- First of all, if you would like to speak Thai like a Thai let’s start by pronoucing the word “Thai” correctly.
It is pronounced “ไทย /tai/”, not “ทาย /taai/”. I heard many foreigners say Thai food -อาหารทาย /aa-hăan taai/, Thai boxing- มวยทาย /muai-taai/, Thai langugae- ภาษาทาย /paa-săa taai/, ผัดทาย /pàd-taai/, BUT these word are pronounced with SHORT vowel. The correct way to say them is
อาหารไทย /aa-hăan taai/
ภาษาไทย /paa-săa taai/
AND it is incorrect to pronounce this word with “TH” sound , it is “T” only.
2. Thai currency is บาท /bâad/ , not bath.The final consonant sound is like “d” but you keep that sound in your mouth.
3. Another basic and common word that you likely to use many times in everyday life is “good luck” which is โชคดี /chôok-dii/. The first syllable is pronounced with LONG vowel.
4. When you want to introduce yourself, the Thai phrase is ผมชื่อ + name (for male speaker) or ชั้นชื่อ + name (for female speaker), or asking for someone’s name คุณชื่ออะไร. Make sure you pronounce the word name which is ชื่อ /chûe/ correctly with อือ vowel. This word is often mispronounced because students push their lips forward“chûu “- your lips should be flat and going to the side.
5. The word แล้วก็ /láew-gâw/ which means “and or and then”. I heard many students say Liew Kor เลี้ยวคอ /líao kaw/ which sounds like they are saying “turn your neck”.
6. The word “island” in Thai is เกาะ which is pronouned with “g” sound like in English words – gun or game. not “k” sound. เกาะ /gò/ is pronounced with short sound and low tone.
7. The word “eleven” in Thai is another word that is mispronounced often. It seems many students mispronounce the “et” at the end. Each time they asked a taxi driver to take them to soi 11, he took them to soi 18.
Please be careful , this word has two syllables: สิบ sìp – เอ็ด èt . The important thing is to say each syllable separately and clearly สิบ – เอ็ด . DO NOT combine the ending sound of the first syllable with the second syllable, other wise it sounds like สิบแปด sìp bpàed which means 18.
8. Another common mistake is the words with different tones such as “near and far”. The words ใกล้ glâi and ไกล glai. I understand that these two words sound almost the same to non native speakers, but they have opposite meaning.
Here is the tip that might help you differentiate the two:
ใกล้ /glâi/ which means “near” is pronounced with “short vowel and falling tone” , SHORT sound can relate to the meaning “short distance”, “near”.
ไกล /glai/ which means “far” is pronounced with “long vowel and middle tone” – LONG sound can relate to the meaning “ling distance”, “far”.
9. The word we use to address an older person “pîi พี่” is usually mispronounced, and it changes the meaning to “ghost – ผี pǐi”. Please be careful, พี่ is pronouned with falling tone and ผี is rising tone.
10. Thai words that are pronounced with three difficult vowel อึ, อือ, เอือ:
First vowel : อึ (short vowel) – หนึ่ง/nùeng/ one, ถึง /tŭeng/ arrive, หึง /hŭeng/ jeaolus
Second vowel: อือ (long vowel) – มือ /mue/ hand , ถือ /tŭe/ carry, หรือ /rŭe/ or
Third vowel: เอือ (long vowel) – เครื่อง /krûeang/ machine, เมือง /mueang/ city
Well that’s our official list of the words that you are probably mispronouncing and we didn’t just make that list up, we built that list over years and years of coaching Thai students to improve their Thai pronunciation. They’re the words that students consistently get wrong! Many different students, many different times, they are the ones that are the most difficult for you to pronounce. I hope that you enjoyed this lesson, if you want to practice 5 Thai tones you can watch it here and you can also watch our vowel lessons right here and those lessons are fantastic for improving your Thai pronunciation and expression by speaking with a native Thai speaker. Thanks for watching and we will see you in the next lesson. Sawatdee ka!