yàak (อยาก) and ʔaw (เอา) – Which one to use?

In this article, you will see two of the most used words in Thai language but people are likely to use them incorrectly. These two words are yàak (อยาก)  and ʔaw (เอา). One means ‘want’ and another means ‘take’. This article not only showing you the difference between these two words, but also giving examples of how to use and not to use them.

Since this article will contain lots of information, you can jump to the topic that you would like to learn first by clicking on the table of contents below.

Table of Contents

  1.  yàak (อยาก)
    1.1 yàak + verb = want to + verb (want to do something)
    1.2 yàak + noun = want + noun (want something desperately)
    1.3 yàak-dâay + noun = want + noun (want something)
    1.4 yàak-hây + sentence = want someone to do something or want something to happen
  2. ʔaw (เอา) = ʔaw + noun = to take something

1. yàak (อยาก) = to want

This section will show you the usages of the word yàak (อยาก) in different functions. This one word can be used in several different ways. Let’s start with the most commonly used function of this word.

1.1. subject + yàak + verb = subject + want to + verb

Very simple and every learner can use it correctly with no problem so far according to my experience. Let’s just see a couple of examples below.

1. phǒm yàak rian phaasǎa Thai
ผมอยากเรียนภาษาไทย
I want to learn Thai language

2. khun yàak pay duu nǎŋ kàp chán máy
คุณอยากไปดูหนังกับฉันไหม
Do you want to go see a movie with me?

3. kháw yàak tham-ŋaan thîi kruŋthêep
เขาอยากทำงานที่กรุงเทพฯ
He wants to work in Bangkok.

However, as it seems so easy to use and the structure is similar to English language, some people misunderstand that the word yàak (อยาก) can be use with now like in English. I have heard many learners say something like:

Example of WRONG use of the word

chán yàak nǎŋsɨ̌ɨ phaasáa ciin.
ฉันอยากหนังสือภาษาจีน
I want a Chinese language book.

Unfortunately, the above sentence is wrong. In Thai language, when you use the word yàak (อยาก) with a noun, it gives a special meaning. It means you want that thing desperately and we use it with something that you can eat, drink, or intake to your body (injection). Therefore, using the word yàak (อยาก) + nǎŋsɨ̌ɨ​ (หนังสือ) will not sound right. Now let’s see the next function of yàak (อยาก) for more understanding.

1.2 yàak + noun = want + noun (want something desperately)

Most of the time, we use yàak (อยาก) with a noun when someone wants something because they are addicted to it. We use only with something that you can eat or intake to your body.

FOR EXAMPLE:

phɨ̂an phǒm yàak kanchaa
เพื่อนผม อยาก กัญชา
My friend craves marijuana.
(My friend needs marijuana, because he is addicted to it.)

Moreover, we also use the word yàak (อยาก) with noun when someone is desperately hungry for food or desperately thirsty for drink.

FOR EXAMPLE:

wanníi ʔaakàat rɔ́ɔn mâak. phǒm yàak náam talɔ̀ɔt weelaa.
วันนี้อากาศร้อนมาก ผม อยาก น้ำตลอดเวลา
Today is very hot. I crave water all the time.
(I am very thirsty that I want water all the time.)

Therefore, you will not use this structure very often in everyday life. Come to this point, you may have a question ‘How can I say when I ‘WANT SOMETHING’? – Next structure of ‘yàak (อยาก)’ will answer the question.

1.3 yàak-dâay + noun = want + noun (want something)

Referring back the previous example showing a wrong use of yàak (อยาก),

chán yàak nǎŋ-sɨ̌ɨ phaasáa ciin.
ฉันอยากหนังสือภาษาจีน
I want a Chinese book.

to make this sentence correct, you should add the word dâay (ได้) which means ‘to get’ right after the word yàak (อยาก).

CORRECTION

chán yàak-dâay nǎŋ-sɨ̌ɨ phaasáa ciin.
ฉันอยากได้หนังสือภาษาจีน
I want a Chinese book.
(The direct translation would be ‘I want get book language Chinese.)

More examples:

1. fææn chán yàak-dâay rót khan mày
แฟนฉันอยากได้รถคันใหม่
my boyfriend wants a new car

2. khun yàak-dâay ʔaray nay wan-kə̀ət
คุณอยากได้อะไรในวันเกิด
What do you want for your birthday?

3. kháw mây yàak-dâay ŋaan níi
เขาไม่อยากได้งานนี้
He/She does not want this job.

1.4 yàak-hây + sentence = want someone to do something or want something to happen

The last structure of yàak (อยาก) you will see in this article is a bit more complex than all the previous structures, but it does not mean it is difficult to bring it to practice. In English language the word ‘want’ alone can be very handy, while it is not in Thai.

