Austroasiatic language of Cambodia
Phrasebooks > Khmer phrasebook

Khmer (ភាសាខ្មែរ phiəsaa khmae) is the main and official language of Cambodia, and also spoken by the ethnic Khmer minorities in Thailand and Vietnam. It is part of the Austroasiatic language family, thus making it related to Vietnamese, though the two languages have diverged so much that they are not mutually intelligible. Unlike Vietnamese, which was heavily influenced by Chinese, Khmer was primarily influenced by Sanskrit. Khmer also has numerous loan words from French due to the history of French colonial rule in Cambodia.

Khmer script

Pronunciation guide

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Khmer is written using an Indic script, similar to Thai, Burmese and Lao. Like other Indic scripts, the Khmer script is an abugida, meaning that each letter represents a consonant, and vowels are indicated by modifications to the consonant letter (e.g. with a diacritic mark).

Knowing a few Khmer words will help you earn some respect while in Cambodia.

  • If you are male the word for 'yes' is pronounced 'baht' (បាទ) as in the sound of a sheep followed by a hard T.
  • If you are female the word for 'yes' is pronounced 'jah' (ចា) as in the first part of 'jar'.
  • The word for 'no' is pronounced 'otDay' (អត់ទេ/ទេ) with a short 'ot with an emphasis on the D following.
  • The word for 'thank you' is pronounced 'awkunh' (អរគុណ) sounds a little like raccoon.
  • To express greater thanks (thank you very much), use the word 'awkunh ch'ran' (អរគុណច្រើន).
  • The word for 'hello' is pronounced 'sue-saw-day' (សួស្តី) with sue as in a woman's name, saw as in a thing you cut with, and day as in Sunday.
  • The word for 'sorry' is pronounced 'somtoh' (សុំទោស).
  • The word for 'toilet' is pronounced 'dakuhn' (បង្គន់) or 'pahkuhn' (បន្ទប់ទឹក). Similarly to how you would pronounce the kunh in thank you, but with a short 'ba' in front.
  • Scooter/mopeds with carriages pulled behind are called a 'tuk-tuk' (តុកតុក) better pronounced with the U sound from the back of your throat, like tulk-tulk.
  • Scooter/mopeds by themselves are pronounced 'moto' (ម៉ូតូ) with an emphasis on 'mo'.
  • Rickshaws are called 'cyclo' (ស៊ីក្លូ). The cy is pronounced like the word see.

Vowels

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Consonants

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Common diphthongs

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Phrase list

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Basics

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Common signs


OPEN
CLOSED
ENTRANCE
EXIT
PUSH
PULL
TOILET
MEN
WOMEN
FORBIDDEN
Hello. ("formal")
ជម្រាបសួរ (chum reap suor)
Hello. (informal)
សួស្តី (sous-dey)
Hello. (answering the phone)
អាឡូ (allo)
How are you?
(niak sok sabai teh?)
Fine, thank you.
សុខសប្បាយ (akun, sok sabai)
What is your name?
(niak chmuah ey?)
My name is ______ .
ខ្ញុំឈ្មោះ (knyom chmuah _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
(reak reay dae bahn skoal loak )
Please.
សូម (soum)
Thank you.
អរគុណ (aw khun)
Welcome
(soum swa-khom)
You're welcome.
(m'n ay te) or អញ្ជើញ (un-juhn)
Yes.
ច៎ា (jaah female) បាទ (baht men)
No.
(ot teh)
Excuse me.
សូមទោស (soum toh)
I'm sorry.
សូមទោស (soum toh)
Goodbye
(chum reap leah)
Goodbye (informal)
(leah seun hai)
I can't speak Khmer.
(k'nyom ot seu cheh niyeay pia'saa khmae teh)
Do you speak English?
(cheh niyeay pia'saa Anglais baan teh?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
(miean niak na cheh Anglais teh?)
Help!
(chuy!)
Look out!
(mer seun!)
Good morning.
អរុណសួស្ដី (arun sous-dey )
Good afternoon.
ទិវាសួស្តី(tiveah sous-dey )
Good night.
រាត្រីសួស្ដី (reatrey sous-dey )
I don't understand.
ខ្ញុំ​មិន​យល់​ទេ ( k'nyom min yul teh)
I don't know
k'nyom ort deung
Where is the toilet?
បង្តន់នោ់ឯណា (bakun noew ey nah?)
Happy Birthday!
(reak reay t'gnai khom-not)

