Thai (ภาษาไทย)

Thai is a Tai-Kadai language spoken by about 65 million people mainly in Thailand (ประเทศไทย), and also in the Midway Islands, Singapore, the UAE and the USA

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)

The Thai alphabet was probably derived from, or at least influenced by, the Old Khmer alphabet. According to tradition it was created in 1283 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

  • Type of writing system: syllabic alphabet consisting of 44 basic consonants, each with an inherent vowel: [o] in medial position and [a] in final position. The [a] is usually found in words of Sanskrit, Pali or Khmer origin while the [o] is found native Thai words. The 18 other vowels and 6 diphthongs are indicated using diacritics which appear in front of, above, below of after the consonants they modify.
  • Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines.
  • 8 of the letters are used only for writing words of Pali and Sanskrit origin.
  • For some consonants there are multiple letters. Originally they represented separate sounds, but over the years the distinction between those sounds was lost and the letters were used instead to indicate tones.
  • Thai is a tonal language with 5 tones. The tone of a syllable is determined by a combination of the class of consonant, the type of syllable (open or closed), the tone marker and the length of the vowel. More details.
  • There are no spaces between words, instead spaces in a Thai text indicate the end of a clause or sentence.

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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)


  • Consonants are divided into three classes: low (เสียงต่ำ), mid (เสียงกลาง) and high (เสียงสูง) , which help to determine the tone of a syllable.
  • The sounds represented by some consonants change when they are used at the end of a syllable (indicated by the letters on the right of the slash). Some consonants can only be used at the beginning of a syllable.
  • Duplicate consonants represent different Sanskrit and Pali consonants sounds which are pronounced identically in Thai.
  • The letter o ang acts as a silent vowel carrier at the beginning of words that start with a vowel.
  • The names of the consonants are acrophonic and intended to help with learning them. - learn Thai quickly and efficiently

Vowel diacritics (รูปสระ)

Thai vowel diacritics

Numerals (ตัวเลขไทย)

Thai numerals

A recording of these numbers by ปัณณวิช ตันเดชานุรัตน์

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


Download Thai alphabet charts in Excel, Word or PDF format

Sample text in Thai

Sample text in Thai

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)

Thai alphabet for Sanskrit

These are the Thai letters used to write Sanskrit.

Thai alphabet for Sanskrit

Writing system used to write Sanskrit

Brāhmi, Devanāgari, Grantha, Kharoṣṭhi, Śāradā, Siddham, Thai, Tibetan

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Information about the Thai language

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Information about Thai transliteration and Romanization systems

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Tai-Kaidai languages

Ahom, Bouyei, Dehong Dai, Kam, Lanna, Lao, Lue, Shan, Tai Dam, Thai, Zhuang

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Ahom, Badaga, Balinese, Batak, Baybayin (Tagalog), Bengali, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Chakma, Cham, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dives Akuru, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fraser, Gondi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanuno'o, Javanese, Jenticha, Kaithi, Kannada, Kharosthi, Khmer, Khojki, Kulitan, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Malayalam, Manpuri, Modi, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Mro, New Tai Lue, Oriya, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Ranjana, Redjang, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari (Tulu), Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Varang Kshiti - learn Thai quickly and efficiently