Learn Myanmar Language in conversational and literary form. Learn to speak and read Burmese.
The Free Online Colloquial Burmese (Myanmar language) lessons include Burmese script, MP3 audio, PDF files and
easy Burmese grammar study materials with color-coded parts of speech:
nouns, pronouns, verbs,
adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions,
particles, postpositional markers, and
Naing Tinnyuntpu is no stranger to systematic and efficient approach. He came from manufacturing
environment with Bachelor's and Master's degree in Industrial Engineering (USA). His contributions to semiconductor
industry include Administrative Quality Best Practices
during his working years as a process engineer with Hewlett-Packard in Singapore. Born and raised in Yangon, he has lived in 6 countries and exposed to
different cultures and knowledgeable in unrelated areas. This includes self-taught programming languages.
Currently, he is contributing to Tourism in Myanmar by making his online Burmese lessons freely available and accessible to all.
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That was an interesting phrase used by the Burmese cartoonist named Moun2 Wa1 Na1 for the character
"Tha1-Main2-Pau3-Thoot". It means, "Yes or not?" Mandarin Chinese equivalent would be
"Shi4 bu shi4?". In some parts of Myanmar, people speaks in dialects that are slightly different from
the mainstream Burmese. For example, Koun3hma1Koun3
meaning "It's so good!" emphasizes on
koun3, which means "good".
Lashio Thein Aung's Song: "Don't Say Goodbye"
Lashio Thein Aung (Jimmy Jack) is one of the early pioneers of Myanmar Stereo Music and songs with electric
guitar in the mid 70's. Those were the days of recording songs on cassette tapes. In 2013, after 40 years away from home, he came back
to Myanmar to perform live concerts.
When I was young, I had the impression that he was a Chinese, because some of his songs had both Burmese and Chinese lyrics.
One of his songs has lyrics: "I feel like crying when you say good-bye." There are several songs of his on
the Internet today. Some fans have created Music videos like the one below.
Singaporeans and Malaysians have one-syllable ending word "lah" and Canadians have "Eh". So, Canadians have that too, eh? (pronounced "A")
When you first hear such a word, you kind of understand what it means from the context of the conversation, although you
don't quite know how to translate it. Colloquial Burmese Language has several of those ending words with different meanings.
This lesson demystifies those simple one-syllable words. Interesting, huh?
In Lesson 2, we have covered some basic Burmese sentence constructions using:
in the beginning of the sentence combined with
leare3 at the end of the sentence to from basic
"what", "who", "where", "why", "which", "how", "how many", and
"how much?" questions in
We have seen simple positive statements and answers using
simple negative statements and answers using
Ma1 ... bu3
at the end of the sentences. Burmese language has several single-syllable words used at the end of the sentences.
You must master those colloquial ending words to master the Burmese language. Those are important part of the sentence structure
to express one's intention, to ask something, or to change the feeling tone of the conversation. In a way, those simple words put the extra
dimension of feeling, emotions, and "humanness" to the spoken words just like emoticons that people use online.
In this lesson, we will learn how to use some of those particles and postpositional markers effectively.
Warm feeling of "nau2" ending
At the end of lesson 2, I used..
-- Got to go now! (go + indication of intention + warm feeling tone)
Actually, it's not a light-hearted "Got to go now!" in English without any feeling in it.
has some magic of warmth and closeness in it. It is as though, I am
about to part with someone close. I don't really want to go, but I must. And I am asking for permission to go.
"Yes" with or without "ba2" ending VS. "nau2" ending
Let me give some examples on different types of "yes", and how
nau2 can add the feeling tone to a simple "yes".
(1)"Yes" without "ba2"
If someone asks..
"Do you want it?", or "Do you like it?", with simple verb
in the question, I can reply with a simple "Yes" without including ba2,
or repeating the verb of the question in the answer:
or Hote-keare1 - Yes
Similarly, for simple questions with adjective such as "Is it hot?" or
"Is it sweet?", I can reply with a simple "Yes" without
Hote, or Hote-keare1 Hote-keare1, pu2deare2 -
"Yes, it's hot",
where pu2 means "hot" and deare2 is the affirmative ending word.
(2)"Yes" with "ba2"
If someone makes a request or suggestion: "Please do this!", I can add an extra polite ba2...
Hote, or Hote-keare1, or Hote-keare1ba2.