Problems

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Numbers

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Although Khmer uses base-10 numbers, the numbers for 1-9 are effectively spoken as base-5. Thus, six (bpram mouy) literally means five (bpram), one (mouy); whereas sixteen (dop bpram mouy) is ten (dop), five (bprum), one (mouy).

In practice, the word 'sep' is often omitted from the numbers for 30-90. However, it is generally considered more proper to include the word.

0
๐ (soun)
1
๑ (muay)
2
๒ (pee)
3
๓ (bei)
4
๔ (buan)
5
๕ (pbram)
6
๖ (pbram muay)
7
๗ (pbram pee)
8
๘ (pbram bei)
9
๙ (pbram buan)
10
๑๐ (dop)
20
(ma'pei)
30
(sam sep)
40
(sae sep)
50
(haa sep)
60
(hok sep)
70
(chet sep)
80
(paet sep)
90
(kao sep)
100
(muay roy)
1,000
(muay poan)
10,000
(muay meun)
100,000
(muay saen)

Time

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Time
ម៉ោង (Maong)
Morning
pruk
Moon
thngai-trang
Afternon
r-siel
Evening
ingeach
Night
yb
Midnight
athreat

Clock time

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What time is it?
(Maong bon maan?)
Maong mouy t'ngai (day)
(1 pm)
Maong mouy yop (night)
(1 am)

Duration

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Hour
ម៉ោង (Maong)
Minute
នាទី (Neatii)

Days

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Day
(T'ngai) (ថ្ងៃ)
One day
(Mouy t'ngai) (១ ថ្ងៃ)
Monday
(Chhan) (ច័ន្ទ)
Tuesday
(Angkea) (អង្គារ)
Wednesday
(Poat) (ពុធ)
Thursday
(Pra-hoah) (ព្រហស្បត្តិ៍)
Friday
(Sok) (សុក្រ)
Saturday
(Sao) (សៅរ៍)
Sunday
(A-tut) (អាទិត្យ)

Months

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Year
(Chnam)
Month
(Khae)
January
(Makara)
February
(Kompheak)
March
(Mea-neah)
April
(Mae-sa)
May
(Osaphea)
June
(Maytona)
July
(Kakada)
August
(Seyha)
September
(Kanya)
October
(Tola)
November
(Vicheka)
December
(Ta Nou)

Colors

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Color
(Phoa)
Red
(Phoa Krahom)
Blue
(Phoa Khiev)
Yellow
(Phoa Leung)
White
(Phoa Saw)
Black
(Phoa Khmao)
Green
(Phoa Bai-Thong)
Orange
(Phoa Teuk-Kroit)
Pink
(Phoa Pkah-Chouk)
Purple
(Phoa Swai)
Brown
(Phoa Thnout)​
Silver
(Phoa P'rak)
Gold
(Phoa Meas)

Transportation

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Ride
(Che-eh)

Bus and train

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Train
រទេះភ្លើង (ro-teh-plung)

Directions

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Stop
(Choup)
Turn
(Baat)
Right
(Sa-daam)
Left
(Ch-wang)
Straight
(Thrang)
Backward
(K'raoy)
North
Kang-cheung
South
Kang-dboeng
East
Kang-keut
West
Kang-lich

Taxi

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Accommodation

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house
(p'theh)
my house
(p'theh k'niom)
go to my house
(dtow p'theh k'niom)

Money

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Money
លុយ (Loiiy)

Eating

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Eat
ញ៉ាំ (Niam bay)
Food
ម្ហូប (Mahop)
Rice
បាយ (Bai)

Bars

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Shopping

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ne ke ghtu

Driving

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to drive
(baek)
car
ឡាន (laan)

Authority

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This Khmer phrasebook is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!


Learning more

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