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The Free Online Burmese Lessons
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The Free Online Burmese Lessons

Color Codes: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, particles, postpositional markers, interjections.

Naing Tinnyuntpu Naing Tinnyuntpu is no stranger to systematic and efficient approach. He came from manufacturing environment with Bachelor's and Master's in Industrial Engineering (USA).

His contributions to the semiconductor industry included techniques recognized by Sematech as ‘Administrative Quality Best Practices’ during his process engineering days with now defunct IC chip making division of Hewlett-Packard in Singapore.

Born and raised in Yangon, he has lived in six countries and knowledgeable in unrelated areas including self-taught programming languages. His free online Burmese lessons serve as an effective communication bridge that connects international community with ordinary Myanmar people.

Read this page with Myanmar Script

Myanmar on South East Asia Map shown with flag, alphabets and numbers.

Myanmar Language & Grammar Overview

Scholars have long noted the similarities between the Burmese Language and Tibetan language. For example, Tibetan consonants such as ka, kha, ga, nga, cha, ja, nya, ta, tha, da, na, pa, pha, ba, ma, wa, zha, za, ya, ra, la, sha, sa, ha, etc. sound remarkably similar to the Burmese consonants.

The origin of the Burmese script, Pyu, and Mon Script of ancient Myanmar and Tibet alphabet can be traced back to Brahmi script of ancient India, which was first seen in 500 BCE and spread throughout India by 300 CE in the reign of King Ashoka.

The Tibetan-Burmese language classification is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages spoken from Tibet to the Malay Peninsula, and also referred to as Tibeto-Burman Languages.

Burmese spoken language is different from the literary form. Myanmar literary language has more expressive power compared to bland spoken words, but the sequence in the sentence structure basically remains the same.

Burmese verbs ka1-ri1-ya2 MP3 Audio File do not change tense like in English. Instead, verb-suffix words are appended to show the past tense, present tense, and future tense.

Burmese Verbs are categorized by three types of sentence constructions and also by the following three characteristics:

pyu1 chin3 - action (does/do)

pfyit chin3 - occurrence (be/is/are/am)

shi1 chin3 - presence (is at/has/have)

MP3 Audio File

Similarly, the same verb words are used for both plural and singular forms to say: "He does something" and "They do something."

It is possible to construct Burmese sentences without a verb. Example:

kja1-nau2 - I (pronoun, male term)

hsa1-ya2-woon2 - doctor (noun)

ba2 - ending polite word. (particle)

kja1-nau2 hsa1-ya2-woon2 ba2I am a doctor.

MP3 Audio File

Note: The last word ba2 in the above sentence is not a verb. It is classified as a particle in Myanmar grammar.

Myanmar grammar has a number of suffixes and ending words called we1-but (postpositional markers) MP3 Audio File and pyit-si3 (particles). MP3 Audio File Those suffix and ending words are placed after a noun or a pronoun to show subject or object, and after a verb to show tense or mood. Sometimes, they can modify the adjective into verb.

The basic word order of the Burmese Language does NOT NECESSARILY fall into subject-object-verb format. Just like in English, you can either say: "The boy kicks the ball," (where "the boy" is the subject, "kick" the verb and "ball" the object) or "The ball was kicked by the boy." It deploys various ending words which have no English equivalent.

Together with particles, those postpositional markers, also used as ending words, play an important part of the Myanmar language structure.

Example 1:

thwa3 - go (verb)

dau1 - about to (particle for emphasis)

meare2 - will (postpositional marker to show tense)

nau2 - ending word. (particle for feeling tone)

thwa3 dau1 meare2 nau2I am about to go! MP3 Audio File

Example 2:

thi1 - know (verb)

byi2 - has reached certain condition (postpositional marker)

la3 - question ending word (particle)

thi1 byi2 la3Do you know now? MP3 Audio File

Example 3:

thu2 - he (pronoun)

hmun2 - right; correct (adjective)

deare2 - affirmative ending word (postpositional marker, not a verb in Burmese grammar.)

thu2 hmun2 deare2He is right! MP3 Audio File

In the last example, the ending word IS NOT a verb, but it modifies the adjective into the word hmun2 deare2, which is considered as a verb of pfyit-chin3-pya1 ka1-ri1-ya2 (verb clause that shows occurrence) type.

