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Top 25 Thai words for Every Beginner Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Beginner

Every language has its common words and its rare words. Thai has about 1000 very common words, where you’ll hear and/or use each of them no less than once a week (and many several times per hour). To move from beginner to intermediate, you need to learn all 1000+ of those words. After you learn those 1000, there are yet another ~5000+ that are used several times per month – all of which need to be memorized to be an advanced learner. Native speakers know approximately 15k to 20k words, where the rarest words are used only a few times per year. To even become an advanced speaker is no simple task, of course, as learning one word per day will only result in 3650 words learned in 10 years (about 41 years to know 15k words). Daunting, eh?


As an ultra-beginner, your primary concern should be learning the first 1000 words, at least 6 a day. Learn three while eating breakfast, three while eating dinner, and review again just before sleep. At that rate you can know 15k in 7 years, and it won’t interfere with your busy schedule or be hard enough to make you want to quit. Anyway, I’ve compiled a starter list of the most common words you’ll need to learn. The Thai spellings are included for those who are a little more advanced, and are ready to spell the most common words.


ใจ jai1 heart – This word is used with tons of compound words for emotions

ไป bpai1 go

มา maa1 come

สวัสดี sa1wat1dee1 hello/goodbye

ครับ krap4 – this is an ending particle to make a sentence more polite

ค่ะ kaa3  – this is an ending particle to make a sentence more polite

และ lae4 and

แล้ว laew4 already – makes sentences past tense, or implies something has already happened

ที่ tee3 place, that, at

ว่า waa3 that

คิด kid4 think

มาก maak3 very

ไม่ mai3 no

ใช่ chai3 correct

แต่ dtae2 but

มี mee1 have

คน kon1 person/people

จะ ja1 will

ผม pom5 I (usually for men)

ฉัน chan5 I (usually for women, and young boys)

กิน gin1 eat

ข้าว kao3 rice

วัน wan1 day

ได้ dai3 can (can’t would be ไม่ได้)

ให้ hai3 give – the grammatical rules to this word are complicated, so ‘give’ is an oversimplification for now

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  1. Janne Wallin:

    Can you give us a list like this twice a week? (Which tone goes with which number?)

    • palmisano:

      @Janne Wallin I usually give vocabulary lists to follow a particular theme. As for the numbers, they match the order of tones as Thai’s learn them:
      1. mid tone
      2. low tone
      3. falling tone
      4. high tone
      5. rising tone

  2. David:

    I am a beginner and have learnt the alphabet and am now learning the top 25 most common words and would like to know where do I find the top 100 most common words as this is my next step.
    Thanks and Regards

    • palmisano:

      @David I haven’t actually written up a list for it – all in my head. I’ll make note and do one in near future.

  3. Liam:

    There is a pretty good thread on Thai Visa with word frequency lists for download. http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/96893-list-of-3000-most-common-thai-words/

  4. Stefan:

    Nice list, I agree these are among the most important words to study first. However, for beginners it’s not really easy to pronounce as there are no tone marks on the transliteration.

  5. Tony:

    Thanks for this.

    Regarding tone numbers, I would suggest going to letters (MLFHR), which I know you have used on some of your posts, or using the tone marks (e.g. lôok-pláp). For me, much less confusing that numbers (which I was unable to find until this post).

  6. David::

    what a great list to have. This words is most importen to study and i will start this week to learning. thank you very much for share this list.