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Language Development and Teacher Training School 
1961 Phaholyothin Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Telephone: 02 561 3443, Fax 02 561 4381

“The Language Service Institute that Cares”

(Regarding common misunderstandings Thai people have about English)

by Acharn James Parmelee


Lessons on this page are for English students of Basic through Intermediate levels (Thai standard), though everyone can learn a lot! For help, or discussion, on any English language matter that puzzles you or others, just e-mail and tell us about it! We will then respond to your e-mail just as soon as possible! To review all the lessons to date, visit the Index of Free English Lessons.


NOTE: This lesson has been prepared especially for students who are sincere about learning English quickly and correctly!


1.      Advanced level learners also will improve their skills by studying these lessons! From what we know of persons who have studied to an "advanced level", many will not look at this lesson, thinking it is of only a "Basic-to-Intermediate" level -- meaning (to them) that they already know everything we are teaching. Of course. But this is not true! Every student -- and even English native-speaking teachers -- will learn something useful about English here each week. Keep in mind, also, what we mean when we use the term "advanced learner". It just means that, while a lot has been learned, still a lot more needs to be learned before a person can use English really well. (And the "advanced level" usually is only about the same as that of Mathayom 2, by American Junior High School standards.) What "still needs to be learned" mainly includes the "little words", only-partly understood, which "lower level" students have a chance to learn here every week! If this were not true, managing directors all over Thailand would not be saying:

"FOR my opinion . . . "

-- which we learned in Lesson Three is wrong!

2.      Learn to love the new "baby" in your home! If you have one child already, will you not also love and care for your new baby? Or will you make jokes about him or her, in order to keep your first baby happy? No, of course not! Not you . . . you are fair! But are you, really?

     You see, there really is a new "baby" in your family, and it will be a part of your life all the time, from now on! It's a language. It's English. So are you fair to it? Do you love and care for it as much as you do your first "baby", the Thai language? Or do you make jokes about it to keep your Thai friends happy?

     We at TEXT-AND-TALK believe that many people make jokes about it! They make jokes about English. And they don't take good care of this international language. The reason we know this is that when we write a simple English letter to companies wanting English training for their staff, almost nobody calls to get more information! But when we translate the same letter into Thai, people call us all day! Believe us. English is not a joke. It's the future of everyone in Thailand. Therefore, we invite students of all levels to study along with us, and to learn what you may never have "had the time" to learn before!

3.      It's wonderful if you make mistakes in speaking English! It's also okay if you don't remember everything in our lessons immediately! This is because the purpose of any language is to say something to somebody else -- and if you make mistakes, this means you are really speaking English. You are practicing, and every day you are learning more! This is why, when parents who speak English with us say:

"How much you will charge for teach English my two boys?"

. . .we are happy! The grammar is terrible, of course, but the meaning is clear, and they are "taking care of" their important new language by using it.

      In these lessons, you will learn more than just "grammar" and the meaning of "small words". You will also learn a complete system for pronouncing the words (and even sentences!) of English. You will learn the meanings of many new (and important) "big" words. And you will learn how to "put everything together" to have valuable and fun-filled conversations with foreigners. But if you don't have anyone to "practice" your English conversation with, may we advise that you request one of our experienced TEXT-AND-TALK teachers to come to your home? The cost is not very much, and it's a lot of fun! For now, if you don't know the meaning of some word we use, just click on "SCRIBBLER'S DEN" and ask:

"What does ______ mean?"
Then also type the sentence you found the word in.

We will give you a clear, easy meaning of the word -- and show you how to say it correctly!

      But, more importantly than anything else:

if you don't understand (or remember)
everything we teach you here!

The most important duty you have, if you really want to learn English, is to:


. . . And, if you make a lot of mistakes every time you speak, we think that's wonderful!


1.      Sentences. To make sure that you understand some important information we will teach you in this lesson, it's necessary to talk just a little bit about all the important parts of English language sentences and how these sentences are made. Often, when we ask a student what the three necessary parts of an English language sentence are, he or she says, "A subject, a verb and a direct object". This is not bad! However, a sentence does not have to have a direct object.

