One of the first things you should do when you start learning Thai is to understand how to form Yes/ No questions and learn how to give the correct “yes” or “no” answer.
Many students understand that “ใช่ /châi/” is used for answering “yes” to every question which is WRONG. In this lesson, I am going to explain how to answer “yes” and “no” to basic Yes/No questions.
First, let’s have a look at how to form the questions. It is simple…if you understand how to construct basic Thai statements using the pattern:
[Subject + verb + object] or [subject + adjective]
Statements are transformed into questions that require a simple yes/no question answer by adding the question particles to the end of the statement:
You will see two ways to write the question particle used for yes/no questions
- ไหม /măi/ which is used in formal written Thai
- มั้ย /mái/ which is used spoken Thai or informal writing such as on social media or texting friends or family.
And here is the pattern that we use to form basic yes/no questions;
Subject + adjective +ไหม mái ?
Subject + verb +object +ไหม mái ?
HOW TO ANSWER “YES” or “NO”
Answer to a simple ไหม /mái/ question is formed as follows:
YES : repeating the VERB or ADJECTIVE from the question
NO : “ไม่ mâi” + VERB/ADJECTIVE
- ประเทศไทยไหม bprá-têet tai ráwn mái? (Is Thailand hot?)
YES: ร้อน ráwn
NO: ไม่ร้อน mâi ráwn
2. คุณชอบปลาไหม kun châwp bplaa mái? (Do you like fish?)
YES: ชอบ châwp
NO: ไม่ชอบ mâi châwp
If the question includes more than one verb, the first verb is normally used in responses.
3. อยากไปดูหนังไหม yàak bpai duu năngmái? (Would you like to go to see a movie?)
YES: อยาก yàak
NO: ไม่อยาก mâi yàak
TIPS: You should add a polite particle if you would like to sound polite. ครับ /kráp/ for male speakers and ค่ะ /kâ/ for female speakers.
There are other yes/no question particles you might see in textbooks or hear a Thai say:
– หรือ /rŭe/ is obsolete, no one is using this one as a question word anymore. It is used for ‘or’.
– รึเปล่า /rúe-bplào/ and ไหม /mái/ are almost interchangeable, the question with รึเปล่า /rúe-bplào/ just sound more direct. In spoken Thai, รึเปล่า /rúe-bplào/ is shorten to ป่ะ/bpà?/
Example: “Do you like Thai food?” can be phrased in three different ways;
1.คุณชอบอาหารไทยไหม /kun chôrp aa-hăan tai mái?/
2.คุณชอบอาหารไทยรึเปล่า/ kun chôrp aa-hăan tai rúe-bplàao?/
3.คุณชอบอาหารไทยป่ะ/ kun chôrp aa-hăan tai bpà?/
So, I would like to remind you to not use the word “ใช่ châi” to give the answer “yes” when someone asks you a question with ไหม /măi or รึเปล่า /rúe-bplàao/, and other yes/no questions which I will talk about in the future lessons.
When to use “ใช่ châi“?
The word “ใช่ châi” means “right or correct” so we say this word when you want to say “that is correct” or “that’s right!”
The most common situation where Thai people will use “ใช่ châi” is when they answer to the question ใช่ไหม or ใช่มั้ย /châi mái/. This question particle is used to confirm information or understanding. It translates “is that right?”.
- เขามาจากอังกฤษใช่ไหม /káo maa jàak ang-grìt, châi-mái?/ He is from England, right?
YES: ใช่ /châi/ = That is right. (The answer confirms that he is from England.)
NO: ไม่ใช่ /mâi châi/ = That is not right. เขามาจากสก็อตแลนด์ /káo maa jàak Scotland/ He is from Scotland.
2. คุณไม่ชอบกินเบียร์ใช่ไหม /kun mâi châwp gin bia,châi-mái?/ You don’t like drinking beer, do you?
YES: ใช่ /châi/ = That is right. (The answer confirms that I don’t like drinking beer.)
NO: ไม่ใช่ /mâi châi/ = That is not right. (The answer says your understanding/information is wrong. I actually like drinking beer).
3. คุณอยากอยู่บ้านใช่ไหม /kun yàak yùu bâan, châi-mái?/ You want to stay home, don’t you?
YES: ใช่ /châi/ = That is right. (The answer confirms that I wan to stay home.)
NO: ไม่ใช่ /mâi châi/ = That is not right. (The answer says your understanding/information is wrong. I actually want to go out!).
4. พวกเขาเป็นตำรวจใช่ไหม /pûak-káo bpen dtam-rùat, châi-mái?/ They are policemen, aren’t they?
YES: ใช่ /châi/ = That is right. (The answer confirms that they are policemen.)
NO: ไม่ใช่ /mâi châi/ = That is not right. (The answer says your understanding/information is wrong. They are not policemen.).
I hope you find this lesson useful, and it helps to correct your misunderstanding. If you would like to learn more questions in Thai as well as how to answer them correctly, please let me know in the comment below. 🙂