To speak Thai clearly and make local people understood, it is not only getting the tones right it is also pronouncing the vowels correctly.
There are in total 32 vowels in Thai language, 14 of them are long vowels and 18 are short vowels
Similar to pronouncing Thai tones, when the vowel changes the meaning changes too. So you should make sure you are saying a word with a short or long vowel.
For example; ข้าว /kâao/ means ‘rice’ but when we change the pronunciation to a short sound เข้า /kâo/ means ‘to go in’.
“Vowel” in Thai is สระ /sà-rà/. Long vowel is called สระเสียงยาว /sà-rà sǐang yaao/ and short vowel is called สระเสียงสั้น /sà-rà sǐang sân/.
I always suggest my students to start learning the long vowels first and then move on to the short vowels because the short vowels are just pronounced with half of the length of the long ones. So when you learn to pronounce the long vowel sounds properly,working on the short vowel sounds is just a piece of cake! 🙂
Alright, let’s start with the long vowel sounds
1. อา /aa/ like a in sofa มา /maa/ means to come
2. อี /ee/ like ee in tree มี /mee/ means to have
3. อือ /ue/ there is no equivalent sound of this vowel in English
4. เอ /ay/ like ay in May เจ /jay/ means vegetarian
5. แอ /ae/ like a in man แกง /gaeng/ means curry
6. อู /uu/ like oo in zoo ดู /duu/ means to watch
7. โอ /oe/ like o in go โต /dtoe/ means grow up
8. ออ /aw/ like aw in law รอ /raw/ means wait
9. เออ /er/ like er in perm เจอ / jer/ means meet
10. อัว /ua/ like our in your วัว /wua/means cow
11. เอีย /ia/ like eer in beer เลีย /lia/ means lick
12. เอือ /uea/ there is no equivalent sound of this vowel in English
13. ฤา /rue/ there is no equivalent sound of this vowel in English
14. ฦา /lue/ there is no equivalent sound of this vowel in English
maico mejia says
sawadee krap mod
i enjoy your tutorial videos and i learn a lot from it
and i hope i can learn a lot for your up coming vids
Hi Kru Mod,
I stumbled upon your website while trying to look for tutorials on how to pronounce thai vowels. I love your lessons and videos so far and have jsut subscribed to your youtube channel 🙂 Btw, i just subscribed to your newsletter and dl the 190 words ebook. However the audio links for pronounciation was not included. Is there a link or file for that which u can direct me to?
Khob khoon krap!
Sawatdii ka Ben, thank you for your subscription. I am sorry to hear that the audio doesn’t work. Someone wrote me an email to inform this problem before – first he couldn’t get it working then he said the file works fine on Adobe Reader X (10.1.9). Perhaps you can try to open the file on a different program. Please let me know if you can figure the issue.
Many thanks, Mod
Rahul kumar says
mam I can speak thai language in past I lived in thai.thanks to all local students of kmutnb university and my local friends.but want to learn read and write.i want pursue my carrier in thai language. seeking some support from ur side.i can join a course.
Hi Mod, I just wanted to say a big “Thank you” for your lesson on the vowels. I have struggled with differentiating some of their pronunciations, but your excellent video has solved the problem. Thank you so much. I may book a course of lessons on Skype with you soon to help me with “Listening” to Thai, which I find the most difficult part. I will be in Bangkok in the middle of this month, so I am practising hard now 🙂
Best wishes, Dave
Sawatdii ka Dave, thank you for your kind comments here and thanks again learning Thai with us! 🙂
Hi, thanks for the lesson.. I’m just started learning thai vowel and letter. . Can I ask what this little dot above the letter mean? อ่ As in mother เเม่ Mae Is that a vowel also? Thank you
That is a low tone mark. It gives ‘low tone’ for Middle class and High class consonants and falling tone for Low class consonants.
its mai ek right?
I am sorry I don’t understand your question. Can you clarify please?
sawadi krab kun Mod 🙂
I like your Videos. They´re very useful for my study from home 🙂
I have a, for me, important question!
I can´t find your video with the short vowels :/
Can you show me please?
I wanna learn thai perfectly! just learned the alphabet, and the most important words. I think it´ll be the best to learn to read and to speak in the same time, to get it easier in head 😛
thanks a lot
Sawatdii ka kun Mike,
I am sorry I haven’t had a chance to do a video on short vowels. I am planning to do it together with teacher Pear next week. Please stay tuned. 🙂
Kap khun krap, for reply^^
Could you send me the link, if you make the video, please? 🙂
You´re a good teacher 😉
Please subscribe to my free newsletter so you don’t miss any new videos or update on my website: https://learnthaiwithmod.com/subscribe/
Kop kun ka ^_^
Mod, thanks for rolling your “r”. My Thai teacher many years ago would never allow me to say “l” and later Thai people complimented me for my pronunciation.
Now, if you can just call my wife and tell her to roll her r, 555 :-}
Vacation next month, family back to Thailand for summer school break. Thanks for your videos, such a great review for me. You are the best !! My children,(luuk krung), love you too
First of all, apologies for the delay in my response, and thank you for your kind comments.
