Difference between เอา, มี, and อยาก

by | Jan 5, 2021 | Thai

So many of my students get confused with the words เอา, อยาก, and มี (ao, yàak, and mee).

In this article, I wish to clarify that and give you examples so that you understand the differences.

Difference between เอา, มี, and อยาก

เอา (ao)

เอา (ao) means to take/get something in your possession.

For example:

  • I will get one pack of gum.
    ao màak-fà-ràng-nèung-hòr

  • What would you like to have (to get)? Ham or meat?
    เอาอะไร แฮมหรือเนื้อ
    ao à-rai · haem rĕu néua

  • I don’t want (to get) too much
    mâi ao yúh gern bpai

อยาก (yàak)

อยาก (yàak) means ‘to want’. อยาก can only be followed by a verb.

Thus, the formula is: อยาก (yàak) + Verb


  • I want to go abroad
    yàak bpai dtàang bprà-tâyt

  • I want to understand Thai
    pŏm yàak kâo jai paa-săa tai

You can’t say ผมอยากคุณ (pŏm yàak kun) for “I want you”. You need to add the verb ‘get’ which is ได้ (dâai): ผมอยากได้คุณเป็นแฟน (pŏm yàak dâai kun bpen faen) (I want to get you as a girlfriend). Or another way is to change it to I need you ผมต้องการคุณ (pŏm dtông gaan kun).

Take a look at my article on ต้องการ to know how to use it correctly.

มี (mee)

The last word is มี (mee). มี has 2 meanings.

First: there is/there are.

Second: to possess something. The meaning that causes confusion with เอา (ao) is this second meaning.

Memorize this: เอา (ao) is to take something in possession. มี (mee) is simply the state of having something in possession.


  • I have two brothers
    ฉันมีพี่ชาย 2 คน
    chăn mee pêe chaai sŏng kon

  • I don’t have time
    chăn mâi mee way-laa

I hope you now know the differences between เอา, อยาก, and มี (ao, yàak, mee). Thank you and I will see you in the next article.

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