Can you get this reference?

Grammar Wars is back! It took a while for me to come across another pair of words that would fit. Luckily, my Facebook status update in Thai prompted several of my Thai friends to wonder what the heck I was trying to say. There’s something to be said for screwing up your grammar and having good friends around to correct you.

In this installment I’m talking about the differences between the words เสร็จ and จบ. C’mon in and join me!

Both words mean “to finish,” but as I found out and am not totally surprised, there are subtle differences between the two. เสร็จ /sèt/ means “to finish” in the sense of completing an action. For example:

ทำงานเสร็จแล้ว
/tam ngaan sèt lɛ́ɛo/
(work finish already)
“I am finished work.”

จบ /jòp/, on the other hand, is more akin to something ending, such as a story or a relationship. For example:

ผมอ่านหนังสือมานีมานะจบแล้​ว
/pǒm àan nǎng sʉ̌ʉ maa nii maa ná jòp lɛ́ɛo/
(I [male speaker] read book “Manee Maana” finish already)
“I finished reading ‘Manee Maana’.”

And there you have it. Extra special thanks to my friend N’Na for helping me understand the difference between the two.