Suppose, for example, that your sister decides she no longer wants to work for her company. She may then go to her boss, and say -- if she's speaking English:


Both of these ways of showing that she wants to stop working for that company are sentences, and neither one contains a direct object!

The three parts that a sentence needs, therefore, are:


"End punctuation" just means (when we write):

A FULL STOP (the American period) - A QUESTION MARK -
or AN EXCLAMATION POINT (like that in "I quit!").

And, when we speak, it means A SOUND TO LET THE LISTENER KNOW OUR SENTENCE IS FINISHED. (We will learn how this is done later on.)

Usually, the subject of a sentence comes before the verb, as in:
"The STATUE OF LIBERTY (the subject) is (the verb) in New York."

But if the sentence is a question, there must be a verb before the subject, as in:

"IS (a verb) the STATUE OF LIBERTY (the subject) in New York?"

      If the verb is some form of "be", we use the same verb in both a regular sentence and in a question, as in the example above (the verb "is"). However, the form of "be" will not always be the same, as in this example:

REGULAR SENTENCE: "I AM going to go see John this Saturday."
QUESTION: "ARE you going to go see John this Saturday?"

But if the verb is not some form of "be", we use the helping verb in the regular sentence also in our question, as in:

REGULAR SENTENCE: "I WILL try to improve my grades next term."
QUESTION: "WILL you try to improve your grades next term?"
(Note that "I" changes to "you" and "my" changes to "your"
because when you ask this kind of question YOU ARE NOT THE SAME
as the one who makes the "regular sentence".

And if the verb is not some form of "be", and the "regular sentence" does not use a helping verb, we use a form of "Do" in our question:

REGULAR SENTENCE: "Porntip WORKS in a department store."
QUESTION: "DOES (the helping verb) Porntip WORK in a department store?"
("DOES" is the "do" form used with the subject "she", and Porntip is a woman.)

NOTE: The real name for what we call here a "regular sentence" is "STATEMENT". This means a sentence that gives information (but does not ask for it). So, from now on we will call this kind of sentence a "statement", not a "regular sentence".

2.     Objects.

      A.     Direct Objects. Direct objects are nouns or personal pronouns that name the person, thing or animal that receives the action told by the verb in a sentence, as in this example:

"Doctor Prasert is teaching HIS STUDENTS about mathematics."

"His students" are receiving the action "is teaching". Therefore, "his students" is the DIRECT OBJECT in the sentence. Note that the DIRECT OBJECT comes after the verb of the sentence.

      B.     Indirect Objects. The indirect object of a sentence is the noun or personal pronoun that names the person, thing or animal that receives the DIRECT OBJECT of the sentence (or some important part of it), as in the following example:

"The staff (the subject) gave (the verb) SALLY (the INDIRECT OBJECT)
a beautiful `going-away' PRESENT (the DIRECT OBJECT)."

Note that the preposition "TO" is often used before the INDIRECT OBJECT, and that this usage is considered to be better by British English speakers, as in the following example:

"The staff gave a beautiful `going-away' PRESENT TO SALLY."

But both sentences are correct. If you have learned American English, you might not use "TO" very often, and if you have learned British English, you might use "TO" as often as possible. (Note that if "TO" is used, the DIRECT OBJECT comes into the sentence before the INDIRECT OBJECT. The preposition "for" often is used in this way, too, when it points to something made for someone.)

      C.      If an OBJECT is in a personal pronoun form. Personal pronouns have both a subject form and an object form. This means that the "subject form" is used as the subject of a sentence, and the "object form" is used as the object of a sentence, as in the following example:

"The staff gave a beautiful `going-away' PRESENT
to HER
(the INDIRECT OBJECT personal pronoun, object form)."

NOTE: The object forms of the different personal pronouns are as follows:

me (I) - us (we) - you (you) - him (he) - her (she) - it (it) - them (they).

