Prepositions: "By" in Thai
Which Thai word to use for the different grammatical functions of "by":Do it by hand, travel by bus, by the sea, do it by tomorrow
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Lingo Ninja Research Team
2 min read · first published June 29, 2021
The simple English word "by" - like many other prepositions - covers multiple grammatical functions, which makes it hard to translate into Thai. The Thai language uses different words for the different functions, so we will go through each function in detail:
  • means - I did it by hand
  • means of transportation - I travel by bus
  • place - a house by the sea
  • time - read it by tomorrow

By in Thai: means

To express the means using "by" in Thai, you use the same concept as the preposition "with". For example, "I did it by hand" in Thai is equal to "I did it with my hands". For this we use the following patterns:
  • [subject] + [verb] + [object] + ด้วย + instrument
  • [subject] + ใช้ + instrument + [verb] + [object]
You can also look at the article With in Thai, to find out more.

Examples

I fixed the car by hand. / I fixed the car with my hands. 
ฉัน ซ่อม รถ ด้วย มือ
Literally: I - repair - car - with - soap

I fixed the car by hand. / I used my hands to fix the car.
ฉัน ใช้ มือ ซ่อม รถ
Literally: I - use - hand - repair - car

By in Thai: means of transport

Traveling by vehicle is often expressed as:
  • นั่ง /ขับ /ขี่ [vehicle] ไป /มา [location]
    Literally: sit/drive/ride - [vehicle] - go to / come from - [location]
นั่ง is used as a passenger, e.g. on a bus, plane or in a car, ขับ is used when you drive a car, and นั่ง is used on a motorcycle.

But when you don't indicate the vehicle type, you use ด้วย , e.g. I flew to Thailand with Thai Airways

Examples

I came by bus from Phuket
ฉัน นั่ง รถเมล์ มา ภูเก็ต
Literally: I - sit - bus - come from - Phuket

I drove from Phuket
ฉัน ขับ รถ มา ภูเก็ต
Literally: I - drive - car - come from - Phuket

I rode a motorcycle from Phuket
ฉัน ขี่ มอเตอร์ไซค์ มา ภูเก็ต
Literally: I - drive - motorcycle - come from - Phuket

By in Thai: place

As a location, "by" is often translated to ข้างข้าง ("beside, next to") or ใกล้ ("near").

Examples 

A house by the sea.
บ้าน ข้างข้าง ทะเล
Literally: house - beside - sea

A house by the sea.
บ้าน ใกล้ ทะเล
Literally: house - near - sea

By in Thai: time

As a time limit, "by" is often translated to ก่อน ("before") or ภาย ใน ("within", see also this article).

Examples

(I) will do (it) by tomorrow.
จะ ทำ ก่อน พรุ่งนี้
Literally: will - do - before - tomorrow

(I) will do (it) by tomorrow.
จะ ทำ ภาย ใน พรุ่งนี้
Literally: will - do - before - tomorrow.
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