Asking questions in Thai

Be careful not change your tone on the last word of a sentence as in English!

Asking questions in Thai is straightforward, though there's a few different ways of doing it depending on what time of question you want to ask. An important thing to remember is not to automatically change the tone of your voice to indicate a question on the last word of the sentence (as English speakers naturally would), as this can interfere with the Thai tones.

The most common way is simply to add the word ไหม at the end of a sentence, which can be thought of as the equivalent of a question mark.

คุณชอบไหม - Do you like it ? (literally "you like mai")

- ชอบ - Yes, I like it (literally "like")
- ไม่ชอบ - No, I don't like it (literally "not like")

If you are asking for confirmation, then you can use ใช่ไหม instead (ใช่ on it's own means "yes"). This is roughly equivalent to "isn't it?" or "is that right?" in English.

คุณจะมาเมืองไทยวันที่ 5 ใช่ไหม - You're coming to Thailand on the 5th aren't you? (literally "you will come Thailand day 5 ใช่ไหม)

- ใช่ - Yes, I am (literally "yes")
- ไม่ใช่ - No, I'm not (literally "not yes")

Another common structure is to use the word หรือ (though normally pronounced as หลอ). This tends to be used when asking questions you think you already know the answer to, similar to a "so......then ?" structure in English.

คุณกินอาหารเผ็ดไม่ได้หรือ  So you can't eat spicy food then? (literally "you eat food spicy not can รือ) 

- ใช่ - Yes, that's right (literally "yes")
- ไม่ใช่ - No, I can eat spicy food (literally "not yes")

หรือยัง, literally "or not yet?", is used in questions where it's expected the action being asked about will happen at some point even if not quite yet. These type of questions can be replied to by repeating the verb and adding the word แล้ว meaning "already", or say ยัง "not yet" to reply in the negative.

ง่วงนอนหรือยัง Are you tired ? (literally "tired or not yet")

- ง่วงนอนแล้ว Yes I am (literally "tired already")
- ยังไม่ง่วงนอน No I'm not (literally "not yet tired")

หรือเปล่า and หรื่อไม่, both literally meaning "or not?" are also frequently used. Unlike in English where asking an "or not?" question may be considered abrupt or rude, it's considered a normal way of showing you want a straight answer in Thai and is perfectly acceptable. These can be answered in a similar way to the ไหม type questions.

คุณจะไปหรือเปล่า - Are you going to go (or not?) (literally "you will go or not")

- ไป Yes I will (literally "go")
- ไม่ไป (literally "not go") or เปล่า (literally "no"), both meaning No I won't go


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