Perhaps the best conversation we’ve had thus far on LTMS is the discussion of “want” verbs. I thought we had done a rather good job going through the meaning of each word, and overall we made some interesting discoveries. However, at my recent Thai language class at temple, my teacher and I got into a discussion of these verbs and their meanings. He articulated to me a few alternative ideas on the differences between each word, so I figured I would share them with you.

To reiterate, the verbs in question are:

  • อยาก /yàak/
  • อยากได้ /yàak dâi/
  • ต้องการ /dtɔ̂ng gaan/
  • เอา /ao/

You can read the post and all of the comments (which I suggest you do to get the full story) here.

So, as it was explained to me this time around, อยาก suggests an activity, and อยากได้ suggests wanting an actual object. For example:

ผมอยากไปกรุงเทพฯ
/pǒm yàak bpai grung-têep/
(I want go Bangkok)
I want to go to Bangkok.
 
ผมอยากได้สับปะรด
/pǒm yàak dâi sàp-bpà-rót/
(I want pineapple)
I want a pineapple.
 
In the first example, I’m using อยาก because I have a desire to do something — obviously in this case, to go to Bangkok. In the second example I’m expressing the desire for a specific object — namely, a pineapple — and so I use อยากได้.

 

ต้องการ can be thought of as simply a more polite way of saying อยาก or อยากได้. That seems easy enough!

 

เอา is a little bit of a special case in that it actually means “to take” and not “to want.” It is used, informally, as more of a way to accept or decline something that is offered to you. In other words, you wouldn’t want to sit down at a restaurant and order an item off the menu by saying ผมเอา… but you can use it in response to someone offering you something, especially when they use เอา to you! 

I’m not entirely sure if I just gave more clarity or confusion to the subject, but assuming what we discussed in class is true then it does help me to understand when the usage is appropriate.