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Learn Myanmar Language, History & Culture

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 interjections.

Naing Tinnyuntpu 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.


TONE REFERENCE TABLE
Audio Pronunciation
Ah1 "a" in "art" with silent "rt"
Ah2 "ar" in "Argentina" with silent "r"
Ah3 "ar" in "Artist" with slilent "r"
De1 "de" in "deep" with silent "p"
De2 "de" as in "demote"; "demand"
De3 "dee" as in "deer"; "decent"
Ko1 "colt" with silent "lt"
Ko2 as in "co-author"; "cocaine"
Ko3 "cold" wit silent "ld"
Yu1 "u" in "Youth" with silent "th"
Yu2 "u" as in "university"; "utensil"
Yu3 "u" as in "user"; "Unix"
Shan1 as in "shunt" with silent "t"
Shan2 "shun" as in "chandelier"
Shan3 as in "shun"
Au1 as in "auction"
Au2 as in "Australia";"auditor"
Au3 as in "August"
May1 "maize" with silent "ze"
May2 "may" as in "May I?"
May3 "ay" in "amazing"
Sin1 "sink" with silent "k"
Sin2 "sin" as in "sincerely"
Sin3 "sin" as in "sinful"; "Singapore"
Un1 "aunt" with silent "t"
Un2 "un" in "understanding"; "umbrella"
Un3 "un" as in "under"
Meare1 "melt" with silent "lt"
Meare2 "mel" in "Melbourne" with silent "l"
Meare3 "mare" of "nightmare"
Tain1 "taint" with silent "t"
Tain2 "tain" as in "Captain"
Tain3 "tain" as in "maintain"
Bine1 "Bryant" without "r"
Bine2 as in "carbine"
Bine3 as in "combine"
Dome1 as in "don't"
Dome2 close to "dominate"
Dome3 as in "dome"
Toon1 "doont" in "couldn't"
Toon2 "mon" in "monastery"
Toon3 "oon" as in "cartoon"
Koun1 "count" with silent "t"
Koun2 "coun" in "counter-strike"
Koun3 "coun" as in "counsel"
ate cake, jade, eight, paid, bake
et wet, set, mad, yet
oot cook, put, look
out out, south, mouse, doubt
ike/ite sight, pipe, night, dice, like
ut up, nut, sucks
oat oat, coat, goat, soak
it it, pit, sit
Read this page with Myanmar Script

CLICK TABLE HEADER COLUMNS TO SORT BY ASCENDING OR DESCENDING ORDER.

Superlatives in Myanmar Language (Sortable)
ENGLISH ↑↓ AUDIO ↑↓
best a-koun3-zone3
best/brightest person a-tau2-zone3
biggest a-kji3-zone3
brightest (light) a-lin3-zone3
busiest a-loat a-shoat-zone3
cheapest zay3 a-pau3-zone3
cleanest a-thun1-zone3
coldest (temperature) a-ay3-zone3
coldest (feeling) a-chan3-zone3
dampest a-so2-zone3
darkest (room) a-hmoun2-zone3
deepest a-net-zone3
dirtiest a-nyit-pup-zone3
driest a-chout-zone3
earliest a-sau3-zone3
easiest (learning) a-lweare2-zone3
eldest a-kji3-zone3
fastest a-myan2-zone3
fattest a-wah1-zone3
funniest a-yi2-ya1-zone3
furthest a-way3-zone3
happiest a-pyau2-zone3
hardest (learning) a-khet-zone3
hardest (material) a-ma2-zone3
heaviest a-lay3-zone3
highest a-myin1-zone3
hottest (feeling) a-ike-zone3
hottest (girl) a-lun3-zone3
hottest (temperature) a-pu2-zone3
kindest / most generous tha1-bau3 a-koun3-zone3
latest (fashion) nout hsone3 pau2
latest (time) nout a-kja1-zone3
laziest a-pyin3-zone3
least expensive zay3 a-cho2 zone3
lightest in weight a-pau1-zone3
longest a-shay2-zone3
loudest a-kjeare2-zone3
lowest (degree) a-nain1-zone3
lowest (object's height) a-nain1-zone3
lowest (price) a-pau3-zone3
lowest (sound volume) a-toe3-zone3
most accurate a-hmun2-zone3
most applicable a-thet-hsine2-zone3
most bitter (taste) a-kha3-zone3
most beautiful a-hla1-zone3
most compassionate a-kjin2-na2-tut-zone3
most complicated a-shoat-zone3
most cruel a-yet-set-zone3
most dependable ah3 a-ko3-yah1-zone3
most despicable a-yote-ma2-zone3
most economical a-chway2-ta2-zone3
most expensive zay3 a-kji3-zone3
most fragrant a-hmway3-zone3
most hard-working a-kjo3-za3-zone3
most influential au3-za2 a-shi1-zone3
most intense a-pyin3-htan2-zone3
most lengthy in time a-kja2-zone3
most modern khit a-hmi2-zone3
most natural tha-ba2-wa1 a-kja1-zone3
most populous lu2-u3-yay2 a-mya3-zone3
most powerful (machine) ah3 a-shi1-zone3
most powerful (person) au3-za2 ah2-na2 a-shi1-zone3
most profitable a-myut a-yah1-zone3
most secluded a-thi3-thun1-zone3
most useful a-thone3-kja1-zone3
most valuable tan2-pfo3 a-shi1-zone3
narrowest a-kjin3-zone3
nearest a-ni3-zone3
poorest a-hsin3-yeare3-zone3
prettiest yote a-chau3-zone3
purest a-thun1-sin2-zone3
rarest a-sha3-zone3
richest a-chan3-tha2-zone3
saddest wun3 a-neare3-zone3
shallowest a-tain2-zone3
shortest (object) a-toh2-zone3
shortest (person) a-pu1-zone3
simplest a-shin3-zone3
skinniest a-pain2-zone3
slowest a-hnay3-zone3
smallest a-thay3-zone3
smartest nyan2 a-shi1-zone3
softest material a-pyau1-zone3
soonest a-hlyin2-myan2-zone3
stingiest kut-say3-a-hneare3-zone3
strongest ah3 a-shi1-zone3
sweetest (girl) chit sa1-ya2 a-koun3-zone3
sweetest (taste) a-cho2-zone3
tallest a-myin1-zone3
thickest a-htu2-zone3
thinnest (material) a-pa3-zone3
ugliest yote a-hso3-zone3
weakest ah3 a-neare3-zone3
widest a-kjeare2-zone3
worst a-hso3-zone3
worst performing person a-nyan1-zone3
youngest a-ngeare2-zone3

