Thai numerals

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Thai numerals (Thai: เลขไทย, RTGSlek thai, pronounced [lêːk tʰāj]) are a set of numerals traditionally used in Thailand, although the Arabic numerals are more common due to pervasive westernization of Thailand in the modern Rattanakosin Era. Thai numerals follow the Hindu-Arabic numeral system commonly used in the rest of the world. In Thai language, numerals often follow the modified noun and precede a measure word, although variations to this pattern occur.


The Thai language lacks grammatical number. A count is usually expressed in the form of an uninflected noun followed by a number and a classifier. "Five teachers" is expressed as "teacher five person" khru ha khon (Thai: ครูห้าคน or with the numeral included Thai: ครู ๕ คน.) Khon "person" is a type of referent noun that is also used as the Thai part of speech called in English a linguistic classifier, or measure word. In Thai, counting is kannap (การนับ, lit. 'occasion of respect'); the classifier, laksananam (ลักษณนาม from laksana characteristic, form, attribute, quality, pattern, style; and nam name, designation, appellation.[1]) Variations to this pattern do occur, and there really is no hierarchy among Thai classifiers.[2] A partial list of Thai words that also classify nouns can be found in Wiktionary category: Thai classifiers.

Main numbers[edit]

Zero to ten[edit]

Thai sūn is written as oval 0 (number) when using Arabic numerals, but a small circle when using traditional numerals, and also means centre in other contexts.[3] It is from Sanskrit śūnya, as are the (context-driven) alternate names for numbers one to four given below; but not the counting 1 (number).

Thai names for N +1 and the regular digits 2 through 9 as shown in the table, below, resemble those in Chinese varieties (e.g., Cantonese and Min Nan) as spoken in Southern China, the putative homeland of the Tai. In fact, the etymology of Thai numerals 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 is Middle Chinese, while the etymology of Thai numeral 5 is Old Chinese, as illustrated in the table below[4]

Number Thai
Numeral Written RTGS IPA Archaic Etymology
0 ศูนย์ sun /sǔːn/ Sanskrit śūnya
1 หนึ่ง nueng /nɯ̀ŋ/ อ้าย (ai) Proto-Tai /nʉŋ/[4]
2 สอง song /sɔ̌ːŋ/ ยี่ (yi) Middle Chinese /saŋ/[4] (compare Min Nan 雙 sang1) and /nyijH/[4] (compare Min Nan 二 ji7)
3 สาม sam /sǎːm/ สาม (sam) Middle Chinese /sam/[4] (compare Hakka/Cantonese 三sam1)
4 สี่ si /sìː/ ไส (sai) Middle Chinese sijH[4] (compare Min Nan 四 si3)
5 ห้า ha /hâː/ งั่ว (ngua) Old Chinese /*ŋaʔ/[4] (compare Min Nan 五 ngo.)
6 หก hok /hòk/ ลก (lok) Middle Chinese /ljuwk/[4] (compare Hakka + Cantonese 六 liok8)
7 เจ็ด chet /t͡ɕèt/ เจ็ด (chet) Middle Chinese /tshit/[4] (compare Min Nan 七 chit4)
8 แปด paet /pɛ̀ːt/ แปด (paet) Middle Chinese /peat/[4] (compare Cantonese 八 pat4)
9 เก้า kao /kâːw/ เจา (chao) Middle Chinese /kjuwX/[4] (compare Min Nan 九 kau2)
10 ๑๐ สิบ sip /sìp/ จ๋ง (chong) Middle Chinese dzyip (compare Min Nan[4] (compare Hakka 十 sip8)

Numerical digit characters, however, are almost identical to Khmer numerals. Thai and Lao words for numerals are almost identical, however, the numerical digits vary somewhat in shape. Shown below is a comparison between three languages using Cantonese and Minnan characters and pronunciations. The Thai transliteration uses the Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS).