Although deare2 seems to correspond with the verb "is", it cannot be used consistently as "is" in some other sentence constructions.

Example:

hote deare2Yes!

It must be stressed that Burmese equivalent of "be/is/are/am" like deare2 MP3 Audio File are not verbs but post-positional markers, and they form verb clauses only in combination with verbs such as "go", "eat", "come", or adjectives such as "white", "wrong", "hot".

Similarly, ending particle words such as ba2 MP3 Audio File when combined with nouns like "doctor", "man", "Buddhist", become equivalent to English "be/is/are/am" something or someone. In some other sentence constructions, they cannot be translated as English "be/is/are/am", and this can be confusing to non-native learners of Myanmar grammar.

As for pronouns nun2-za3, MP3 Audio File there are many ways to say you and I in Burmese. Wrong choice of the pronoun "you" and "I" will offend people. Family terms like "brother", "sister", "son", and "daughter" are commonly used among strangers to address to each others.

There are four types of Burmese Pronouns:

Personal Pronouns — "I", "You", "He", "She", "It", etc..

Referential pronouns — "this","that", "above-mentioned", etc..

Question Words — "what", "who", "where" in reference to the noun.

Quantitative Pronouns — "one person", "three cups", "four items", "some", "few", "all", "half", etc..

Burmese Adjectives na2-ma1 we1-thay2-tha1-na1 MP3 Audio File are classified into four groups:

Qualitative — words that describe the quality of the noun. E.g., "rich" man, "far away" place.

Referential — words that make reference to or point to something. E.g., "this" road, "that" road, "other" methods.

Numbers — words that describe "how many" of something, "what position" in the ordered list, and unspecified numbers. E.g., "ten" people, "21st." birthday, "some" people.

Question Words — words that ask for "how many", "how", "which", "how much", and "what" with clearly stated noun in the question. Without the noun, the same question words are classified as pronouns. E.g., "What kind of food do you like?" as opposed to "What kind do you like?"

Burmese Adverbs ka1-ri1-ya2 we1-thay2-tha1-na1 MP3 Audio File are classified into five groups:

"How" part of human actions — gestures, manner, facial expressions, and behavior. E.g., "arrogantly", "sluggishly", "truthfully", "respectfully".

Conditions of things and situations — E.g., "in disarray", "in disorder", "definitely".

"When" part of action words — E.g., "early", "often", "immediately".

Interrogative adverbs — "when", "how".

Words that show extent, size or magnitude — "few", "many", "very".

There are eight ways to categorize Burmese Nouns "nun2" : MP3 Audio File four by construction, and four by meaning:

Combination; Compound |
poun3-sut nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., sa2-oat hsine2 (book + shop) — bookshop. MP3 Audio File

It is possible to combine words other than nouns. E.g., (sa3 + thout + hsine2) = (eat+drink+shop) = restaurant. MP3 Audio File

Original; Innate | pin2-go2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., khway3 — dog. MP3 Audio File

Qualitative |
gome2-yay2-pya1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., htu3-choon2 hmu1 — the quality of being outstanding. MP3 Audio File This word is formed by the verb htu3-choon2 meaning "be outstanding" modified into a noun by the suffix particle hmu1.

Verb Modifications |
ka1-ri1-ya2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., ku2-nyi2-hmu1 — help. MP3 Audio File The particle hmu1 modifies the verb ku2-nyi2 (to help) into a noun "help". This is unlike English where "help" can be either a verb or a noun.

Individual Names | ta1-u3-zine2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., Yangon, Shwedagon, Aung San.

Common Terms | a-mya3-zine2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., dog, city, cow, book

Psychological; Abstract | sate-da1-za1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., courage, love, faith

Conglomeration | a-su1-pya1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

E.g., a-si3-a-yone3 — union, league.

MP3 Audio File

When you say a cup of tea, two glasses of water, or three pairs of shoes, "cup", "glasses" and "pairs" are measure words, also known as numerical classifiers.