Lesson 30: Comparisons and superlative terms in Burmese

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the a-hla1-zone3 (prettiest) of them all? A judge's job is never easy. You cannot give a perfect score every time a contestant comes up on stage and starts gyrating in different fashion. You need to look for something special -- a wanting smile, enchanting eye contact, a natural poise that captures your imagination, flowing movements in rhythm with every beat of the music, and a perfect choice of wardrobe that complements the figure well, and yet not too revealing. [51 seconds]

Who is prettiest?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the အလှဆုံး | a-hla1-zone3 (prettiest) of them all? A judge's job is never easy. You cannot give a perfect score every time a contestant comes up on stage and starts gyrating in different fashion. You need to look for something special -- a wanting smile, enchanting eye contact, a natural poise that captures your imagination, flowing movements in rhythm with every beat of the music, and a perfect choice of wardrobe that complements the figure well, and yet not too revealing. ဟဲလေး [51 seconds]

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Helay | ဟဲလေး | heare3 lay3

Never compare yourself with the others, says the wise. Normally, the word "conceit" in English and ma2-na1 in Burmese is associated with someone who considers oneself to be superior than the others. Interestingly, "Mana" in Pali language is the conceit "I" that not only compares oneself to be superior than the others. When one considers oneself equal to or inferior than the others, that is also conceit. All three types of comparisons are rooted in the false concept of "I" ego entity that keeps us binding in the cycle of suffering known as thun2-tha1-ya2 (Samsara in Pali), according to the ancient wisdom.

However, for practical purposes, we cannot get away with words of comparisons. This is good. That is better. That one is the best. She is taller than I. He is the tallest and the biggest, and so on.

This is better, taller, bigger, worse, smaller, shorter

The burmese adjective word po2 (adjective), which roughly means "more", is used to describe that something or someone is better, taller, bigger, and so on. However, it should be noted that "more" in degree can go in either positive or negative direction. For example, "more short" means shorter. "More bad" means worse.

Try to see the pattern in sentence construction. The format is...

da2 po2 xxxx deare2 where you substitute xxxx with the adjective of your choice.

da2 po2 koun3 deare2 -- This is better. (this + more + good + affirmative)

da2 po2 hso3 deare2 -- This is worse. (this + more + bad + affirmative)

da2 po2 shay2 deare2 -- This is longer. (this + more + long + affirmative)

da2 po2 toh2 deare2 -- This is shorter. (this + more + short + affirmative)

da2 po2 kji3 deare2 -- This is bigger. (this + more + big + affirmative)

da2 po2 ngeare2 deare2 -- This is smaller. (this + more + small + affirmative)

Which one is better?

