Thai (ภาษาไทย)

Thai is a Tai-Kadai language spoken by about 60 million people mainly in Thailand (ประเทศไทย), where it is an offical language and the de facto national language. There are also Thai speakers in other places, including 153,000 in the USA, 64,800 in Taiwan, 58,800 in Germany, 55,400 in Australia, 43,600 in Sweden and 30,000 in Malaysia.

Thai at a glance

  • Native name: ภาษาไทย (phasa thai) [pʰāːsǎːtʰāj]
  • Language family: Kra-Dai, Tai, Southwestern Tai, Chiang Saen, Thai
  • Number of speakers: c. 60 million
  • Spoken in: Thailand, USA, Taiwan, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Malaysia and other countries
  • First written: c. 1292
  • Writing system: Thai alphabet
  • Status: Official language in Thailand. Recognised minority language in Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar

Thai is closely related to Lao, and northern dialects of Thai are more or less mutually intelligible with Lao, particularly the Lao spoken in northern Thailand. Thai vocabulary includes many words from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer.


Thai alphabet (ตัวอักษรไทย)

It is thought that the Thai alphabet was based on the Old Khmer alphabet, which dates from 611 AD. The oldest known inscriptions in Thai appeared in about 1292 AD. According to tradition, the Thai alphabet was created by King Ramkhamhaeng (พ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช).

The Thai alphabet is used to write Thai, Sanskrit, Pali, and a number of minority languages spoken in Thailand.

Notable features

Thai alphabet and pronunciation

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS), the official standard for the romanisation of Thai, is used here. Many other romanisation systems are used elsewhere.

Consonants (พยัญชนะ)

Thai Consonants

A recording of the Thai alphabet by ปัณณวิช ตันเดชานุรัตน์ (Pannawit Tandaechanurat)

How to write write and pronounce Thai consonants:


Vowel diacritics (รูปสระ)

Thai vowel diacritics

How to write write and pronounce Thai vowels:

Numerals (ตัวเลขไทย)

Thai numerals

A recording of these numbers by ปัณณวิช ตันเดชานุรัตน์

How to write write and pronounce Thai numerals:

Thai punctuation and tone markers

A recording of the Thai tone marker names by ปัณณวิช ตันเดชานุรัตน์

Tone indication

Tone Example
mid tone (เสียงสามัญ) ไมล์ [mai] - mile
low tone (เสียงเอก) ใหม่ [mài] - new, again
falling tone (เสียงโท) ไม่ [mâi] - no, not
high tone (เสียงตรี) ไม้ [mái] - wood
rising tone (เสียงจัตวา) ไหม [măi] - question particle / silk

The tone of a syllable is determined by a combination of the following factors:

The type of vowel: short or long
Short vowels are found in syllables with no written vowel (e.g. นม); those ending in -ะ (e.g. โต๊ะ); those with the -็ mark (e.g. เป็น); and those with -ั , -ิ , -ึ or -ุ.
Other vowels are long.
NB: "short" here means "short in the context of the tone rules" and such vowels are not necessarily pronounced short.
The type of syllable: open (คำเป็น) or closed (คำตาย)
Open syllables end with m, n, ɳ or a long vowel.
Closed syllables end with p, t, k or a short vowel
The class (low, middle or high) of the syllable
The class of a syllable is usually that of the first consonant, unless the first consonant has no vowel mark, or the second consonant is a sonorant, e.g. สลบ pronounced: [สะหฺลบ]
The tone marker
When a tone marker is used it is placed on the last initial consonant.

Summary of Thai tone rules

Summary of Thai tone rules

An introduction to Thai tones:


Download Thai alphabet charts in Excel, Word or PDF format


Sample text in Thai

เราทุกคนเกิดมาอย่างอิสระ เราทุกคนมีความคิดและความเข้าใจเป็นของเราเอง เราทุกคนควรได้รับการปฏิบัติในทางเดียวกัน.

A recording of this text by Jo S.


Rao túk kon gèrt maa yàang ìt-sà-rà, rao túk kon mee kwaam kît láe kwaam kâo jai bpen kŏng rao ayng. Rao túk kon kuan dâi ráp gaan bpà-dtì-bàt nai taang dieow gan.

Transliteration by


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)


Sample videos in Thai

Information about Thai | Phrases | Numbers | Family words | Tower of Babel | Books about Thai on: and [affilate links]

- Learn Thai with Glossika
- - Learn Thai with Free Podcasts
- Find Thai Tutors with LanguaTalk
- Learn Thai with Ling



Information about the Thai language

Online Thai lessons and other resources

A New Life in Thailand by Nigel Cobbett - a comprehensive ebook guide to travel and living in Thailand, and the Thai language

Online Thai dictionaries

Information about Thai transliteration and Romanization systems

Thai phrases

Online Thai keyboards and translation

Online Thai radio

Your name in Thai

Information about King Ramkhamhaeng the Great

Tai-Kaidai languages

Ahom, Aiton, Bouyei, Isan, Kam, Khamti, (Tai) Khün, Lao, Lue, Northern Thai (Kam Mueang), Nùng, Shan, Sui, Tai Dam, Tai Dón, Tai Hongjin, Tai Laing, Tai Nuea, Tai Phake, Tai Ya, Thai, Thai Song, Yang Zhuang, Zhuang

Languages written with the Thai script

Bisu, Isan, Kuy, Northern Khmer, Northern Pwo, Nyah Kur, Pāli, Sanskrit, Thai, Thai Song, Urak Lawoi’

Abugidas / Syllabic alphabets

Ahom, Aima, Arleng, Badagu, Badlit, Basahan, Balinese, Balti-A, Balti-B, Batak, Baybayin, Bengali, Bhaiksuki, Bhujimol, Bilang-bilang, Bima, Blackfoot, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Carrier, Chakma, Cham, Cree, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dham Lipi, Dhankari / Sirmauri, Ditema, Dives Akuru, Dogra, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fox, Fraser, Gond, Goykanadi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gunjala Gondi, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Halbi Lipi, Hanifi, Hanuno'o, Hočąk, Ibalnan, Incung, Inuktitut, Jaunsari Takri, Javanese, Kaithi, Kadamba, Kamarupi, Kannada, Kawi, Kharosthi, Khema, Khe Prih, Khmer, Khojki, Khudabadi, Kirat Rai, Kōchi, Komering, Kulitan, Kurukh Banna, Lampung, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Lota Ende, Magar Akkha, Mahajani, Malayalam, Meitei (Modern), Manpuri (Old), Marchen, Meetei Yelhou Mayek, Meroïtic, Masarm Gondi, Modi, Mon, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Multani, Nandinagari, Newa, New Tai Lue, Ojibwe, Odia, Ogan, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Purva Licchavi, Qiang / Rma, Ranjana, Rejang (Kaganga), Sasak, Savara, Satera Jontal, Shan, Sharda, Sheek Bakrii Saphaloo, Siddham, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sukhothai, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Tanchangya (Ka-Pat), Tani, Thaana, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari, Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Vatteluttu, Warang Citi

Other writing systems

Page last modified: 16.03.23


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