How To Pronounce And Write Thai Consonants

If you had the chance to read our previous post looking at the Thai alphabet/script, you will know that there are a total of 44 Thai consonants.

While that may seem like a lot, I don’t think it is as difficult to learn them all as it first appears. In fact, you probably don’t need to learn all them all anyway as not all the consonants in Thai are used.

Today, we will look at each of the Thai consonants one by one, seeing how they are pronounced and what they look like. I hope this basic guide will help you begin your journey to reading and writing Thai.

A Quick Overview for Pronunciation

Before we get started, there are a few things that need to be covered. Remember that this is just a guide to pronunciation as the Thai language doesn’t have an official transliteration system. This means that books and websites will write out a Thai word using the latin alphabet in different ways. 

This is due to the use of aspirated consonants in Thai, which isn’t present in the English language. As such, they try to find ways to signify or replicate the sound. There is also some more difficult pronunciations that don’t really have an equivalent in English. Either way, keep in mind that different sources will write things out differently.

Another thing to mention is that there are no upper or lower case versions of characters. They stay the same wherever they are in the sentence. This should, of course, be good news for all of us learning Thai as we don’t need to be able to identify more character varieties. 

Traditionally, Thai characters are shown with a acrophonic, meaning words that start with that consonants sound. This would be like saying ‘U as in Universe’ in English. For example: the Thai character ‘ก’ is usually shown with ‘ก ไก่’ which is pronounced as ‘ko kai’. The ‘ko’ is the way the individual character is pronounced, while the ‘kai’ is an example of word that starts with that character.

The Thai Consonants

ก ไก่ko kaichicken
ข ไข่kho khaiegg
ฃ ขวดkho khuatbottle (no longer in use)
คควายkho khwaibuffalo
ฅ คนkho khonperson (no longer in use)
ฆระฆังkho ra-khangbell
ง งูngo ngusnake
จ จานcho chanplate
ฉ ฉิ่งcho chingcymbals
ช ช้างcho changelephant
ซ โซ่so sochain
ฌเฌอcho choetree
ญหญิงyo yingwoman
ฎชฎาdo cha-daheaddress
ฏปฏักto pa-takgoad
ฐ ฐานtho thanpedestal
ฑมณโฑtho monthoMontho
ฒ ผู้เฒ่าtho phu-thaoelder
ณเณรno nennovice monk
ด เด็กdo dekchild
ต เต่าto taoturtle
ถ ถุงtho thungsack
ททหารtho thahansoldier
ธ ธงtho thongflag
น หนูno numouse
บใบไม้bo baimaileaf
ปปลาpo plafish
ผ ผึ้งpho phuengbee
ฝ ฝาfo falid
พพานpho phantray
ฟ ฟันfo fanteeth
ภสำเภาpho sam-phaojunk boat
ม ม้าmo mahorse
ยยักษ์yo yakgiant
ร เรือro rueaboat
ล ลิงlo lingmonkey
วแหวนwo waenring
ศศาลาso salapavilion
ษ ฤๅษีso rue-sihermit
ส เสือso sueatiger
ห หีบho hipchest
ฬจุฬาlo chu-lakite
อ อ่างo angbasin
ฮ นกฮูกho nok-hukowl

Other Things to Note

While there are 44 consonants in the Thai alphabet, not all of them are still in use today. There are two characters that no longer get used in everyday reading and writing. These are ฃ and ฅ (I made sure to mark them above). So, there are now 42 that you will need to learn, while the other two can be focussed on a bit less.

You also may have noticed in this list that some of the characters look almost exactly the same as each other. For example, ผ and ฝ are nearly identical other than an extended line. This means that, especially when written by hand, it can be difficult to tell which it should be. The same can happen with different fonts. Ultimately, you will need to train yourself and learn each of these to the best of your ability.

The Journey to Learn all the Thai Consonants

So these are all 44 of the Thai consonants. It is an incredibly long list of characters to learn to read and eventually write. Some look incredibly similar to one another, while others seem very complex to write out. However, I assure you that things are not as difficult as they first seem. You can use this guide as a reference for practising pronunciations and writing out the characters. Written Thai has a very unique appearance which makes it all the more enjoyable to explore.

One great way to practice writing Thai characters is to use the Ling Thai app. There are many tests available that can help you to learn these consonants and their pronunciations.

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