Myanmar Grammar Notes:hote is a verb "to be correct". However,
Hote-keare1 is a particle. The modern usage of hote
as a short form of Hote-keare1 has not made it into the dictionary yet, although it is a popular usage nowadays.
(3) When to use "ba2" in "yes" answer
"Yes" with ba2 at the end of the sentence is a polite response to a request or suggestion that is not
commonly used in "red or not red", "hot or not hot", "want or not want" type of questions regarding verb or adjective.
Nobody will answer: pu2ba2deare2
- "It's hot" with ba2 to a simple "Is it hot?" question.
- Is it hot? Answer:pu2deare2 - Yes.
When someone asks over the phone,
-- "Is this 555-8888?" (or) Nine2 Tin2-Nyoon1-Pu1ba2la3
-- "Is this Naing Tinnyuntpu ?"
I will answer:
-- with the slightly raised 3rd tone ending over the phone.
The polite question inquiring about the noun or pronoun with
ba2la3 is responded with the polite answer
When I say Hoteba2deare2 meaning
"yes", I am confirming to the fact about the object or subject in the question.
In simple confirmation questions and answers, ba2 will not be used.
Question:"Today is Tuesday, isn't it?" Answer:Hotedeare2 -- Yes.
In the above case, the answer "yes" sounds natural only if you drop ba2. In general, if the question asking for
the confirmation has to do with verb, adjective, and informal noun or pronoun, there will not be
ba2 in it, and you don't not to use ba2 in the answer.
(4) Compare to "nau2" in "yes" answer
If someone says: "Hey, look at the sky! It's turning orange and red", I will not just say
Hotedeare2. The reply "yes" with
makes all the difference.
(in a sense,
"Hey, you are right.. what you say is true..")
Do you see how this "yes" with nau2 makes the difference? In this context, it adds the feeling tone of
awe and amazement over the observation to the simple "yes".
(Mandarin Chinese equivalent would be "Chi1 fan4.. Chi1 fan4")
-- I will do it. (do + going to)
Please do your work!!
-- OK, Ok.. I will do it.. (yes + soften the tone + do + going to)
OK, I "meare2"
could also be used to express a simple "OK" to "or not" type of questions.
Sa3ma1la3 -- Do you want to eat or not? (eat + "or not" choice + ?) Sa3meare2 -- OK!
Thwa3ma1la3 -- Do you want to go or not? (go + "or not" choice + ?) Thwa3meare2 -- OK!
Ga1-za3ma1la3 -- Do you want to play or not? (play + "or not" choice + ?) Ga1-za3meare2 -- OK!
Na3ma1la3 -- Do you want to rest or not? (rest + "or not" choice + ?) Na3meare2 -- OK!
When Thwa3meare2 is the answer to the question
Thwa3ma1la3, it's not a good-bye. It could be a situation
where the two persons in the conversation are about to go out together.
Let's learn about "ja1-zo1" ending
-- Another variation of Let's eat! But, it is in a sense, "It's about time we eat."
I may or may not be hungry. It is a routine and there is not much urgency in it.
-- Let's go! (It's about time we go home...)
-- Let's run! (It's about time we run.. Here comes the debt collector! I guess
in this case, there is definitely some urgency in it.
Impatient with unsatisfactory "kwa2" ending
Now, let me show you how I can say the same "Let's go!" in an impatient, frustrated or unsatisfactory tone using
I take you to a hotel lobby where someone is supposed to meet us. The person doesn't show up after waiting for a good one hour....
-- fed up and I say "Let's go" in an angry tone.. (go + going to + impatient tone)
Someone is repeatedly telling me not to do something without explaining me why. I find him very unreasonable. I tell
my friend, I don't care what the man says...
-- I am going to do it, anyway.. (do + going to + unsatisfactory tone)
And I silently say to myself, "What the heck..." Loatdeare2kwa2
(do + affirmative + unsatisfactory tone) in the midst of doing it.
Don't eat that. The food is for the Supernatural beings in the Realm of Immaterial World, says the wife.
Husband: What? I haven't eaten in seven days and you are telling me the chicken is for the Nuts (Supernatural Beings) that I can't
-- he says angrily with a drum-stick in his mouth. (eat + affirmative + unsatisfactory tone)
Don't forget the "neare1" ending
But, how would you tell someone not to do, eat, or go in the first place?
