Do you know what สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ mean?

Do you know what สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ mean?

sà-wàd-dēe kà

This is the first word that we will use to greet each other. It might also be the first Thai word that you know but in reality it is not Thai. Actually, this is a Sanskrit word, created by Phraya Upakitsinlapasan (1879 – 1941) for greeting between students and professors in the faculty of Liberal Arts, Chulalongkorn University when he worked as a professor there. It became the official greeting word in 1943 by Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (1897 – 1964), the Prime Minister of Thailand at that time.

สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ is a compound word from a prefix สุ /sù/ (meaning good, beautiful, easy) and a word อสฺติ /àd-sà-dtì/ (meaning there is, there are, have). When these two words merged together following the grammar rules, สุ /sù/ became สว /sà-wà/. Plusing อสฺติ /àd-sà-dtì/, สวสฺติ /sà-wàd-dì/ means ‘Wish (you) goodness and virtue!’ It reminds me of the phrase “May the force be with you!” Does it ring a bell? LOL

This word was originally a short vowel sound for all syllables but Phraya Upakitsinlapasan changed the last syllable into a long sound to make it sound better.

After that, there were some more greeting words created such as อรุณสวัสดิ์ /à-run-sà-wàd/ for ‘good morning’, ทิวาสวัสดิ์ /tí-waa-sà-wàd/ for ‘good afternoon’, สายัณห์สวัสดิ์ /săa-yan-sà-wàd/ for ‘good evening’ and ราตรีสวัสดิ์ /raa-dtee-sà-wàd/ for ‘good night’. However, these words are not as popular as สวัสดี /sà-wàd-dēe/ which we can use any time during the day. Only อรุณสวัสดิ์ /à-run-sà-wàd/ for ‘good morning’ and ราตรีสวัสดิ์ /raa-dtee-sà-wàd/ for ‘good night’ are still used until now.

sà-wàd-dēe kà!
May the virtue be with you!

Do you know why we say โมง /moeng/ ทุ่ม /tûm/ and ตี /dtee/ for telling time?

Do you know why we say โมง /moeng/ ทุ่ม /tûm/ and ตี /dtee/ for telling time?

There are 2 different systems to tell time in Thai. The easiest one is the official way. We will use 0 to 24 following by a word นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/. นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/ means clock, watch or o’clock. It’s very simple but nobody uses it in spoken language. I mean, you can talk with people by using this system but please don’t expect anyone else who are Thai to refer to this system when talking about time.

So, how do Thai people tell time in general?



In the ancient time when people didn’t have watches, clocks everywhere like now. A City Hall or a temple was responsible for telling time. During the daytime, they would hit a kong. People thought that its sounds was like ‘moeng’ (โหม่ง) so, they said ‘moeng’



At night, they changed the instruments. From 7 P.M. until midnight, they hit a drum instead. People heard its sound like ‘dtum’ (ตุ้ม) so they said ‘tum’. After midnight, it was not clear what exactly was the instrument for telling time. In the peaceful time, it might be possible that no one was awake the whole night to tell time. Anyway, they assumed that some kind of metal will be used to hit from 1 A.M. until 5 A.M. That’s why we use the word ตี /dtee/, meaning hit, slap, etc.

Official Time

(24-hour based system)

6-hour based system


6-hour based system


1 naa-lí-gaa dtee 1 dtee 1
2 naa-lí-gaa dtee 2 dtee 2
3 naa-lí-gaa dtee 3, 3 yaam dtee 3
4 naa-lí-gaa dtee 4 dtee 4
5 naa-lí-gaa dtee 5 dtee 5
6 naa-lí-gaa dtee 6, yâm-rûng 6 moeng-cháo
7 naa-lí-gaa 1 moeng-cháo 7 moeng-cháo
8 naa-lí-gaa 2 moeng-cháo 8 moeng-cháo
9 naa-lí-gaa 3 moeng-cháo 9 moeng-cháo
10 naa-lí-gaa 4 moeng-cháo 10 moeng
11 naa-lí-gaa 5 moeng-cháo, pen 11 moeng
12 naa-lí-gaa tîang, tîang-wan, yâm-tîang tîang, tîang-wan
13 naa-lí-gaa bàay 1 moeng bàay moeng
14 naa-lí-gaa bàay 2 moeng bàay 2, 2 moeng
15 naa-lí-gaa bàay 3 moeng bàay 3, 3 moeng
16 naa-lí-gaa bàay 4 moeng bàay 4 (moeng), 4 moeng-yen
17 naa-lí-gaa bàay 5 moeng 5 moeng-yen
18 naa-lí-gaa 6 moeng-yen, yâm-kâm 6 moeng-yen
19 naa-lí-gaa 1 dtûm 1 dtûm
20 naa-lí-gaa 2 dtûm 2 dtûm
21 naa-lí-gaa 3 dtûm, yaam 1 3 dtûm
22 naa-lí-gaa 4 dtûm 4 dtûm
23 naa-lí-gaa 5 dtûm 5 dtûm
24 naa-lí-gaa, 0 naa-lí-gaa tîang-keun, 6 dtûm, 2 yaam tîang-keun
Do you know why we have ศ ษ ส in Thai?

Do you know why we have ศ ษ ส in Thai?

In Thai language, there are 3 /s/ sounds in high class consonant. Students might wonder how to use them and why we have 3 different symbols just to represent only one sound.

Actually, we follow the origin of words in writing system although we might not pronounce them as the native speakers do. In Sanskrit language, there are ศ ษ and ส because they pronounce them differently.

If you know how to read and write Thai, you will notice that Pali language and Sanskrit language influence Thai language deeply. In Pali and Thai, there are only ส while the 3 consonants are used in Sanskrit. That means all words with ศ or ษ are originally from Sanskrit.

During 1940 – 1944, the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram specified to use only ส; however, ศ and ษ resumed again after that. Nowadays we write ศ ษ or ส following the writing rules of Pali-Sanskrit.

If you don’t have any clues about Pali-Sanskrit, I’d like to suggest you to remember words by heart. If not, feel free to learn both before coming back to learn Thai. LOL  Have fun!!!

Some example words of ศ

ประกาศ              (n/v)         announce; announcement

พฤศจิกายน         (n)            November

พิศ                    (v)            look, watch

เลิศ                   (adj/adv)   excellent

ศรัทธา               (v)            believe in

ศัตรู                   (n)            enemy

ศาล                   (n)            court; shrine

ศาสนา               (n)            religion


Some example words of ษ

กษัตริย์               (n)            king

พฤษภาคม          (n)            May

พิษ                    (n)            poison

ภาษา                 (n)            language

ภาษี                  (n)            tax

รักษา                 (v)            medical treat, cure


Some example words of ส

ทาส                  (n)            slave

พฤหัสบดี           (n)            Thursday

วาสนา               (n)            fortune, destiny

สงฆ์                  (n)            monk

สวรรค์                (n)            heaven

สัตย์                   (n/adj)      honest

สัตว์                   (n)            animal

สาร                    (n)            text, message

สูตร                   (n)            formula

หงส์                   (n)            swan

โอกาส               (n)            opportunity