You need to MEMORIZE THESE FORMS, so you can use them immediately without having to think too much!

3.      Another "little word": the preposition "of".

     A.      "Of" + (noun) to show that something or someone owns, or has, or is part of, someone or something else, as in these examples:

1. "The words OF this lesson all need to be learned well."
2. "Wannee is the sister OF my wife's best friend."

NOTE: Whenever possible we use apostrophe + s to show this meaning, as in:

"This is Benjawan'S computer."

But we usually don't use apostrophe + s with a noun that names a thing. Thus, the following sentence is incorrect:

"We read all of the newspaper'S pages."

We must say:

"We read all of the pages OF the newspaper."

And, if there are a lot of words needed in order to show who or what belongs to, or is owned by, somebody, apostrophe + s should not be used. Therefore, the following sentence is not a good one:

"Wannee is my wife'S best friend'S sister."
(But the sentence in A.2 above is correct.)

     B.      "Of" + another word, or a group of words, which also shows that someone or something owns, or has, or is part of, someone or something else, as in the examples below. (Note that, in this case, the sentence is about one or more from a group of such things.)

1. "I went downtown with a friend OF MINE"
(This means "one from my group of friends", to show that I have more than one!)

2. "`Never mind' is a favorite expression OF HIS."
(one of other expressions that he has)

3. "This is a painting OF Frank'S."
(one of other paintings that Frank owns or has done himself)

      C.      In the meaning "regarding" or "upon considering" after an adjective, as in this example:

"He was Afraid OF his brothers."

Some other adjectives followed by "OF" in this meaning include:

ashamed - convinced - critical - jealous - proud - scared -
suspicious - terrified - tired.

Why don't you make some sentences of your own, using these words?

1.      "Pichet was _____________ _____ being late for work today."

2.      "The boss is very ____________ _____ my work when I make mistakes."

3.      "Linda is very ___________ _____ her husband, and won't let another woman get near him."

      D.      Before a name or personal pronoun, to point to the one whom the adjective describes, as in this example:

"It was stupid OF Mr. Brown to leave the office door unlocked."
(Mr. Brown is the one who was stupid.)

Other adjectives used in this way include:

brave - careless - clever - generous - good - intelligent - kind - nice -
polite - sensible - silly - thoughtful - unkind - unreasonable - wrong.

Why don't you practice making some sentences of your own, using these words?

1.      "It was _________ _____ you to help me with my homework last night."

2.      "It was ______________ _____ Randy to hold the door open for me when I came back with those packages."

3.      "It was ___________ _____ Matthew to go into the burning house to save our children."

      E.      In the meaning "made of" or "consisting of", as in these examples:

1. "A wall OF glass covers the front of our office."
2. "Songpon had a feeling OF worry about what would happen next."

      F.      "OF" + (noun) to show who caused the action told about in the words before "OF", as in this example:

"After an auto accident, both drivers should await the arrival OF the police."
(The "police" are the people who will arrive.)

      4.      Are you learning anything? Yes, you are! We'll show you how much now! Do you remember the sentence earlier in our lesson, in which the parents of two boys asked in English about our charges for language training? Here's that sentence again:

"How much you will charge for teach English my two boys?"

We think you have learned enough now to correct this sentence. First, let's look at this part:

"How much you will charge . . ."

You have learned that in a question the helping verb must come before the subject, so we must change this part of the sentence to read:

"How much WILL you charge . . ."

Next, you have learned that "for" is a preposition, and that a simple verb that comes after it must add "-ing". So we will change "for teach" to "for teaching", as follows:

"How much you will charge for teaching . . ."

This leaves:

". . . TEACHING English my two boys?"

In this part of the sentence, is there a verb form? Yes! "Teaching".

Is there a DIRECT OBJECT? Yes! "English" receives the action of "teaching"!

Is there an INDIRECT OBJECT? Yes! "My two boys" receives the DIRECT OBJECT "English".