Please look at the examples below to understand it better.

1. I want you to come here.

phǒm yàak-hây khun maa thîi-nîi (CORRECT)
ผมอยากให้คุณมาที่นี่

phǒm yàak khun maa thîi-nîi (WRONG)
ผมอยากคุณมาที่นี่

2. She doesn’t want me to speak English.

kháw mây yàak-hây chán phûut phaasǎa ʔaŋkrìt (CORRECT)
เขาไม่อยากให้ฉันพูดภาษาอังกฤษ

kháw mây yàak chán phûut phaasǎa ʔaŋkrìt (WRONG)
เขาไม่อยากฉันพูดภาษาอังกฤษ

3. My dad does not want it to rain because he will go to work.

phɔ̂ɔ chán mây yàak-hây fǒn tòk phrɔ́ kháw ca pay tham-ŋaan. (CORRECT)
พ่อฉันไม่อยากให้ฝนตก เพราะเขาจะไปทำงาน

phɔ̂ɔ chán mây yàak fǒn tòk phrɔ́ kháw ca pay tham-ŋaan. (WRONG)
พ่อฉันไม่อยากฝนตก เพราะเขาจะไปทำงาน

How about trying to complete below sentences to check whether you understand how to use yàak (อยาก) properly.

Fill in the blanks with the right use of the word ‘yàak’ (อยาก) = to want including:

1) yàak      2) yàak-dâay      3) yàak-hây

1. khun __________ pay kin khâaw kàp phǒm máy
คุณ__________ ไปกินข้าวกับผมไหม
Do you want to go eat with me?

2. chán _____________ pàak-kaa sǐi dææŋ.
ฉัน____________ปากกาสีแดง
I want a red pen.

3. phɨ̂an phǒm __________ duu nǎŋ talòk.
เพื่อนผม __________ ดูหนังตลก
My friend wants to watch a comedy movie.

4. mæ̂æ _____________ chán rian phaasǎa ciin, tæ̀æ chán mây ______________ rian.
แม่ _____________ ฉันเรียนภาษาจีน แต่ฉันไม่ ______________ เรียน
My mom wants me to study Chinese language but I do not want to study.

5. kháw ______________ burìi tæ̀æ kháw phayaayaam mây sùup, phrɔ́ kháw _____________ lə̂ək.
เขา_____________บุหรี่แต่เขาพยายามไม่สูบ เพราะเขา__________เลิก
He desperately wants a cigarette but he tries not to smoke, because he wants to quit.

Let’s check here if you got them right!

1. khun yàak pay kin khâaw kàp phǒm máy
คุณ อยาก ไปกินข้าวกับผมไหม
Do you want to go eat with me?

2. chán yàak-dâay pàak-kaa sǐi dææŋ.
ฉัน อยากได้ ปากกาสีแดง
I want a red pen.

3. phɨ̂an phǒm yàak duu nǎŋ talòk.
เพื่อนผม อยาก ดูหนังตลก
My friend wants to watch a comedy movie.

4. mæ̂æ yàak-hây chán rian phaasǎa ciin, tæ̀æ chán mây yàak rian.
แม่ อยากให้ ฉันเรียนภาษาจีน แต่ฉันไม่ อยาก เรียน
My mom wants me to study Chinese language but I do not want to study.

5. kháw yàak burìi tæ̀æ kháw phayaayaam mây sùup, phrɔ́ kháw ​yàak lə̂ək.
เขา อยาก บุหรี่แต่เขาพยายามไม่สูบ เพราะเขา อยาก เลิก
He desperately wants a cigarette but he tries not to smoke, because he wants to quit.

This is the end of ‘yàak’ (อยาก) section. Now you will see the meaning and the use of another important word ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) = to take.

2. ʔaw (เอา) = to take

Structure: ʔaw + noun = to take something

We use this word many times a day. It is a short simple word but surprisingly, it is frequently misused by many students. The main reason of the incorrect usage is many people think that the word ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) means ‘want’ in English. How does this happen?

Example situation 1: A offers a pen to B

A: ʔaw pàak-kaa máy
เอา ปากกา ไหม
take a pen or not? (Proper English: Do you want a pen?)

B: ʔaw khâ
เอา ค่ะ
take (Proper English: Yes, I want.)

You can see that when this dialogue is translated into a proper English, it is unavoidable not to use the word ‘want’ as a translation of the word ‘ʔaw’ (เอา). Since you can see that the direct translation will not sound right in English. Therefore, this might be the reason why people misuse the word.

