Understand Thai pronouns “You”

Sawatdee ka,

This lesson continues from my previous blog, Understand Thai pronouns for “I”.

I would like to repeat again that age, social status, gender, the relationship between speakers, the formality of the situation and individual personality all play a part in helping Thai people to decide the most appropriate way to refer to themselves and address others.

Certain first person pronouns are normally ‘paired’ with a specific second person pronoun.

1. คุณ /kun/

Many books and Thai language learning source explain that you in Thai is ‘kun’. In every day real life, ‘kun’ is rarely used.

When to use: It is a formal term so it is tend to be used in formal situation or to address people of higher social status i.e. business meeting, a staff at the hotel or restaurant address a customer, a cleaning lady addressing her employer

‘Kun’ is also used as a polite title before names i.e. a staff at a salon address me as ‘Kun Mod’

 2. เธอ /ter/

‘ter’ is paired with chán /ชั้น/ , or m /ผม/. As a 3rd person pronoun it usually refers to female, but it is quite old fashioned now to address a third person ‘ter’.

When to use: it is mostly used among female friends, signals a relationship of closeness. I don’t think ‘ter’ is used much among Thai men. I remember when I was a little girl, a male school mate called me ‘ter’ I thought it sounded strange.

3.  แก /gae/

‘gae’ is an intimate pronoun among close friends. It is paired with chán /ชั้น/.

When to use: It is used with friends in the same age. I use ‘chán’ and ‘gae’ all the time when speaking to my close friends. I also use it with my little sister and brother since we are very close.

4.มึง /mueng/

It is considered an impolite word, but it is widely used among male friends, and close female friends. People also use this word to address others when they are very angry or when they want to show disrespect.

NOTE:  I don’t like to hear a girl using this pronoun because it doesn’t sound like a lady. I suggest that you shouldn’t use this pronoun with people that are not close enough because they will consider you very rude!

 

5. Personal names

Personal names or nicknames are also commonly used as personal pronouns. It can be used to address both women and men.

When to use nicknames: It is commonly used to among friends in the same age or younger.

6.      Kin terms are commonly used as pronouns. For example, a child will refer to his/her father พ่อ [pâw] ‘father’ when talking to his/her father.

See other kin terms here: http://wp.me/p1dKYh-ba

 

Click this link to learn other pronouns.

 

I hope this lesson help you to choose which pronouns is appropriate to use in the future.:)

Mod

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6 Responses to Understand Thai pronouns “You”

  1. Tomtom 30/05/2013 at 17:27 #

    Hi Mod, thank you for your good lessons!
    Can you please explain me the meaning and use of ตัว and ลื้อ as 2nd person singular pronouns?
    And moreover you told us in the lesson before that เค้า is also used as the 1st person pronoun “I”. So what’s the deal with เขา, can you only use it as a 3rd person singular or plural pronoun or as the 1st person “I” as well?

    Thank you very much for the clarification !

    • Mod 30/05/2013 at 21:48 #

      ตัว is used as a 2nd person singular pronoun with your loved one,it is paired with เค้่า as a 1st person singular pronoun. These pronouns are commonly used by young couples.

      เขา is used as a 3rd person singular only, but it is written form. In spoken Thai, we pronounce with high tone – เค้่า.

  2. Andy Tan 06/10/2012 at 13:52 #

    Sawat-dee-khrab, khaaw thaawt khrab, I don’t really understand. You said people nowadays don’t refer “you” as ” เธอ “, right? So what do people call “you” when trying to speak to a friend.
    Like for example, I’m speaking to one of my male classmates and female classmates, do I say เธอ to refer to both boy and girl?
    Secondly, men only say ” มึง ” referring “you” ? Do men say ” เธอ ” also? 😀 And ladyboys?
    Oh and, what do people refer themselves? We just say “phohm” and “chan” depends on the gender? Do we say other words referring to themselves?
    Khawp-khoon-khrab. 🙂

    • Mod 08/10/2012 at 17:00 #

      You can address your classmates with their nicknames (Please see no.5)
      As for men, they use มึง with close friends, or nicknames with other friends. เธอ is not used by men so much.
      As for lady boys, I believe they use the same pronouns as women and men according to the circumstance.

      Regarding pronoun “I” , you can read here: http://www.learnthaiwithmod.com/2012/03/understand-thai-pronouns-for-i/

      Thank you for reading my post. kop kun ka:)

  3. Andy Tan 06/10/2012 at 13:48 #

    Sawat-dee-khrab, khaaw thaawt khrab, I don’t really understand. You said people nowadays don’t refer “you” as ” เธอ “, right? So what do people call “you” when trying to speak to a friend.
    Like for example, I’m speaking to one of my male classmates and female classmates, do I say เธอ to refer to both boy and girl?
    Secondly, men only say ” มึง ” referring “you” ? Do men say ” เธอ ” also? 😀 And ladyboys?
    Khawp-khoon-khrab. 🙂

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