One word that might still sound unfamiliar even to advanced learners is the word “กะ” [gà], which is an informal counterpart of the verb “ตั้งใจ” [tâng jai]. Thai learners are often taught to use “ตั้งใจ” [tâng jai] for “To plan/to intend to do something”, but in an informal spoken language, most of the time, we use “กะ” [gà]. We tend to use “ตั้งใจ” [tâng jai] when the intention is stronger.

The literal meaning of the word “กะ” [gà] is “to estimate” or “to calculate.” So, when we have a rough, casual plan to do something, we use “กะ” [gà]. Sometimes, you may want to translate “กะ” [gà] as just “to think”

For example,

ฉันกะจะแวะไปบ้านเธอก่อนกลับบ้าน
[chán gà ja wáe pai bâan ter gàwn glàp bâan]
“I thought I’d stop by your house before I go home.”

In most cases, “ตั้งใจ” [tâng jai] and “กะ” [gà], in this sense, are interchangeable. You can use “ตั้งใจ” [tâng jai] instead of “กะ” [gà], in the above example as well, to emphasize your intention.

One situation where the two words are not interchangeable is, for example, when you want to say “to mean or to not mean to do something.” as in the following sentence.

“ฉันไม่ได้ตั้งใจเหยียบเท้าเธอ”
[chán mâi dâai tâng jai yìap táao ter]
“I didn’t mean to step on your foot.”

It is implied that it was not your intention to step on someone’s foot and that it happened by accident. Whereas, “ฉันไม่ได้กะเหยียบเท้าเธอ” [chán mâi dâai gà jà yìap táao ter] simply implies that before it happened, you hadn’t had it planned in mind, but at the time that it did happen, you could have or could not have meant to do it.

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