Number Thai Khmer Lao
Numeral Written RTGS IPA Archaic Numeral Written IPA Numeral Written IPA
0 ศูนย์ sun /sǔːn/ (Sanskrit śūnya) សូន្យ /soun/ ສູນ /sǔːn/
1 หนึ่ง nueng /nɯ̀ŋ/ อ้าย (ai) មួយ /muəj/ ນຶ່ງ /nɯ̌ŋ/
2 สอง song /sɔ̌ːŋ/ ยี่ (yi) ពីរ /piː/ ສອງ /sǒːŋ/
3 สาม sam /sǎːm/ สาม (sam) បី /ɓəj/ ສາມ /sǎːm/
4 สี่ si /sìː/ ไส (sai) បួន /ɓuən/ ສີ່ /sìː/
5 ห้า ha /hâː/ งั่ว (ngua) ប្រាំ /pram/ ຫ້າ /hâː/
6 หก hok hòk ลก (lok) ប្រាំមួយ /pram muəj/ ຫົກ /hók/
7 เจ็ด chet /t͡ɕèt/ เจ็ด (chet) ប្រាំពីរ /pram piː/ ເຈັດ /t͡ɕét/
8 แปด paet /pɛ̀ːt/ แปด (paet) ប្រាំបី /pram ɓəj/ ແປດ /pɛ́t/
9 เก้า kao /kâːw/ เจา (chao) ប្រាំបួន /pram ɓuən/ ເກົ້າ /kâw/
10 ๑๐ สิบ sip /sìp/ จ๋ง (chong) ១០ ដប់ /ɗɑp/ ໑໐ ສິບ /síp/

Ten to a million[edit]

Sanskrit lakh designates the place value of a digit (tamnaeng khong tua lek, ตําแหน่งของตัวเลข), which are named for the powers of ten: the unit's place is lak nuai (หลักหน่วย); ten's place, lak sip (หลักสิบ); hundred's place, lak roi (หลักร้อย), and so forth.[5] The number one following any multiple of sip becomes et (Cantonese: 一, yat1; Minnan: 一, it4). The number ten (sip) is the same as Minnan 十 (sip8, lit.). Numbers from twenty to twenty nine begin with yi sip (Cantonese: 二十, yi6sap6; Minnan: 二十, lit. ji7sip8). Names of the lak sip for 30 to 90, and for the lak of 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000 and million, are almost identical to those of the like Khmer numerals.

Number Thai RTGS IPA Notes
10 ๑๐ สิบ sip /sìp/
11 ๑๑ สิบเอ็ด sip et /sìp ʔèt/
12 ๑๒ สิบสอง sip song /sìp sɔ̌ːŋ/
20 ๒๐ ยี่สิบ yi sip /jîː sìp/
21 ๒๑ ยี่สิบเอ็ด yi sip et /jîː sìp ʔèt/
22 ๒๒ ยี่สิบสอง yi sip song /jîː sìp sɔ̌ːŋ/
30 ๓๐ สามสิบ sam sip /sǎːm sìp/
31 ๓๑ สามสิบเอ็ด sam sip et /sǎːm sìp ʔèt/
32 ๓๒ สามสิบสอง sam sip song /sǎːm sìp sɔ̌ːŋ/
100 ๑๐๐ ร้อย roi /rɔ́ːj/
1 000 ๑๐๐๐ พัน phan /pʰān/
10 000 ๑๐๐๐๐ หมื่น muen /mɯ̀ːn/ From Middle Chinese /mʉɐnH/ 萬
100 000 ๑๐๐๐๐๐ แสน saen /sɛ̌ːn/
1 000 000 ๑๐๐๐๐๐๐ ล้าน lan /láːn/

For the numbers twenty-one through twenty-nine, the part signifying twenty: yi sip (ยี่สิบ), may be colloquially shortened to yip (ยีบ, ยิบ). See the alternate numbers section below.

