Prepositions: "For" in Thai
What are the right Thai words to use in which situation? Let's go through all the different functions of "for", e.g. for you, for your cold, for three years.
Content
Lingo Ninja Research Team
4 min read · first published July 3, 2021
The English preposition "for" has numerous grammatical functions. Thai uses different words for many of these functions, so we will need to cover them one by one:
  • doing something for someone - e.g. I bought a book for you
  • to be used by - e.g. games for kids
  • concerning - e.g. for that, we will ...
  • for the benefit of - e.g. I am working for our future
  • in case of - e.g. I carry an umbrella for the rain
  • on behalf of / representing  - e.g. I am here for my parents
  • Introducing someone's opinion - e.g. As for me, ...
  • duration of time - e.g. I studied for three years
  • giving reasons - e.g. I am sorry for being late 

Doing something for someone

For this, we use the word ให้ "to give".

Note: Quite often Thai speakers omit who is doing something for whom (the "actors"), if they are clear from context. So you often find ให้ at the end of a sentence, while the actors are implied from context.

Examples

He bought a book for her
เขา ซื้อ หนังสือ ให้ เธอ
Literally: he - buy - book - give - her

He bought a book for (her)
เขา ซื้อ หนังสือ ให้
Literally: he - buy - book - give

He cooks for her
เขา ทำ อาหาร ให้ เธอ
Literally: he - cook - food - give - her

Please shut the door for me
ช่วย ปิด ประตู ให้ ฉัน หน่อย
Literally: please - close - door - give - I - little/request

Please shut the door for (me)
ช่วย ปิด ประตู ให้ หน่อย
Literally: please - close - door - give - little/request

I will tell him for you
ฉัน จะ บอก เขา ให้ คุณ
Literally: I - will - tell - he - give - you

I will tell (him) for (you)
ฉัน จะ บอก ให้
Literally: I - will - tell - give

"To be used by" and "concerning" in Thai

Here we use the word สำหรับ

At the beginning of the sentence, สำหรับ means "for / concerning".

Examples

games for kids / games to be used by kids
เกมส์ สำหรับ เด็ก
Literally: game - for - children

This is for you
นี่ สำหรับ คุณ
Literally: this - for - you

For dinner, we will eat out. / Concerning dinner, we will eat out.
สำหรับ อาหารเย็น เรา จะ ไป กิน ข้าง นอก
Literally: for - dinner - we - will - go - eat - side - outside




For the benefit of ... in Thai

The word เพื่อ is used to express who the beneficiary of an action is, or in other words, who benefits from the action. To do that, we use the simple pattern:
  • verb + เพื่อ + beneficiary
This word is used in many organizations' names, e.g. Consumer Foundation = foundation for consumers

Examples

I am working for our future
ฉัน ทำงาน เพื่อ อนาคต ของ เรา
Literally: I - work - for (the benefit of) - future - of - us

Consumer Foundation
มูลนิธิ เพื่อ ผู้บริโภค
Literally: foundation - for (the benefit of) - consumers

Working for one's family
ทำงาน เพื่อ ครอบครัว
Literally: work - for (the benefit of) - family

In case of ... in Thai

To express "(just) in case of", we use the word เผื่อ . This word is also used for "on behalf of", which is covered in the next section of this article.

Examples

(I) have an umbrella for the rain. / ... in case it rains.
มี ร่ม เผื่อ ฝน ตก
Literally: have - umbrella - in case of - rain - fall

On behalf of ... in Thai

The word เผื่อ (in case of) is also used to express "on behalf of" in Thai.
This describes situations where someone has to do something, but external reasons obstruct that person from doing it. In that situation, someone else might do it on behalf of the first person. For example, if your mother had an accident, but needs to go to the district office, she might ask you to go there on her behalf

Examples

I do (it) for/on behalf of (my) mother
ฉัน ทำ เผื่อ แม่
Literally: I - do - on behalf of - mother

Eat (something) for/on behalf of (me). (E.g. because I can't be at the party)
กิน เผื่อ ด้วย
Literally: Eat - on behalf of - request

เผื่อ vs เพื่อ

เผื่อ is low tone and means "in case of", or "on behalf"
เพื่อ is falling tone and means "for the benefit of"

This is one of the few cases in Thai, where accidentally mixing up the tones can change the meaning of the sentence.

Examples

I do (it) for/on behalf of (my) mother
ฉัน ทำ เผื่อ แม่
Literally: I - do - on behalf of - mother

I do (it) for (the benefit of) (my) mother
ฉัน ทำ เพื่อ แม่
Literally: I - do - for (the benefit of) - mother

Introducing opinions in Thai

If you want to introduce opinions, you use the word ส่วน .

Example

As for me, (I) think it is extremely bad
ส่วน ตัว ผม คิดว่า ไม่ ดี เลย
Literally: as for - body - I - think that - no - good - extremely

Duration of Time

Durations of time do not require any prepositions in Thai.

Examples

(I) studied Thai for 3 years.
เรียน ภาษาไทย สาม ปี แล้ว
Literally: study - Thai language - 3 - year - already

Drive to Phuket for 10 hours.
ขับ รถ สิบ ชั่วโมง ไป ภูเก็ต
Literally: drive - car - 10 - hour - go - Phuket

Introducing reasons

In Thai, reasons are introduced using ที่ .

Example

(I) am sorry for being late
ขอโทษ ที่ มา ช้า
Literally: Excuse - for - come - late




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