Burmese language has a rich array of numerical classifiers missing in English and Pali Languages, but found in Chinese and Japanese. For example, different numerical classifiers are used for a car, two persons, three dogs, a house, a tree and so on. Those are particles, and more precisely, particles that show the type of number called

thin2-cha2 myo3-pya1 pyit-si3. MP3 Audio File

Learn more about numbers and measure words in this lesson.

Unlike in English where most people will have to look up the dictionary for the plural of "octopus", Burmese plural words ba1-hu1-woat MP3 Audio File in most cases simply add a suffix word dway2 MP3 Audio File to the noun in the colloquial language and mya3 MP3 Audio File in the literary form. Those suffix words are classified as particles.

Burmese language has several conjunctions known as thun2-bun2-da1. MP3 Audio File

Those conjunctions in colloquial forms are slightly different from their literary counterparts. They are similar to conjunctions in English Language such as "if", "or else", "therefore", "however", "moreover", "in order to", "so as to", "for", "as if", "also", etc..

Learn more about Conjunctions in Myanmar Language.

Here is a comparison between Burmese Tones Vs. Mandarin Chinese Pinyin Tones. Consider the three stress levels in Burmese:

Ma1 sounds like Malaysia. MP3 Audio File
Ma2 as in diploma. MP3 Audio File
Ma3 as in mother. MP3 Audio File

Close counterparts in Mandarin Chinese Pinyin tones are:

Ma1 = Pinyin 4th tone.

Ma2 = sounds like Pinyin 3rd tone as in "ma3 lu", which means "the main road" in Mandarin Chinese.

Ma3 = Higher pitch level and close to Pinyin 1st or 2nd tone as in "Ma2 fan", which means "to bother" in Mandarin Chinese.

Learn more about Burmese Tones in Lesson 1.

The demise of the most popular font in Myanmar known as Zawgyi font has arrived in 2019. Since 2006, it has been the choice of font for PC users and the bloggers in the days of Internet Cafés.

When both smartphones and SIM cards became more affordable around 2014, Zawgyi was the default font for the general populace. By early 2019, 18 million facebook users in myanmar communicated with Zawgyi font.

Unicode is not a font. It is the International Standard used in the World Wide Web and supported by major operating systems including those used in the mobile phones. Zawgyi, unfortunately, does not meet either Unicode Standard or World Wide Web Standards.

In earlier days, Zawgyi in stand-alone PC's was not a problem. However, as the World is connected through the Internet, it has become a less desirable choice of font.

That's why Myanmar is saying goodbye to Zawgyi. As of April 2019, Myanmar government websites have migrated to Unicode Standard. October 1st, 2019 was the date of full unicode compliance for mobile phone operators. Facebook login page in Myanmar can now be seen in Unicode.

See this Wiki page for technical info.

Was it a creation of the military government or did they just revert back to the original word? Read all about it from historical and linguistic point of view and politics behind it.

INTRODUCTION TO BURMESE (MYANMAR) LANGUAGE 🙏

Min2-ga1-la2 ba2!MP3 Audio File

That's how Burmese people formally greet guests.

And, this is what Myanmar language daily newspaper print edition looks like.

the Mirror Myanmar Language daily Newspaper
“State Counselor Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi Visits Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy”

— The Mirror, August 21, 2018 —

The actual words on this newspaper heading in direct translation will go something like this:

State + 's + Counselor + Daw Aung San Suu Kyi + Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy + to + go + arrive + observe

The last three words are like animated sequence of actions. Preposition "to" in English becomes postpositional marker "to" in Burmese. Spoken language uses different "to" word. The sentence will also be less complicated.

Burmese is the official language of over 54 million people of Myanmar — The Land of the Fast and the Strong 🏃 💪 — the country with more than 100 ethnic groups who speak their own languages and dialects. For many ethnic people, Burmese is the second language, and you will hear them speak with different accents.

Burmese is also spoken around the world by the people originally from Myanmar. United States alone has 100,200 persons of Burmese descent, according to the 2010 United States Census. The census reflected at least part of the largest number of refugee arrivals to the US in recent years. Approximately 109,000 refugees, mostly Christian Karen people resettled in the US from 2008 to 2014.

