The many different ways to say “I” in Thai Language

When should you use chan / ฉัน or dichan / ดิฉัน to refer to yourself? Why do guys use chan / ฉัน instead of phom / ผม sometimes? Get your answers now!


You should know by now that in Thai language, “I” for guys is different from “I” for girls. For English and Chinese speakers, this might prove to be really confusing. But this is the case for other languages besides Thai. For example, in Japanese, guys can refer to themselves using “boku / 僕” but you won’t hear a female calling herself  “boku / 僕”. It’s just plain weird 😬

In addition, Thai people do not always use “I” when referring to themselves. For example, a mother can call herself “mee / แม่” when speaking to her child. A stallholder might call himself/herself “phii / พี่” when speaking to you if they are older than you. How you refer to yourself in Thai language is really context-driven and you will only know when to use what pronoun if you converse frequently with a Thai.

That said, do not get confused by Thai pronouns! I have curated a handy list of Thai pronouns which you can refer to.

How to Say “I” in Thai Language

Thai WordWho and When to use
Chan ฉัน

Tone: Rising
Who: Females
When: In semi formal context

Who: Males
When: In informal context – usually when males are singing love songs
Di-chan ดิฉัน

Tone: Rising
Who: Females
When: In very formal context e.g. during interviews
Phom ผม

Tong: Rising
Who: Males
When: Suitable for most context. You will usually not go wrong using “phom”. A more informal term can be used when speaking to close friends/family.
Guu กู

Tone: Mid
Who: Males and Females
When: Only to be used with close friends. Do not use this term with family or strangers – it is offensive and insulting to the listener otherwise.
Rao เรา

Tone: Mid
Who: Males and Females
When: This literally means “we/us”. I will recommend avoiding this term altogether for “I/me” because I have only seen it used in Thai Lakorns when a person of higher status is speaking to one of lower status (e.g. a prince talking to his subordinate)
Phii พี่

Tone: Falling
Who: Males and Females
When: Suitable for most context when you are speaking to someone younger than yourself.
Nong น้อง

Tone: Rising
Who: Males and Females
When: Suitable for most context when you are speaking to someone older than yourself.
Nuu หนู

Tone: Rising
Who: Females
When: This literally means “mouse”. Usually used for females speaking to people much older than themselves (e.g. parents/grandparents).
Uua อั้ว

Tone: Falling
Who: Chinese Thais (Teochew)
When: I recommend avoiding this term altogether because I have only seen it used in Thai Lakorns. Always avoid using terms you are not sure of – just knowing the meaning is good enough to survive in Thailand
List of ways to say “I” in Thai Language

This list of 9 different ways to say “I” in Thai should be more that sufficient for beginner Thai learners to get around Thailand. Enjoy conversing in Thai today! 😉

About the author – see the About page for more information

Joanne Tan is an aspiring polyglot and has so far mastered English, Chinese and Thai languages. She first started learning Thai in 2015 before staying in Bangkok for 5 months, and then continued studying Thai up to Advanced Levels at the National University of Singapore. In 2017, Joanne was awarded ‘Advanced Thai Proficiency’ by the Sirindhorn Thai Language Institute of Chulalongkorn University. Today, Joanne continues to teach her friends basic Thai speaking and helps her Thai friends actively promote Thai culture.