Learn to Read Thai Script

Learn to read Thai alphabet is unavoidable for a learner who wants to be fluent in speaking, reading and writing Thai. It takes you to a higher step of learning the language. Learning Thai through transcription is fine for someone who just wants to speak Thai.

This page will help you to be able to read the Thai script by yourself step by step. There are all the necessary information you need to know to read Thai word, together with the audio tracks to listen to the Thai consonant sound, vowel sound, tones, final consonant sound, etc.

Introduction to learn to read Thai

Get yourself familiar with all these 5 core elements in reading Thai script before you learn Thai alphabet. It helps you to have an overall idea of how to read Thai and it might become your cheat sheet during the time you spend time practicing and learning Thai script.

Table of contents

  1. Open and closed syllables
  2. Classes of consonant
  3. Vowels
  4. Final consonants
  5. Tones

Open and closed syllables

There are 2 types of syllable in the Thai Language. One is called open syllable and another is called closed syllable. It is a characteristic of the way the word is pronounced. When you pronounce an open syllable, you can prolong the ending sound, while you cannot do the same thing when pronounce a closed syllable.

The differences between open and closed syllables

Knowing which syllable is open and which is close is important because it effects the tone of each syllable. Therefore, to differentiate between open and closed syllables, you can follow the following rules.

1. Consider the final consonant of the syllable

  • A syllable or word ends with n, ŋ, m, w or y consonant sounds is an open syllable.
  • A syllable or word ends with k, t or p consonant sounds is a close syllable.

For example:

  • กิน (kin) is an open syllable because it has น (n) ending sound.
  • มา (maa) is an open syllable because it has a long vowel.

2. Consider the type of vowel when the syllable or word do not have a final consonant

  • When a syllable or word has a long vowel, it is an open syllable.
  • When a syllable of word has a short vowel, it is a closed syllable.

For example:

  • ดีด (dìit) is a closed syllable because it has ด (t) ending sound.
  • จะ (ca) is a closed syllable because it has a short vowel.

3. Look for the 4 special vowels

  • Any syllable or word contains the vowel – ำ (-am), ไ- (-ay), ใ- (-ay) and เ-า (-aw), it is an open syllable.

For example:

  • จำ (cam) is an open syllable because it has – ำ (-am) vowel.
  • ไป (pay) is an open syllable because it has ไ- (-ay) vowel.

When you start reading about the tone rules, you will see how these two different types of syllables play an important role on the tone.

Classes of consonant

There are 44 Thai consonants and they are divided into 3 different classes including high class, middle class and low class. Each class of the Thai consonant has its own tone’s rules.

Note: The letter ฃ (kh) and ฅ (kh) are no longer used but they are still counted as members of the Thai consonant.

Classesnumber of lettersmembersNote
High11ข, ฉ, ถ, ฐ, ผ,
ฝ, ศ, ษ, ส, ห
ฃ is no longer used
Middle9ก, จ, ด, ต, ฎ, ฏ,
บ, ป, อ,
Low24ค, ฆ, ช, ฌ, ฑ, ฒ,
ท, ธ, พ, ภ, ฟ, ซ,
ฮ, ง, น, ณ, ม, ย,
ญ, ร, ล, ฬ, ว
ฅ is no longer used


There are 28 vowels in Thai and they are divided into 3 groups including single vowel, mixed vowel and vowel with an ending sound. The form of some vowels can change when a word has a final consonant.

For example:

  • เ-ะ / เ- ็ (e) vowel has 2 forms. เ-ะ is the original form and เ- ็ is the changed form. Example words, เตะ (tè) and เต็ม (tem).

Moreover, the length of the vowel sound is also important because it can change the meaning of the word.

