Lesson 3

Vowels ◌ั , ◌ี, ◌ิ


The vowels we've encountered before have been written in the "logical" order&emdash;after the consonant they follow. However, not all Thai vowels are like that. They can be written above, below, or even before, the consonant they follow. So, for example, the word วัน is read as /wan/ where ◌ั represents the sound /a/ and is referred to as /máy hǎn aaˑkàat/ (literally "stick that turns in the air"). (The dotted circle, , simply acts as a placeholder for "above" and "below" vowels and other symbols which can't be displayed on their on.)

Here are the first three "above" vowels:

◌ั /a/Only used when followed by a consonant. A different character is used for a final /a/ sound in a syllable.
◌ิ/i/Short vowel.
◌ี/ii/Long vowel. Note the extra short stroke on the right to distinguish it from ◌ิ

One irregularity with ◌ั is that when it's followed by the combination ◌ั is not pronounced /aw/ as you might expect, but is pronounced /ua/. So, for example, วัว is pronounced /wua/ meaning "cow".

Click on "Play" to practise reading words using ◌ั vowels.

And now some words using ◌ิ and ◌ี.

And finally, some slightly longer words.


Here are some notes on each of the characters in this lesson. Click on the character to run its animation:

mhaStart by drawing the loop anticlockwise. This character is written above and to the right of the consonant it follows.
iStart by drawing the lower line, right to left, then draw the upper arc. This character should be the same width as the consonant it's over which means that it will vary in width.
iiStart by drawing ◌ิ, then lift the pen and draw the short, vertical line, downwards.

When writing syllables, write the consonant first, then the vowel (and then the final consonant, if there is one). For example, วัว is written ว-◌ั-ว.

◌ั is written between the leading and following consonants, whilst ◌ิ and ◌ี are written directly above the leading consonant. The width of ◌ิ and ◌ี should match the consonant which they are above. (Regrettably, this is not reflected in the worksheets because of font limitations.)