Thai Language Blog

Thai Ending Particles, krap and ka Posted by on Nov 13, 2010 in Beginner, Intermediate

When learning Thai, one of the very first things you learn are the words ครับ (krap) and ค่ะ (ka). For me, ครับ was the very first Thai word I learned – and I still remember the day. As you should already know, ครับ is for boys and ค่ะ is for girls. By simply adding either at the end of a sentence, you make yourself sound very polite and respectful.

At least that’s how its taught – but it’s not that simple.

Let’s start with ครับ. First, the ร sound isn’t always produced. You’ll often just hear คับ. Second, and this will confuse many a farang, women are also allowed to say ครับ! Yeap, it’s not just for guys! Now, not all women will say it, especially not the girly-girls. But strong-minded women will often do it.

For an even more formal way of saying it, which basically means ‘yes sir’, say ครับผม. You’ll hear soldiers and police say this to their superiors. If you’re girlfriend bosses you around a lot, you can say this as a form of sarcasm. If however you are careful how you say it, speaking slowly and friendly while dragging out the vowel, it can come off as a friendly yet informal ‘yes ma’am’.

You may know now that just saying ครับ and ค่ะ can be used to let the speaker know you are listening to them. For example, the speaker is trying to make a point, and you occasionally say ค่ะ to signify you are accepting what they are saying. On radio talk shows, where a woman is involved, you’ll often here ค่ะ ค่ะ ค่ะ ค่ะ ค่ะ ค่ะ to the point you’d swear they were surrounded by crows.

Similarly, you can say ครับท่าน or ค่ะท่าน to be extra formal when responding to someone with much higher social superiority (boss of your boss, a high ranking monk, etc.).

Now let’s say someone you’re close to requests something of you that you’re already aware of, like a mother reminding you to not forget to do your homework. The proper response would be ค๊าบบบ (kaaaaap, high tone). Slightly nod your head and smile just a bit as you draw out that vowel.

Now let’s move on to ค่ะ. This is a huge simplification, and there are actually many different ways it can be pronounced/spelled, depending on the situation. Here are the most common as explained below.

ค่ะ Use this when you are answering a question, or stating a sentence.



คะ Use this word at the end of a question.



ค้า Use this when you want to be a little bit sarcastic.



ขา Use this to be sweet sounding, such as when you will soon request for something.


แม่ขา หนูขอน้ำดึมค่ะ

อาจารย์ขา ดิฉันไม่เข้าใจเรื่องนี้ค่ะ ขอช่วยหน่อยซิค่ะ … … and you get the idea

Now that you understand the basics of krap and ka, I will now inform you that there are approximately 50 more ending particles each with similarly complicated rules. <evil grin>

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  1. Richard:

    They have sarcasm in Thailand?

    I never would have guessed.