Should there be a "TO" before the INDIRECT OBJECT? Yes, because the DIRECT OBJECT comes into the sentence before it does!

So now we know how to make this sentence completely correct, as follows:

"How much will you charge for teaching English TO my two boys?"

NOTE: Another way of forming this sentence is to use the word "TO" before "teach", instead of changing "teach" to "teaching" (for use with the preposition "for"). This is because "TO" in this case is not a preposition, but the word that we use before simple verbs quite often. Thus, the sentence could read:

"How much will you charge TO teach English to my two boys?"

But both ways are correct, and you already have learned a lot from these lessons!


1.      It's a bad idea to spell English words with thai letters! The reason is that the Thai spelling system will not let you show (and make) the correct sounds of the letters (and the vowel sounds) of these words.

You already have seen what happens when words like the ones below are spelled in Thai:

Germany - hygiene - Gillette - bank.

Another reason that you should not spell English words in thai is that the stress tones (the highest sounds) of the words usually change! Look, for example, at the correct way to pronounce the Western names shown below:

Gary = GEH-ree. Peter = PEE-tuhr.
Hugo = HIW-goh. Jason = JAY-suhn.

But, because these words have been spelled with Thai letters (or because you have spelled them that way in your head), the following is the way you really pronounce these names!

gae-REE = Gary. pee-TDUH = Peter.
hiw-GOH = Hugo. jay-SUHN = Jason.

This is not cute. It's okay, of course, to say someone's name incorrectly by accident. It's also okay to say a name incorrectly when you're speaking Thai with other Thai people. But . . .

IT'S VERY RUDE (impolite)

So, forget how to spell English words in Thai, and try hard to make the same English sounds that an English native speaker makes.

Will you promise? Because, if you will, what we will teach you next will help you to improve English pronunciation by at least 1,000% in a very short time!

2.      In Part 3 below, we will begin to show you how to pronounce all English words correctly -- and we will show you how to pronounce sentences correctly, too! First, however, you need to learn the meanings of just a few new words so that you will understand us when we explain how to do this.

     A.      VOWELS (pronounced VAE-wuhlz). The vowels in English are:

A - E - I - O - U - and (sometimes) W or Y.

     B.      All other English letters are called CONSONANTS (pronounced KORN-SUH-nuhnts).

     C.      UPPER CASE LETTERS (pronounced UHP-puhr-kays leh-tuhrz). These are sometimes called "big letters" or "capital letters", and look like this:


     D.      LOWER CASE LETTERS (pronounced LOH-wuhr-kays leh-tuhrz). These are sometimes called "little letters", and look like this:


     E.      SYLLABLES (pronounced SIH-luh-buhlz). You have seen this word in our lessons already. It means "complete sounds". For example, "elephant" has three syllables (three complete sounds), being:


     F.      HYPHENS (pronounced HAI-fihnz). These are the short lines we type between syllables. For example, in spelling the word "EH-luh-fuhnt" in a way that will help you to pronounce it correctly, we use a HYPHEN after "EH" and another HYPHEN after "luh".

     G.      ITALICS (pronounced ih-TAE-lihks). These are letters typed (for some special reason) so that they are not straight, as in the word below:


NOTE: When you write a word that we have typed in ITALICS, you should not try to write in ITALICS also, but should underline the part that we have typed in ITALICS, as in the following example:

If we type "italics" as "ih-TAE-lihks",
you should write it: "ih-TAE-lihks"
(unless you are using a typewriter or computer).

     H.      TONES (pronounced TOHNZ). These are the LEVELS of sounds and the KINDS of sounds that we use in pronouncing any word (in any language). In the Thai language, for example, there is the LOW TONE, as in "frog" (gohp!), the MIDDLE TONE, as in "fall" (lohng!), the HIGH TONE, as in "water" (NAHM), the RISING TONE (going from a lower level to the high level), as in "get well" (hAI) and the FALLING TONE (going from the high level to a lower level), as in "no" (Mai).

