Thai Language Grammar: Using “waa” (ว่า) in Thai

In this post, we are going to learn how to use the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) to introduce the subordinate clause. Remember, a subordinate clause contains a subject and a verb, but it needs to be attached to a main clause in order for the sentence to make a complete sense; and this is where the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) comes in – “main clause + waa (ว่า – that) + subordinate clause“.

Observe the following examples below:

– chan yawm-rap waa chan kid-phid
(I admit that I was wrong)

– Tom sawb-thaam waa aek-ga-sarn phrawm reu mai
(Tom enquired whether the documents were ready)

– Amy thaam Jane waa ter dai doo nang reuang nee laeo reu yang
(Amy asked Jane if she had seen the movie yet)

– ter dteun kao waa man theung way-laa thee-ja dtawng bpai laeo
(She reminded him that it was time to go)

– chan man-jai waa khun gam-lang tham nai sing thee thuuk-dtawng
(I am certain that you’re doing the right thing)

– kao mee kwaam-cheua-man waa garn-seuk-saa bpen reuang thee sia way-laa
(He has a belief that education is a waste of time)

As you can see from the above examples, the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) can be translated as “that“, “if“, or “whether“; and can come after a verb, an adjective, a pronoun, or a noun, in order to report what was said as well as opinions and feelings.

What types of verbs, adjectives, and nouns can be used with “waa” (ว่า)?

The first structure we are going to look at is “verb + that-clause” (verb + waa + subordinate clause). This subordinate clause is also known as reported clause because it usually reports something that was said or thought, but does not use the actual words that the speaker uttered.

The main clause, also known as reporting clause includes a subject and a verb of attribution (subject + verb); and these are verbs that indicate reporting (say, tell, admit), mental process (believe, think, know, hope), agreement and disagreement (agrees, denies, rejects) – Like the ones on the list below:.

– know = roo (รู้)
– see = hen (เห็น)
– say = phood (พูด)
– read = aan (อ่าน)
– think = kid (คิด)
– critise = dti (ติ)
– claim = aang (อ้าง)
– write = kien (เขียน)
– thought = neuk (นึก)
– answer = dtawb (ตอบ)
– argue = thiang (เถียง)
– believe = cheua (เชื่อ)
– assure = man-jai (มั่นใจ)
– propose = sa-neur (เสนอ)
– admit = yawm-rap (ยอมรับ)
– insist = yeun-yan (ยืนยัน)
– remember = jam-dai (จำได้)
– observe = sang-gade (สังเกต)
– warn / remind = dteun (เตือน)
– describe = ban-yaai (บรรยาย)
– mean = maai-kwaam (หมายความ)
– ask = thaam (ถาม) / kaw (ขอ)
– tell = bawk (บอก) / lao (เล่า)
– inform / notify = jaeng (แจ้ง)
– announce = bpra-gaad (ประกาศ)
– reveal = bpeud-pheuay (เปิดเผย)
– confess = sa-ra-phaab (สารภาพ)
– question = sawb-thaam (สอบถาม)
– decide = dtad-sin-jai (ตัดสินใจ)
– pronounce = awk-siang (ออกเสียง)
– compare = bpriab-thiab (เปรียบเทียบ)
– advise = hai kam-nae-nam (ให้คำแนะนำ)
– recommend / suggest = nae-nam (แนะนำ)
– guarantee / assure = rap-rawng (รับรอง)
– refuse / reject = bat-dti-sade (ปฏิเสธ)
– request = kaw (ขอ) / kaw-rawng (ขอร้อง)
– agree = dtok-lung (ตกลง) / hen-duay (เห็นด้วย)
– explain = chee-jaeng (ชี้แจง) / a-tit-baai (อธิบาย)

If the reported clause is a statement, the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) is translated as “that“.

Observe the following examples below:

– kao bawk waa chan bpen kon thee rai hade-phon
(He said that I was an unreasonable person)

– chan kid waa chan ja bpai wai-naam lang aa-haan-glaang-wan
(I think that I will go swimming after lunch)

– kao roo waa mee baang-yaang thee laew-raai dai geud-keun
(He knew that something bad had happened)

– chan jam-dai waa chan thing gun-jae baan wai thee baan
(I remembered that I had left my house keys at home)

If the reported clause asks a question or expresses doubt, the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) can be translated as “if” or “whether“.

Observe the following examples below:

– kao thaam waa chan phrawm reu yang
(He asked if I was ready yet)

– man keun-yoo-gap waa ter mee way-laa mai
(It depends on whether she has the time)

– chan sung-sai waa man ja dai phon reu mai
(I wonder if it will work or not)

– ter dtad-sin-jai mai dai waa ter ja dtaeng-ngaan gap kao mai
(She can’t decide whether to marry him)

When the reported clause includes a question word (what, where, when, which, etc.), we don’t normally use “that” in English. However, the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) must still be used in Thai.

