In Thai, verbs can often act in the same way as adjectives, at least in the way they employ the mais [(ไม่) for “not” and (ไหม) as the yes/no question particle ] and maaks [(มาก) for “very” or “a lot”]. And as we’ve discussed before, pronouns are very optional in simple, informal Thai (but if you prefer to use them, remember that “pom” is the male word for “I/me;” “chan” is the female word for “I/me;” and “khun” means “you”).
1. Mee (มี)
To ask the question, “Do you have ____?”, you would say either “____ mee mai?” (_____มีไหม) or “Mee _____ mai?” (มี_____ไหม). Order is also not so important in Thai.
Common things you might find yourself asking about:
In a restaurant:
“Pad thai mee mai?” = Do you have pad thai?
“Bia Lee-oh mee mai?” = Do you have Leo beer?
“Ahaan talay mee mai?” = Do you have seafood?
“Ahaan jay mee mai?” = Do you have vegan food?
In a shop: (Assume you’re holding up a piece of clothing that’s not quite right.)
“Yai gwa mee mai?” = Do you have something bigger?
“Lek gwa mee mai?” = Do you have something smaller?
At a hotel:
“Hong wang mee mai?” = Do you have any rooms available?
“Sa-wai-nam mee mai?” = Do you have a swimming pool?
As with adjectival responses, an affirmative answer consists of the verb and the polite particle (if necessary): Mee, [ka/kap]. (มี[ค่ะ/ครับ]).
The negative answer: Mai mee, [ka/kap].(ไม่มี[ค่ะ/ครับ])
2. Ao (เอา)
This will often follow the same formula as “mee” does. Someone may ask you “Ao ________ mai?” (เอา____ไหม), or even just “Ao mai?” if the thing potentially desired is implied.
“Ao pai mai?” = Do you want to go?
“Ao gin mai?” = Do you want to eat?
“Ao kao mai?” = Do you want rice?
Of course, the answers would be as follows:
“Ao, [ka/kap].” (เอา[ค่ะ/ครับ]) = Yes.
“Mai ao, [ka/kap].” (ไม่เอา[ค่ะ/ครับ]) = No.
Maybe you simply wish to know what someone wants. In this case you would ask, “Ao a-rai?” (เอาอะไร); “a-rai” being the question word for “what”. If you wish to tell someone what you want, it’s “[Pom/chan] ao ________.”
“[Pom/chan] ao pai ran-ahaan.” = I want to go to the restaurant.
“[Pom/chan] ao gin som tam.” = I want to eat spicy papaya salad.
“[Pom/chan] ao ngo neung kilo.” = I want one kilogram of rambutans. (Good luck saying, “ngo” though! Been here a year and still can’t quite get that rascally “ng” right…)
Also, if it feels strangely brusque to march around telling people that you want something, there are the more polite “yaak” (อยาก) and “kor” (ขอ), which both roughly translate to “would like” (with “kor” being used more specifically for requests). However, in my experience there are definitely different cultural implications concerning the word “want,” and it doesn’t have the same “rude” connotations here as it might in Western culture.
3. Chop (ชอบ)
Hopefully the formula’s becoming a bit more familiar by now… A waitress has just served you your first som tam (spicy papaya sala), or perhaps a Thai friend has ordered it for you, and they wish to know:
“Chop mai?!” (ชอบไหม)… “Do you like it?!”
I feel certain your answer would be: “Chop maak!” (ชอบมาก), or “I like it a lot!” I guess even more likely could be: “Chop maak! Pet maak!” (“I like it a lot! Very spicy!”) Maybe you’re so busy shoveling in bites you only have time for a quick, “Chop, [ka/kap]” (ชอบ[ค่ะ/ครับ]), or “Yes.”
But maybe it’s a little too spicy for you, or underripe papaya just ain’t your thang. It’s okay; you can say, “Mai chop” (ไม่ชอบ).
4. Gin (กิน)
You’re probably already somewhat familiar with this, having seen it not only in the description of “ao” above, but also in a previous lesson with the question “Gin kao reu yang?” (“Have you eaten yet?”). In informal, simple Thai, “gin kao” (กินข้าว), literally “take rice,” is the way to say “eat,” even when you’re not necessarily talking about rice. “Gin nam” (กินน้ำ), literally “take water,” is the way to say “drink.” There are, of course, more formal ways to say these things that you’ll hear on occasion (“tahn” [ทาน] for “eat”; “deum” [ดื่ม] for “drink”), but you can’t really go wrong with “gin.”
“Chop gin ahaan Thai.” = I like to eat Thai food.
“[Pom/chan] gin jay.” = I’m vegan.
“[Pom/chan] gin mung-sao-ee-lat.” = I’m vegetarian.
“Mai gin moo/gai/neu-a.” = I don’t eat pork/chicken/beef.
“Ao gin Tom Yum goong, [ka/kap].” = I want to eat Tom Yum (a spicy/sour soup) with shrimp, [please].
“Ao gin bia Chang, [ka/kap].” = I want to drink Chang beer, [please].
5. Dai (ได้)
Initially, this one can throw new learners for a bit of a loop, in that unlike the English “can,” the Thai “dai” always comes at the end of a sentence. But once you get the hang of it you’ll find it pretty easy and useful.
“Gin [ahaan] pet dai mai?” = Can you eat spicy food?
“[Pom/chan/khun/rao] Pai namtok dai mai?” = Can I/you/we go to the waterfall?”
“Jort tee-nee dai mai?” = Can I park here?
“[Pom/chan] Poot pasa-Thai dai [nit-noi]!” = I can speak [a little] Thai!
Hopefully by now you’ll be using that last one all the time. 🙂
Also I wanted to give a little shout-out to another Thai learning website I stumbled on today that I thought was pretty good. As it happens, almost all of their most recent posts were lessons I was planning on doing in the coming weeks so if you want to go ahead and get a head start check them out!
Thai Crash Course Part 1: 6 Useful Expressions | Thai Crash Course Part 2: 5 Useful Questions | Thai Crash Course Part 3: 7 Commonly Used Adjectives | Thai Crash Course Part 4: 5 Useful Verbs | Thai Crash Course Part 5: Numbers |Thai Crash Course Part 6: Question Words