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Pronunciation Guide


There are 20 consonant sounds in Thai. The following set of symbols are those that are pronounced as the sounds of English consonant counterparts.

The following set of symbols are those that are pronounced a bit differently from the sounds as pronounced in English. The closest pronunciation of the sounds as appeared in English words are provided as guideline. Click on each symbol to listen to the sound. (for consonants, they are pronounced with the vowel "or").
p as in spin, for example: paa1 (to throw)
ph as in pin, for example: phaa1 (bring along)
t as in still, for example: taa1 (eye)
th as in till, for example: thaa1 (to spread on)
k as in skin, for example: kaa1 (crow)
kh as in kin, for example: khaa1(to be lodged in)
c as in Spanish cincilla: caan1 (plate)
ch as in church: chaa1 (tea)
? as in the beginning sound in the second syllable of "uhuh" as in ?aa1 (younger sibling of father)
ng as in sing, for example: ngaan1 (work). (The phonetic symbol of this one is: [glottal stop])


There are 18 single vowels in Thai: a set of 9 short vowels, and a set of their 9 long counterparts. We will use the following notations for vowel sounds:


i as in hit
ti2 (to scold)
ii as in beat
tii1 (to hit)
e as in get
?en1 (tendon)
ee as in gate
?een1 (to lean)
ae as in cat
kae?2 (sheep)
aeae as in bad
kaeae1 (you)
u as in could
yung1 (mosquito)
uu as in too
yuung1 (peacock)
o as in logo
sot2 (fresh)
oo as in so
soot2(to be single)
@ as in bottom
k@?2 (island)
@@ as in long
k@@2 (to create)
a as in butter
wang1 (palace)
aa as in far
waang1 (to put)
Y as in
thY?2 (final particle)
YY as in bird
thYY2 (she)
U as in uhuh
sUng3 (that, which)
UU as in the sound in hmm
sUU3 (honest)


Thai is a tonal language. This means pitches are meaningful. A word pronounced with different pitches carry different meanings.

There are 5 distinctive tones (pitches) in Standard Thai. They are

  1. mid level tone (here represented with the number 1)
          for example: khaa1 (to be lodged in)
  2. low level tone (represented with the number 2)
           for example: khaa2 (Galanga, an aromatic root)
  3. falling tone (represented with the number 3)
           for example: khaa3 (I, slave, servant)
  4. high level tone (represented with the number 4)
           for example: khaa4 (to sell)
  5. rising tone (represented with the number 5)
           for example: khaa5 (leg)
The following chart shows the contour pattern of the 5 tones. (from Jackson Gandour 1976)

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This page is maintained by Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong E-mail: yui@alpha.tu.ac.th