How to show uncertainty in Thai with words like maybe, probably

by | Jul 2, 2020 | Patterns, Vocabulary

Have you ever wondered how Thai people show uncertainty in Thai. Here I give you a list and its definition and usage.

Here is a guideline for it’s usage:
(SUBJECT) + UNCERTAINTY WORDS + VERB/ADJECTIVE

Below is a list of words that show uncertainty:

  1. อาจ(จะ) àat (jà)
  2. บางที….อาจ(จะ) baang tee · àat (jà)
  3. น่าจะ & คง(จะ) nâa jà & kong (jà)
  4. (ดู)ท่าจะ (doo) tâa jà

uncertainty in thai | maybe in thai

อาจจะ àat jà

This word is the direct translation of maybe or might. When the possibility can be yes or no.

Examples:

Who is going to win? Maybe Grace will win
ใครจะชนะ? เกรซอาจจะชนะ
krai jà chá-ná · grace àat jà chá-ná

Will it rain? Maybe
ฝนจะตกไหม? อาจจะ
fŏn jà dtòk măi? àat jà

บางที…อาจจะ baang tee · àat (jà)

This is an alternative of อาจจะ àat jà. You can use this from time to time. To use this put the word baang tee before the subject and อาจจะ after the subject. However, as Thai people like to omit subject, a lot of the times it will sound like บางที and อาจจะ are together but if we put a subject back in, บางที and อาจจะ will be separated.

Examples:

Maybe (it’s) better if we don’t date.
บางที(มัน)อาจจะดีกว่าถ้าเราไม่คบกัน (the word มัน man is a subject and can be omitted)
baang tee (man) àat jà dee gwàa tâa rao mâi kóp gan

Maybe (today I) will be lucky
บางที(วันนี้ฉัน)อาจจะโชคดี
baang tee (wan née chăn) àat jà chôhk dee

น่าจะ & คงจะ nâa jà & kong (jà)

These words mean probably. When you are about 70 percent sure that you are correct. Both words are interchangeable. (Personally I use the word น่าจะ nâa jà more often)

Examples:

I think that here is probably safe.
ผมคิดว่าที่นี่น่าจะปลอดภัย (I’m 70 percent sure that it’s safe here)
pŏm kít wâa têe nêe nâa jà bplòt pai

I think that he is probably here.
เขาน่าจะอยู่ที่นี่
kăo nâa jà yòo têe nêe

He will probably lose.
เขาคงจะแพ้
kăo kong jà páe

It would be nice if we get to live together forever.
คงจะดีถ้าเราได้อยู่ด้วยกันตลอดไป
kong jà dee tâa rao dâai yòo dûay gan dtà-lòt bpai

(ดู)ท่าจะ (doo) tâa jà

(ดู)ท่าจะ doo tâa jà is used when making an observation of something to determine the possibility.

Examples:

Seems like it will rain today (because) the sky seems dark.
ฝนดูท่าจะตกนะ เห็นท้องฟ้ามืดๆ (you look at the cloud and you are making a prediction)
fŏn doo tâa jà dtòk ná  hĕn tóng-fáa-mêut ๆ

The accident was very severe. It looks like the motorcycle driver will not survive.
อุบัติเหตุร้ายแรงมาก  ดูท่าคนขับมอเตอร์ไซจะไม่รอด
ù-bàt-dtì-hàyt ráai raeng mâak · doo tâa kon kàp mor-dtêr sai jà mâi rôt

Beware of this common mistake

🔴 Who will win? Maybe Grace
ใครจะชนะ? อาจจะเกรซ
krai jà chá-ná? àat jà Grace

The above sentence is wrong ⓧ because the correct pattern is: (SUBJECT) + UNCERTAINTY WORDS + VERB/ADJECTIVE.

To make it correct ✅ you can change the above sentence to:

✅ Who will win? Maybe Grace will win OR Maybe it will be Grace
ใครจะชนะ? เกรซอาจจะชนะ OR อาจจะเป็นเกรซ
krai jà chá-ná? Grace àat jà chá-ná OR àat jà bpen Grace

Summary

To summarize, if you want to say maybe in Thai then the correct word is อาจจะ àat jà. But if you want to show different degrees of uncertainty in Thai then you can use one of the other words explained above.

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