Unofficial Thai course: Lesson one: Introduction to Thai

NOTE: I am not fluent in Thai, it is not my native language, and I am not a teaching expert. There is a small chance there will be an error here, and if you ever find one, please report it to me in the comments IMMEDIATELY.

สวัสดี! I have been thinking for a while about making a Thai course, and I finally have decided to. Please leave feedback in the comments. :)

Basic Pronunciation:

Thai is a tonal language. For example, the words ใหม่ (mài), ไม้ (mái), ไหม (măi), ไม่ (mâi) and ไม (mai) all mean different things. The tones are middle, low, falling, high, and rising tones.

In English, when you say something like "kid" usually the final consonant sound is released after the "d." However, in Thai that's not the case. In Thai you wouldn't expel the final consonant.

Basic Grammar:

Thai grammar is very simple, especially when compared to languages like French. For instance, verbs do not inflect in Thai. So you don't need to worry about tenses such as past, present, and future tense. Tenses are expressed by adding a separate time word. Also, there are no plural forms of nouns and no verb conjugation, no articles, no noun genders, and much fewer prepositions are used. I'll explain it more deeply in future lessons.

Thai has no spaces too, which makes Thai both easier and harder.

Any words that aren't essential to the core meaning of a sentence are usually optional and can be omitted.

Thai word order is just like English. Subject, verb, object, or SVO. For instance, "I" in Thai is ฉัน (if you're female, if you are male it would be ผม) "eat" in Thai is กิน, and "apple" in Thai is แอปเปิ้ล, and if you wanted to say "I eat an apple" in Thai, you would write, "ฉันกินแอปเปิ้ล" which literally translates to "I eat apple"

The Alphabet:

One of the first things you should learn in Thai is the alphabet. Thai has 44 consonants and 32 vowels. However, almost all the vowels are paired into long and short vowels, so it's not quite as difficult as it sounds.

The Thai alphabet is divided into classes, high, middle, and low.

Thai vowels can be written before the consonant (e.g โ) , after the consonant (e.g า) , above the consonant (e.g ิ), or below the consonant (e.g ู), but never by themselves.

Though the Thai alphabet is undoubtedly difficult, it certainly could be worse. It's easier than it looks. Don't get discouraged!

In this lesson, you will learn eight Thai letters. In future lessons, I will include more, but since I have already included a lot of stuff here, I will only do eight.

ม (Maaw máa) (M)

น (Naaw nǔu) (N)

า (ā) ((sà-rà-aa) (like the "a" in "father")

ง (Ngaaw nguu), (Ng) (like the "ng" at the end of "sing"

ย (Yaaw yák) (Y)

ว (Waaw wǎaen) (W)

ด (Daaw dèk) (D)

-ี (sà-rà ii) (ī) (like "ee" in "green")

Words for practice:

นา = Rice field

ดี = Good

ยาว = Long

งาน = Work (NOTE: Noun, not verb)

มา = To come

Please leave suggestions, feedback, and questions in the comments! :)


December 27, 2017


The word for "I" actually depends on the gender of the speaker. For example, a male speaker would say ผม, while a female speaker would say ฉัน. Thanks for these lessons! I'm looking forward to the coming lessons.

December 27, 2017

Oh shoot, I forgot to add that, thank you so much!

December 27, 2017

Can we please just have the Thai for English speakers course in the Incubator already? The Thai script is driving me crazy with its complexity, a Duolingo Thai for English course would be very helpful.

December 30, 2017

I'm not learning Thai but these lessons seem great and I did enjoy reading through it!

December 27, 2017

Thank you! :)

December 27, 2017

Very nice! I started learning Thai a few years ago since my mom is Thai and I thought that would make it easier. I learned part of the alphabet along with some words, but never got to actual grammar or the 'building' of words if you make call it that (I could only recognize them). Now I can only pick up some things in conversations. My mom was never taught grammar and she even told me she is pretty bad at writing (because she only went to middle school). You explained everything very well, I will be re-reading this post the next couple of days. Thank you so much!

December 29, 2017

You're welcome! I'm very glad this helped you! :)

January 1, 2018

I've been waiting FOREVER for a thai course because my dad is Thai maar al ek kan praat is Engels en 'n bietjie Afrikaans. how did you learn the alphabet? I just know how to spell my surname and the first two: go gai, kho kai

October 22, 2018


December 27, 2017

Thanks! :)

December 27, 2017

Thanks, Woof.!

December 27, 2017

You're welcome, Maughanster_. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

December 27, 2017

I’ve been cooking real Thai food from scratch (not sweet, American-style restaurant food) for a decade and a half, and while I have no intention of ever trying to learn the language it is fascinating to read the structure and rules. Thanks so much for this!

December 27, 2017

Thank you Dcarl1! :)

December 28, 2017
  • 1152

Thanks, these are my comments, but not about your course.

I am learning Thai throught the reverse course (I am at level 2), and this is my experience: the pronouns are a bit complicated, I am confused with them. At first it was challenging to learn the class of each letter, the keyboard layout and the tone rules, but I ended up learning them using many mnemonics.

Here are my question, answer it if you want.

Are you doing the reverse tree too?. If you answer is yes. What is your level and the most difficult thing you had by learning that way?; If your answer is no. Why aren't you learning it in this way?

December 28, 2017

Hi Hxvan.!

I am doing the reverse course, but I'm a level 2. I just started it and I didn't want to test out of it. Most of my knowledge of Thai comes from many different resources, though doing the reverse course helps.

December 28, 2017
  • 1152

Wow, thanks for your answer.

December 28, 2017

Hi. Since there isn't yet a Thai for English speakers course, I thought it would be fun to try out the reverse course. Now Duolingo thinks I'm a Thai native speaker, and I'm unable to get back to an English-language environment. (I can speak a little Thai, but can't read it.) Any ideas what I can do? Thanks!

April 15, 2018

Hi, I had the same problem on my PC at first, but when I closed the program and re-opened it (on my PC) the language went back to English. Pfew! Now, on my PC, I can go back and forth between any of my languages, including English for Thai. I don't want to try it out on my mobile phone app, bc I don't want to risk it not being able to turn back.

October 13, 2018

I am native Thai speaker and this lesson is just... impressive. Keep it up, Woof!

April 17, 2018

Thanks for the first lesson! I'd love to learn more.

April 26, 2018

Great job! PLease keep it up!

June 23, 2018

Thanks for this. Great start.

July 9, 2018

Great information! Thank you!

September 23, 2018

Thank you wwwww

October 23, 2018

Hey I'm currently making a Thai course inspired by Duolingo, so here it is

January 10, 2019

I already know a decent level of Thai (lower Intermediate) and currently doing the reverse Tree (English in Thai) and taking good notes.. I'm willing to help with the Thai in English course.

February 14, 2019

Hi I'm a Thai native speaker. Feel free to ask me anything. I'll help you as much as i can. I am quite fluent in English and currently learning German, Swedish and Czech simultaneously though very slowly. I'll appreciate any help you guys can offer me. Thanks

March 21, 2019

Thanks! This is really helpful to me, I am going to Thailand during the summer and it’s good to know a little about the language

March 23, 2019
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