Aunties’ family gathering questions

Trut-Jeen (ตรุษจีน), Chinese New Year in Thai, is coming up – which means it’s almost time for all of us to participate in family gatherings and face the inevitable nightmare, questions from our beloved Khun Pas (คุณป้า, Aunties). 

Aunties in their natural habitat, like at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club or Central Chidlom, may seem harmless and kind. However, when it comes to a family gathering, aunties can turn into sassy beings who can change the mood with their awkward questions.

But fear not, you still have time to mentally prepare for the Khun Pa warfare – we have gathered ten definitely-asked-by-aunties questions and answers provided by Khun Pas professionals.

1. Mee-Fan-Yung? (มีแฟนยัง?) or “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”

Mee-Fan-Yung? translates to “Do you have a significant other?” – this, or any question that involves your fan (แฟน), is ranked at the top of the list of Most Asked Questions by aunties. In fact, this question is among Asian family gathering classics, as aunties have the tendency to fixate over the family’s hypothetical future descendant. 

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Thai aunties would love to get their noses up your romantic stories.

Aunties usually target those who are about to graduate from school, or those who are the only children; whatever the truth may be, the best response is to divert the question entirely. 

Correct responses

Boys: Tong-Tung-Jai-Rean (ต้องตั้งใจเรียน), Mai-Mee-Vela-Mee-Fan (ไม่มีเวลามีแฟน)

For boys, shifting the focus to your studies or career, is probably your best bet: Tong-Tung-Jai-Rean (ต้องตั้งใจเรียน) translates to “I have to focus on my studies.” You can also use Tong-Tung-Jai-Tam-Ngarn (ต้องตั้งใจทำงาน) or “I have to work hard.”  Adding the Mai-Mee-Vela-Mee-Fan (ไม่มีเวลามีแฟน), or “I don’t have time for a partner” will not only bring your family honour and pride, but will also signify to your aunties that you are too good at heart to even fathom something so time-consuming outside of your work. 

Girls: Mee-Fan-Laew-Kaa-Pen-Korean-Oppa (มีแฟนแล้วค่ะ เป็นโอปป้าเกาหลี่)

One way to completely distract the aunties is to mention your hypothetical Korean boyfriend because the only thing Thai aunties love more than family drama is a handsome K-Drama lead. However, the key to this answer is to be as enthusiastic yet serious as possible, to the point of sarcasm. Mee-Fan-Laew-Kaa-Pen-Korean-Oppa (มีแฟนแล้วค่ะ เป็นโอปป้าเกาหลี) means “Yes, of course I have a boyfriend – he’s a Korean Oppa”. 

Gong Yu
Gong Yoo, one of Thai aunties’ favourite Oppas
Image credit: Mango Zero

Just make sure to emphasise and drag out the aa at the end a little bit, as the longer it sounds the more sarcastic it can be, which communicates that the Khun Pas should leave you alone. To sell this even further, find a photo of your favourite Korean Oppa (or any other of your favourite celebrities) and show it to the aunties while you are jabbering the love to your make-believe boyfriend.

2. Aow…Laew-Tum-Mai-Yung-Sode-La? or “Why are you still single?”

If you think that by denying the existence of your relationship could get you out of follow-ups, then you clearly never meet Thai aunties. Tum-Mai-Yung-Mai-Mee-Fan-La? (ทำไมยังไม่มีแฟนล่ะ), or “Why don’t you have your boyfriend/girlfriend yet?” in Thais coming right up on the next train. Thai Khun Pas simply can’t stand seeing their poor favourite relatives being single and lonely, so they ask in the interest of guiding you towards prosperous relationships with your ideal fan (partner in Thai).

Some people also want to stay single – something the aunties won’t understand.
Image credit: @chowjiahui via Instagram

At this point, no matter how you answer this question, a lecture about relationships and Doo-Dee-Kanad-Nee-Deaw-Gor-Mee-Fan (ดูดีขนาดนี้เดี๋ยวก็มีแฟน, You are so good looking, you will find your partner soon) encouragement awaits, as aunties believe that it’s their job to save you from being single. However, there is still one card to play to wiggle you out of this situation.

Correct response: Noo-Yarg-Ruay or “I want to be rich.” 

