Learn the Consonants and Vowels in Thai

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The CIA World Factbook states that Thailand has a population of 66,720,153 people, with 75 percent speaking Thai. The Thai language uses an abugida writing system: written left to right, vowels are placed above, below, left or right to the consonant. The Thai alphabet has 44 consonants and 21 sounds, and 32 vowels (30 on a keyboard). We will go over each of the sounds the letters make, and which tone rule they follow.


We will start with the consonants, presented in dictionary order. Next to each consonant in parentheses is the tone.

ก gor (middle)

ข khor (high)

ฃ khor (high)

ค kor (low)

ฅ kor (low)

ฆkor (low)

ง ngor (low)

จ jor (middle)

ฉ chor (high)

ช chor (low)

ซ sor (low)

ฌ chor (low)

ญ yor (low)

ฎ dor (mid)

ฏ tor (mid)

ฐ thor (high)

ฑ thor (low)

ฒ thor (low)

ณ nor (low)

ด dor (middle)

ต dtor (middle) (when speaking, blend the “d” and “t” together, which can be difficult)

ถ thor (high)

ท tor (low)

ธ thor (low)

น nor (low)

บ bor (middle)

ป bpor (middle)

ผ por (high)

ฝ fhor (high)

พ phor (low)

ฟ for (low)

ภ phor (low)

ม mor (low)

ย yor (low)

ร ror (low)

ล lor (low)

ว wor (low)

ศ sor (high)

ษsor (high)

ส sor (high)

ห hor (high)

ฬ lor (low)

อ or (middle)

ฮ hor (low)


Next we will learn the vowels. Instead of the tone in the parentheses, we have whether the vowel is long or short. In the below examples, we use อ as a marker (when it is used the first time), but the consonant needed for the word would be placed there instead.

อะ ah (short vowel)

ออ or (long vowel)

อัวaua (short vowel)

อัวะ ua (long vowel)

อา aah (long vowel)

อำaum (short vowel)

อิai (short vowel) ← this accent resembles a semi-circle

อี ee (long vowel) ← this accent resembles a semi-circle with a vertical line

อึ eu (short vowel) ← this accent resembles a semi-circle with a small circle on the edge

อื aeu (long vowel) ← this accent resembles a semi-circle with two vertical lines

อุoo (short vowel)

อู oo (long vowel)

เอ ae (long vowel)

เออaer (long vowel)

เออะ aer (short vowel)

เอะ aeh (short vowel)

เอา aow (short vowel)

เอาะ aor (long vowel)

เอียeia (long vowel)

เอียะ ia (short vowel)

เอือaeu (short vowel)

เอือะ uea (short vowel)

แอ ae (long vowel)

แอะ aae (short vowel)

โอ oh (long vowel)

โอะ oh (short vowel)

ใอ ai (short vowel)

ไอai (short vowel)

ฤror rue (short vowel)

ฤๅror rue (long vowel)


As we saw with the consonants, there are high, middle and low tones. When speaking in the high tone, it is above the normal pitch and resembles an “alarmed” tone. The middle tone is the normal tone for English speakers. With the low tone, we use a lower pitch when speaking. Besides these three tones, there are rising and fallings tone used when speaking sentences in Thai as well. The rising tone has an inflection similar to asking a question in English. If we are speaking with a falling tone, the inflection drops while speaking, similar to speaking with an emphasis in English.