When talking to someone in English, the person will likely include idioms, phrases, and slang in the conversation. Some of them are similar to Thai when translated word-to-word, but some of them are not. That’s why, learning some English idioms and phrases will help you to carry a conversation easily, and won’t get confused when you hear these phrases. Let’s go through 10 useful phrases today, shall we?
1. It’s a piece of cake.
The final exam is coming up and your mother is a little worried, so you decided to tell her that it’s going to be just a piece of cake to you and not to worry.
When someone says that something is a piece of cake, that means it’s really an easy task. As easy as eating a piece of cake! In Thai, we usually say ‘pok gluay kao paak’ (pok = to peel, gluay = banana, kao = to enter, paak = mouth) which means the same thing except changing from a piece of cake to a banana.
2. Speak of the devil.
Mr. A & Mr. B are talking to each other, wondering what Mr. C is doing. Suddenly, Mr. C came into the room. “Speak of the devil! We’re talking about you.”, said Mr. A.
Can you guess the meaning of this phrase from the example? That’s right, you say this phrase when you’re talking about someone that’s not with you at the moment, then he shows up.
3. Two heads are better than one.
You walked into a classroom and saw that your friend was crying. You asked her what was wrong and she didn’t seem so sure about telling you about her problems. So, you told her that you could help, and two heads are better than one anyways.
It simply means that having someone to help you think is better than thinking about it alone. We also have this phrase in Thai, which is ‘song hua dee gwa hua diaw’ (song = two, hua = head, dee gwa = better, diaw = single), and it means the exact same thing.
4. Better safe than sorry.
Before you drive your car, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you have your seatbelt fastened. It’s better safe than sorry.
If you say this line to someone, it means you’re advising the person to be cautious and take an action to help to reduce the damage of something that might happen later on. The same Thai phrase of this one will be ‘plod pai wai korn’ (plod pai = safe, wai korn = first). So, safety first, guys!
5. Tell me something I don’t know.
A husband told his wife that she was the best cook in the world. Then, the wife replied, “Tell me something I don’t know.”
The wife in the example didn’t ask her husband to educate her. What she meant was that she knew she was amazing. It’s a cute and funny line to brag about something.
6. Over my dead body.
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase a lot from movies. Usually when a villain wants to do something bad and the hero is trying to stop him with the line “Over my dead body!”.
It means that you’ll prevent whatever is going to happen with all your might. The same phrase in Thai would be ‘kham sop khong chan pai korn’ (kham = crossing or go over, sop = dead body, khong chan = my, pai korn = first). Interesting, isn’t it?
7. Time is money.
Jason is a businessman that won’t waste time gossiping about other people because he knows time is money.
This doesn’t mean time is money literally. It’s a comparison that time is so precious and you don’t want to spend it worthlessly. There’s a Thai idiom that has the same meaning – ‘Wayla pen nguen pen tong’: ‘wayla’ means time, ‘pen’ means is, ‘nguen’ means money, and ‘tong’ means gold.
8. I’m beat.
“Work was so hectic today. I’m beat!” (I’m joking. Work was fun.)
When you hear someone says that, it means he’s physically exhausted. He might just come back from a long walk, traveled a long way, be busy at work, or went on a marathon, etc. It’s a common phrase that you’ll often hear if you have a non-Thai friend.
9. There’s something fishy going on.
Because Jason doesn’t like socializing and spends a lot of time working with his secretary, people are starting to think that there’s something fishy going on between them.
If you think a situation is fishy, that means you’re being suspicious. Someone is not telling the truth or there’s some dishonesty going on. Again, it’s just your thought. Jason and his secretary might not have something ‘fishy’. They might just like working hard. Time is money, remember?
10. Once in a blue moon.
Marie just got a job offer from the biggest company in Thailand. This kind of chance happens once in a blue moon.
If it’s a once in a blue moon situation, that means the situation is extremely rare to happen. Maybe you’re really serious about your diet, so you eat junk food once in a blue moon. This is because a blue moon happens only when there are 2 full moons in a month which rarely happens.
When carrying a conversation, saying idioms or slang might not make you feel that professional, but it’s a good way to help to break the ice and show the other person that you’re easy to talk to. Adding English subtitles to your Thai Video also helps to comprehend your audience if there are some Thai slang or idioms in your video, so your non-Thai audience can relate. If you decide to do so, contact us to get a free quote, and you’ll get a 10% discount for your first order. Two heads are better than one, right?
Sara is a Thai national who has spent many years working in various locations around the world. She has a passion for language - both Thai and English - and works as a certified translator for Sawadee Translations.