Observe the following examples below:

– phom mai saab waa ja bpai thee-nai
(I didn’t know where to go)

– kao thaam waa chan ja bpai meua-rai
(He asked when I’m going)

– phom mai roo waa ja mee kon ma gee kon
(I don’t know how many people are coming)

– ter a-ti-baai waa phuak-rao dtawng tham arai
(She explained what we had to do)

– chan mai roo waa ja leuak chood-gra-bprong dtua nai
(I don’t know which dress to choose)

– mai-naan chan gaw roo waa ngaan kawng-chan ja yaak kae-nai
(I soon realised how difficult my job was going to be)

– chan sung-sai waa phuak-rao deuhn ma glai kae-nai laeo wan-nee
(I wonder how far we’ve walked today)

– ter kam-nuan waa phuak-rao dtawng jaai thao-rai bon daan-lang sawng-jud-maai
(She calculated how much we have to pay on the back of an envelope)

As mention earlier, the conjunction “waa” can follow a pronoun. In this case, the main clause will consist of “subject + verb + pronoun“.

Observe the following examples below:

– ter thaam chan waa chan chawb don-dtree reu mai
(She asked me if I was fond of music)

– khun bawk chan dai mai waa phuak-kao waang-phaen ja ma reu mai?
(Can you tell me if they’re planning to come?)

– ter bawk chan waa ter mai roo waa man ra-ka thao-rai
(She told me she doesn’t know how much it cost)

– phuak-rao bawk Derek lae Linda waa ja bpai baan lang mai kawng-phuak-rao yaang-rai
(We told Derek and Linda how to get to our new house)

The conjunction “waa” can also follow an adjective, and this is the second we are going to look at, “adjective + that-clause” (adjective + waa + subordinate clause).

For this structure, the main clause consists of a subject and an adjective. The adjectives commonly used with “waa” are those that express feelings (sure, certain, afraid, worried). Like the ones on the list below:

– afraid / fear = glua (กลัว)
– worried = gang-wun (กังวล)
– confident = man-jai (มั่นใจ)
– certain / sure = nae-jai (แน่ใจ)
– concerned = bpen-huang (เป็นห่วง)
– agree = hen-duay (เห็นด้วย) / dtok-lung (ตกลง)

PLEASE NOTE: Although “that” can be omitted in English, the conjunction “waa” must be used in Thai.

Observe the following examples below:

– chan glua waa ter ad-ja bpai laeo
(I fear (that) she might already left)

– phuak-kao glua waa phuak-rao ja saai
(They were afraid (that) we were going to be late)

– ter gang-wun waa kao ja mai ma dtaam nad
(She worried (that) he wouldn’t come as arranged)

– chan hen-duay waa kao kuan dai-rap cheuhn
(I agree (that) he should be invited)

khun man-jai waa phoo-chai nai rot keu Nick reuh?
(Are you certain (that) the man in the car was Nick?)

– chan nae-jai waa khun ja roo-jak phoo-kon maak-maai thee-nan
(I’m sure (that) you’ll know a lot of people there)

– phuak-rao man-jai waa tuk-yaang ja bpeud hai baw-ri-garn dtaam bpok-ga-dti phai-nai sin-deuan naa
(We are confident (that) everything will be open as normal by the end of next month)

– Pamela bpen-huang waa garn-rian kawng-ter dai seuam-sohm lung thang-thang thee ter gaw rian nack
(Pamela was concerned that her schoolwork had deteriorated despite her hard work)

The conjunction “waa” can also follow a noun when reporting what someone says, thinks, believes. These nouns are often those about possibility and opinion. Like the ones on the list below:

– order = kam-sang (คำสั่ง)
– hope = kwaam-wang (ความหวัง)
– belief = kwaam-cheua (ความเชื่อ)
– promise = kam-san-yaa (คำสัญญา)
– possibility = kwaam-bpen-bpai-dai (ความเป็นไปได้)
– suggestions = kam-nae-man (คำแนะนำ) / kor-sa-neur-nae (ข้อเสนอแนะ)

Observe the following examples below:

– ter mee kwaam-wang waa sak wan neung kao ja hai a-phai ter
(She had the hope that one day he would forgive her)

– dai mee kor-sa-neur-nae waa chan kuan laa-awk
(There has been a suggestion that I should resign)

– phuak-kao hai kam-nae-nam waa hai phuak-rao bpai reo noi
(They made a suggestion that we be a little early)