Myanmar 2014 population census indicated that approximately two million workers from Myanmar were employed in foreign countries. According to ILO, 70.2% of those workers were in Thailand, and a smaller number was working in Malaysia, China, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Gulf States. The Irrawaddy reported the number to be over 5 million in 2019 with more than 4 million in Thailand.

Low wage migrant workers and refugees far exceed professionals, and their command of the second language may not be strong. In such cases, knowledge of the Burmese language is helpful for the employers or for social service in providing assistance. Teaching of the Burmese language to their children is also essential. Burmese descendants who are proficient in the mother tongue are more likely to contribute to the development of Myanmar.

A series of political and economic reforms started in 2011 has resulted in Myanmar emerging as the fastest growing economy in Asia, and it is still a decent showing at 6.8 percent for 2018..

English is widely understood in Myanmar in establishments that have regular contact with foreigners, such as hotels and airports. To communicate at a deeper level, to mingle with the crowd, and to develop warmer relationships without the help of an interpreter, knowing some Burmese is a definite plus.

The name "Myanmar" is not a creation by the military government back in 1989. The Kingdom of "Mien" 緬 was well-recorded by the Chinese, and mentioned by the 13th century romance writer Rustichello da Pisa in The Travels of Marco Polo (Il Milione in Italian) to describe the Mongol invasion of ancient Bagan.

“... one of the finest sights in the world; so exquisitely finished are they, so splendid and costly.”

— Marco Polo's description of Bagan temples —

Grammatically, the structure of Myanmar language is simple, easy to learn, and quite similar to Mandarin Chinese. While Mandarin Chinese has four tones, Burmese is quite happy with just three. And like the Chinese, there are no complicated tenses and verb structures to worry about. The only major challenge in learning Myanmar language will be to get the right "stress" or "tone" when speaking to a native speaker, and perhaps confusion with words which sound similar, but have different meanings according to the context in which they are spoken. Other than that, just be sure to pay special attention to prefix, suffix and ending words. They are important.

Naing Tinnyuntpu

Hi, my name is Naing Tinnyuntpu. This website offering free online burmese lessons has expanded and improved through the years. It has started out just for fun without any audio or script, but now it includes more serious grammar materials. I wish you good luck and have fun.

Cool song in the background by Myanmar singer Jenny. Lyrics by Si Thu [986KB] 🎶

You can leave your comments, feedbacks, and suggestions down the page. As a result of one suggestion, Learn Myanmar Script on this website now appears consistently among the best on Google, YahooYahoo!, Bingbing, AOLAOL, AskAsk, LYCOSLYCOS, Yandex, and nortonNorton Safe Search. In addition to script and beginner level Conversational Burmese, this website now offers one of the most comprehensive Myanmar Grammar on the Internet. Another suggestion was to come up with a dictionary. Full fledged Myanmar English Dictionary is now among the most complete and freely available dictionary on the internet. It was intentionally designed for browsing and ultimate learning experience.

Burmese for more serious learners

Gone are the days when most people learning Burmese just wanted to pick up a phrase or two for a short visit to Myanmar. Now, there are more serious learners who must interact with local people on the regular basis. They are not only embassy staff, but more and more of Asian business managers working in the country and scholarship holders, army officers, diplomats and Asian businessmen studying Myanmar Language at YUFL in Yangon. If you are one of such individuals, the following two picks will help you.

Myanmar Script Learning Guide

Myanmar Script Learning Guide PDF (Rev. F) is further improved with larger font-size and new design. It now comes with more than 740 MP3 Audio recordings in seven pages of FREE ONLINE AUDIO SUPPORT. 104 pages, 650 KB (Updated: 2017-10-30)

Everyday Spoken Burmese

Everyday Spoken Burmese PDF (Rev. D) with improved romanization is for those seriously learning to understand and speak Burmese in a short time. It covers the most fundamental building blocks of the colloquial Myanmar Language. 106 pages, 490 KB. Revised: 2019-08-31. Over 400 MP3 audio files are freely available online with eight pages of Lesson A1.