Thai Language Blog

Long and Keun Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Beginner, Culture, Intermediate

I will show you how to use long2 ลง and keun3 ขึ้น as quantitative modifiers to adjectives. They are very commonly used as comparatives, basically describing how one thing compares to another. However, as they are opposites, their use is a little counterintuitive and can be confusing at first.


Alone, these two words are verbs. As a verb, keun means ‘to increase’, ‘raise’, or ‘augment’. Here are a few examples:


อ้วนขึ้น – become fatter

มากขึ้น – increase, become more

น้ำนักขึ้น – weight increased, increase weight

รวยขึ้น – get richer

ดีขึ้น – get better


Notice that in each example, a particular state gets increased.


The opposite of keun is long. The word ลง means to ‘decrease’ and to ‘lower’. The following five examples are the exact opposites of the above five examples:


ผอมลง – become skinnier

น้อยลง – decrease, become not as much as before

น้ำนักลง – weight decreased, decrease weight

จนลง – get poorer

แย่ลง – get worse


So how do you know which words are used with ขึ้น and which words are used with ลง? Why sometimes both? Supposedly it has to do with Thai cultural feelings, where ขึ้น is used with words that are felt to be ‘good’, and ลง is used with words that are felt to be ‘bad’. So why is อ้วน good and ผอม bad? I’ve been told traditional Thai culture sees it that way . . . but Thai culture is changing, so you’ll on rare occasion now see ผอมขึ้น and อ้วนลง, too.


I tried hard to find a good video to help you practice these words, but didn’t have much luck. So you’ll have to just listen to this song which has the words maak3 keun3 มากขึ้น and noi4 long2 น้อยลง repeated often:


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