Can ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) be replaced by the word ‘yàak’ (อยาก)?

Let’s use the same example and see if it is possible.

A: yàak pàak-kaa máy
อยาก ปากกา ไหม
desperately want a pen or not?

B: yàak khâ
อยาก ค่ะ
desperately want

This example is considered incorrect because if you look back at the ‘yàak’ (อยาก) section which talks about yàak + noun = want + noun (want something desperately). You can see that this structure is used when someone wants something because they are addicted to it, and it has to be something that you can eat or intake to your body.

Therefore the above example is not applicable. However, yàak-dâay (อยากได้) can replace the word ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) and make it grammatically right, but it is not exactly replaceable in every context of the real usage.

A: yàak-dâay pàak-kaa máy
อยากได้ ปากกา ไหม
want a pen or not?

B: yàak-dâay khâ
อยากได้ ค่ะ
want

You may have a question ‘When to use ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) and when to use ‘yàak-dâay’ (อยากได้) since it is replaceable?’

We use ‘ʔaw’ (เอา)’ in a restaurant or in a shop most of the time. If you want to order something, you will use this word. This is a casual way to order. So, if you enter a coffee shop and want to have a cup of a hot tea, you would say:

ʔaw chaa rɔ́ɔn 1 kæ̂æw’
เอาชาร้อน 1 แก้ว

You will NOT say:
‘yàak-dâay chaa rɔ́ɔn 1 kæ̂æw’
อยากได้ชาร้อน 1 แก้ว

It is not wrong to say the latter one but it is not common. On the other hand, if you are at home with your friend and you want to say ‘I want a new shirt.’ (You just thinking of buying a new shirt) , you would say:
yàak-dâay sɨ̂a tua mày (อยากได้เสื้อตัวใหม่)

You will not say:
ʔaw sɨ̂a tua mày’ (เอาเสื้อตัวใหม่)

To sum up on when to use ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) = to take, take a look at these points.

1. Use it when you offer something to someone.
(e.g. ʔaw ʔanníi máy = Do you want this?)

2. Use it to show that you want or do not want something that someone (including sellers/shops) offer you.
(e.g. ʔaw bia 1 khùat = I want a bottle of beer.)

3. ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) is followed by a noun and adjective not a verb.
(e.g. if you say ‘ʔaw kin’ (เอากิน) to mean ‘want to eat’, it is wrong.)

Now let’s check if you know when to use ʔaw (เอา) and when to use yàak (อยาก)

1. mæ̂æ, phǒm ___________ pay lên games thîi bâan phɨ̂an.
แม่, ผม ____________ ไปเล่นเกมส์ที่บ้านเพื่อน
Mama, I want to go play games at my friend’s house.

2. chán mii náam nay krapǎw, khun ca __________ máy
ฉันมีน้ำในกระเป๋า, คุณจะ __________ ไหม
I have water in my bag, do you want it?

3. ___________ kaafææ yen 2 kæ̂æw khâ.
___________ กาแฟเย็น 2 แก้วค่ะ
May I have 2 glasses of iced coffee please.

4. lûuk-sǎaw phǒm mây _______________ kin phàk.
ลูกสาวผมไม่ ______________ กินผัก
My daughter does not want to eat vegetables.

Check your answers below:

1. mæ̂æ, phǒm yàak pay lên games thîi bâan phɨ̂an.
แม่, ผม อยาก ไปเล่นเกมส์ที่บ้านเพื่อน
Mama, I want to go play games at my friend’s house.

2. chán mii náam nay krapǎw, khun ca ʔaw máy
ฉันมีน้ำในกระเป๋า, คุณจะ เอา ไหม
I have water in my bag, do you want it?

3. ʔaw kaafææ yen 2 kæ̂æw khâ.
เอา กาแฟเย็น 2 แก้วค่ะ
May I have 2 glasses of iced coffee please.

4. lûuk-sǎaw phǒm mây yàak kin phàk.
ลูกสาวผมไม่ อยาก กินผัก
My daughter does not want to eat vegetables.

Therefore, you can see that ‘ʔaw’ (เอา) and yàak (อยาก) cannot be replaceable unless you use yàak-dâay (อยากได้). And even yàak-dâay (อยากได้) is applicable for that, in real life speaking, Thai people use them in different situations as explained previously.

Before we come to an end of this article, let’s work on below sentences to check if you understand clearly about the word yàak (อยาก) and ‘ʔaw’ (เอา).

Please fill in the blanks with the best option below.

yàak (อยาก) / yàak-dâay (อยากได้) / yàak-hây (อยากให้) / ʔaw (เอา)

1. khun __________ phǒm tham ʔaray?
คุณ __________ ผมทำอะไร
What do you want me to do?

