Thai Language Blog

How to use the Thai word Laew Posted by on Feb 25, 2011 in Beginner, Culture

Laew4 แล้ว is one of the most common words you’ll find in the Thai language, making it very important to fully understand. English doesn’t have a word that directly translates, however ‘already’ can be used as an approximate meaning in most cases.


1a) แล้ว can be added to the end of a sentence to make it past tense.

ทำแล้ว  I did it already. (‘I’ is implied from context)

ทำแล้วยัง?  Did you do it yet?

ผมกินแล้ว  I ate already.

เขาไปแล้ว  He went already. He left.

จอห์นกลับมาแล้ว  John returned. John already arrived.

คุณเรียนภาษาไทยกี่ปีแล้ว?  How many years have you learned Thai?


1b) But don’t think แล้ว is only for past tenses. If แล้ว is combined with the word for ‘will’ ja1 จะ, you can make your sentence future tense. Even though it hasn’t already happened, the implication of แล้ว is that in the future it will have already happened.

อีกสามวันจะอยู่ที่เมืองไทยแล้ว  In three days I’ll already be in Thailand.

ผมจะไม่ไปอีกแล้ว  I will never go again.


2) แล้ว can be used as a break in a sentence containing an order of events, similar to ‘then’ in English.

วันนี้ผมออกไปกินข้าว แล้วกลับบ้าน  Today I went out to eat. Then I went home.

เตรียมอาหารแล้วก็กิน  Prepare the food, then eat.


3) If you see แล้ว at the beginning of a question, it can be similar to ‘and’ in English.

แล้วทำไม?  And why, exactly?

แล้วคุณล่ะ?  And what about you?

แล้วไง?  And what about it? / So what?


4) แล้ว is also part of compound words that have little or nothing to do with ‘already’, so be careful to not get confused with these following examples.

แล้วแต่ – up to, dependent on

แล้วแต่คุณ  up to you

ที่แล้ว – ago

ห้าปีที่แล้ว  five years ago

จริงๆแล้ว – as a matter of fact

จริงๆแล้วไม่อยากไปอีกเลย Actually, I don’t want to go again.

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  1. Snap:

    What wonderful timing, I’m just starting to tackle the uses of แล้ว in class. Thanks for some more useful examples of how to use the word. Fortunately it’s one of the few words I know I’m pronouncing correctly!

  2. palmisano:

    Snap, I know you don’t want to hear this, but there are several ways it’s pronounced depending on emotion =P

  3. Snap:

    You’re right, I didn’t want hear that 🙁 *sigh*