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28: Listener Q&A – Your Thai grammar questions on เป็น, ได้, etc.

** Timestamp & Sentences **
Thai transcription provided by thai-language.com. Capital letters at the end of each syllable indicate tones.

[01:31]

  1. What is a difference between เป็น “bpen” and ได้ “dai” which mean “can”?

Nan’s answer:
เป็น “bpen” and ได้ “dai” might be interchangeable, and in many cases the meaning is not much different.
To say “John says he can cook Thai food”, the following two options are good:
คุณจอห์นบอกว่าเขาทำอาหารไทยเป็น
khoonM jaawnM baawkL waaF khaoR thamM aaM haanR thaiM bpenM
or
คุณจอห์นบอกว่าเขาทำอาหารไทยได้
khoonM jaawnM baawkL waaF khaoR thamM aaM haanR thaiM daiF

However, there are cases where meanings of “bpen” and “dai” are quite different. In such cases, “bpen” emphasizes on ability, while “dai” emphasizes on permission or external factors.

In the following examples, we are talking about “can” as in ability, so we use “bpen”
เขาใช้มีดเป็น
khaoR chaiH meetF bpenM
“He can use a knife.” “He knows how to use a knife.”
เขาว่ายน้ำเป็น
khaoR waaiF naamH bpenM
“He can swim.”

In the following example, we are talking about “can” as in permission, so we use “dai”
คุณจอดรถที่นี่ได้
khoonM jaawtL rohtH theeF neeF daiF
“You can park the car here.”

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[06:40]

  1. When do we use “bpen” for “is / am / are”?

Nan’s answer:
We use “bpen” when what follows is a noun – words referring to a person, an object or a thing.
In the following examples, what follows “is” are “friend” and “Thai food”. These words are nouns, so we use “bpen”.
เขาเป็นเพื่อน
khaoR bpenM pheuuanF
“He is a friend.”
ส้มตำเป็นอาหารไทย
sohmF dtamM bpenM aaM haanR thaiM
“Som Tum is a Thai food”.

We don’t use “bpen” when what follows is an adjective – words referring to attributes, like “big, small, good, bad, happy, sad”.
In the following example, what follows “is” is “tasty” which is an adjective.
อาหารอร่อยมาก
aaM haanR aL raawyL maakF
“The food is very tasty.”

[11:05]

  1. Thai learning resource recommendations

Nan’s answer:
Textbook: Teach Yourself Thai or Complete Thai by David Smyth
Handwriting practices

[11:58]

  1. Do I offer tutoring lessons?

Nan’s answer:
Not at the moment, but you can always send questions for future Q&A episodes to youtoocanlearnthai@gmail.com 🙂


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