This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
UPDATED: A top 100 Thai vocabulary list…
In the post, Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List, I put together a Thai words list and asked for suggestions. New words came in via email, Facebook, and in the comments of the post.
While that list was percolating, I created a list from a different direction: A Top 100 Thai Word List Created from Phrases.
Today I’m going back to the original list from the first post. Taking everyone’s thoughts and suggestions into account, I then started trimming the list. But even though I tried, I couldn’t get below 117 must know Thai words! Frustrated, I went to Jo from Learn Thai Podcast for help. Jo helped me to decide which 17 to leave out. Thanks Jo!
UPDATE: LTP now has a FREE basic Thai course (the first two lessons are live, more to come): Beginners Course – Top 300 Thai Words.
A (final?) top 100 Thai vocabulary list…
Below are the Thai words that made it into the final 100 top list, Buzan-style.
Unlike the list created from useful phrases, I’m still not sure how communicating with just these 100 words works in real life, but I’m working on it. Promise.
If I can’t get someone to share their experience via interview I might just try it on for size myself. But not in Thai. I have a trip to Italy coming up and as there’s a product already available for Italian, I could take a break from Thai to learn Italian with this method, and then get back to you.
Berlitz: A revolutionary way to learn a language, “Shortcut to Italian” offers instant time-saving techniques to help you learn basic Italian words and build simple sentences. You only need to learn 100 Italian words in order to speak over 500 of the most useful phrases. In just 100 words, you can: meet people, communicate effectively, navigate your way, book restaurants and hotels, read a menu, enjoy shopping and much more!
Anyway… on to that list!
already (tense marker): แล้ว /láew/
also, likewise, then, so, in addition: ก็ /gôr/
– often used when trying to think what to say
as well, also, too: ด้วย /dûay/
ask for, ask, request for: ขอ /kŏr/
bad (not good): ไม่ดี /mâi-dee/
be at, live at, stay: อยู่ /yòo/
be, to be something: เป็น /bpen/
beautiful, attractive, pretty: สวย /sŭay/
before, first, former: ก่อน /gòn/
big: ใหญ่ /yài/
but, only: แต่ /dtàe/
can, be able to, get, have done, have chance to: ได้ /dâai/
come, arrive (shows direction to the speaker): มา /maa/
delicious: อร่อย /a-ròi/
do, make: ทำ /tam/
excuse me, I’m sorry: ขอโทษ /kŏr tôht/
expensive: แพง /paeng/
far: ไกล /glai/
fast: เร็ว /reo/
friend: เพื่อน /pêuan/
from, depart, leave, go away from: จาก /jàak/
full (food): อิ่ม /ìm/
go, leave, depart (shows direction away from the speaker): ไป /bpai/
good, nice [v]: ดี /dee/
have (possessive), there is: มี /mee/
have to, must: ต้อง /dtông/
he, she, him, her, they, them: เขา /kăo/
hello, goodbye, good morning, good afternoon, good evening: สวัสดี /sà-wàt-dee/
help, aid, assist [v]: ช่วย /chûay/
here: ที่นี่ /têe-nêe/
how: ยังไง /yang-ngai/
how much, how many: เท่าไหร่ /tâo-rài/
how much, how many: กี่ /gèe/
hungry: หิวข้าว /hĭw kâao/
I, me, my [f]: ฉัน /chăn/
I, me, my [m]: ผม /pŏm/
in front of, front, top, next, following, upcoming: หน้า /nâa/
in, of: ใน /nai/
intensifier: ไม่….เลย = not….at all (see dictionary for more): เลย /loie/
know (someone, something, someplace): รู้จัก /róo-jàk/
know (something): ทราบ /sâap/
left: ซ้าย /sáai/
like: ชอบ /chôp/
little bit: นิดหน่อย /nít-nòi/
name: ชื่อ /chêu/
near: ใกล้ /glâi/
nevermind, no problem, that’s ok: ไม่เป็นไร /mâi-bpen-rai/
