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Khrap and Kha

These are the sentence tags used by Thais to show respect or simply to be polite. Khrap is used by males and kha by females. They are usually used after the first few sentences in a conversation and then dropped, although in more formal situations they can be used at the end of every sentence. Conversely, in very informal situations, they may be omitted all together.

When one person is doing all the talking, the listener may also use khrap or kha periodically to show that they are still listening. While khrap and kha don’t actually mean yes, they can be used to show agreement:

• Khun phen kon angkrit, chai mai khrap (You are English, aren’t you?)
• Khrap (By George, you’re absolutely right.)

Personal Pronouns: Part 1 - I

Males refer to themselves as phom and females refer to themselves as di-chan. Very close friends of both genders may also use chan. However, something you will need to get used to is when people refer to themselves by name.

• Paul huw khao (I’m hungry.)

Personal Pronouns: Part 2 - YOU

In Thai, these are a much more complex kettle of fish than in English. I once attended a cross-cultural training seminar where the Thai speaker asked us how many personal pronouns there were for the second person singular in English. The answer is, of course, one: you. Then she asked us how many there were in Thai, at which point the audience of mixed farangs and Thais began to quickly run out of fingers to record the options. The point the speaker was making was that there is a very strict hierarchical structure in Thai society, and the way our different cultures use second person singular pronouns and honorifics (Mr., Mrs., etc.) highlights this.

In general, when addressing someone, the most auxiliary word to know is khun. However, here are some more that you will hear:

• Phii – someone older or respected
• Nawng – someone younger (often used with waiters / waitresses)
• Lung – an older but familiar male (literally – uncle)
• Paa – an older but familiar female (literally – aunt)
• Nuu – a young child (literally – mouse)
• Thaan – a highly respected person
• Thoe – a very close friend or partner

Once a conversation is underway, these are dropped in most cases, and sentences look like the English imperatives.

• Pai nai (Where are you going? Literally – go where?)

However, they will remain as sentence tags (replacing khrap or kha) for respected or elder people.

• Tham arai, phi (What are you doing, oh respected one?)

Words and Phrases

Hello / Goodbye – Sawaat dii (khrap/kha)

Thank you – Khorp khun (khrap/kha)

Excuse me – Khaw toht (khrap/kha)

How much (is it)? – Thao rai (khrap/kha)

Where is ……? – …… yuu nai (khrap/kha)

I don’t want it – Mai ow (khrap/kha)

Is it spicy? – Phet mai (khrap/kha)

I can’t eat spicy food – Khin phet mai dai (khrap/kha)

Leave me alone this instant or I will call the police and have you arrested, you objectionable brute – Pai




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