Who doesn’t like a compliment? A meaningful compliment is a powerful motivation to most people. By complimenting sincerely and genuinely, you can make someone's day.
In Thailand, compliments are used as a polite way to show your interest in someone's life or something. Since Thai people are shy in general, they will rarely praise someone directly.
For this reason, when Thais express their admiration for someone, it implies that they want to establish a good relationship with the person.
Keep in mind that when giving compliments in Thai, you are recommended to use a sincere tone to convey your genuine intention. It is quite common in Thailand to mistake a compliment with sarcasm.
Thai people use the following sentences to express their admiration for someone based on his/her look in various ways.
วันนี้คุณสวยมาก (wan nee kun suuay maak) “You look very beautiful today.” - This expression is used to show admiration for a beautiful girl.
เธอน่ารักจัง (ter naa rak jang) “You are so cute.” - You can use this expression when you think a girl is pretty.
เขาหล่อมาก (kao lor maak) “He is so handsome.” - This sentence is used to compliment a good-looking guy.
คุณดูดีจัง (kun doo dee jang) “You look nice.” - This sentence is used to compliment someone who looks good.
คนนี้แซ่บมาก (kon nee saep maak) “This person is super hot.” - When Thais think someone is physically attractive, they will use this expression to praise that person.
คนนี้หุ่นแซ่บมาก (kon nee hun saep maak): “This person has such a sexy body.” - If you think someone has an impressive body shape, you can show your admiration using this phrase.
The word แซ่บ (saep) is normally used to describe foods that are tasty. Thai people recently adopted this term to describe a good-looking person.
เสื้อตัวนี้เหมาะกับคุณมาก (seuua dtuua nee mor gap kun maak) “This shirt looks good on you.”
ชุดนี้เริ่ดมาก (chut nee rert maak) “This outfit is perfect!”
Note: มาก (maak) and จัง (jang) are two common adverbs used to emphasize a sentence or action. มาก (maak) means ‘very’ and ‘really’ while จัง (jang) means ‘very much’, ‘so’ and ‘really’. They are interchangeable.
Unlike in western cultures, Thai people do not directly compliment someone's appearance on their first encounter unless they know that person well enough.
If you really want to compliment a stranger about his/her look, just politely start with an apology and follow by the compliment.
ขอโทษนะครับ/นะคะ คุณสวย/หล่อมาก (kor toht na krap/na ka kun suuay/lor maak) “Excuse me, you are so pretty/handsome.”
You have to project your sincerity in your tone as well if you don’t want to sound inappropriate.
In Thailand, when someone does something nice to you, these are some sentences you can use to show your appreciation and praise that person's kindness.
คุณเป็นคนดีมาก (kun bpen kon dee maak) “You are such a good person.”
เธอใจดีกับฉันจัง (ter jai dee gap chan jang) “She is so good to me.”
เขานิสัยดีมาก (kao ni-sai dee maak) “He is a friendly person.”
เธอมีน้ำใจมาก (kao mee naam jai maak) “She is so generous.”
คุณช่วยเหลือฉันตลอดเลย (kun chuuay leuua chan dta-lot loiie) “You always help me out.”
คุณเป็นคนอารมณ์ดีจัง (kun bpen kon aa-rom dee jang) “You are a good-natured person.”
You may say these phrases after saying ขอบคุณ (kop kun) or “Thank you” to show your gratitude when someone helps you with something.
Thai people say these positive compliments when someone is good at something. They also use these sentences as encouragement although that person is not an expert in that particular area yet.
คุณกล้ามาก (kun glaa maak) “You are very brave.” - Thais use this sentence to admire someone who bravely does something beyond their expectation.
คุณเก่งมาก (kun geng maak) “You did such a good job.” - When you are impressed by someone’s ability, you can use this sentence as a compliment without being specific about the skill.
If you want to emphasize a person’s skill, here is how you can say it:
คุณเต้นเก่งจัง (kun dten geng jang) “You are good at dancing.”
You can replace the word ‘เต้น’ (dten) with the verbs listed below or other verbs of your choice.
Example of verbs:
When Thai people are impressed by someone’s language skills, they will show their appreciation by saying this sentence:
คุณพูดภาษาเกาหลีเก่งมาก (kun poot paa-saa gao-lee geng maak) “You speak Korean really well.”
You can replace the word ‘เกาหลี’ (gao-lee) or Korean with the languages listed below or other languages of your choice.
Example of languages:
If you can say a few words in Thai, you are likely to hear Thai people use the sentence above to show their admiration for you.
If you are a foodie, here are some basic phrases you can use to compliment your favorite dish. Thai people say these sentences when they like the food.
อาหารอร่อยมาก (aa-haan a-roi maak) “This menu is really delicious.”
กับข้าวน่ากินจัง (gap kaao naa gin jang) “The food looks so yummy.”
อาหารแซ่บมาก (aa-haan saep maak) “This menu is so tasty!”
Or in short:
In case that you want to be specific, you can replace อาหาร (aa-haan) and กับข้าว (gap kaao) with the dish names.
Example of famous Thai dishes:
If the food tastes okay, but not that bad. You can use these phrases:
When a Thai person cooks you food, you are encouraged to give him/her a compliment even if you don’t find it tasty. This is a Thai custom of expressing appreciation.
Thai people use the following sentences to express their admiration for the weather or a place in their day-to-day life. You can use these sentences when visiting a famous spot or a restaurant in Thailand.
วันนี้อากาศดีเนอะ (wan nee aa-gaat dee nuh) “The weather is really nice today.”
ที่นี่บรรยากาศดีมาก (tee nee ban-yaa-gaat dee maak) “The atmosphere here is excellent.”
