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Thai Foundation

Thai Past Tense อดีตกาล – Tell a story in the past

By | Situational Thai, Thai Foundation | No Comments

Who said Thai doesn’t have tenses? That’s not true. We do have tenses like in English but do not have conjugation to indicate the tense, instead, we use Tense particles (words put into a sentence to indicate tense). In this blog post, I will teach you how to make sentences in Past Tense effortlessly. Let’s dive into it. 

Content Overview

Tense indicators 

In English, we use the conjugation of verbs to indicate tenses. 

For example
– I “go” to school. (present simple tense) 
– I “went” to school (past simple tense) 

However, in Thai, we do not conjugate the verb form. It never changes. Instead, we do have a few words to put in the sentence and it will be understood as this already happened in the past. 

Adverbs of time (for the past)

You can indicate the past tense by putting an adverb of time-related to the past. Let’s see some examples:

เมื่อวานนี้mêuua waan néeyesterday
เมื่อกี้mêuua-gêejust now
เมื่อก่อนmêuua gònbefore
ในอดีตnai à-dèetin the past
อาทิตย์ที่แล้วaa-tít têe láewlast week
เดือนที่แล้วdeuuan têe láewlast month
ปีที่แล้วbpee têe láewlast year

Once you put this word at the beginning or at the end of the sentence, this sentence turns out to be in the past form.

For examples
– ฉันกินผัดไทย chăn gin pàt tai) = I eat Pad Thai.
เมื่อวานนี้ฉันกินผัดไทย (mêuua waan née chăn gin pàt tai) = I ate Pad Thai yesterday.  

– ฉันทำงานที่ประเทศไทย (chăn tam ngaan têe bprà-têt tai) = I work in Thailand 
ปีที่แล้วฉันทำงานที่ประเทศไทย (bpee têe láew chăn tam ngaan têe bprà-têt tai) = I worked in Thailand last year. 

มา maa (When something happened somewhere else)

This is one of the most common past tense forms we use in daily. Basically, we put the tense indicating particle มา (maa) at the end of the sentence. 

This form of the past tense is to tell what happened somewhere in the past, while the speaker is now in a different location in the present. 

– ฉันไปภูเก็ตมา (chăn bpai poo-gèt maa) = I went to Phuket.
– ฉันกินข้าวที่ร้านญี่ปุ่นมา (chăn gin kâao têe ráan yêe-bpùn maa) = I ate at a Japanese restaurant.  
– ฉันขับรถไปซื้อของมา (chăn kàp rót bpai séu kŏng maa) = I drove to buy something. 
– ฉันบินไปฝรั่งเศษอาทิตย์ที่แล้วมา (chăn bin bpai fà-ràng sèt aa-tít têe láew maa) = I flew to France last week. 

If you observe these examples close, you will see that many times, the verbs include movement such as ไป (bpai) = to go, ขับรถ (kàb-rót) = to drive, etc. Of course, you can also use other verbs as well in this form.

ได้ dâi (When something is completed, finished, ended)

This form is commonly used when you want to highlight an action that has already been completed, finished, or done. There are two past words in this form. ได้ (dâi) implies “I got a chance to …” and the word แล้ว (láew) means “already”. 

For examples

– ฉันได้เจอจอห์นแล้วเมื่อวานนี้ (chăn dâai jer jon láew mêuua waan née) = I already met John yesterday.
– คุณได้ไปซื้อของมาแล้วใช่ไหม (kun dâai bpai séu kŏng maa láew châi măi) = Did you go to shop already, right? 
– ฉันทำงานเสร็จแล้ว (chăn tam ngaan sèt láew) = I finished work already.

Please note that either indicating word can be obsolete or skipped.

 When the verb is not visually with motions or action

For verbs with non-action that one can visually see, we do not need to put an indicator. We usually understood it from the context. 

คิดkítto think
รู้สึกróo-sèukto feel
รักrákto love
ชอบcháawpto like
เห็นhěnto see
เป็นbpento be
เข้าใจkâo-jaito understand
อยู่yùu

to be (located)

These words can be used in both presents tense and past tense without any other indicators needed. 

