Second and Third Person Pronouns in Thai
Different ways to say you, he, and she in Thai
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Lingo Ninja Research Team
6 min read · published June 14, 2021 · last update August 22, 2021
In this article, we will the different words for "you", "he" and "she" in Thai. To make it easier for Thai learners here is a very rough grouping:

14 words to say you/he/she in Thai

Linguists call words that you use for "you" second-person pronouns, and words that you use for "he/she/it/they" third-person pronouns. As there is a significant overlap between second- and third-person pronouns in Thai, we will deal with them together:
  1. คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
    See in Dictionary
    - you
  2. เธอ she; you
    See in Dictionary
    - she/you
  3. เขา he; she, they
    See in Dictionary
    - he/she/they
  4. เค้า I, he (informal, cute)
    See in Dictionary
    - he/she/they (neutral)
  5. นาย Mr., man, a man
    See in Dictionary
    - you
  6. ท่าน sir, madam
    See in Dictionary
    - you/he/she (very formal)
  7. เรา we; I (informal)
    See in Dictionary
    - you (used by older people for children)
  8. แก you (for close friends around the same age)
    See in Dictionary
    - you/he/she/they
       you (for very close friends, rude otherwise), 
       he/she/they (respectful for older people)
  9. มึง you (rude, slang)
    See in Dictionary
    - you (rude, vulgar)
  10. เอ็ง you (very vulgar)
    See in Dictionary
    - you (vulgar)
  11. ลื้อ you (used in Thai families of Chinese descent)
    See in Dictionary
    - you (used by Thai-Chinese)
  12. ตัว body; animals, clothing, furniture
    See in Dictionary
    เอง by oneself
    See in Dictionary
    - you (young people talking to close friends)
  13. มัน it; fat, grease
    See in Dictionary
    - it/he/she (very vulgar when used as he/she)
  14. หล่อน she, her
    See in Dictionary
    - she (not often used)
These words are often matched with first-person pronouns (=words for "I") which you can read about in the article Words for I in Thai.

Let's look at each of the above words in detail.

คุณ - you

คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
is the default word for "you" in Thai. It is quite formal and polite - the matching words for "I" are ผม I (for men); hair
See in Dictionary
and ดิฉัน I (formal; for female speakers)
See in Dictionary
(see ผม and ดิฉัน).

Note: Although คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
is polite, it is not respectful to people of high positions. To respectfully address people of high prestige or authority, use their title instead. Read more in this article.

When to use it?
You would use คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
with strangers and people you have a professional relationship with.  You do not use it with friends or people of higher social status.

คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
is used mostly in singular. Its plural form is พวก group (of people)
See in Dictionary
คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
.

เธอ - she/you

เธอ she; you
See in Dictionary
normally means "she".

Students and young people, and people in songs and literature also like to use เธอ she; you
See in Dictionary
for "you" for close friends of the same age. It is used by and for both sexes, boys and girls. The matching word for I is ฉัน I (for women; informal)
See in Dictionary
(see ฉัน), both for men and women.

Note: เธอ she; you
See in Dictionary
is not respectful to people of higher status or people you do not know well.

When to use it?
You would use เธอ she; you
See in Dictionary
mainly for "she". You do not use it with people of higher social status. You can also use it as "you" for close friends of the same age.

เขา - he/she/they

เขา he; she, they
See in Dictionary
is a very neutral word for he/she/they.

When to use it?
You can use it for any situation, except when talking to people of high status or prestige.

เค้า - he/she/they

เค้า I, he (informal, cute)
See in Dictionary
is a very neutral word for he/she/they. It is similar to เขา he; she, they
See in Dictionary
.

When to use it?
You can use it for any situation, except when talking to people of high status or prestige.

Please note that เค้า I, he (informal, cute)
See in Dictionary
can also be used for "I". In this meaning, it is paired with the pronoun ตัว body; animals, clothing, furniture
See in Dictionary
เอง by oneself
See in Dictionary
for you (see ตัว เอง below in this article) and mainly used by young people talking to their close friends. Read more about เค้า I, he (informal, cute)
See in Dictionary
as a first-person pronoun in the article How to say I in Thai.

นาย - you

นาย Mr., man, a man
See in Dictionary
can be used for men around your age and social status. Its meaning is similar to "Mr." or "boss" in modern Thai.

ท่าน - you/he/she (very formal)

ท่าน sir, madam
See in Dictionary
is very formal, polite, and respectful. It is used when you speak to someone of much higher status, like very high government officials (e.g. the prime minister), ambassadors, monks, or V.I.P customers. It is also used by subordinates when talking to someone of significantly higher authority.