– man mee kwaam-cheua waa ra-ta-baan kuan dam-neun-garn dtawn-nee
(There is a belief that the government should act now)

– kao yeun kor-sa-neur waa hai baw-ri-sart seu thee-din pheum
(He made a proposal that the company buy more land)

– ter hai kam-san-yaa waa ja bpai yiam kao yaang-noy deuan lae krang
(She made a promise to visit him at least once a month)

– bpra-thaa-naa-tip-baw-dee dai awk kam-sang waa hai lay-ka-nut-garn laa-awk nai deuan naa
(The president has issued an order that the secretary resign next month)

– man mee kwaam-bpen-bpai-dai waa chan ja thuuk kaw hai bpai tham-ngaan thee dtaang jang-wad
(There is a possibility that I will be asked to work in another province)

However, when the reported clause offers an explanation to the statement we have just made in the main clause, Thai people tend to use “thee-waa” (ที่ว่า) which has similar meanings to “that says” or “in that“, to introduce the subordinate clause. In this case, we can just use “thee” (ที่) on its own, but we CANNOT use “waa” (ว่า) on its own. The reporting nouns that commonly used with “thee-waa” (ที่ว่า) are the ones on the list below:

– remark = kam-phood (คำพูด)
– idea = kwaam-kid (ความคิด)
– fact = kwaam-jing (ความจริง)
– answer = kam-dtawb (คำตอบ)
– excuse = kor-gae-dtua (ข้อแก้ตัว)
– claim = kam-glaow-aang (คำกล่าวอ้าง)

Observe the following examples below:

– chan sia-jai gap kam-phood kawng-chan thee-waa man tham hai khun mai phaw-jai
(I regret my remark in that it upset you)

– kao bpai thee baan kawng-ter duay kwaam-cheua thee-waa ter ja hai kao yeum ngeuhn
(He called at her house in the belief that she would lend him the money)

kam-glaow-aang kawng Jason thee-waa kao thuuk tuk-kon la-leuy-mai-sun-jai nan yaak thee-ja cheua
(Jason’s claim that he was ignored by everyone is hard to believe)

– kao mai chawb kam-nae-nam kawng-chan thee-waa phuak-rao tuk-kon kuan baeng-bpan kaa-chai-jaai
(He didn’t like my suggestion that we should all share the cost)

– chan dtaw-dtaan kwaam-kid-hen thee waa man bpen ngaan kawng phoo-ying thee-ja dtawng liang-doo luuk
(I’m against the idea that it is the woman’s job to bring up the child)

– dtam-ruad gam-lang dtruad-sawb kwaam-bpen-bpai-dai thee-waa ra-beud thuuk waang yoo bon kreuang-bin jet
(The police are investigating the possibility that a bomb was planted on the jet)

I hope you enjoy exploring different ways to use the conjunction “waa” (ว่า) today. As always, complete the Practice Exercise below and see you all inside the classroom.

Practice Exercise: Translate the following sentences into Thai and bring in to your next lesson, so we can go through them together.

1. She asked me who I was.
2. He asked me what I wanted.
3. She asked if I was Scottish.
4. I believe that he is innocent.
5. He asked me why I was so upset.
6. I asked her when it had happened.
7. Mary complained that she was tired.
8. She is ready to admit that I was right.
9. The nurse asked Joe whether he was ready.
10. He told us that it would take a long time.
11. It’s easy to forget that she’s just a child.
12. She said that she can speak three languages.
13. She felt certain that she’d seen him before.
14. I reckon it’s going to be a long, hot summer.
15. He asked me if I had come by train or by bus.
16. He told me his brother works for an Italian company.
17. I asked them who came to meet them at the airport.
18. She wanted to know who we had invited to the party.
19. We discovered that there was no truth in the rumour.
20. She made it clear that she wouldn’t accept the proposal.
21. The fact that she didn’t recognize me was rather a shock.
22. They were prepared to accept that my idea was a good one.
23. The waiter asked whether we wanted a table near the window.
24. The idea that the teacher should know everything is unacceptable.
25. He convinced everyone that the new road would be good for the town.
26. I’ve made up my mind, but it’s obvious that you need more time to think.
27. I welcome the news that attacks on women on the railways are 19 percent down.
28. I’d like to point out to everyone that it will be expensive to hire a mini bus.
29. Roy was telling me the big cinema in the town centre is going to close down. Is that true?
30. She said that she thought the land was under a curse and asked him for his opinion, but he said he knew little of the country.

Miss Urai Khomkham
Course Co-ordinator & Personal Tutor
Thai Language Tuition UK