L7 - mai dai: cannot or did not

We have already seen the use of 'mai' as a negative word. Now we will look at the use of this word with 'dai' to make 'did not' or 'cannot'.

dai can
bpen is, to be, to be able
wai naam swim
peu-an friend
kroo teacher
kai fever

dai - Can

dai - is the Thai word for can; to be able to do something.

bpai dai - I can go


dai mai - Can as a question

We have already seen how to form a question by adding the question word 'mai' to the end of the statement. The same logic applies to 'dai':

bpai dai mai ? - can you go?

Notice again the assumption on pronouns. There is no need to include a pronoun in the question as it is obvious it is the person you are speaking to who you are asking.


mai dai - Cannot

We have already seen how to form a negative statement by putting the negative 'mai' at the start of the statement.

bpai mai dai ? - I cannot go

The crucial thing to note here is that while the negative 'mai' comes before 'dai' to form 'cannot', the 'mai dai' must come at the end of the statement.


mai dai - Did Not

Now we come to a subtle but important difference. If you put 'mai dai' before the statement it becomes 'did not'.

mai dai bpai ? - I did not go

Note the subtle but important difference. You are not saying you are unable to go. You could have gone, but you didn't.


bpen - To Be Able

Since we have mentioned 'dai' it makes sense to also mention 'bpen'. This word can also be used in the context of being able to do something. However in this case we are referring to actually having the ability to do something:

wai naam bpen mai ? - can you swim?

We are not asking whether someone can go swimming. We are asking if they can swim.

wai naam mai bpen - I cannot swim

We are not saying we cannot go for a swim. We are saying we do not know how to swim.

If we said:

wai naam mai dai - I cannot swim

We would be saying that we cannot go for a swim for some other reason; maybe because we do not have time.


bpen - Is, To Be

Since we have started on 'bpen' we better finish. 'Bpen' can also be used for 'is' or 'to be' to show a state of being.

bpen peu-an - is a friend
bpen kroo - is a teacher
bpen kai - to have a fever





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