2. fææn chán mây __________ tham khwaam-saʔàat.
แฟนฉันไม่ __________ ทำความสะอาด
My boyfriend does not want to do the cleaning.

3. phǒm mii tǔa concert free 3 bay, khun ca __________ máy
ผมมีตั๋วคอนเสิร์ตฟรี 2 ใบ คุณจะ __________ ไหม
I have 2 free concert tickets, will you take it?

4. nɔ̌ɔŋ-chaay chán __________ naalíkaa Apple.
น้องชายฉัน __________ นาฬิกา Apple.
My younger brother wants an Apple watch.

5. kháw ca __________ kaafææ rɔ́ɔn, mây chây kaafææ yen.
เขาจะ __________ กาแฟร้อน ไม่ใช่กาแฟเย็น
He will take hot coffee, not iced coffee.

6. raw mây __________ fǒn tòk phrɔ́-wâa rót ca tìt mâak.
เราไม่ __________ ฝนตกเพราะว่ารถจะติดมาก
We do not want it to rain because the traffic will be very heavy.

7. mii lǎay yàaŋ thîi nák-rian __________ rúu
มีหลายอย่างที่นักเรียน __________ รู้
There are many things that students want to know.

8. chán mii thúk-yàaŋ thîi __________ lǽæw
ฉันมีทุกอย่างที่ __________ แล้ว
I already have everything I want.

9. phɨ̂an phǒm tìt yaa. tɔɔn-níi kháw ___________ yaa mâak!
เพื่อนเขาติดยา ตอนนี้เขา __________ ยามาก!
My friend is addicted to drugs. Now he desperately wants it!

10. kháw __________ chán tham ʔaahǎan yen, tæ̀æ chán __________ pay kin thîi ráan-ʔaahǎan.
เขา __________ ฉันทำอาหารเย็น แต่ฉัน __________ ไปกินที่ร้านอาหาร
He wants me to make dinner, but I want to go eat at the restaurant.

Let’s see how many sentences you got them right.

1. khun yàak-hây phǒm tham ʔaray?
คุณ อยากให้ ผมทำอะไร
What do you want me to do?

2. fææn chán mây yàak tham khwaam-saʔàat.
แฟนฉันไม่ อยาก ทำความสะอาด
My boyfriend does not want to do the cleaning.

3. phǒm mii tǔa concert free 2 bay, khun ca ʔaw máy
ผมมีตั๋วคอนเสิร์ตฟรี 2 ใบ คุณจะ เอา ไหม
I have 2 free concert tickets, will you take it?

4. nɔ̌ɔŋ-chaay chán yàak-dâay naalíkaa Apple.
น้องชายฉัน อยากได้ นาฬิกา Apple.
My younger brother wants an Apple watch.

5. kháw ca ʔaw kaafææ rɔ́ɔn, mây chây kaafææ yen.
เขาจะ เอา กาแฟร้อน ไม่ใช่กาแฟเย็น
He will take hot coffee, not iced coffee.

6. raw mây yàak-hây fǒn tòk phrɔ́-wâa rót ca tìt mâak.
เราไม่ อยากให้ ฝนตกเพราะว่ารถจะติดมาก
We do not want it to rain because the traffic will be very heavy.

7. mii lǎay yàaŋ thîi nák-rian yàak rúu
มีหลายอย่างที่นักเรียน อยาก รู้
There are many things students want to know.

8. chán mii thúk-yàaŋ thîi yàak-dâay lǽæw
ฉันมีทุกอย่างที่ อยากได้ แล้ว
I already have everything I want.

9. phɨ̂an phǒm tìt yaa. tɔɔn-níi kháw yàak yaa mâak!
เพื่อนผมติดยา ตอนนี้เขา อยาก ยามาก!
My friend is addicted to drugs. Now he desperately wants it!

10. kháw yàak-hây chán tham ʔaahǎan yen, tæ̀æ chán yàak pay kin thîi ráan-ʔaahǎan.
เขา อยากให้ ฉันทำอาหารเย็น แต่ฉัน อยาก ไปกินที่ร้านอาหาร
He wants me to make dinner, but I want to go eat at the restaurant.

Conclusion

This article emphasises on the correct usage of yàak (อยาก) = to want and ʔaw (เอา) = to take. You can see that one means ‘want’ and another means ‘take.’ I hope that this article including the examples and practices help you to have a clearer understanding of how to use them properly. If you have any questions, or would like to give your suggestion on this article, please feel free to do so by leaving your comments below.

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