How to say ‘What is this called’ in Thai

by | May 1, 2020 | Vocabulary, Thai

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In this post, I will go over a few very important questions you will undoubtedly ask a lot when you first learn Thai.

The questions we will go over all relate to asking someone “what does something mean in Thai?” or “how do you say something in Thai?”

question mark

1. ภาษาไทย “…” เรียกว่าอะไร

This literally means – “what is …. called in Thai?” เรียก (rîak) means “to be called”. See more examples below.

  • ภาษาไทย “bottle” เรียกว่าอะไร (paa-săa tai “bottle” rîak wâa à-rai): What is “bottle” called in Thai?

  • ภาษาไทย “food” เรียกว่าอะไร (paa-săa tai “food” rîak wâa à-rai): What is “food” called in Thai?

Similarly, you can use the below. It is essentially the same question except the word order is switched around.

  • water” เป็นภาษาไทย เรียกว่าอะไร (“water” bpen paa-săa tai rîak wâa à-rai): What is “water” called in Thai?

  • “plate” เป็นภาษาไทย เรียกว่าอะไร (“plate” bpen paa-săa tai rîak wâa à-rai): What is “plate” called in Thai?

You can also use the below which is just a long way of saying the same thing. It translates to “what is the word “…” called in Thai“. คำ (kam) means word.

  • ภาษาไทย คำว่า “food” เรียกว่าอะไร (paa-săa tai kam wâa “food” rîak wâa à-rai): What is “food” called in Thai?

2. “…” เป็นภาษาไทยออกเสียงยังไง

This means “how do you pronounce “word” in Thai?”. Please see examples below:

  • “computer” เป็นภาษาไทยออกเสียงยังไง (“computer” bpen paa-săa tai òk sĭang yang ngai): In Thai how is “computer” pronounced?

  • “song” เป็นภาษาไทยออกเสียงยังไง (“song” bpen paa-săa tai òk sĭang yang ngai): In Thai how is “song” pronounced?

You can also use the following pattern which pretty much means the same thing but translates to “… reads what in Thai”?

  • “tree” เป็นภาษาไทยอ่านว่าอะไร (“tree” bpen paa-săa tai àan wâa à-rai): “tree” reads what in Thai?

  • “chair” เป็นภาษาไทยอ่านว่าอะไร (“chair” bpen paa-săa tai àan wâa à-rai): “chair” reads what in Thai?

3. “…” แปลว่าอะไร

This means “what does … translate to?”

  • “shirt” แปลว่าอะไร (shirt bplae wâa à-rai): What does “shirt” translate to.

For a longer version, you can use the below (although the fact that you want to translate to Thai for all of these examples is a given so it’s not really needed). The below translates to “In Thai … translates to what?

  • ภาษาไทย “pen” แปลว่าอะไร (paa-săa tai “pen” bplae wâa à-rai): In Thai “pen” translates to what?

4. “…คืออะไร

This one literally translates to “…” is what? You can use it to ask for what a word means or also you can point at stuff and ask “what is this?”

  • อันนี้คืออะไร (an née keu à-rai): “what is this”


You can pick and choose from any of the above examples depending on your situation.

When you ask these questions you should expect answers like the below.

  • นี่คือขวด (nêe keu kùat): This is a bottle

  • นี่แปลว่าแมว (nêe bplae wâa maew): This translates to cat

  • “…” ออกเสียงอย่างนี้ (“…” òk sĭang yàang née ) or “…” ออกเสียงแบบนี้ (“…” òk sĭang bàep née): “…” is pronounced like this.

  • นี้เรียกว่า”…” (née rîak wâa “…”): This is called “…”

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