new, recent, the latest, again, once more: ใหม่ /mài/
no, that’s not right: ไม่ใช่ /mâi-châi/
no, no: ไม่ /mâi /
now, right now, at this moment: ตอนนี้ /dton-née/
one more time: อีกที /èek-tee/
P: Polite particle [f]: ค่ะ /kâ/
P: Polite particle [m]: ครับ /kráp/
P: Question particle: ไหม /măi/
P: Question particle [f]: คะ /ká/
P: Question, confirmative: เหรอ or หรือ /rĕr or rĕu/
P: Softens request or command, a bit: หน่อย /nòi/
person, people, classifier for people: คน /kon/
play: เล่น /lên/
really: จริงๆ /jing-jing/
receive, get, accept: รับ /ráp/
right: ขวา /kwăa/
slowly, slower: ช้าช้า /cháa-cháa/
small, little: เล็ก /lék/
speak: พูด /pôot/
straight: ตรงไป /dtrong-bpai/
tell, say, describe: บอก /bòk/
thank you: ขอบคุณ /kòp-kun/
that: นั้น /nán/
there: ที่นั่น /têe-nân/
there (further): ที่โน่น /têe-nôhn/
think, calculate: คิด /kít/
thirsty: หิวน้ำ /hĭw náam/
this, these: นี้ /née/
time, when: เวลา /way-laa/
tired: เหนื่อย /nèuay/
to, at, that, which, who, the place, area: ที่ /têe/
today: วันนี้ /wan-née/
tomorrow: พรุ่งนี้ /prûng-née/
turn: เลี้ยว /líeow/
understand: เข้าใจ /kâo-jai/
very much, a lot, very: มาก /mâak/
want to: อยาก /yàak/
want, take, bring: เอา /ao/
watch, look, see, appear, seem: ดู /doo/
we, us, our: เรา /rao/
well, fine: สบายดี /sà-baai-dee/
what: อะไร /a-rai/
when, whenever: เมื่อไหร่ /mêua-rài/
where (shortened version of ที่ไหน), whichever one: ไหน /năi/
where is, which place: ที่ไหน /têe-năi/
who, someone, anyone: ใคร /krai/
why: ทำไม /tam-mai/
will, shall: จะ /jà/
with, together with: กับ /gàp/
write: เขียน /kĭan/
yes: ใช่, ครับ, ค่ะ /châi, kráp, kâ/
yesterday: เมื่อวานนี้ /mêua-waan-née/
you, your: คุณ /kun/
Words taken out of the list…
Below are the 17 Thai words Jo from LTP advised to take out of the 117 list I mulled over so intently.
To decide on 17 words to delete, Jo targeted words not as useful for forming basic Thai sentences. You can read Jo’s explanation underneath each one.
Btw: Jo wanted me to mention that it was really difficult to choose which ones to delete. I SO agree! I fell in love with those words and more; it was painful to lose even one.
back side or adj: ข้างหลัง /kâang lăng/
Jo: Not used that often.
because, because of, beautiful (voice): เพราะ /prór/
Jo: Only for compound sentences, too complicated.
Cannot: ไม่ได้ /mâi-dâai/
Jo: You already have “can” and “not”.
Day: วัน /wan/
Jo: You already have “today” and “day” is commonly used with numbers but you don’t have numbers.
don’t have, there isn’t: ไม่มี /mâi-mee/
Jo: You already have “have” and “not”.
Front: ข้างหน้า /kâang-nâa/
Jo: You already have “หน้า”.
get, receive: ได้รับ /dâai-ráp/
Jo: Not used that often.
give, offer, let: ให้ /hâi/
Jo: It can be used in many different ways. So, it won’t help people who don’t know how to use it properly.
happy, well, fine: สบาย /sà-baai/
Jo: You already have “สบายดี” (well, fine”).
heart, mind, spirit: ใจ /jai/
Jo: The word “jai” alone is not used so often. It is normally used as a prefix or suffix.
it, potato, greasy, the fat, to be fun (slang): มัน /man/
Jo: No used that often. The word “it” as a pronoun can be omitted.
maybe: อาจจะ /àat-jà/
Jo: It’s too complicated for a basic sentence.
of, item: ของ /kŏng/
Jo: Not used that often.
Out: ออก /òk/
Jo: Not used that often.
prefix: put before verb to show action is happening: กำลัง /gam-lang/
Jo: It is related to tenses and too complicated.
say, tell, blame, criticise: ว่า /wâa/
Jo: You already have “tell / say”.
together, jointly, one another, each other: กัน /gan/
Jo: It can be omitted in a basic sentence.