You should also learn to put comparisons in the form of questions. They follow the same pattern, so I will just give one example.

beare2 ha2 -- which
po2 -- more
koun3 -- good
tha1 leare3 -- ?

beare2 ha2 po2 koun3 tha1 leare3 -- Which (one) is better?

that which is

da2 (pronoun) means "this". ta2 (particle) is written in different Burmese character, but is pronounced almost like da2. It is spoken in reference to the object "which is" or "that which is".

The example below shows how ta2 modifies the adjective po2 kji3 (bigger) into a noun phrase po2 kji3 ta2 (that which is bigger).

po2 -- more
kji3 -- big
ta2 -- that which is
lo2 chin2 -- want
deare2 -- affirmative

po2 kji3 ta2 lo2 chin2 deare2 -- I want a bigger one.

po2 kji3 ta2 po2 koun3 deare2 -- The bigger, the better. (more + big + "which is" + more + good + affirmative)

Bigger than this

In the above examples, I am pointing to something and say this is bigger, and so on. What if I want to say something is bigger than this that I am pointing at? In that case, you need to use di1 htet (more than this) with the conjunction htet instead of da2 (this).

di1 htet po2 kji3 deare2 -- It's bigger than this. ("more than this" + more + big + affirmative)

di1 htet po2 koun3 deare2 -- It's better than this. ("more than this" + more + good + affirmative)

di1 htet po2 hso3 deare2 -- It's worse than this. ("more than this" + more + bad + affirmative)

Colder and hotter (warmer) than this

How's the weather in Toronto (compared to Yangon)?

di1 htet po2 ay3 deare2 -- It's colder than this. ("more than this" + more + cool + affirmative)

You can replace di1 (this) in the above sentence with Yangon like this:

Yangon htet po2 ay3 deare2 -- It's colder than Yangon. (Yangon + more than or above + more + cool + affirmative)

We will now build up a longer sentence.

Toronto -- Toronto
gah1 -- is (makes "Toronto" subject)
Yangon-- Yangon
htet -- more than or above
po2 -- more
ay3 -- cool
deare2-- affirmative

Toronto gah1 Yangon htet po2 ay3 deare2 -- Toronto is colder than Yangon.

Yangon gah1 Toronto htet po2 pu2 deare2 -- Yangon is warmer than Toronto.

Toronto is Colder than Yangon

Much colder than this

Actually, the weather in Toronto is much, much colder than Yangon. If you compare Yangon to Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin), a tourist attraction in Myanmar, it is quite appropriate to say, di1 htet po2 ay3 deare2. But, if you compare Yangon to Toronto, it's better to stress that Toronto is "much" colder. The Burmese word for indefinite pronoun "much" in such a situation is a-mya3-ji3. It literally means "so many" or "great quantity".

di1 htet -- more than this
a-mya3-ji3 -- great quantity (equivalent to much more)
po2 -- to exceed
ay3 -- cool
deare2 -- affirmative.

di1 htet a-mya3-ji3 po2 ay3 deare2 -- It's much colder than this!

Toronto gah1 Yangon htet a-mya3-ji3 po2 ay3 deare2 -- Toronto is much colder than Yangon.

So, you can say ay3 deare2 if the object or the environment has a low temperature. Likewise, pu2 deare2 means the object or the weather has a high temperature. Burmese language has a different word if your body feels cold due to the weather. If you're shivering in sub-zero temperature, you say chan3 deare2. Perhaps, the more useful word that you can say is ike deare2 if you are sweating under the sweltering heat in the hottest month around April in Myanmar. Words such as "feel cold", "feel warm", "feel happy", and "feel sad" are one syllable verbs. In comparison, "happy" "sad", "warm", "cold" are adjectives in English. Example: I feel cold. In Burmese word chan3, "feel" is already included in "cold".

pu2 lite da2 -- The weather is so hot (to the extreme).

ike lite da2 -- I feel so hot!

Be careful with pronunciation. pu2 is pronounced like poo2, not pa1 yu2.

This is the biggest one!

For superlatives in Burmese such as the best, the biggest, and the tallest, etc., the adjective is sandwiched between the prefix particle "a" and suffix particle "zone3" in this pattern:

a-xxxx-zone3.

The dash "-" after the suffix "a" is optional, but I will use it just to show the adjective clearly.