-- Why do you keep doing it when I am telling you not to do it? (negative + do + negative imperative + "despite saying so")
Didn't you say "hso2"?
In Burmese, the word hso2
can have several meaning including "to say", "to sing" and to nag".
It can be used as a particle at the end of the verb phrase to mean "Didn't you say... ?" If someone tells you earlier that he is going somewhere, but
you find him watching TV, you can say...
Thwa3 -- to go meare2 -- will; intention to do something hso2 -- Didn't you say?
-- Didn't you say you were going?
When you say this ending word hso2, try to prolong it and raise it to the third tone hso3
Express your condolence with sympathetic "kweare2" ending
How about a sympathetic tone? A young woman is telling her grandmother how lousy her day has been. Grandma cannot
do anything to help but only give comforting words and consolation through sympathy.
-- So sorry to hear that.
-- conveys a sympathetic tone to the sentence.
Some cold truth about abrupt "ay3" ending
is an another form of "yes".
Question:"A-dau2 ji3... -- Big Aunty.. (aunty + big)
"Someone told me your husband left you for a younger woman, is that true?"
-- (taken aback and admits "yes" with puzzlement as she ponders for a moment
as to how on earth did he find out about it.. With a shortest possible reply, conversation is ended just like that.)
If you are a bit tired of hearing someone repeatedly complaining, or reminding you to bring back gifts, or
lecturing you on the health benefits of organic food, you may interrupt and try to end the conversation by
Ay3, ay3, ay3 (or) Ay3 ba2
I must also add that Ay3 is too informal and impolite to be used among strangers. However, it is OK to be used among
buddies and cousins or by older persons to younger people that they know well.
Pay attention to ending words in this ending story
The old Grandma seems to have a good heart. Her grandson is about to beat up a thief who broke into the house.
The Grandma says:
Ma1 -- Negative loat -- do ba2 -- soften tone neare1 -- negative imperative kweare2 -- sympathy
-- Please don't do it. Have mercy on him...
The neighbor joins in. "Hey, that's the same fella who stole my bike. Let's beat him up.."
"Cha1kwa1...Cha1kwa1...""fight! fight!..", cheer on the youngsters.
( fight + show of enthusiasm and delight )
Note the tone difference:
kwa1 in the first tone is used to express delight; kwa2
in the second tone is used to express dissatisfaction.
Note the plural term "ja1" to mean "Please you guys, have mercy on him.."
Tha1-na3ba2deare2 -- I feel pity for him..
(feel pity + soft suggestion + affirmative)
Tha1-na3ba2deare2kweare2 -- a stronger expression of pity
by adding sympathy.
Can we use impatient, unsatisfactory ending kwa2 with pity feeling? Those two seem to be
Yes, we can!...(I say confidently just like Obama.)
-- (feel pity + soft suggestion + affirmative + dissatisfied tone)
I feel pity for the victim, and at the same time express my
disagreement for the injustice being done with the tone of unsatisfactoriness.
Look at those savages beating up a helpless victim. How cruel!
-- "Yes, I couldn't agree with you more" , says a bystander who is a middle-age
-- A second man echoed.. Hotedeare2shin1
-- yes, they are just like that...his wife concurred. Ay3 lay2... murmurs an another.
They all agreed to the same thing by saying "yes", but the ending bya2
is masculine to be uttered by male speakers while shin1 is feminine expression
used by female speakers..
Ay1 lay2... is the same "yes" in murmuring tone but gender-neutral and can be used
by both sexes. It is an exact equivalent of Singaporean "Yah lah.." and somewhat close to "Right!" or "Absolutely!"
The situation soon gets ugly, and the police arrives...
I will construct a very expressive sentence using combinations of simple one-syllable words-- most of them already discussed
Keare3...koun3ja1thay3 yeare1 la3..."Look at the mess! Tell me..
What do you people have to say now?" ("OK now you people..." + good + plural + yet to be + concern + ?)
So, as you can see, Burmese language has short and yet powerful and emotionally-loaded expressions. I will use
one of my favorite expressions to end this lesson. The funny expression is from the comics invented by the late Burmese
cartoonist named Aung Shain (pronounced Oun2 Shain2) to end his comics. The English equivalent is
"The End". It literally means enough + yet to be + at this very moment.