Single Vowel
Short VowelLong Vowel
Thai ScriptSymbolsSoundsThai ScriptSymbolsSounds
- ิi - ีii
เ - ะ / เ- ็
e เ -
เเ - ะ / แ- ็
æ แ -
- ึ
ɨ - ือ / - ื
เ - อะə เ - อ / เ- ิ əə
- ะ / - ัa - าaa
- ุu - ูuu
โ - ะ / disappear
o โ -oo
เ - าะ / - ็อɔ -อɔɔ
Short VowelsLong Vowels
Thai ScriptSymbolsSoundsThai ScriptSymbolsSounds
เ- ียะ
iaʔ เ- ียia
เ- ือะ
ɨaʔ เ- ือ
- ัวะuaʔ - ัว / -วua
Short Vowel
Thai ScriptSymbolsSounds
- ำ
ไ - / ใ -ay
เ - า

Note: The vowel form after the / (slash) is the changed form of the vowels.

Final consonant

There are 44 consonants in Thai but only 35 of them are used as the final consonants. The letters ฃ (kh), ฅ (kh), ฉ (ch), ฌ (ch), ผ (ph), ฝ (f), อ (ʔ), ห (h) and ฮ (h) are not used as a final consonant. However, there are only 8 final consonant sounds out of these 35 consonants, which means some of the final consonants share the same sound.

- ก (k)ก (k),

ข (kh), ค (kh), ฆ (kh)
มาก (mâak)

สุข (sùk), โชค (chôok), เมฆ (mêek)
- ด (t)ด (d), ฎ (d), ต (t), ฏ (t)

จ (c), ช (ch)

ฐ (th), ฑ (th), ฒ (th), ถ (th), ท (th), ธ (th)

ศ (s), ษ (s), ส (s), ซ (s)
บาด ​(bàat), กฎ (kòt), จิต (cìt), นาฏ (nâat)

กาจ (kàat), เวช (wêet)

รัฐ (rát), ษัฑ (sàt), วัฒ (wát), รถ (rót), บาท (bàat), โกรธ (kròot)

กาศ (kàat), โทษ (thôot), รส (rót), ก๊าซ (káat)
- บ (p)บ (b),

ป (p),

พ (ph), ภ (ph),

ฟ (f)
จับ (càp)

บาป (bàap)

ภาพ (phâap), โลภ (lôop)

กราฟ (kráap)
- น (n)น (n), ณ (n)

ญ (y)

ร (r)

ล (l), ฬ (l)
กิน (kin), ญาณ (yaan)

ปัญ (pan)

หาร (hǎan)

ผล (phǒn), วาฬ (waan)
- ง (ŋ)-ลุง (luŋ)
- ม (m)-ยาม (yaam)
- ย (y)-โดย (dooy)
- ว (w)-แก้ว (kæ̂æw)


1. Although these letters produce different sounds when they are used as the initial sound, they give exactly the same sound when they are used as a final consonant.

2. The letter ญ (y) has a unique rule. When it’s used as the initial consonant, it produces ‘y’ sound, but when it’s used as a final consonant, it gives ‘n’ sound.


There are 5 tonal sounds in the Thai language but there are 4 tone marks. The tone is another essential part in learning Thai because when the tone of the word changes, the meaning of the word changes as well. (Click here to listen to the 5 tonal sounds in the Thai language.)

The tone marks and their names

The tone mark is always put above the initial consonant of the word. If the word has a top-position vowel, it is placed above the vowel.

NameTone MarksHow to Use It
ไม้เอก (máay ʔèek)- ่ก่า กี่
ไม้โท (máay thoo)- ้ก้า กี้
ไม้ตรี (máay trii)- ๊ก๊า กี๊
ไม้จัตวา (máay càttawaa)- ๋ก๋า กี๋

Tone rules with different Thai consonant classes

The following table shows the tone rule of each class of the consonant including high class, middle class and low class consonants. You will also see that the type of syllable plays a part in the tone system as well.

Tonal Sounds
ClassSyllableMiddle ToneLow ToneFalling ToneHigh ToneRising Tone
Closed (Long Vowel)--คาบค้าบ-
Closed (Short Vowel)--ค่ะคะ-

In summary of the tone system, you can see that there are three factors which effect the one of a syllable or word including:

1. The class of consonant
2. The type of syllable
3. The tone mark

Note: The low class consonant has an additional rule for its closed syllable. You can see from the table that the length of the vowel also has an effect on the tone.