Thai rich girl
Image credit: Brand Inside

Relationships require money, and everybody wants to be rich, especially aspiring Khun Ying Pas  (คุณหญิงป้า), or “Her Ladyship Aunty”. The best way to get yourself out of this question is to bring money into the discussion – these 3 words, Noo-Yarg-Ruay (หนูอยากรวย), translates to “I want to be rich”, are guaranteed to resonate with the aunties. However, the resilient Khun Pas might suggest you to find a wealthy partner, in which you can simply ask the aunties to give you bigger angpao and leave you to find your partner yourself. Hashtag win-win bling-bling

3. Laew-Rao-Gub-Fan-Jer-Gun-Yunng-Ngai? or “How did you and your partner meet?” 

If you are lucky to find yourself with a good fan and are now in a romantic relationship that is acknowledged by all family members, congratulations, you’ve unlocked a new set of questions for you and your partner.

As relationships always consist of memorable moments and stories, our dear Khun Pas will definitely want to know it all, bonus drama if they aren’t Thai. 

Last minute late night date ideas
First meet-cute moment like this should be exclusive to you and your partner only.

Laew-Rao-Gub-Fan-Jer-Gun-Yunng-Ngai? (แล้วเรากับแฟนเจอกันยังไง?), means “So, how did you and your partner first meet?” and is definitely going to be asked by the aunties if it is the first time you are bringing your partner to a family gathering. The easiest way to keep your memorable stories to yourself is exclusivity.

Correct response: “It’s a Netflix exclusive.”

Image credit: NXT Book Media

You can divert Khun Pas attention by claiming that your relationship stories are Netflix exclusive. In order to hear more, they would have to pay for a subscription, just like on Netflix. You can amplify the story to increase the price point, and maybe even get a free fancy meal from one of your romantic stories.

4. Fan-Tum-Ngarn-Arai? or “What does your partner do for a living?”

After asking about you and your partner’s first impression, Thai aunties’ consecutive question is to ask about your partner’s occupation Fan-Tum-Ngarn-Arai (แฟนทำงานอะไร). Basically, our dear aunties want to know if your special someone is going to be able to take care of you. 

Neng doctor thai
Handsome, rich doctor – a perfect standard that is Pa-approved.
Image credit: Campus

If your partner is a doctor, engineer, or a millionaire, you can answer this question honestly – as these occupations are Pa-approved. However, if that is not the case, directly answering this question will put your partner at risk for crazy unrealistic expectations from our beloved relatives. 

A cute way to quickly get you and your partner out of answering the question is to emphasise on their love for you because love conquers all, including the nosy aunties.

Correct response: Pen-Fan-Rao-24-Hours or “They are my partner 24/7.”

This response is an easy aww-factor as Pen-Fan-Rao-24-Hours (เป็นแฟนเรา 24ชั่วโมง) means your partner works as your loving partner 24/7. All relatives, including the nosy aunties, will either appreciate this cuteness or back away as the level of cholesterol from this cheesy answer is off the charts. You can also add, “and my partner is really good at it” to sell this even further.

5. Muer-Rai-Ja-Tang-Ngarn? or “When are you getting married?” 

There’s a hierarchy among Thai aunties – the ones with grandchildren sit at the top, then come those married with or without children, and the rest at the bottom. So, not only is being in a healthy relationship something they wish for you to have, but it’s also something they can use to level-up in the aunty pyramid. That’s why some Thai aunties might ask you and your partner Muer-Rai-Ja-Tang-Ngarn? (เมื่อไรจะแต่งงาน?), means “when will you and your partner tie the knot”, and alludes to when they get to hold your baby.

Family playing
Having grandchildren seems to be one of Thai aunties’ highest honour.
Image credit: Scholarship

This awkward expectation can easily scare your partner away, as no one with common sense would ask these kinds of questions the first time they meet, let alone during family gatherings. With little room to play with this invasive question, a sincere answer might be the best to do the trick.

Correct response: Meur-Pa-Lerk-Tarm or “Whenever you stop asking.” 

We have to admit that this question is going to be asked every time there is a family gathering. So the perfect answer to get the aunties off your back is to simply insist on mandatory peace from the irritating question. Muer-Pa-Lerk-Tarm (เมื่อป้าเลิกถาม) or “whenever you aunties stop asking this question” is the best response to the situation. Just make sure to make it sound sarcastic, so they don’t gossip about your “atrocious” manners after they leave you alone. And let’s be honest, living with your partner without pressure from the aunties increases the chances for marriage and babies.

Wai Thai
Do not forget to beautifully Wai the aunties afterwards, as a cherry on top.
Image credit: Wallstreet English

6. Tum-Ngarn-Arai-La? or “What is your current occupation?” 

Transitioning from university to working life is already hard in itself: from the difficulties of finding a job in this economy to making it through mundane work routines. With Covid-19 resurfacing, our Thai aunties will be more concerned about your well-being and your salary, more than ever. 