วัดนี้สวยจัง (wat nee suuay jang) “This temple is so beautiful.” - If you are at the beach, you can replace the word วัดนี้ (wat nee) or ‘this temple’ with ทะเล (ta-lay).
ร้านอาหารสะอาดจัง (raan aa-haan sa-aat jang) “The restaurant is really clean.”
บ้านน่าอยู่มาก (baan naa yoo maak) “The house looks lovely!” - When Thai people invite you to their house, you can use this sentence to show your appreciation.
In Thai culture, it is appropriate to be responsive when you receive compliments in order to maintain a good relationship. If you do not reply back to those compliments, you may come off as rude and unpleasant.
The two common compliments that a tourist will receive are about his/her appearance and skills.
So when Thai people give you a compliment about your look or skills, here is a basic response you can use to return your gratitude.
ขอบคุณมากครับ/ค่ะ (kop kun krap/ka) “Thank you so much” - To be more polite, you can do the ‘Wai’ gesture while saying this. If you want to keep it casual, there is no need to ‘Wai’.
ขอบคุณสำหรับคำชมครับ/ค่ะ (kop kun sam-rap kam chom krap/ka) “Thank you for a compliment” - Again, you can add the “Wai” gesture to show your gratitude.
In addition to ‘Thank you’, you can use these alternative phrases to respond to a compliment.
จริงหรอครับ/ค่ะ (jing ror krap/ka) “You think so?”
ก็ไม่เท่าไรนะ (gor mai tao rai na) “Not really.”
ไม่เท่าคุณหรอกครับ/ค่ะ (mai tao kun rok krap/ka) “I’m not as good as you.”
คุณสวย/หล่อกว่าอีก (kun suuay/lor gwaa eek) “You are prettier/handsomer than I am.”
คุณก็สวย/หล่อเหมือนกัน (kun gor suuay/lor meuuan gan) “You are also pretty/handsome.”
คุณเก่งกว่าอีก (kun geng gwaa eek) “You are better than me.”
Thai people are taught to be modest and humble by gently denying compliments. They tend to praise the respondent in return instead of accepting those compliments.
One way of responding to compliments from strangers is to smile. This way you will not be seen as disrespectful and haughty.
Thai people like to express their dissatisfaction about a lot of things as much as they like to give compliments. It is normal to hear a Thai person complain about something aside from giving a compliment.
Below is the list of common Thai complaints that you should know while visiting the country.
ฉันอ้วนขึ้น (chan uuan keun) “I gained weight.” - This expression is commonly used by girls to complain about their weight. It reflects the Thai beauty standard that being skinny is equal to being beautiful.
It is prevalent in Thai culture to comment about their own physical appearance as well as others although it is regarded as body shaming.
อากาศร้อน (aa-gaat ron) “The weather is hot.” - Thailand’s climate is hot all year round. No matter what time of the year, Thai people will always complain about this issue.
แดดแรงมาก (daet raeng maak) “The sun's rays are so strong” - This is another common expression that Thai people used to complain about the hot weather.
โคตรหนาว (koht naao) “It’s freezing.” - Thais will use this expression when the temperature is too cold for them. โคตร (koht) means ‘extremely’ and is an informal word used among close friends.
ฝนตกอีกแล้ว (fon dtok eek laew) “It’s raining again.” - Thai people say this phrase when it has been raining for many days straight.
รถติดมาก (rot dit maak) “The traffic is really bad.” - Bangkok is known for its traffic jam problem. With nearly 10 million cars registered, you will likely hear Thai people complain about this issue during your visit, or you might catch yourself complaining about the similar one.
หิวข้าวมาก (hiw kaao maak) “I’m starving” - You can use this expression when you are hungry.
อาหารไม่อร่อย (aa-haan mai a-roi) “This dish is not tasty.” - Food is a major part of Thai culture. The locals will complain using this phrase when they are not satisfied with the taste.
เผ็ดมาก (pet maak) “It’s spicy.” - Chili is a main ingredient in many Thai dishes. For this reason, Thai locals use this phrase to complain when they cannot stand the spiciness.
Likewise, many tourists face the same problem while visiting a restaurant in Thailand. If you do not like spicy food, just tell the cook or the waiter this expression.
ไม่เผ็ดครับ/ค่ะ (mai pet krap/ka) “Not spicy.”
But if you like spicy food, then say this.
เผ็ดนิดหน่อย (pet nit noi) “Just a little spicy.”
ราคาแพง (raa-kaa paeng) “It’s expensive.” - Thai people love shopping and bargaining. They will complain using this expression when the price is higher than what they expected.
This is also a useful expression for a tourist who wants a cheaper price. If you want to bargain with a seller, you can say this expression follow by:
ลดหน่อยได้ไหมครับ/ค่ะ (lot noi daai mai krap/ka) “Can you lower the price?”
เขาเจ้าชู้ (kao jao choo) “He is unfaithful.” - This Thai expression is used to describe a playboy.
เธอขี้เกียจ (ter kee giiat) “She is lazy.”- Thais use this expression to complain when someone is lazy.
เขาขี้โม้ (kao kee moh) “He is boasting.” Thais use this to describe someone who likes to brag a lot.
เธอขี้เหนียว “ter kee niieow” “She is stingy.” - This expression is used to describe someone who is unwilling to give or spend money.
Note that Thai people will not complain about a person’s negative personality to that person directly. They tend to gossip to their friends about this instead.
Compliments and complaints always go hand in hand in Thailand. Learning how to appropriately compliment and complain in Thai will help you express your opinion and make friends with the locals naturally. And don’t be shy to respond when someone gives you a compliment.
You can use our free web application to record your own Thai phrases.