Learn to read Thai step by step

This section contains 24 small lessons to help you read Thai. Here you will learn Thai alphabet and start to read your first Thai word. Start from lesson 1 if you are totally new to reading the Thai script. However, you can select only the lesson you want to learn according to its topic.

Lesson topics for learning to read Thai script

Part 1 Middle Class consonant

1. Tone rules of the middle class consonant in open syllable

  • ก, จ, ด, ต, บ and ป consonants
  • -า,  ี  and  ู  vowels
  • Tone’s rules of Middle class in open syllable
  • 4 tone marks

2. The rest of middle class consonant

  • อ, ฎ and ฏ consonants
  • -อ and โ-  vowels

3. Learn 3 final consonant

  • น, ม and ง as a final consonant

4. Tone rules of the middle class consonant in closed syllable

  • -ะ / ั, ิ and ุ
  • -ะ / ั as a changed vowel
  • Tone’s rule of Middle class in closed syllable
  • ก, ด and บ as a final consonant

5. Learn 2 new short vowels

  • โ-ะ and เ-าะ vowels and their changed forms
Part 2 High class consonant

6. Tone rules of high class consonant in open and closed syllables

  • ข, ฉ and ถ
  • Tone rules of High class
  • เ-ะ, เ-, แ-ะ and แ-
  • เ-ะ and แ-ะ changed form
  • ย as a final consonant

7. Learn 3 more high class consonants and 2 new vowels

  • ห, ผ and ฝ
  • ึ and ือ
  • ือ changed form
  • ว as a final consonant

8. Last 4 high class consonants and 4 more vowels

  • ส, ศ, ษ and ฐ
  • ำ, ไ-, ใ- and เ-า

9. Last 2 single vowels

  • เ-อะ and เ-อ and their changed forms
Part 3 The clustered, the silent อ- and ห-

10. Learn how to read the clustered words

  • ร, ล and ว as clustered letters

11. Thai words with the silent อ-

  • อย่า อยู่ อย่าง and อยาก

12. The silent ห- rule

  • ห before a low class consonant letter
Part 4 Low class consonant

13. Tone rules of low class consonant in open syllable

  • น, ม, ง, ย, ร, ล and ว consonants
  • Tone’s rules of low class in open syllable

14. Learn the rule of low class consonant in closed syllable

  • The difference between short vowel and long vowel syllables

15. Get to know 7 more consonants from the low class group

  • ค, ช, ท, พ, ภ, ฟ and ซ

16. The rest of the low class consonants

  • ณ, ญ, ฆ, ฌ, ฑ, ฒ, ธ, ฬ and ฮ
Part 5 Mixed vowel

17. เียะ and เีย

18. เือะ and เือ 

19. ัวะ and ัว

  • learn ัว changed form
Part 6  The exceptions and special symbols

20. Irregular final consonant

  • 8 regular final consonants
  • All irregular final consonants
  • Unique rule for ร final consonants
  • Final consonant with silent ิ and ุ vowels
  • The clustered final consonants

21. Leading consonant

  • What is a leading consonant?
  • The leading consonant’s rules
  • The exception for the leading consonant

22. The hidden -ะ

  • A hidden -ะ in the middle of a word

23. The exceptions of the clusters

  • Fake clusters
  • ทร clusters

24. Special symbols in Thai script

  • ็ – ไม้ไต่คู้ (máay tày khúu)
  • ์ – ไม้ทัณฑฆาต (máay thantha-khâat)
  • -ๆ – ไม้ยมก (máay yamók)
  • -ฯ – ไปยาลน้อย (pay-yaan-nɔ́ɔy)
  • ฯลฯ – ไปยาลใหญ่ (pay yaan yày)
  • รร – รอ หัน (rɔɔ hǎn)
  • ฤ, ฤา, ฦ, ฦา (rɨ́, rɨɨ, lɨ́, lɨɨ)