Home > Useful Grammar > Being ‘in/on time’

Being ‘in/on time’

There are a few really simple expressions using the word ‘ทัน’ that are useful in a number of situations.

Let’s look at some easy examples first:  If you don’t already know these – you need them in your SRS.

อ่านไม่ทัน this is a really good one – it might mean any of the following depending on the situation –

  • Maybe you are trying to keep up with a karaoke song (in Thai I hope!) and parts or all of it are just too fast for you?  อ่านไม่ทัน !
  • Or perhaps you are watching a movie in a language you don’t know w/ Thai sub-titles and you can’t catch everything?  อ่านไม่ทัน !
  • อาจจะ you need to read a few books/articles/papers/etc for school or work by a certain date and you are worried that you don’t have enough time to read everything… อ่านไม่ทัน !

ฟังไม่ัทัน – Also quite useful – 

  • If you are listening to a song and can’t quite process the words fast enough to completely understand it …you can say ฟังไม่ัทัน
  • When someone is talking to/around you and they are speaking too fast for you to get the gist of what they are saying…you can tell them ฟังไม่ัทัน
  • Or if its too much and you can only catch a word (just want to express your helplessness) you can say ฟังทันคำเดียว I only caught 1 word


  • Your friend invites you to see a movie at เมเจอร์ ซีนีเพล็กซ์ at a certain showtime and you are afraid you can’t make it there in time ….you say  ไปไม่ทัน
  • You want to take a train at noon, but you woke up late…. ไปไม่ทัน

And here are some longer sentences to give you some context 

  1. เราคุยกันสนุกมากจนไปดูหนังไม่ทัน We had such a good time talking that we missed the movie. (in the sense that the time passed to the point where we couldn’t make it even if we tried)
  2. ถ้ารถติดไม่ทันแน่ If there is traffic, we won’t make it (on time) for sure.  
  3. ถ้าสั่งวันนี้จะทันไหม ? If I order it today, will I get it on time?  (Maybe you need something by tomorrow and you want to clarify if it can be finished by then.)
  4. ไม่หยุดทัน Not able to stop in time (driving)
  5. สมัครทันไหม apply in time (as in send an application before the expiry/due date)
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