Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Verb Wrappers

Thai Language

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

Patterns showing verb tenses in Thai…

Verb wrappers (aka verb patterns) show how Thai verbs can be used in different tenses. The verbs themselves don’t change, but their ‘wrappers’ do.

In the following patterns the verb can be substituted with the Thai verbs listed. The subject can be most nouns, names, and personal pronouns.

These patterns can be used for practice. Later, to produce new sentences, substitute your own subjects, verbs, and time words using the same basic patterns.

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Nouns, pronouns, and verbs used in this exercise…

For simplicity, the same subjects and verbs have been used throughout the patterns.

Subjects (nouns/pronouns) used in the patterns:

I [masculine]: ผม /pǒm/
I [feminine]: ดิฉัน /dì-chǎn/
I [feminine]: ฉัน /chǎn/
He, she, they: เขา /kǎo/
Her: เธอ /ter/

Verbs used in the patterns:

Go: ไป /bpai/
Come: มา /maa/
Eat: กิน /gin/
Study: เรียน /rian/
Work: ทำงาน /tam-ngaan/

Simple Present Tense patterns…

Thai Language

Sentence pattern: Subject + verb + present time word

Present time words:

Everyday: ทุกวัน /túk-wan/
Every month: ทุกเดือน /túk-deuan/
All day: ตลอดวัน /dtà-lòt-wan/
All the time/always: ตลอดเวลา /dtà-lòt-way-laa/

Possible combinations:

Note: Since context is very important when using Thai verbs, and the simple present time words can be ambiguous, these sentences could be simple present as well as simple past or future tenses or even other tenses.

ผม ไป ทุกวัน
pǒm bpai túk-wan
I go everyday. / I went everyday.

เขา กิน ตลอดวัน
kǎo gin dtà-lòt-wan
He eats all day. / He ate all day.

เธอ เรียน ตลอดเวลา
ter rian dta-lòt-way-laa
She always studies. / She always studied. / She is always studying. / She was always studying.

Simple Past Tense patterns…

Thai Language

Sentence pattern: Subject + verb + simple past time word.

Past time words:

Yesterday: เมื่อวานนี้ /mêua-waan-née/
The day before (yesterday): วันก่อน /wan-gòn/
Last week: สัปดาห์ที่แล้ว /sàp-daa-têe-láew/
Last week: อาทิตย์ที่แล้ว /aa-tít-têe-láew/
Last year: ปีที่แล้ว /bpee-têe-láew/
Two years ago: สองปีก่อน /sǒng bpee gòn/
Last month: เดือนที่แล้ว /deuan-têe-láew/
This morning: เมื่อเช้านี้ /mêua cháao née/

Some possible combinations:

Note: Past tense time words are pretty specific so we can be fairly sure when these things occurred.

ผม ไป เมื่อวานนี้
pǒm bpai mêua-waan-née
I went yesterday.

ดิฉัน กิน เมื่อ เช้า นี้
dì-chǎn gin mêua cháao née
I ate this morning.

เธอ เรียน อาทิตย์ที่แล้ว
ter rian aa-tít-têe-láew
She studied last week. / She was studying last week.

Present Perfect Tense pattern (also ‘used to’)…

Thai Language

Sentence pattern: Subject + เคย + verb

Time word: เคย /koie/

Possible combinations:

ผม เคย เรียน…
pǒm koie rian…
I have studied… / I used to study…

เขา เคย ไป…
kǎo koie bpai…
He’s gone… / He used to go…

เธอ เคย ทำงาน
ter koie tam-ngaan
She has worked… / She used to work…

Future Tense pattern…

Thai Language

Sentence pattern: Subject + จะ + verb

Time word: จะ /jà/

Possible combinations:

ผม จะ เรียน …
pǒm jà rian…
I will study… / I am going to study…

เขา จะ ไป…
kǎo jà bpai…
He will go… / He is going to go…

เธอ จะ ทำงาน
ter jà tam-ngaan
She will work… / She is going to work.

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

9 comments
  1. Great job Hugh!! I think this presents “Thai verb conjugation” in a really straightforward manner, easy to understand, and more importantly easy to APPLY as well.

    I jumped this link to a Thai teacher friend of mine. After she read it, she promptly copied it and used it in her Thai class of foreigners who were coincidentally on just this topic! She said the way you explained it made this topic “click” for the students easier.

    In fact, she liked how you explained it so much, she made up a series of flash cards (on her own) with the “time markers”, “verb wrappers” etc. She laid them face down on the table in the various groupings and had the students draw a card from each one. They had to put them in the correct order, read the sentence in Thai, then translate it into English with the correct “tensing”.

    I’d have liked to observe that class, because she said it was one of the liveliest classes she’d taught in a while.

    Anyway, thanx for the interesting post!!

  2. Parfait and Cheryl, thanks for dropping by!

    Martyn, glad you appreciate the lesson. Clear and easy is the way to go 🙂

    Michel, welcome and thanks for the catch 🙂 It’s the holidays and in rushing to get the post live, I’m afraid those pesky little grimlins had their way with it.

  3. I learn a lot on your language..Thanks for sharing this to us..Hope you can share again to us..

  4. Nice but need some editing:

    เขา เคย ไป… /kǎo koie bpai…/
    He’s studied…
    He used to study…

    same for the future tense
    เขา จะ ไป… /kǎo ja bpai…/
    He will study…
    He is going to study…

    Shoulb be to go instead study

  5. Hugh and Catherine – A fine lesson indeed….and a word which I keep hearing but had never asked about..ja, is finally put to rest. Now I know the little blighter is referring to the future tense.

    A very well laid out and easy to follow lesson. I understood it perfectly well so that should give it an ‘easy to read and understand’ rating.

  6. Hi Snap – there are indeed more on the way. The posts for the coming year should be mighty fine. Good luck on your Thai studies 🙂

  7. Hugh, Cat, this is brilliant. Stray and I have resumed studying (update coming soon) but struggle to find a ‘lesson plan’ as such. Instead we flounder around some days watching videos and jumping from website to books…please keep them coming.

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