Examples:

a-kji3-zone3 -- the biggest

a-myin1-zone3 -- the tallest

a-shay2-zone3 -- the longest

a-ay3-zone3 -- the coldest

a-koun3-zone3 -- the best

da2 -- this
a-kji3-zone3 -- the biggest
beare3 -- exactly!

da2 a-kji3-zone3 beare3 -- This is the biggest!

Just like in English, superlatives in Burmese cover the extremes in both directions to include the best and the worst, the biggest and the smallest, the tallest and the shortest, and so on.

Examples:

a-thay3-zone3 -- the smallest

a-toh2-zone3 -- the shortest (for objects such as roads and ropes)

a-pu1-zone3 -- the shortest (for height of a person)

a-pu2-zone3 -- the hottest

a-hso3-zone3 -- the worst

By the way, did you notice that there is just a slight tone difference between the shortest (person) and the hottest?

a-pyau2-zone3 nay1 means happiest day. For Burmese people of all ages, it comes in Mid April every year when Water Festival and New Year is celebrated. And it is not a single day. In 2017, the government of Myanmar had announced the plan to cut the holidays from 10 days to 5. The announcement which came too close to the holidays was reverted back after the public responded with much anger and dissatisfaction.
Myanmar's Happiest Time

Myanmar's Happiest Time. Without a doubt, Myanmar Thingyan Water Festival Celebrations are the happiest times of the year for children and adults of all ages. (45 seconds)

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Monday, May 2, 2016
အိမ့်ချစ် | Eint Chit

Comparing people

Instead of saying, "this is the best" in reference to the object, can we make comparisons between people? How would you say he is the best and the brightest?

thu2 -- he or she
a-tau2-zone3 -- the best and the brightest
beare3 -- exactly!

thu2 a-tau2-zone3 beare3 -- He/she is the best and the brightest.

I have included a list of superlatives in the table on the left side.

Superlatives in the form of questions

Just like "better", we will now learn to put superlative terms in the form of questions. Since the pattern is the same for such questions, I will give just one example.

beare2 ha2 -- which "thing" (adjective)
a-koun3-zone3 -- the best; good to the extreme position (adjective)
leare3 -- ? (particle)

beare2 ha2 a-koun3-zone3 leare3 -- Which (one) is the best?

Who is the best?

Similarly, you can ask who is the best, the tallest, the shortest, or the brightest, etc..

beare2 thu2 -- who (which + person)
a-tau2-zone3 -- the best and the brightest
leare3 -- ?

beare2 thu2 a-tau2-zone3 leare3 -- Who is the best?

When is the best time?

Here's an another useful question that you can ask.

beare2 a-chain2 -- when (which + time)
a-koun3-zone3 -- the best
leare3 -- ?

beare2 a-chain2 a-koun3-zone3 leare3 -- When is the best time?

Superlatives as adverbs

It is possible to use the same superlative word as an adjective or an adverb depending on the sentence construction. For example,

a-koun3-zone3 ah3-ga1-za3 tha1-ma3 -- the best athlete (best [adjective] + athlete [noun])

a-koun3-zone3 loat pay3 ba2 -- Please do the best for me. (best [adverb] + do {verb} + request [particle])

In the second sentence, "the best" refers to "how" of the verb "do". So, it is an adverb.

Superlatives as nouns

It is also possible for superlatives to be used as nouns. Grade 11 Myanmar students are taught that to construct such a sentence, there MUST NOT be a noun adjacent to the superlative as in the best "athlete" example shown above. It's like in English where "best" can be an adjective in the "best athlete", or the noun which refers to the person who is most outstanding. Here is an example of literary Burmese sentence:

thit mya3 -- wood (noun) + plural (particle)
dwin2 -- equivalent to "in", "at", "among" (postpositional marker)
a-koun3-zone3 -- best (noun)
dthi2 -- equivalent to "is"; makes "best" the subject (postpositional marker)
kjoon3-thit -- teak (noun)
pfyit dthi2 -- be; happens to be (verb) + ending affirmative word (postpositional marker)

thit mya3 dwin2 a-koun3-zone3 dthi2 kjoon3-thit pfyit dthi2 -- Teak is the best among the woods.

Where is the highest mountain in the World?

Now, for the last part, we will build up the a-shay2-zone3 (longest) sentence of this lesson.

ka1-ba2-- the World
pau2-hma2 -- on (equivalent to preposition "in")
a-myin1-zone3 -- the tallest
toun2 -- mountain
beare2-hma2 -- where
shi1 -- exist
leare3 -- ?

ka1-ba2 pau2-hma2 a-myin1-zone3 toun2 beare2-hma2 shi1 leare3 -- Where is the highest mountain in the World?