The hundreds are formed by combining roi with the tens and ones values. For example, two hundred and thirty-two is song roi sam sip song. The words roi, phan, muen, and saen should occur with a preceding numeral (nueng is optional), so two hundred ten, for example, is song roi sip, and one hundred is either roi or nueng roi. Nueng never precedes sip, so song roi nueng sip is incorrect. Native speakers will sometimes use roi nueng (or phan nueng, etc.) with different tones on nueng to distinguish one hundred from one hundred and one. However, such distinction is often not made, and ambiguity may follow. To resolve this problem, if the number 101 (or 1001, 10001, etc.) is intended, one should say roi et (or phan et, muen et, etc.).

Numbers above a million[edit]

Numbers above a million are constructed by prefixing lan with a multiplier. For example, ten million is sip lan, and a trillion (1012, a long scale billion) is lan lan.

Decimal and fractional numbers[edit]

Colloquially, decimal numbers are formed by saying chut (จุด, dot) where the decimal separator is located. For example, 1.01 is nueng chut sun nueng (หนึ่งจุดศูนย์หนึ่ง).

Fractional numbers are formed by placing nai (ใน, in, of) between the numerator and denominator or using [set] x suan y ([เศษ] x ส่วน y, x parts of the whole y) to clearly indicate. For example, ⅓ is nueng nai sam (หนึ่งในสาม) or [set] nueng suan sam ([เศษ]หนึ่งส่วนสาม). The word set (เศษ) can be omitted.

The word khrueng (ครึ่ง) is used for "half". It precedes the measure word if used alone, but it follows the measure word when used with another number. For example, kradat khrueng phaen (กระดาษครึ่งแผ่น) means "half sheet of paper", but kradat nueng phaen khrueng (กระดาษหนึ่งแผ่นครึ่ง) means "one and a half sheets of paper".

Negative numbers[edit]

Negative numbers are formed by placing lop (ลบ, minus) in front of the number. For example, −11 is lop sip et (ลบสิบเอ็ด).

Ordinal numbers[edit]

Ordinal numbers are formed by placing thi (ที่, place) in front of the number. They are not considered a special class of numbers, since the numeral still follows a modified noun, which is thi in this case.

Thai RTGS IPA meaning
ที่หนึ่ง thi nueng /tʰîː nɯ̀ŋ/ first
ที่สอง thi song /tʰîː sɔ̌ːŋ/ second
ที่สาม thi sam /tʰîː sǎːm/ third
ที่สี่ thi si /tʰîː sìː/ fourth
ที่# thi # /tʰîː/ #st, #nd, #rd, #th

Alternate numbers[edit]


Ai (Thai: อ้าย) is used for "first born (son)" or for the first month, duean ai (เดือนอ้าย), of the Thai lunar calendar.[6]


Ek (Thai: เอก) is from Pali ḗka, "one" [7] Ek is used for one (quantity); first (rank), more prominent than tho โท second, in tone marks, education degrees and military ranks; and for the lead actor in a role. In antiquity, a seventh daughter was called luk ek (ลูกเอก), though a seventh son was luk chet (ลูกเจ็ด).[8]


Et (Thai: เอ็ด, Cantonese: 一, yat1; Minnan: 一, it4), meaning "one", is used as last member in a compound number (see the main numbers section above).


Tho (Thai: โท) is from Pali dūā, "two".[9] Tho is used for two and for the second-level rank in tone marks, education degrees and military ranks.[10]


Yi (Thai: ยี่, Cantonese: 二, yi6; Minnan: 二, ji7) is still used in several places in Thai language for the number two, apart from song (สอง): to construct twenty (two tens) and its combinations twenty-one through twenty-nine; to name the second month, duean yi (เดือนยี่), of the traditional Thai lunar calendar; and in the Thai northern dialect thin pha yip (ถิ่น–พายัพ), which refers to the Year of the Tiger.[11]

Tri & Trai[edit]

Tri (ตรี) and trai (ไตร) are from Sanskrit trāyaḥ, "three".[12] These alternatives are used for three; third rank in tone marks, education degrees and military ranks; and as a prefix meaning three(fold).[13]


Chattawa (จัตวา) is the Pali numeral four; used for the fourth tone mark and as a prefix meaning fourth in order or quadruple in number.