For examples:

– ฉันคิดว่าเขาสวย (chǎn kít-wâa kǎo sǔay) = I think/thought she is/was beautiful.
– ฉันอยู่ที่ลอนดอน (chǎn yùu tîi London) = I am/was in London. 
– เขาเป็นคนดี (kǎo bpen kon-dii) = He is/was a good person. 

Negative form

To build a negative sentence in the past form, you always need to add a negative particle “ไม่ได้” (mâi-dâi) before the verb. 

For examples

– ฉันไม่ได้ไปภูเก็ต (chǎn mâi-dâi bpai Phuket) = I did not go to Phuket.
– ฉันไม่ได้ไปทำงาน = I did not go to work. 
– เขาไม่ได้คิดว่าเขาสวย = I did not think that she is beautiful.  

Telling a story 

To tell a story that happened in the past, you only need to start with the first sentence in the past with the indicators mentioned above, the following sentences can be without a tense indicator as long as it’s still related to the first sentence.

Example story

เมื่อวานนี้ฉันไปกินข้าวที่ร้านอาหารญี่ปุ่นมา อาหารที่นั่นอร่อยมาก ฉันเลยโทรหาเพื่อนให้มากินด้วยกัน 

(mêuua waan née chăn bpai gin kâao têe ráan aa-hăan yêe-bpùn maa · aa-hăan têe nân à-ròi mâak · chăn loiie toh hăa pêuuan hâi maa gin dûuay gan)

Yesterday I went to eat at a Japanese restaurant. The food there was very delicious, so I called my friends to join me.

Learn More 

If you’d like to continue learning this topic of past tense in Thai, I made an episode on my Thai Podcast Channel on Spotify and YouTube. Please feel free to listen and enjoy learning with me. 

https://anchor.fm/bananathai/episodes/EP-30-Build-a-Thai-sentence-in-past-tense-e11k45m

Summary

Unlike English, Thai does not have conjugation of verbs even for tense. We do have tense indicators in the forms of adverbs as well as particles (fill words). 

If you want to learn more about Thai tenses or any fundamental topics of conversational Thai and foundation. Check out the Intensive Thai course. It’s the best online Thai course to get started. 

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Quick Guide to Thai Classifiers (units of noun)

By | Thai Foundation | No Comments

One of the most important concept to master Thai is classifier or units of nouns (ลักษณะนาม: lák-sà-nà-naam). This classifier concept is used in daily life especially when you want to tell an amount of things. You need to include the classifier of the noun. This guide will help you go through the important keys of this concept and finally be able to use it in your Thai conversation. 

Content Overview

What are classifiers? 

Basically, they are words that are used with specific nouns. Each noun has a classifier word. This concept is also applicable in English for uncountable nouns. We usually add a unit of noun when telling an amount of uncountable noun in English. 

For example

– A “glass” of water in stead of a water.
– Two “baskets” of vegetables, instead of 2 vegetables.
– A “loaf” of bread instead of a bread. 

However in Thai, this concept is applied for both countable and uncountable nouns. So we can conclude that, we always use a classifier when telling an amount of noun. (Hence we also call it a unit of noun) 

How to use classifiers?

To talk about a amount of noun

Whenever you want to ask for an amount of noun or to tell an amount of noun, we need to include a classifier. 
 
How would you say this sentence?
“I have 2 dogs.”
 
If you want to say this according to English syntax, you probably say “ฉันมีสองหมา (chǎn mii sǒorng mǎa)”.
 
ฉัน chǎn = I 
มี mii = to have/has 
สอง sǒorng = 2
หมา mǎa = dogs
 
But this is wrong. In Thai, we say “ฉันมีหมาสองตัว (chǎn mii mǎa sǒorng dtua)”. The word ตัว (dtua) in the sentence is the classifier of the noun หมา (mǎa) or a dog. 
 
So the Thai syntax to tell an amount of noun is
For examples
1.) หมาสองตัว (mǎa sǒorng dtua)  = 2 dogs:

หมา (mǎa) is a noun. สอง (sǒorng) is an amount “2” and ตัว (dtua) is a classifier of dog and animals.