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Some aunties really want us to go to work, instead of taking a gap year.

Tum-Ngarn-Arai-la? (ทำงานอะไรล่ะ?) or “What is your current job?”, is the question aunties use to conduct an audit on your finances, we mean “livelihood”. However, it’s not the question that bothers us – it’s the judgement that comes after hearing us answer anything other than “doctor” or “lawyer. However, as frustrating the question may sound, you can channel your inner Channel-7 Kon-Chai (domestic helper in Thai) and ask them for a job.

Correct response: “ Please hire me as your Dek-Lang-Jarn,” which means “dishwasher” 

Dek-Lang-Jarn (เด็กล้างจาน), or Dish Washer, is one of the classic occupations Thai aunties love to suggest Thai children do for extra money, making it the best possible response any child could say. Just make sure to ask the aunties for a high salary in an animated manner, because you are the aunties’ favourite after all.

7. Muea-Rai-Ja-Rean-Tor or “When are you getting your master’s?”

Image credit: AI-generated via Midjourney

Just to further emphasize the point, some aunties will press the attack on your career and education progression. Especially if you’re fresh into your first job, expect your Khun Pas to ask Muea-Rai-Ja-Rean-Tor (เมื่อไรจะเรียนต่อ), or “when are you getting your master’s?”

Also expect career-focused aunties to use this alternative: Muea-Rai-Ja-Dai-Luean-Khan (เมื่อไรจะได้เลื่อนขั้น), or “when are you getting promoted?”

The easiest response that’ll quickly disperse all their interest will also put you in a win-win situation.

Correct response: Ton-Pa-Mee-Tung-Jai-Ka-Term-Hai or “When you have money to pay my tuition fee”

Ton-Pa-Mee-Tung-Jai-Ka-Term-Hai (ตอนป้ามีตังจ่ายค่าเทอมให้)

That’s right. For most of us, grad school (or post-grad if you’re really into studying) is a distant goal because we simply don’t have the funds for it.

Especially after being at the same job for a while, plenty of us crave the experience of meeting new people and a new setting, especially abroad. And we all know Thai companies love their British master’s degree holders when looking to promote employees.

So you’re either about to get a very generous sponsor who’ll pay for your education and promotion, or you’re about to be free of one nosey question.

8. Tum-Ngarn-Dai-Ngern-Tao-Rai? or “How much do you make?” 

Chinese New Year family gathering is also known among Thai as the day the parents brag about their children’s successes. Your uncles and your dad will talk about their businesses while the aunties and mothers will gossip about their ‘latest’ trends. Sometimes, those discussions can suddenly ricochet into you with the sentence Tum-Ngarn-Dai-Ngern-Tao-Rai? (ทำงานได้เงินเท่าไร), or “How much do you earn from your job?” They might also use the shorter version: Ngern-Duean-Tao-Rai? (เงินเดือนเท่าไหร่?), or “What’s your salary?”

As if the previous question wasn’t enough of an overt invasion of privacy, it’s highly likely that the aunties and uncles will ask you about how much money you make on your current job. 

No money
Image credit: MoneyHub

It is universally known that discussing salaries goes against decorum and can be embarrassing, especially in front of nosy Khun Pas. Nobody wants to look bad with their current income. However, there is a solution to avoid answering at all by channelling your inner Dek-Noi (เด็กน้อย, young kid) and speaking out loud your inner desire.

Correct response: Mee-Mai-Por, Khor-Tung-Nhoi or “Not enough, may I have extra please?” 

Chinese New Year

Mee-Mai-Por, Khor-Tung-Nhoi (มีไม่พอ ขอตังหน่อย) translates to “Not enough, can you give me more money?” It is the simplest truth of all for Thai salary-persons and first jobbers, as the starting salary is relatively low. You can also push this boat even further by claiming that you’ve always been Dek-Dee (เด็กดี, good kid) and have been through a lot this year. Keep hitting the tiny details to increase your sympathy scores, like how you suffer from crowded BTS rides, being passed up for promotions or even your horrible bosses. The aunties will eventually get bored and leave you alone or give you extra cha-ching.

9. Uan-Khuen-Pao-Nia? or “Aren’t you too fat?” 

Uan-Kuen-Pao-Nia? (อ้วนขี้นเปล่าเนี่ย) and Phom-Kuen-Pai-Laew-Na (ผอมเกินไปแล้วนะ), translated “Aren’t you too fat?” and “Aren’t you too skinny?” in Thai, are two questions we must cover if we want to talk about Thai aunties. It’s actually more like a greeting than a question, and it’s sad that Thai aunties are tossing these statements around since the word Uan (อ้วน), fat in Thai, can scar someone’s soul.

