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Thai Grammar

Thai Grammar | Verb to be (เป็น/อยู่/คือ)

Thai Verb To Be

Today we will learn how to use the verb, “to be”.
You might be curious when you read Thai and find out that sometimes Thai people don’t use the verb, “to be” in some sentences and you wonder why.  So let’s talk about it. As a Thai Language Teacher, I come across this many times with my students.
The verb, “to be” for Thai people is used when they want to talk about career, places, or who people are. But they don’t use it when they want to say something about age, feeling, or how people and things are.

For example:

When you say“I am tired”, but Thai say “Chăn(phŏhm)-nùehy (ฉัน(ผม)เหนื่อย)” or He is sad = Khăo-sâo(เขาเศร้า)or She is beautiful = Ther(lòhn)-sŭay(เธอ(หล่อน)สวย).
Thai people don’t use “verb to be” in this kind of sentences because adjectives in English are used as Thai verbs.
As you talk about age, your sentence is “I am 40 years old”, but it is “Chăn(phŏhm)-aa-yúh-sèe-sìb-bpee(ฉัน(ผม)อายุ 40 ปี)”in Thai language. Or how old is she? = Ther(lòhn)-aa-yúh-thâo-rài(เธอ(หล่อน)อายุเท่าไหร่).Or he is older than me = Khăo-gàe-gwàa-chăn(phŏhm(เขาแก่กว่าฉ้น(ผม). Thai people don’t put “verb to be” in these sentences.

But we do use the verb,  “to be” the same way when we express what we do for a living, or who we are, or where we are. We say “I am a doctor = Chăn(phŏhm)-bpen-mŏr (ฉัน(ผม)เป็นหมอor she is my mother = Ther(lòhn)-bpen-mâe-khŏhng-chăn(phŏhm) (เธอ(หล่อน)เป็นแม่ของฉัน(ผม))or where are you now? = Tohn-née-khun-yòo-thêe-năi (ตอนนี้คุณอยู่ที่ไหน).

Khru May
Thai Language Teacher