2.) นักเรียนหนึ่งคน (nák-riian nèung kon) = A student: 

นักเรียน (nák-riian) is a noun. หนึ่ง (nèung) is an amount “1” and คน (kon) is a classifier of human or person. 

3.) ฉันเอาเบียร์สองขวด (chǎn ao beer sǎam kùuad) = I want 3 bottles of beer. 

เบียร์ (beer) is a noun, สาม (sǎam) is an amount “3” and ขวด (kùuad) is a classifier as a container of food/drink. 

And then you want to ask for an amount of noun, you can use this syntax:

For beginners, you probably learned the word เท่าไหร่ (tâo-rài) as “how much/how many?”, but if you want to speak natural Thai, you better use the word “กี่ gìi”

For example

1.) หมากี่ตัว (mǎa gìi dtua) = How many dogs? 

หมา (mǎa) is a noun “dog”, กี่ (gìi) is a question word and ตัว (dtua) is a classifier of dogs or animals.  

2.) นักเรียนกี่คน (nák-riian gìi kon) = How many students?: 

นักเรียน (nák-riian) is a noun “student”, กี่ (gìi) is a question word and คน (kon) is a classifier of human or person.

3.) คุณเอาเบียร์กี่ขวด (kun ao beer. gìi kùuad) = How many bottle of beer do you want?

เบียร์ (beer) is a noun, กี่ (gìid) is a question word and ขวด (kùuad) is a classifier as a container of food/drink. 

To specify a noun

Whenever you want to ask someone to specify a noun, or when you want to specify a noun, you need to use a classifier.
 
A few examples of sentences that include specification of nouns are:

Which dog is yours? 
Which dish did you like the most? 
Which house is more expensive? 

This dog is mine. 
I like the last dish the most. 
The big house is more expensive. 

 
To ask a specific question with the question word “which”, we ALWAYS use a classifier with a noun. 
 

For examples

1.)  หมาตัวไหน (mǎa dtua nǎi) = Which dog? 
2.)  นักเรียนคนไหน (nák-riian kon nǎi) = Which student?  
3.) เบียร์ขวดไหนอร่อยที่สุด (beer kùuad nǎi, aròi tîi-sùd) = Which bottle of beer is the most delicious. 

To specify a noun with “the/this/that”, in Thai we use this following syntax with a classifier: 

For examples

1.) หมาตัวนี้ (mǎa dtua níi) = This dog
2.) นักเรียนคนไทย (nák-riian kon Thai) = The Thai student 
3.) เบียร์ขวดเล็กอร่อยที่สุด (beer kùuad lék à-ròi tîi-sùd) = The small beer is most delicious. 

To use with adjectives of quantity

For example, 

1.) หมาบางตัว (mǎa baang dtua) = Some dogs
2.) นักเรียนคนไทยบ้างคน (nák-riian kon-Thai baang kon) = Some Thai students.
3. อาหารบางอย่าง (aa-hǎan baang yàang) = Some food

For example, 

1.) ร้านอาหารทุกร้าน (ráan aa-hǎan túk ráan) = Every restaurant 
2.) แมวทุกตัว (maew túk dtua) = Every cat
3.) เสื้อทุกตัว (sêua túk dtua) = Every shirt 

For example, 

1.) ครูหลายคน (kruu lǎai kon) = Many teachers
2.) อาหารหลายจาน (aa-haǎn lǎai jaan) = My dishes of food
3.) โทรศัพท์หลายเครื่อง (too-ra2-sàb lǎai krêuang) = Many phones   

 

 

A list of Thai Classifiers 

Here I gathered all classifiers that are commonly used in daily life and grouped them in an easy way to remember.