The Top 100 word posts in this impromptu series…
Here are the posts in this series so far. I fear that there will be yet another top 100 Thai words list in my future, so don’t say you haven’t been warned 😉
Learning Languages: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Compiling a Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List
A Top 100 Thai Word List Created from Phrases
Oh. And there will absolutely be a Loci Method post (the original reason for this insane venture into finding the top 100 Thai words one must know).
Note: The transliteration comes from T2E as is. There are mistakes in the transliteration but I don’t have the time or inclination to correct each and every one so unless you learn to read Thai you’ll have to use the transliteration as a ballpark crutch to pronunciation (reading actual Thai script is the only real answer… honest).
9 thoughts on “UPDATED: Top 100 Thai Vocabulary List”
d3nman, there are many lists for Thai vocabulary floating around. A good one was compiled by Chula university. It’s 5000 strong, but as it’s a frequency list, all you have to do is take the top 500. Another decent list can be found at SEAlang. I’ve linked both below.
SEAlang Lab Thai vocabulary lists
Chula’s top 5000 Thai frequency words (no longer online)
Chula’s list doen’t include English definitions but you can get a number of those from SEALang.
Sorry to bring up an old post but has anyone ever compiled a larger vocab list? Say 500 or so?
Hi Dave, thanks for stopping by (you made my day). You have friends I agree with because I seriously believe that learning the Thai alphabet will make your studies easier, eventually. And seems like you are well on your way! Congrats! I remember when I first started recognising Thai words around Bangkok. I was grinning for a week.
“Up to you” – nice suggestion. I’ve come across it here as แล้วแต่คุณ and แล้วแต่ would make a decent addition to the list (we already have คุณ).
Btw – I love Thai script too. It is indeed a thing of beauty 🙂
Thanks for all your efforts on this awesome website. I’m a beginning Thai learner and have just arrived Bangkok where I’ll be living for the next 6 months. I love Thailand, have a Thai girlfriend and plenty of time on my hands (I’m retired) so the study of Thai seemed a natural fit. As recommended by several friends and a few bloggers I follow I’m starting out with learning the Thai alphabet and learning to read simple children’s books like Manee and Friends. I’ve been working on this for about 6 weeks and at this point can recognize and write all the consonants. I’m working on the vowels now.
The other night I was slowly making my way through a book called ภาษา พาที and was pleased to say I recognized a few words and was able to read some of the simple sentences myself. I was thrilled. Having my GF close at hand helps because she can provide instant help when I struggle. As for your latest post, I haven’t experienced that “I’m stuck” moment as yet but I’m sure it will come at some point. It helps that I enjoy drawing the Thai characters — they’re beautiful and quite pleasing to my eye.
One phrase I was hoping to see in your 100 Thai Phrases list is one my GF hits me with often: Up to you which she writes as: ตๅมใจ คุณ. It’s quite a popular phrase I reckon — there’s even a bar in Udon Thani by that name LOL.
Keep up the good work. I’ll be following along…
Snap, I kept staring at the list and couldn’t see what Jo saw – so it’s a good thing I asked. And congrats on locating your backside 🙂 always fun. เป็น phrases… yes… me too 😉
Lani, ta! And yes, you did miss the phrase post but it’s not finished yet (I still need to add more phrases to words). This weekend took an odd twist so it’ll be later rather than sooner.
Great list! Common phrases will have to be next, unless I have missed them somehow…or a top slang list! Thanks for your hard work 🙂
Cat, Jo has some very valid points about the omissions. However, today I was very happy (beside myself…yay!) that I understood when the massage lady reiterated my Thailish by saying “ข้างหลัง (kâang-lăng) เยอะๆไหม ”…by backside, I wasn’t referring to my butt.
Many of the words/phrases Jo has chosen are not ones that newbies would learn or say…not for a while, anyways.
I can hardly wait until you get to the เป็น phrases…I’ve been chipping away at them for days now.
Thanks Lawrence. Now people can choose which list to run through the Loci Method (if they are interested that is 🙂 Either the list created from the phrases or this one will do.
I’ll keep pounding away on the phrases to go with the previous list. Then when the Italian course arrives I’ll see how it’s arranged (I sure hope it’s not a big letdown…)
Good job on the list. I’ve got it printed out and in front of me as I type this.