When you first start to learn the thai language it can seem very complicated but there are a number of words which you can use in many different ways to make it easier for you to communicate.
One of these words is ‘dee’ which in it’s simplest form means good, the opposite is ‘mei dee’ - not good. Dee has a mid tone and a long vowel so say the word clearly and strongly and elongate the eee sound. When you say ‘mei dee’ make sure that ‘mei’ is lower than ‘dee’. Remember, when ‘mei’ means no - say it low.
You can hear ‘dee’ in two of the first phrases which you learn in Thai language - Sawat dee (the generic greeting used by Thais) and Sabai dee (I feel good).
The easiest way to ask someone if they agree with you or if they would like to do something with you, is to make a statement and add ‘dee mei’. In this sentence we are using ‘mei’ as a question word so it has a rising tone. Try to think about raising your tone slightly at the end of a sentence in order to ask a question in English, the theory is exactly the same.
A simple sentence such as: ‘bai gin kao gan’ Go eat food together, can be turned into a question or invitation simply by adding ‘dee mei’ at the end. ‘Bai gin kao gan dee mei’ - go eat food together, is that good?’ this is a very simple way to ask someone to go for dinner with you.
‘Bai doo nang gan dee mai’ - Shall we go to the movies together?
‘Wan nee bai Grungtep dee mei’ - Let’s go to Bangkok today.
If you spend a lot of time socialising with Thai people, you will have probably heard the words ‘chok dee’ which means good luck. Thais use this as a toast with alcoholic drinks in the same way that English people use ‘cheers,’ but it can also be used when you say goodbye or thank you to someone. I often use ‘chok dee’ when saying goodbye to people who I may not see for a long time or maybe after a short business association which has gone well .
Use ‘dee jai’ to express happiness and also to congratulate friends on an achievement or celebration by adding the word ‘duay’ - ‘dee jai duay’, it literally means ‘I’m happy also’ but a more understandable translation would be: I’m happy for you.
If someone tells you that they are getting married or they just graduated, you can say ‘dee jai duay’ - I’m really pleased for you.
If you turn the words around, you get ‘jai dee’ - good heart. If you say ‘Bpen kon jai dee’ - it literally means that someone is a good and kind person .
The final way of using dee that I will explain to you is ‘Yin dee’ which means ‘it’s my pleasure’ or ‘you’re welcome’. This can be used after being thanked for a gift or a kind action, it is more polite and formal than just saying ‘mei bpen rai’ which literally means no problem.