Common Classifiers

Human / Personคน konex. นักเรียนหนึ่งคน (nák-riian nèung kon) = A student
Animals / Clothes / Furnitureตัว dtuaex. โต๊ะหนึ่งตัว (dtó nèung dtua) = A table
Fruits / spherical shapeลูก lûukex. กล้วยหนึ่งลูก (glûuay nèung lûuk) = A banana
Devicesเครื่อง krêuangex. โทรศัพท์หนึ่งเครื่อง (thoo-rá-sàb nèung krêuang) = A phone
Piece ofชิ้น chínex. เค้กหนึ่งชิ้น (cake nèung chín) = A piece of cake
Cars / bicycles / scooters / spoon / forkคัน canex. รถหนึ่งคัน (ród nèung kan) = A car
Housesหลัง lǎngex. บ้านหนึ่งหลัง (bâan nèung lǎng) = A house
Service units (restaurant, cinema, etc)ที่ tîiex. ข้าวเปล่าหนึ่งที่ (kâo-bplào nùeng tîi) = A unit of rice served
Pen, knife, axeด้ามex. ปากกาหนึ่งด้าม (bpàa-gaa nèung dâam) = A pen
Kindsชนิดex. สัตว์หนึ่งชนิด (sàt nèung chà-níd) = A kind of animals

Cheat word

If you do not really know the classifier of a noun, you can say อัน (an) for small objects.

For example, 
If you want to say “two glasses”, you can say “แก้วสองอัน gáew sǒorng an”. Thai people will surely understand you even though the correct classifier for most of containers is ใบ (bai).

Classifier for food and drinks

The classifiers for food and drinks in Thai are similar to English, we usually use the containers as a classifier. 

Food in a dishจาน jaanex. ข้าวผัดหนึ่งจาน (kâaw-pàt nèung jaan) = A dish of fried rice
Food in a bowl (noodles, soup)ชาม chaamex. ต้มยำหนึ่งชาม (dtôm-yam nèung chaam) = A bowl of Tom Yam soup
Sauce or food in a small saucerถ้วย tûuayex. ไอศรีมหนึ่งถ้วย (i-sà-cream nèung tûuay) = A small bow of icecream
Food in a box (take away)กล่อง glàwngex. ผัดไทยหนึ่งกล่อง (Pad Thai nèung glòng) = A box of Pad Thai
Food in a bag (take away)ถุง tǔngex. ก๋วยเตี๋ยวหนึ่งถุง (gǔay-tǐiaw nèung tǔng) = A bag of noodles
Drink in a glass or cupแก้ว gáewex. น้ำแข็งหนึ่งแก้ว (náam kǎeng nèung gâew) = A glass of ice
Drink in a bottleขวด kùuadex. โค้กหนึ่งขวด (Coke nèung kùuad) = A bottle of Coke
Drink in a canกระป๋อง grà-pǎwngex. สไปร์ทหนึ่งกระป๋อง (sà-príte nèung grà-pǎwng) = A can of Sprite

Practical examples

Let’s learn the usage of classifier in practical Thai dialogues. 

Project 2 bottles of waters

A: เอาน้ำเปล่ากี่ขวด (ao náam-bplaao gìi kùuad)
= How many bottles of water do you want?

B: สองขวด (sǒorng kùuad) 
= Two 

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A: บ้านคุณหลังไหน (bâan khun lǎng nǎi)
= Which house is yours?

B: บ้านใหญ่ๆหลังนี้ (bâan yài-yài lǎng níi)
= This big house. 

557,241 Classroom Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

A: ในห้องเรียนมีนักเรียนทั้งหมดกี่คน  (nai hôorng-riian, mii nák-riian táng-mòt gìi kon) 
= How many students in total in the class?

B: มีนักเรียนสามสิบคน (mii nák-riian sǎam sìb kon)
= There are 30 students.

Shopping Day วันแห่งการช้อปปิ้งของคนไทยและต่างชาติ - Garage Park

A: วันนี้อยากซื้ออะไร (wan-níi yàak séu à-rai) 
= What do you want to buy today?

B: อยากซื้อของหลายอย่าง (yàak séu kǒorng lǎi yàang)
= I want to buy many things.   

Summary

Learning classifiers or units of nouns is the must in order to speak Thai naturally. Even though this concept might not exist in your mother’s language, however it can be learned and you can master it with ease and use in your daily life. 

If you want to learn more about Classifiers or any fundamental topics of conversational Thai and foundation. Check out the Intensive Thai course. It’s the best online Thai course to get started. 

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