This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Thinking about Living in Thailand?
What you need to know to land a job, stay long-term, and save $1000s on rent, money transfers, insurance, and utilites!
The Thai Language’s Double อยู่…
To help you learn Thai, for the first Using High Frequency Thai Vocabulary post we wanted to start with something a little more interesting than simple subject + verb + object patterns so we chose something fun: The Double อยู่ construct.
The Double อยู่ construct is used to describe an unexpected or surprise action. Depending on how colorful you want to be, it’s interesting how this construct can be translated (or rather, interpreted) into English in so many ways.
The Double อยู่ pattern is usually:
If you are looking a good way to learn Thai online, check out ThaiPod101. Although their courses are not free, they are cheap, effective, and can quickly teach you conversational Thai. All ExpatDen readers get a 25% discount using this link.
อยู่ๆ … ก็ …
อยู่ๆ: อยู่ อยู่. It’s a doubling of the word อยู่ (one of the many Thai “to be” words). Hope you got the pun.
ๆ: Whenever you see the symbol ๆ (ไม้ยมก /mái-yá~mók/) the word preceding it is spoken twice.
ก็: then (in time), also
อยู่ๆ เขา ก็ ร้องไห้
Out of nowhere she just started crying.
อยู่ๆ ตำรวจ ก็ เข้ามา
The policeman burst in unexpectedly.
อยู่ๆ ครู ก็ หยุด สอน
All of a sudden the teacher stopped teaching.
Below are some English enhancements to the same sentences that an interpreter would use to add color to the Double อยู่ construct.
I was just sitting around, minding my own business, when out of nowhere she just started crying.
I was just doing my thing when out of the blue the policeman burst in unexpectedly.
The students weren’t doing anything when all of a sudden the teacher stopped teaching.
High frequency Thai vocabulary used:
เขา: she, he, him, her, they
ร้องไห้: to cry, weep
ตำรวจ: police, policeman
เข้ามา: to enter
หยุด: to stop
สอน: to teach
Using the Double อยู่ patterns…
To use this pattern we will need some words from the High Frequency Thai Vocabulary List.
Note on using patterns: Look at the pattern and replace the word descriptions with words from the list. Besure to check that the sentence makes logical sense. And remember, the word lists in this post are only a fraction of the 3,000 words of the High Frequency Thai Vocabulary List.
After doing these exercises go to the original list and practice some more. Later, when the patterns are ingrained in your head, add words you come across in everyday situations.
Samples from the High Frequency Word List…
ฉัน: I (female)
ผม: I (male speaker)
เธอ: you, she
พวกเขา: they, them
พวกนี้: these people
พวกเรา: we, they, us, them, all of us
แฟน: boyfriend, girlfriend, husband,wife
ทุกคน: everybody parts, everyone
แม่ค้า: salesperson (female)
คนไทย: Thai person
พักผ่อน: to rest
พูด: to speak, talk, say
มา: to come
มาเยี่ยม: to come visit a person
มาหา: to come to see someone
ไม่เห็นด้วย: to disagree
ยอมให้: to permit, allow
ย้ายมาอยู่: to move (in)
เรียก: to call (out)
ลุกขึ้น: to rise, get up
ร้องไห้: to cry, weep
โทร: to phone, telephone
Creating complete Thai sentences using the Double อยู่ pattern…
อยู่ๆ + pronoun/person + ก็ + verb (phrase)
She suddenly began to cry.
Without notice the boss came to see me.
With no warning she called (out to me).
How would you say the following in Thai? (Tip: the needed vocabulary can be found in the above lists).
- I was just hanging out when he came to see me.
- They came unexpectedly.
- Unpredictably, the customer called (phoned).
- My friend moved in without giving any notice.
- The workman, without saying anything, took a break (rest).
Now go to the frequency list to see how many other logical phrases you can create using this pattern. And if you like, share them with us in the comments.
Interpreting Double อยู่ phrases…
How would you interpret the following? Be as colorful as you wish but please keep to the gist of the sentence.
อากาศ: weather, climate, air, or atmosphere
กลับบ้าน: to go home
ร้อน: hot (temperature)
ตาย: to die
ประธาน: president, chairman
เจ็บ: to hurt, be hurt
Patterns to learn Thai…
Patterns are how words in a language are put together to make meaningful utterances. Becoming familiar with patterns is one of the basics to learning to communicate in any language. It’s especially so in learning Thai. In the future we will be exploring more patterns in Thai using the High Frequency Thai Vocabulary List. If you have a Thai language pattern that you would like to work with and learn more about, send it on to us and we will try to use it in one of our future posts.
Here’s the updated High Frequency Thai Vocabulary to download. The list has gone through many revisions but there’s still more to do.
Tip: The Double อยู่ followup post will include sound files. In the meantime, go to Does Your Computer Speak Thai? for instructions on how to get your computer reading Thai outloud.