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The Handy "fixed Constructions" Thread


aanon
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Fixed constructions in Thai can be really handy to know, and also quite difficult to understand by just doing a literal translation. So I thought that this could be an area where we could help each other out.

Not being aware of any other place to find 'fixed constructions' easily, I thought we could start a thread with constructions we come across and find useful. The idea would be to:

1) show each construction with X's and Y's to make it clear which words can be varied,

2) say what type of word can be put in for X and Y (eg. noun, adjective, verb)

3) give an explanation/translation of what the construction means and

4) give a real example of usage (a simple example, if possible)

5) give a translation of the example

I'll give a common one as a start:

construction: X แล้ว X เล่า

type of word(s): X needs be a noun

meaning: one X after another; X after X

example: แม่ตามหาลูก วันแล้ววันเล่า

translation: Day after day, the mother searched for her child.

all the best.

ps. i wonder how many of these we will find?

Edited by aanon
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Fixed constructions in Thai can be really handy to know, and also quite difficult to understand by just doing a literal translation. So I thought that this could be an area where we could help each other out.

Not being aware of any other place to find 'fixed constructions' easily, I thought we could start a thread with constructions we come across and find useful. The idea would be to:

1) show each construction with X's and Y's to make it clear which words can be varied,

2) say what type of word can be put in for X and Y (eg. noun, adjective, verb)

3) give an explanation/translation of what the construction means and

4) give a real example of usage (a simple example, if possible)

5) give a translation of the example

I'll give a common one as a start:

construction: X แล้ว X เล่า

type of word(s): X needs be a noun

meaning: one X after another; X after X

example: แม่ตามหาลูก วันแล้ววันเล่า

translation: Day after day, the mother searched for her child.

all the best.

ps. i wonder how many of these we will find?

That is tough, you have the only one I think, I have just taken instruction and if anyone wonders เล่ว is better than saying อีก which is only the meaning! (TIT) If I find any others I shall certainly contribute, and look forward to any found by anyone else.

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construction: Xอยู่ได้

type of word(s): X needs be a verb

meaning: please go on with X (ironically)

example: บ่นอยู่ได้

translation: Please keep on complaining (ironically said, in reality you want them to stop complaining).

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construction: X ใคร X มัน

type of word(s): X needs to be a noun

meaning: each person's X is their own

example: ชีวิตใครชีวิตมัน

translation: each person's life is their own

all the best.

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construction: X ใคร X มัน

type of word(s): X needs to be a noun

meaning: each person's X is their own

example: ชีวิตใครชีวิตมัน

translation: each person's life is their own

all the best.

Yes, the very pity, "ของใครของมัน" - "to each his own". Simple construction; clear meaning.

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thanks for the responses, here's a relatively obscure fixed construction that i learned about here a while back:

construction: X แหล่ มิ X แหล่

type of word(s): X needs to be a verb or adjective*

meaning: to be right on the verge of X

example: "เอาน่ามือถือชั้นตังค์มันจะหมดแหล่มิหมดแหล่อยู่แล้ว"

translation: "Oh c'mon, the credit on my mobile is right on the verge of running out!"

* some examples, ตาย, หมด, ขาด, พัง - you might think of them as either verb or adjective

all the best.

Edited by aanon
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In thai2english they leave out the first แหล่

for example : ตายมิตายแหล่

And they translate is as "to be half dead", which can be interpreted as "to be right on the verge of dying"

I am wondering if the meaning of this construction changes if you leave out the first แหล่

I am also wondering if you can replace the มิ with ไม่ in this construction

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In thai2english they leave out the first แหล่

for example : ตายมิตายแหล่

And they translate is as "to be half dead", which can be interpreted as "to be right on the verge of dying"

I am wondering if the meaning of this construction changes if you leave out the first แหล่

I am also wondering if you can replace the มิ with ไม่ in this construction

ok, that's interesting. do you know if there's a way to search for 'blank' constructions in general on thai2english? eg. ...มิ...แหล่

i've also come across this without the first แหล่ and i believe the meaning is exactly the same. in doing a few google searches before making my last post, i noticed that i was getting more results for the version with the first แหล่. i hadn't though of substituting ไม่ for มิ, but did another search just now and found a roughly equal number of results for ตายแหล่มิตายแหล่ and ตายแหล่ไม่ตายแหล่.

thanks for the new angle.

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i got the idea and example for this one from a post over at andrew biggs' forum: http://www.andrewbiggs.com/smf/index.php?topic=2167.0

construction: X ไปได้ *

type of word(s): X needs to be a verb

meaning: what a silly thing to X; i can't believe [somebody] did X

example:

ตำรวจ: สังเกตเห็นอะไรผิดปรกติแถวๆ นี้ไหม?

หญิงตาบอด: ฉันตาบอด ฉันมองอะไรไม่เห็น

ตำรวจ: ถามไปได้

translation:

Policeman: Did you see anything unusual around here?

Blind woman: I'm blind. I can't see anything.

Policeman: Right, dumb question.

all the best.

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ok, back to something you can use everyday:

construction: ยิ่ง X ยิ่ง Y

type of word(s): X and Y can be verbs, adjectives (or phrases based on these) in any combination

meaning: the more X, the more Y

example: ยิ่งคิดยิ่งเครียด

translation: the more i think about it, the more stressed i become

all the best.

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ok, that's interesting. do you know if there's a way to search for 'blank' constructions in general on thai2english? eg. ...มิ...แหล่

A google search of "มิ*แหล่ site:thai2english.com" gives only the example given by kriswillems. Searching for "แหล่มิ*แหล่ site:thai2english.com" gives no results. Searching the open web for "มิ*แหล่ -แหล่มิ" gives 53,700 results, while "แหล่มิ*แหล่" gives only 1,700. It seems that both constructions are equivalent, but people tend to use the shorter version more often.

A search for "มิ.*แหล่" in the SEAlang dictionary gives these three results:

ตายมิตายแหล่(WebRank:6) 1 V be half dead

จะหลับมิหลับแหล่(WebRank:6) ja ˈlàp mí ˈlàp, ˈlɛ̀ɛ 1 to be on the verge of falling asleep.

จะ (...) มิ (...) แหล่(WebRank:) ja⁐ (...) mí⁐ (...) ˈlɛ̀ɛ 1 be on the verge, on the point of.

Edited by ElZorro
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After realizing that on the SEAlang dictionary this kind of structures appear with (...) for the variable, I did a search for just that and this is the result.

cool, thanks elzorro, there should be some useful info to mine there! which is just as well, cause i'm having trouble thinking of too many more or these fixed constructions. :-)

all the best.

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construction: X ก็ิ X แต่(ก็)ต้อง Y

type of word(s): X is an adjective*; Y is usually a verb

meaning: I/he/she is feeling so X, but still has to Y

example: "ง่วงก็ง่วง แต่ก็ต้องพยายามถ่างตาไว้ ไม่ให้เผลอหลับไป"

translation: "Even though I was so dam_n sleepy, I had to try my hardest to keep my eyes open and not fall asleep."

* some examples: เหนื่อย, เมื่อย, โกรธ, ตื่นเต้น, etc.

Edited by siamesekitty
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How about:

construction: X แสน X

type of word(s): X is an adjective or adverb

meaning: to add emphasis

example: "ส่วนประเทศยุโรปไม่เคยมีใครเคยเห็นเลย หรือนานแสนนานจึงมีรายงานสักทีหนึ่ง"

translation: "As for Europe, no one has ever reporting seeing one at all, or only once every so often."

Samples "นานแสนนาน" - every once in a while, "ไกลแสนไกล" far, far away

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good one david, (X แสน X) fits the bill as a 'formula' that would be a bit tricky to understand by looking at its parts.

i'd say นานแสนนานจึงมีทีหนึ่ง emphsises duration more than 'once in a while' - even as much as 'once in a blue moon'.

thanks siamese kitty, (X ก็ X) is another good one. i've been trying to think of a good general translation that could work for cases like ดูเธอสิ สวยก็สวย ฉลาดก็ฉลาด แล้วทำไมจะต้องไปทำงานแบบนั้น. The closest i can think of for this is: 'Look at her: Beauty, she has. Brains, she has. So why does she have to go and do that kind of work?'.

it still seems a bit weird...i guess we don't do this [raise a topic, then comment] thing as much in english. anyway, my quest for a general translation hasn't worked because, for your example, 'Sleepy, I am' sounds like ridiculous Yoda-speech!

thanks both!

all the best.

Edited by aanon
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construction: เอาดีทาง X

type of word(s): X is a noun

meaning: to focus one's efforts on X

example: ขณะที่นักปั้นดาราอย่างพจน์ อานนท์ หันไปเอาดีทางด้านกำกับภาพยนตร์

translation: Meanwhile, such a starmaker as Pot Aanon has turned his focus to movie directing.

all the best.

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adding another colloquial one as i'll be away tomorrow:

construction: X ใช้ได้

type of word(s): X is an adjective

meaning: fairly X; pretty X

example: ที่นี่เรียนหนักใช้ได้เลย

translation: the study load here is pretty heavy

all the best.

ps. thanks mike_l, ElZorro and others for the database-type info.

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construction: เอาดีทาง X

type of word(s): X is a noun

meaning: to focus one's efforts on X

example: ขณะที่นักปั้นดาราอย่างพจน์ อานนท์ หันไปเอาดีทางด้านกำกับภาพยนตร์

translation: Meanwhile, such a starmaker as Pot Aanon has turned his focus to movie directing.

all the best.

I have a small variation on this construction.

I think เอาดีทาง X comes from เอาให้ดีทาง X

In general เอาให้ means "try to"

For example

เอาให้ดี : try to do it good

เอาให้เสร็จ: try to finish it

Edited by kriswillems
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construction: ค่อย X ค่อย X)

type of word(s): X is a verb

meaning: as much as...

example: ค่อย ใช้ ค่อย ประหยัด

translation: Be mindful to conserve as much as you use

(This comes from a sign in the restroom of my office building, as part of a campaign exhorting the prudent use of water and electricity.)

Cheers.

Edited by meadish_sweetball
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thanks for your posts kris and mangkorn. one more for today:

construction: X จะตาย

type of word(s): X is an adjective

meaning: extremely X (colloquial)

example: เขาจะเลิกผลิตได้ไงอะ 611 รุ่นนี้ขายดีจะตาย

translation: how on earth could they stop producing it? this 611 model [phone] is an extremely good seller.

all the best.

ps. here's a blank 'form' to make copy&paste a bit easier:

construction:

type of word(s):

meaning:

example:

translation:

Edited by aanon
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I think this thread should become a sticky. These constructions are essential for anyone studying Thai. Thai language has hundreds of these construction, that can't be translated word by word. Aanon just left out the simple onces until know. But also the simple constructions are very interesting for anyone studying Thai.

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construction: X ยังกะ Y กะ Z

type of word(s): X is a noun+adj, classifier or verb, Y is a noun, Z is a noun

meaning: X like Y or Z (speaking language)

example:

ไล่ยังกะหมูกะหมา

คนยังกะมดกะปลวก

ผู้หญิงอ้วนยังกะหมูกะช้าง

translation:

chase away like a pig or a horse (thai expression, send away without consideration,feeling)

People like ants or termites (a lot of people)

A girl fat like a pig or an elephant

remark: กะ Z is optional

น่ารักยังกะตุ๊กตา cute like a doll

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construction: [noun] ต่างพากัน [verb]

type of word(s): connecting verb

meaning: to do something together

example: "ร้านค้าจำนวนมากต่างพากันปิดร้านหยุดขาย" (Thai Rath)

translation: "Many stores shuttered their doors and ceased doing business."

"คนจีนทั้งในประเทศและทั่วโลกต่างพากันยินดีปรีดาอย่างยิ่งต่อแผนยุทธศาสตร์ใหญ่นี้ " (Matichon Weekly)

The Chinese populations both domestically and internationally all expressed their joy and delight with these great strategic plans."

"ชาวบ้านในหมู่บ้านหนึ่งพบน้ำผุดขึ้นในหมู่บ้านและคิดว่าเป็นน้ำศักดิ์สิทธิ์ต่างพากันตักน้ำในบริเวณนี้ไปดื่มกิน" (Matichon)

The people in one of the villages who located a source of pristine water in the village and believed it to be holy water all went out to collect and drink the water there.

"ผู้คนที่อยู่ในตำแหน่งและอยู่ในระดับล่างต่างพากันสรรเสริญพระบารมี" (Arts and Culture)

Those who held relatively low positions all went out to pay homage to the King."

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construction: [noun] ต่างพากัน [verb]

type of word(s): connecting verb

meaning: to do something together

example: "ร้านค้าจำนวนมากต่างพากันปิดร้านหยุดขาย" (Thai Rath)

translation: "Many stores shuttered their doors and ceased doing business."

"คนจีนทั้งในประเทศและทั่วโลกต่างพากันยินดีปรีดาอย่างยิ่งต่อแผนยุทธศาสตร์ใหญ่นี้ " (Matichon Weekly)

The Chinese populations both domestically and internationally all expressed their joy and delight with these great strategic plans."

"ชาวบ้านในหมู่บ้านหนึ่งพบน้ำผุดขึ้นในหมู่บ้านและคิดว่าเป็นน้ำศักดิ์สิทธิ์ต่างพากันตักน้ำในบริเวณนี้ไปดื่มกิน" (Matichon)

The people in one of the villages who located a source of pristine water in the village and believed it to be holy water all went out to collect and drink the water there.

"ผู้คนที่อยู่ในตำแหน่งและอยู่ในระดับล่างต่างพากันสรรเสริญพระบารมี" (Arts and Culture)

Those who held relatively low positions all went out to pay homage to the King."

I am wondering if ต่าง in this expression indicates they are doing it all together but:

- not via the same way

- OR not via the same means

- OR not at the same place

- OR not at the same time.

For instance. Suppose father and mother are living in the same house and they would drive in the same car to go to a marriage party together, would you still use ต่างพากัน, or would you just use พากัน?

I am not sure, the word ต่าง makes me doubt. Feels like it expresses the subjects are "somehow" acting independently from each other.

Does anyone know?

Edited by kriswillems
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