This pronoun is also used in speeches addressing the audience, or in written language.

When to use it?
When you talk to your boss, the chairman of a company, a governor or e.g. the prime minister.

Don't use it on people of not so high status, as it can be interpreted as a sarcastic remark on someone.

เรา - you (used by older people for children)

เรา we; I (informal)
See in Dictionary
is normally translated as "we", or "I" (see เรา). But it is also used as "you" by older people when talking to children.

When to use it?
You can use this word when talking to much younger children.

When not to use it?
When you use this word, it shows that you treat the other party as a little child. This would be disrespectful to anyone not being a child and especially to people of higher status or age.

แก - you/he/she/they

แก you (for close friends around the same age)
See in Dictionary
is quite different when being used for "you" and "he/she/they":
  • If used as a second-person pronoun ("you"), แก you (for close friends around the same age)
    See in Dictionary
    is similar to, but much less vulgar than, มึง you (rude, slang)
    See in Dictionary
    and เอ็ง you (very vulgar)
    See in Dictionary
    . You can use it for good friends your age or younger, but only after they initiate it. It is rude when you use it for older people.
  • If แก you (for close friends around the same age)
    See in Dictionary
    is used as a third-person pronoun (he/she/they) it is a respectful way to refer to older people that you are familiar with. So it is respectful when talking about older people, but not when talking to older people. It is seen as inappropriate when talking about someone you are not familiar with.

When to use it?
As a second-person pronoun: You can use this word if you want to insult someone or start a fight. 
As a third-person pronoun: Even though the use as a third-person pronoun is fine, it's easy to confuse this and use it as an insulting second-person pronoun. So better don't use this word.

มึง - you (rude, vulgar)

มึง you (rude, slang)
See in Dictionary
is paired with the pronoun กู I
See in Dictionary
for "I" (see กู). It is considered rude, very vulgar, not formal, and not respectful. It is mainly used by teenagers and mobsters who try to look tough.

If you use มึง you (rude, slang)
See in Dictionary
with strangers, chances are, you will be picking a fight.

When to use it?
Similar rules as for แก you (for close friends around the same age)
See in Dictionary
as an insulting second-person pronoun. Only use มึง you (rude, slang)
See in Dictionary
with very close friends, and only after they initiated it, and only when there are no people of higher status or age around. And if you use it in the wrong situation, you will insult someone and might start a fight.

เอ็ง - you (vulgar)

เอ็ง you (very vulgar)
See in Dictionary
is paired with the pronoun ข้า I; slave, servant
See in Dictionary
for "I" (see ข้า). It is considered vulgar, not formal, and not respectful, but not quite as vulgar as มึง you (rude, slang)
See in Dictionary
. It is old-fashioned and mainly found in literature.

When to use it?
Similar rules as for แก you (for close friends around the same age)
See in Dictionary
as an insulting second-person pronoun. Don't use เอ็ง you (very vulgar)
See in Dictionary
unless you want to sound like an old-fashioned mobster or like you are from a very remote part of Thailand.

ลื้อ - you (used by Thai-Chinese)

ลื้อ you (used in Thai families of Chinese descent)
See in Dictionary
is used within some Thai families of Chinese descent. The matching pronoun for "I" is อั๊ว I (used only by Chinese Thais)
See in Dictionary
(see ua (h) -  อั๊ว).

When to use it?
If you are not Thai of Chinese descent, people would be very confused why you use that word.

ตัวเอง - you (young people talking to close friends)

ตัว body; animals, clothing, furniture
See in Dictionary
เอง by oneself
See in Dictionary
is mainly used by young people, talking to close friends their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, or child. It is paired with the pronoun เค้า I, he (informal, cute)
See in Dictionary
for "I" (see เค้า above in this article).

When to use it?
ตัว body; animals, clothing, furniture
See in Dictionary
เอง by oneself
See in Dictionary
should only be used for close friends, in a romantic relationship, or for your own child.

มัน - it (very vulgar when used as he/she)

มัน it; fat, grease
See in Dictionary
is very different when being used for things ("it") or people (he/she).
  • มัน it; fat, grease
    See in Dictionary
    is completely fine when used for things.
  • When มัน it; fat, grease
    See in Dictionary
    is used for people, it is seen as impolite, disrespectful, vulgar, and offensive. 
When to use it?
Do not use this with strangers, or in the presence of people of high status, unless you want to provoke them. 

หล่อน - she (not often used)

Although หล่อน she, her
See in Dictionary
means "she" or "her" in Thai, it is not often used, except in TV dramas or when gossipping.  Thais also use it jokingly.

When to use it?
Thai learners should not use it.
Thai Grammar Online
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