     I.      THE STRESS TONE (pronounced thuh STREHS tohn). The STRESS TONE of an English word is about the same as the HIGH TONE of a Thai word (such as in khrah!ng= time or times).

3.      How to pronounce all of the syllables in all English words. One of the biggest problems Thai people have in pronouncing an English word correctly -- after they have learned which syllable of the word has the STRESS TONE -- is how to pronounce the other syllables in the word! Here is how to do it:

     A.      Remember these words: "WATER FALLS (ON THE) FROG"! This means:

When the STRESS TONE is on the first SYLLABLE
of a word, it is a HIGH TONE

(as in the Thai word "NAHM" = water),
(as in the Thai word "lohng!" = fall)
and the third SYLLABLE is a LOW TONE
(as in the Thai word "gohp!" = frog).

Here is an example. In the English word "possible", you will find out that there are three SYLLABLES. You also will find out that the STRESS TONE is on the "pos" part of the word.

So "pos" is like the HIGH TONE of "NAHM".
is like the MIDDLE TONE of "lohng!".
And "ble" is like the LOW TONE of "gohp!".

     B.      When we spell an English word in a special way to help you pronounce it correctly, we will follow these rules:

           1.      We will use UPPER CASE LETTERS to spell the STRESS TONE (the HIGH TONE), like this:


           2.      We will use ITALICS to spell the MIDDLE TONE, like this:

si-, and

           3.      We will use LOWER CASE LETTERS to spell the LOW TONE, like this:


So the complete word now looks like this:


However, next week you will learn how we also will change the spelling of the word a little bit, to help you pronounce all of the VOWELS and all of the CONSONANTS correctly too!

      C.      If the STRESS TONE of a word is not on the first SYLLABLE, then all SYLLABLES before the STRESS TONE are MIDDLE TONES, as in these examples:

unlikely = un-LIKE-ly.
disadvantage = dis-ad-VAN-tage.

And if there is no SYLLABLE after the STRESS TONE, that is all right, as in the example below!

advanced = ad-VANCED.

If so,

There are 10 questions. Print out this lesson, and write your answers in pen. Then click to check your work after you finish!

NOTE: There is one free bonus point in this game!

SCORING: If you get 7 - 11 right answers:
You are a wealthy business person (or will be one day)!

If you get 4 - 6 right answers:
You are a good supervisor: very important to your company!

If you get 2 - 3 right answers:
You are a good worker, and study hard to improve in everything you so.

If you get fewer than 2 right answers: You are a(an) ...
Never mind. You just need to study the lesson again!


1. In order to learn English well, a person has to __________ as often as possible.
2. The three necessary parts of an English sentence are a ____________, a ____________ and _______ _____________________.
3. End punctuation (when we write) is a ________ ________, a ______________ _______or an ____________________ point. It also is a __________ we make (when we speak) to let our listener know that our sentence is finished.
4. Direct objects are words that tell who or what receives the __________ told by the verb, and indirect objects tell who or what receives the ___________ ___________. If the direct object comes into the sentence before the indirect object, the word "_____" (or sometimes another preposition such as "for") must be used before the indirect object.
5. Tell if the following sentence is a good one: "All the building's windows are broken." _____.
Make it correct: "______________________________________________________."
6. Make the following sentence show that Mark is only one of the man's friends:
"Mark is ______ friend ______ his."
7. "I am ________________ of myself for not helping my mother wash clothes this morning."
8. "It was ______________ of you to beat Mr. Brown at chess."
9. Make the following sentence correct:
"How much the doctor will charge for give the new kind of medicine my father?" "_________________________________________________________________________

Special! One point free bonus:
Write your sentence again without using a preposition with the indirect object.
4. The stress tone of English is about the same as the ________ ________ of Thai. An easy way for Thai people to remember how to pronounce all the syllables of an English word is to remember the sentence:
"__________ __________ (on the) __________."


To see any of our previous English lessons, visit the Index of Free English Lessons page!




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