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
He bought three books
Kǎo súu (buy) nǔng sǔu (book) sǎam lêm (the classifier for books)
I have four kids.
Chán (I for female speaker) mii (have) lûuk sìi kon
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
dtua (ตัว) = animals, tables, chairs, shirts, dolls etc.
There are five tables here
tîi nîi (here) mii (there are) dtó (table) hâa dtua
bai (ใบ) = glasses, cups, plates, boxes, bags
I have six glasses
chán mii geaw hòk bai
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:
It is impossible to speak acceptable Thai without mastering the use of classifiers so keep practising guys!
As always enjoy!
Thai Language Teacher