Book Reccommendation: “Thai An Essential Grammar” by David Smyth

     Solid Thai grammar rules can be hard to come by on the web. You can spend whole days looking for and thinking about why a certain sentence uses the word ให้ or how to make a sentence that starts out “Owing to…”. That’s where this book is very useful. It’s probably one of the most useful books written on Thai grammar that you can find in English.
      You can actually learn Thai without buying any books at all, but if you want to a single volume that has the answers to most of your grammar questions, then maybe you should give “Thai An Essential Grammar” a look.

The Pros:
• This book answers a lot of questions that you probably have or have had about Thai.
• It covers both straight-out grammar and speaking conventions as well.
• Features a great section about the untranslatable particles (ค่ะ/ครับ สิ หรอก etc.)
   that really helps you understand what you’re hearing from native Thai speakers.
• Has example sentences written out in English, Thai and Thaiglish.
• Easy to pick-up and read. The lessons are not overly long or wordy.
The Cons:
• Some misspelled Thai words (They couldn’t have run a Thai spell-check before publishing?)
• Concerning words which have multiple uses, such as ไป มา ให้ etc.,
   the author covers most of the uses but not all of them. So, if you read this book and then
   hear one of the words used in a way that doesn’t fit any of the descriptions in the book… don’t be surprised.
   There are some that aren’t explained in full.
• Some of the explanations are a little too narrow. The author says that some things HAVE to be said a
   certain way or ARE NEVER said like this or that, but really, Thai grammar (and speaking conventions)
   are much more fluid than that. So, whenever you read one of those “absolutes” in the book, take it
   with a grain of salt. You’ll probably hear your Thai friends speak in a way the author claims they shouldn’t.  

     I learned Thai, for the most part, without using instruction books. I could never find one I really liked. (Too many omit Thai script. That’s a big pet peeve of mine.) This is the one book that, once I found it, I read almost the whole thing cover to cover. It covers a lot in a little time and I think students of Thai will benefit from reading it in some way or another.
My advice is don’t read it like a school book. Don’t force yourself to start at page 1 and read all the way through it. Instead flip through the book and stop to read only what grabs your attention at the time. You’ll enjoy it much, much more that way. Also, don’t take this book as your only reference to Thai Grammar. Indeed, never assume that one, single source is enough. Have multiple resources for information and keep an open mind.
Have fun!

 

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