Thai Question Word Slang Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Beginner

In English, there is both ‘spoken English’ and ‘written English’. We don’t realize it, but the way we write English isn’t always the same as how we speak it.

For example, we would write, ‘What are you going to do about it?’

But when spoken, we’d say something like, ‘Whaddya gonna do about it?’

Or if you’re southern, you’d might say, ‘What ya’ll gonna do about it?’

Or maybe even, ‘Whatcha gonna do bout it?’

It’s the result of lazy speech, saying what requires the least amount of tongue and mouth movement. In written English we avoid slang, run on sentences, and word slurring. We also use ‘bigger’ words to sound fancier and more intelligent.

In Thai this is taken to an even more extreme level. Spoken Thai is called ภาษาพูด paa1saa5 puud3. Written Thai is called paa1saa5 kian5 ภาษาเขียน, and is often also refered to as paa1saa5 suay5 ภาษาสวย which means ‘beautiful language’ – referring to the fancy vocabulary and wording common for writing in Thai.

In English there is an unwritten rule that printed media must be easy to read, between 6 and 12th grade level, based on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level. But in Thai there is no rule, resulting in some print information challenging even educated Thais. Thai newspapers are the worst offenders – especially the front page.

Anyway, this post will be dedicated to question words in spoken Thai. For a quick review of question words in written Thai, refer to this article:

Below is a list of question words, which I’m referring to as the ‘root’ word. I follow it with Thai slang words which originate from the original Thai word. 

Root word

Thai Slang



ไหม   Maai5 [question]?
มั้ย Mai4 [question]?
ม๊ะ Ma4 [question]?
เปล่า   Blow2 No?
ป่ะ Ba2 No?
ป่าว Baaow2 No?
หรือ   Reeu5 Or?
เหรอ Laaw5 Or?
รึ Reu5 Or?
เนอะ Naw4 Right? [ending particle]
ยัง Yang1 Yet?

Note: The Chinese language has a word with the exact same definition as ไหม does in Thai, and is used in the exact same way. That word is pronounced as ม๊ะ, so perhaps it isn’t slang but instead originated from Chinese immigrants to Thailand ~100 years ago. Just a guess!

Before you continue with this lesson, there are two reading prerequisites to understand the later examples. Both give examples between book and spoken Thai, and the rules of abbreviating sentences in Thai:


After reading those two above articles, the following sentences will give you plenty of practice asking questions in spoken Thai. The same sentence is written multiple times, using each word. The word กิน (gin1) means ‘to eat’, and จะ (ja2) means ‘will’. Words in brackets represent what is understood through context.

[Will you] eat [it]?





[Will you] eat [it] or not?





[Are you] going to eat or not?





[I am assuming you are] going to eat, riiiiight? (spoken with a question voice)



[Have you] eaten [it] yet?





The word เนอะ is an ending particle used as a confirmation question word after adjectives: 

Isn’t [she] beautiful?

[She’s] beautiful, no?


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