It is very common for Thai people to change the “R” sound to “L” sound. It happens automatically some how. It also happen to me when speaking in everyday life.
Hope you and your family had a good vacation. 🙂
Sawatdee ka kru Mod, i must say that you are an excellent teacher.
Kun suey maak!
Khaawp koon maa ka.
sa-wat-dee khap kruu Mod,
Where do the other long vowels fit in? e.g. โ-ย /oey/, -าย /aay/, -าว /aaw/
They also have the ‘y’ merged into the sound, or end in ‘w’ that sounds like ‘ow’. I don’t see these on many standard charts (like the one you linked) but they seem to be vowels too?
Sawatdee ka Andy,
Those are actually a long vowel + a final consonant
1. The vowel “โ-” + final consonant “ย”
2. The vowel “-า” + final consonant “ย”
3. The vowel “-า” + final consonant “ว”
Hope this helps. 🙂
Dear khun Mod and khun Pear,
thank you so much for the entire website and the videos. I am goning back to Bangkok in August and I can’t wait to talk to my Thammasat friends in Thai.
Its a lot of fun to study a language this way. Khob khun mag na krab 🙂
(I wrote that before but my comuter messed it up and didnt really transfer it)
Sawatdee ka Jan, thank you for visiting our website and your message. We are happy to hear that you found our lessons useful in your Thai learning. Have fun in Bangkok! 🙂
Brian Guo says
Can you give examples of words that use อือ เอือ ฤๅ ฦๅ?
Apologies for my late reply.
อือ : มือ(hand), ซื้อ (purchase), หรือ (or), ถือ (carry) ,
เอือ : เพื่อน (friend) , เรือ (boat) , เสือ (tiger) , เสื้อ (shirt) , เดือน (month)
ฤา : ฤาษี (hermit)
ฦๅ : There is no word using this vowel.
Luna Thaw says
why i cannot watch this movie ? :'(
My old YouTube channel has been suspended, I have created a new channel called “ThaiwithMod”. Please don’t forget to subscribe. I re-upload some of the videos from the old channel to the new one already. I will continue to load more, but it takes some time to edit them.
I will edit this lesson and put a new video in soon, please recheck shortly. Thank you for visiting my website. kop kun ka:)
Wendy Reece says
Hi Mod! I just found your blog and have found it incredibly useful, you are by far the best person I have found to watch and learn from. Can’t wait for your short vowels video!
Kop kun mak ka
Sawatdee ka Wendy, thank you for your kind words. I am happy to hear that you found my site useful in your Thai learning. The video on short vowels are coming soon. : )
ia the material on short vowels available? Thanx. Nat
Sawatdee ka Nat, thank you for reading my post.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to the post on short vowels. I will do it shortly.
how about the video for short vowels, you long ago promised to make, or did I miss it, I have not found it on your site.
Also, I would like you to give some explanations about how the vowel signs work, because I really do not understand them all.
thank you very much
hey Kruu Mod can u post a video for short vowels pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee khob khun kha 😀
I will do that shortly. kop kun ka:)
I’ve listened to your vowel demonstration – very comprehensive! Would you consider it a fair statement to say that Thai vowels are mostly back-vowels (pronounced in the back of your throat), rather than front-vowels (pronounced near your lips)? When you enunciate, it sounds like your vowels are almost nasalized (close the air stream through your mouth and direct it through your nose).
Also, the last two (unused) vowels you demonstrated remind me of Sanskrit ऋ and ऌ (written in Devanagari). Are they still used in Thai liturgical language; e.g. in Buddhist worship?
btw u are an excellent teacher. Do you think it helps to have mneumonics (memory devices) or pics with the characters/letters. Also – do these vowels have tone marks – khawp khun Khap.
Woops my mistake I know now heheheh where the vowels go
Is the dash between – before and after vowels on your chart where vowels go in relation to consonants?
Perry Monash says
Khun Mod – Could u explain the position of vowels in relation to consonants – Khawp khun Khrap
sawatdee krab mod , could you pls send me the video link for short vowels,
korb khun krab.
I don’t know if you gonna answer this one, since this video is now “quite” old but why เอย as in เลย is never considered as a distinct vowel since it doesn’t sound like เอ+ย but much likely เออ+ย?
Sawatdee ka, thank you for reading my post. The vowel in the word เลย is “เออ”, it is a single sound. “ย” at the end is the final consonant:)
Excellent lesson. I needed the review and eagerly wait for the short vowels.
Appreciate all the help you provide. Can you do some Thai music like the national anthem or Chang song and explain the lyrics? Music makes learning a language more fun.
Thank you for the lesson on vowels. What about short vowels? Also, some words don’t have vowels. It seems like you can add ‘oh’ most of the time if there are just two consonants but maybe not always. How do you know what sound to use if there is no vowel?
Soo where is your school? Khrap would like to take classes 🙂 Khob khoon khrap
Sawatdee ka, thank you for your interest in learning Thai with me. I teach one-to-one Thai lessons via Skype. I don’t have a physical school.
Skype name please ….
Sawatdee ka Aush,
Thank you for your message. If you are interested to have one-to-one Skype lessons, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further details.