Lo (Thai: โหล) means a dozen or twelve. It is usually used for trade. It may also mean jar or bottle.[14]


Yip (Thai: ยีบ or ยิบ) in colloquial Thai is an elision or contraction of yi sip (ยี่สิบ) at the beginning of numbers twenty-one through twenty-nine. Therefore, one may hear yip et (ยีบเอ็ด, ยิบเอ็ด), yip song (ยีบสอง, ยิบสอง), up to yip kao (ยีบเก้า, ยิบเก้า). Yip may have a long vowel (ยีบ) or be elided further into a short vowel (ยิบ).


Sao (Thai: ซาว) is twenty in the Thai northern dialect[15] and in the Isan language. Xao (ຊາວ) is the word for twenty in the Lao language.


Kurut (Thai: กุรุส) means a dozen dozen or 144. It is usually used for trade. It is a loanword from gross.[16]


Kot (Thai: โกฏิ) is ten million used in religious context. It comes from Pali/Sanskrit kōṭi.[17] See also crore.

Tone marks, education degrees and military ranks[edit]

The alternate set of numerals used to name tonal marks (ไม้, mai), educational degrees (ปริญญา, parinya), and military rankings derive from names of Sanskrit numerals.

Number Tonal Mark Educational Degree Military Ranking in the Royal Thai Army
Thai RTGS Value Mark Thai RTGS Tone Thai RTGS Degree Thai RTGS Meaning
เอก ek first -่ ไม้เอก mai ek first tone ปริญญาเอก parinya ek doctor's พลเอก phon ek General
พันเอก phan ek Colonel
ร้อยเอก roi ek Captain
จ่าสิบเอก cha sip ek Master Sgt. 1st Class
สิบเอก sip ek Sergeant (Sgt.)
โท tho second -้ ไม้โท mai tho second tone ปริญญาโท parinya tho master's พลโท phon tho Lieutenant General
พันโท phan tho Lieutenant Colonel
ร้อยโท roi tho Lieutenant
จ่าสิบโท cha sip tho Master Sgt. 2nd Class
สิบโท sip tho Corporal
ตรี tri third -๊ ไม้ตรี mai tri third tone ปริญญาตรี parinya tri bachelor's พลตรี phon tri Major general
พันตรี phan tri Major
ร้อยตรี roi tri Sub Lieutenant
จ่าสิบตรี cha sip tri Master Sgt. 3rd Class
สิบตรี sip tri Lance Corporal
จัตวา chattawa fourth -๋ ไม้จัตวา mai chattawa fourth tone พลจัตวา phon chattawa Brigadier General (Honorary)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glenn S., ed. (May 21, 2013). "ลักษณนาม" (Dictionary). Royal Institute Dictionary - 1982. Retrieved May 21, 2013. [grammar] a classifier, a numerative noun 
  2. ^ Constructing Taxonomy of Numerative Classifiers for Asian Languages
  3. ^ English-Thai reverse lookup and synonyms
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Suthiwan, Titima; Uri Tadmor (2009). Martin Haspelmath, ed. Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook. Walter de Gruyter. p. 606. ISBN 9783110218442. 
  5. ^ Online Royal Institute Dictionary Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine., 1999 edition: select "ห" and enter หลัก
  6. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999); select อ enter อ้าย
  7. ^ Digital Dictionaries of South Asia Sir Ralph Lilley Turner (1888-1983) A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages entry 2462
  8. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select อ enter เอก
  9. ^ Digital Dictionaries of South Asia Sir Ralph Lilley Turner (1888-1983) A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages entry 6455
  10. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ท enter โท
  11. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ย enter ยี่
  12. ^ Digital Dictionaries of South Asia Sir Ralph Lilley Turner (1888-1983) A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages entry 5994
  13. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ต enter ไตร
  14. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ห enter โหล
  15. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ซ enter ซาว
  16. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ก enter กุรุส
  17. ^ ORID Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. (Online Royal Institute Dictionary (1999), select ก enter โกฏิ

External links[edit]