The Words Many and A lot in Thai Language

mâak might be on the list of the first ten words people learn to speak Thai. It is one of the most used words in Thai language, and it is very handy. However, mâak is not the only Thai word which means many or a lot. There are few more words you can use instead of mâak. Here you will see three common words to say ‘many or a lot’ in Thai language, and find the difference and similarity among mâak (มาก), yə́ (เยอะ), and lǎay (หลาย).

Table of contents

  1. mâak (มาก) and its sample sentences
  2. yə́ (เยอะ) and its sample sentences
  3. lǎay (หลาย) and its sample sentences
  4. The difference and similarity among mâak (มาก), yə́ (เยอะ), and lǎay (หลาย).
  5. Conclusion

mâak (มาก) – Very, Many, A Lot, and So much

mâak (มาก) can be translated as very, many, a lot of, a lot, and so much in English language. This word can be used as both adjective and adverb in a sentence. Therefore, this word becomes very handy. Below you will see how to use mâak (มาก) in three different structures.

1. mâak (มาก) = very > Structure: (Noun + Adjective + mâak)

e.g.1 khun + sǔay + mâak
         คุณ       สวย      มาก
         You are very beautiful.

e.g.2 kháw + phûut + rew +  mâak
            เขา        พูด        เร็ว      มาก
          He speaks very fast.

2. mâak (มาก) = many, a lot of > Structure: (Noun + mâak)

e.g.1 thîi-nîi + mii + nák-rian + mâak
         ที่นี่          มี      นักเรียน      มาก
          There are many students here.

e.g.2 kháw +ʔàan + nǎŋ-sɨ̌ɨ + mâak
          เขา       อ่าน      หนังสือ      มาก
          He/She reads a lot of books.

3. mâak (มาก) = a lot, so much > Structure: (Noun + Verb + mâak)

e.g.1 kháw + phûut + mâak
         เขา        พูด        มาก
         He/She speaks a lot.

e.g.2 mæ̂æ + tham-ŋaan + mâak
            แม่          ทำงาน           มาก
         Mom works so much.

yə́ (เยอะ) – Many and A Lot

yə́ (เยอะ) means many, a lot, and so much. It is used with noun or verb but not with adjective or adverb. It DOES NOT represent the word ‘very’ in English.

1. yə́ = many, a lot of > Structure: (Noun + yə́)

e.g.1 thîi-nîi + mii + nák-rian + yə́
          ที่นี่          มี      นักเรียน    เยอะ
         There are many students here.

e.g.2 kháw +ʔàan + nǎŋ-sɨ̌ɨ + yə́
          เขา       อ่าน     หนังสือ   เยอะ
           He reads a lot of books. 

2. yə́ (เยอะ) = a lot, so much > Structure: (Noun + Verb + yə́)

e.g.1 kháw + phûut + yə́
          เขา        พูด      เยอะ
         He/She speaks a lot.

e.g.2 mæ̂æ + tham-ŋaan + yə́
           แม่           ทำงาน          เยอะ
          Mom works so much.

lǎay (หลาย) – Many and Several

lǎay (หลาย) can be translated as many, several. Even though it gives similar meaning, this word is used differently from the other two. It needs to be used with a noun + classifier, which means lǎay should describe a countable noun.

e.g.1 thîi-nîi + mii + nák-rian + lǎay + khon
           ที่นี่          มี      นักเรียน    หลาย    คน
           There are many students here.

e.g.2 kháw +ʔàan + nǎŋ-sɨ̌ɨ + lǎay + lêm
            เขา       อ่าน      หนังสือ   หลาย   เล่ม
           He reads several books.

The difference and similarity among mâak (มาก), yə́ (เยอะ), and lǎay (หลาย).

These three words hold some differences and similarities in term of usage and structure. In some contexts they are replaceable to one another, while in other contexts are not possible.

1. mâak (มาก), yə́ (เยอะ), and lǎay (หลาย) as a determiner showing a large number of people or things.

A. thîi-nîi mii nák-rian mâak = There are many students here.

B. thîi-nîi mii nák-rian yə́ = There are a lot of students here.

C. thîi-nîi mii nák-rian lǎay khon = There are several students here.

Firstly, all sentences above say that there are many students in the skytrain. However, as a user of the language, I would say that there is a little difference among them. Technically, yə́ is a spoken version of mâak when it determines a number of people or things. As a result, I use yə́ more often in such context when speaking.

On the other hand, lǎay may indicate less amount of the subject compared to mâak and yə́. Therefore it can be translated as the word ‘several’ in English. As it has to precede a classifier, the number of the subject seems to be countable.

Moreover, to clarify the picture of these three words, the pictures below is how I see the difference between mâak/yə́ and lǎay.

maak laay many a lot

2. mâak (มาก) and yə́ (เยอะ) as a determiner showing a level of an action.

mâak and yə́ also indicate the level of an action, but not lǎay. Therefore, both of them can come after the action word (a verb). Below sentences have exactly the same meaning, only thing is that yə́ are more common in speaking than mâak in this context. For example:

A. kháw phûut mâak = He/She speaks so much / a lot.
B. kháw phûut yə́ = He/She speaks so much / a lot.

3. mâak (มาก) – as a determiner describing the adjective or adverb

mâak is the only word that can be used to determine the adjective or adverb, in other words, it represents the word ‘very’ in English. yə́ and lǎay do not have a capability to do so. For example:

A. khun sǔay mâak = You are very beautiful.

B. kháw phûut rew mâak He/She speak very fast.

4. A Comparison of the Structures

mâak (มาก)

noun + mâak

noun + verb + mâak

adjective/adverb + mâak

yə́ (เยอะ)

noun + yə́

noun + verb + yə́

lǎay (หลาย)

noun + lǎay + classifier

Conclusion

To sum up the whole explanation of this article, please see all the points below:

  • mâak (มาก), yə́ (เยอะ), and lǎay (หลาย) determine a large number of people or things. In other words, it means many and a lot.
  • lǎay can be translated as the word ‘several’ in English. So, it indicates less number than mâak and yə́ but still more than a few.
  • mâak (มาก) and yə́ (เยอะ) can be used as a determiner showing a level of an action. Translated to English as so much, a lot.
  • mâak (มาก) is the only word which can be used to describe the adjective or adverb. So, it is equal to the word very in English.
  • mâak and yə́ have the same structure, while lǎay has to be placed before the classifier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *