Lesson 15

Consonant Clusters

Reading

All the words we've encountered so far have started either with a single consonant, or with a glottal stop (). There are many words, however, which start with a consonant cluster. However, in Thai the range of possible such clusters is limited to:

Initial
Consonant
+ร+ล+ว
กร-กล-กว-
ขร-ขล-ขว-
คร-คล-คว-
ตร---
ปร-ปล--
พร-พล--

The tone of the word is determined by the initial consonant. So, for example:

WordPronunciationMeaning
กลาง/klaaŋ/medium
ตรอก/trɔ̀ɔk/lane
ควัน/khwan/smoke
พริก/phrík/chilli

Rather illogically perhaps, the tone mark is written above the second consonant of the cluster. So, for example:

WordPronunciationMeaning
ใกล้/klây/near
แคร่/khrɛ̂ɛ/litter
ครั้ง/khráŋ/time, occasion

Now try reading these words:

Unfortunately, when reading polysyllabic words we can no longer rely upon a consonant associated with a vowel to be the first consonant of a syllable when that consonant is //. We need to look at the preceding consonant to determine whether or not we're dealing with a consonant cluster.

Here are some polysyllabic words, most with consonant clusters to read:

Writing

Be aware that writing the tone mark (incorrectly) over the first consonant of a cluster is a very common mistake for beginners.