandfather.

  8. Sorry Hugh…I should have clarified my confusion.

    I thought I had been referring to Stray as my husband…sǎamii chǎn, except I had it vice versa – chǎn sǎamii. I have the order correct now, and am starting to learn where to insert my bpen’s and khon’s.

    Personally I just can’t warm up to mâe-bâan when referring to myself…probably because it has ‘maid’ connotations ;)…doesn’t it?

  9. Snap,

    I am not sure which word you are using for “husband” but you might try using use the term แม่บ้าน /mâe-bâan/ which could mean “homemaker”, “housewife”, “housekeeper”, or can be used as an endearment by a loving husband to refer to his “wife” – the mother of his household.

  10. Hugh, Catherine, I’m just coming to grips with Thai grammar, which can make all the difference when talking about my neighbour (phʉ̂an bâan)or my friend’s house (bâan phʉ̂an). And to think I’ve been running around Chiang Mai telling everyone that ‘I am a husband’ 🙁

  11. Apologies Paul. I forgot to change the author to Hugh (changed now).

    Hugh’s informative post goes fabulously with my (slowly) arriving House Talk series so please stay tuned!


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