Useful Khmer Vocabulary

Soksaby (soks-a-bye) / How are you and I am fine

It may seem strange but the Khmer way of asking “how are you?” and responding “I’m fine” is the same.

Ot Teh (ot-tei)/ No

Learning how to say no will come in very handy for turning down the heckling tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia.

Bah (bah) / Yes (m.) and Jah (chaa)/ Yes (f.)

It is usually said several times. You’ll hear a lot of “bah, bah, bah” and “chaa chaa chaas”.

Learn More About the Language

An Analytic Language

Like other Austroasiatic languages, Khmer is an analytic language, i.e., it does not use inflections to express grammatical relations. Instead, grammatical relations are signalled by word order and by various particles.


Khmer nouns are not marked for number, gender, or case. Number can be inferred from the context, through the use of particles, numerals, or by reduplication.


The pronominal system of Khmer is quite complex and includes many honorific variations that are sensitive to the relative status of the interlocutors.

What Languages Are Spoken in Cambodia?

The earliest written and recorded language from the Mon-Khmer family, Khmer is spoken by 90% of the population of Cambodia.
Cambodia is a member of the La Francophonie, an organization of countries or regions where a significant portion of the population speaks French.
The Jarai language is a Malayo-Polynesian dialect, spoken by the Jarai people of Vietnam and Cambodia. The number of speakers is estimated to be around 330,000.


Chen Pheakdei

Teacher at Sikizle Language School

Our courses are suitable for anyone who wants to improve their Khmer language skills for academic and professional purposes.

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