Many of you know the phrase “ไม่ว่าง” [mâi wâang] meaning “I’m not free.” Another way to say “I’m not free” is “I’m busy.” In Thai, we say “(ตอนนี้)ยุ่งอยู่” [(tawn níi) yûng yùu] “I’m busy (now).” “ยุ่ง” [yûng] means “to be busy” and “อยู่” [yùu] is shortened from “กำลัง…อยู่” [gamlang…yùu] which is the form of the continuous tense, equivalent of verb+ing in English. Thai people don’t always say “กำลัง…อยู่” [gamlang..yùu]. We tend to only say the verb and then “อยู่” [yùu] to state what we are doing and the meaning is exactly the same as saying the full phrase.

If your friend invites you to hang out with them or if a family member asks you to do something for them and you’re not available, you can tell them either “(ตอนนี้)ไม่ว่าง” [(tawn níi) mâi wâang] “I’m not free now” or “(ตอนนี้)ยุ่งอยู่” [(tawn níi) yûng yùu] “I’m busy (now).” Now, people may not like to hear just that as a response as it can sound as if you don’t care. So don’t forget to also tell them when you will be available. You may also want to say “โทษที” [tôde tii], which is a more casual way to say “ขอโทษ” [kǎw tôde] “I’m sorry.”

A: ไปดูหนังกัน
[pai duu nǎng gan]
A: Let’s go watch a movie.

B: ไม่ได้อ่ะ ตอนนี้ยุ่งอยู่ โทษที พรุ่งนี้ได้ป่ะ
[mâi dâai à, tawn níi yûng yùu. prûng níi dâai pà]
B: I can’t. I’m busy now. Sorry. How about tomorrow?

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