เป็น I have heard from a few people that these kind of posts are helpful to them; they end up being very helpful to me as well, so I plan on continuing to post this way, refining the process as I go along. Any suggestions to improve these posts would be greatly appreciated. 

Today I would like to finish out my analysis of the word เป็น (bpen), which I started back in November of last year in my Part 1 post. As เป็น is one of the most heavily-used words in the Thai language, it’s not only important to know when to use it, but I also think it’s important to know when not to use it.

Create an Adverb

เป็น can be used to create an “-ly” word in a sentence. It must be followed by a noun phrase in order to work properly. For example:

เขาเดินเป็นวัน ๆ
káo dəən bpen wan wan
(They walk “-ly” day day)
They walk daily.

I admit, this is a little bit of a stretch in terms of understanding why the grammatical construction works this way with เป็น, but the more I study and the more I get help from people much better at Thai than me, I’m learning to just go with the flow and accept it as “the way it is.” I suggest you do the same.

Telling Time

เป็น can also be used in conjunction with เวลา /wee-laa/ (time) to express a duration of time (as opposed to a specific time such as “3:00 PM”).

ผมจะวิ่งเป็นเวลาสามชั่วโมง
pǒm jà wîng bpen wee-laa sǎam chûa-moong
(I will run “duration of time” three hour)
I will run for three hours.

Illness

เป็น is also used when talking about a disease or illness. One of the most common examples of how it’s used in this case is ไม้มีใครเป็นอะไร.

ไม้มีใครเป็นอะไร
mái-mii-krai bpen à-rai
(“No one” suffer anything)
No one got hurt.

As/By The

Apologies to James Higbee and Snea Thinsan, as I’m taking this example from their book “Thai Reference Grammar.”

พวกนี้ขายเป็นชุด
pûak-níi kǎai bpen chút
(These sell as set/kit)
These things are sold as a set.

One More Quickie

เป็น can also be used as ทำเป็น, which means “to know (how to do something).”

When Not To Use เป็น

There are two specific situations I’ll mention today for when you do not want to use เป็น for “to be” or “is/am/are.” The first is when you are talking about a location; for example, “I am at home.” In these cases you want to use อยู่ /yùu/ to refer to where you “be” or where you “are.” (You get the idea.)

The second case is when you want to talk about someone with their proper name. In the case of “My name is Josh” you will want to use the word คือ /kʉʉ/:

ผมคือจอร์ช
pǒm kʉʉ Josh
(I am/be Josh)
I am Josh.

The idea here is that you are using คือ to express an equivalence to the subject of your sentence.

I would also like to note that some of the information I got for this post was through the help of the wonderful users of the Thai-language.com message forum. You can read the entire thread here, and I strongly suggest that all students of the Thai language add the forum to their daily web surfing.