Thai Grammar

Learn Thai | Classifiers

By September 13, 2010March 17th, 2019No Comments

Thai Thai GrammarClassifiers

Hi everyone, (Sawasdee kà túk-kon)

Today I would like to talk about something interesting like “classifiers” 🙂

In the Thai language, it is important to use the correct classifier when counting or quantifying more than one object (noun). Each noun has a specific classifier word which should be used in a sentence when you are referring to a determinate number of items. This is a form of grammatical “agreement,” such as we find pervasively in languages such as English (for example, English ‘subject-verb agreement’).

Thai does not use determiner words in the same way as the English words, ‘a,’ ‘an,’ ‘the,’ ‘this,’ and ‘that,’ but as you’ll see in the Starter Grammar of Thai Classifiers below, classifiers can be used to accomplish the same thing.

People often note that English also has a sort of classifier system:

I’ll have two loaves of bread.

Here, the word loaves can be considered a classifier for bread; bread comes in loaves. Also as in English, powders, grains and other fluid substances are typically counted by the containers they come in.

A classifier is generally used with a category of nouns perceived to have a common characteristic. These categories often seem arbitrary. Therefore, it is a good idea to memorize the classifier along with the noun when learning new vocabulary.

Thai Classifiers Grammar

a. Basic examples are when you’re talking about more than one item:

He bought three books

Kǎo súu (buy) nǔng sǔu (book) sǎam lêm (the classifier for books)

 เขาซื้อหนังสือสามเล่ม

I have four kids.

Chán (I for female speaker) mii (have) lûuk sìi kon

ชั้นมีลูกสี่คน

b. Only when you’re talking about exactly one item, there are two positions for the classifier. These two sentences mean the same thing.

Ben has got a new red car.

Ben dâi (has got) rót (car) sǐi dԑԑng (red) maì (new) nùng kan

Ben dâi rót sǐi dԑԑng maì kan nung

เบนได้รถใหม่หนึ่งคัน

Common Classifiers

dtua (ตัว) =  animals, tables, chairs, shirts, dolls etc.

There are five tables here

tîi nîi (here) mii (there are) dtó (table) hâa dtua

ที่นี่มีโต๊ะห้าตัว

bai (ใบ) = glasses, cups, plates, boxes, bags

I have six glasses

chán mii geaw hòk bai

ชั้นมีแก้วหกใบ

kráng (ครั้ง) = times (number of occurrences)

They go to see movies three times per month

Pûak kǎo pai(go) duu(see) nǎng (movie) duan(month) lá (per) sǎam kráng

For more examples of types of classifiers try this classifier blog here:

Learn Thai Grammar | Lák-sà-ná-naam ลักษณนาม | Classifiers

It is impossible to speak acceptable Thai without mastering the use of classifiers so keep practising guys!

As always enjoy!

Prae
Thai Language Teacher