Shabu shabu
People aren’t fat – they just have high passion for delicious food
Image credit: Medium

While some people think that being thin can get you out of aunties radar, our loving relatives will comment that you are being too skinny and will encourage you to eat their delicious Ka-Mhoo (ขาหมู, Fatty pig legs). If only they knew all the diets you partook in order to bring you to this fit body.

While we do know that the aunties mean you no harm, we can still communicate that these questions are inappropriate, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Correct response: “Why are you so Gae?” or “old”

Although we are against the idea of body-shaming, we think it’s time to channel your inner sassy khun pa aunty and hit them where it hurts. Like the word Uan, Gae (แก่) or old in Thai is like our aunties’ Kryptonite. Just make sure to make it sound funny and lighthearted, as they can be very sensitive about this, just like we are about our weight. 

You can also use the term Phom-Ngorg (ผมหงอก) or grey hair in Thai to soften your tone, but still, hold on to the same meaning.

10. Tum-Mai-Mai-Pen-Mhuen…? or “Why don’t you be more like…?”

This one is like a cherry on top to all of the previous questions but in an awful way. Tum-Mai-Mai-Pen-Mhuen… (ทำไมไม่เป็นเหมือน…), or “Why don’t you be more like…” is the type of “diplomatic” and rhetorical aunties question that is used in order to bend you to their will. 

In aunties’ eyes, this irritating question does not demand an answer, as it’s merely a suggestion on how you should improve yourself, as if we’re not constantly thinking about it already.

Make no mistake – it is not you who did anything wrong most of the time, it’s just what you do that doesn’t align with the aunties’ idea of a Dek-Dee (เด็กดี).

Crazy Rich Asians
You don’t want to get your aunties angry.
Image credit: NBC News

There is no easy way to get out of this as the question is like Thai aunties’ ultimate “check-mate”; however, when there is a will, there is always a way.

Correct response: Rao-Pen or “(I am) limited edition”

You can claim that, unlike the relatives your aunties compared you to, you are limited edition and are one of a kind. Do this by saying “Rao-Pen (เราเป็น) limited edition,” or in English “I am a limited edition.” Our suggested way to approach this method is to be as much proud of yourself as much as you can- be confident, always remember that everyone is unique in their own way, and no Thai aunties can take that away from you.

You can also add that those relatives cannot afford to be you – hashtag sassy.

11. Gae-Gern-Aryou-Ang-Bao-Laew-Na or “Aren’t you too old for an angbao?”

Receiving heavy angbao, or ‘red envelope’ is the ultimate Trut-Jeen goal for many people. It’s one of the main reasons kids enjoy going to these family gatherings and meeting with their Khun Pas; but like all things in the world, time passes, and everything gets old. Relatives usually stop giving you these coveted red envelopes when you hit 23 , or once you’ve graduated from university and started working.

Ang Bao
Image credit: Her World

It’s sad to get old, especially when the aunties continuously remind you, Gae-Gern-Aryou-Ang-Bao-Laew-Na (แก่เกินอายุอั่งเปาแล้วนะ, Aren’t you too old for angbao?) during the family gathering that you are too old for their heavy angbaos. However, there is a cute easy fix that guarantees to get you that big o’l red envelope for one last time.

Correct response: Nuu-Yung-Pen-Dek-Talord-Lae or “I’ll always be a child”

While it’s true that everyone grows up, you can remind your beloved nosy aunties that “you will always be their cute young niece”, which is what Nuu-Yung-Pen-Dek-Talord-Lae (หนูยังเป็นเด็กตลอดแหละ) means in Thai.

You might even get a bonus angbao if you add that your Khun Pas are still beautiful and young at heart.

Money is the ultimate cheat code

One thing that Thai aunties have bigger than their noses are their wallets, and their generosity is another status symbol. You can use this to your advantage by asking them extra money for every question they ask, because, why not, it’s Chinese New Year after all.

Chinese New Year Reunion
Image credit: Chinese American Family

Thai aunties can be annoying during family gatherings. However, you must not forget that they ask all these questions and do all those awkward things out of pure love. While you can use our suggested responses to get out of awkward questions during family gatherings, do not forget to treat her nicely afterwards as nosy aunties are still your family after all. We hope our tips and tricks can help you prepare for the upcoming family gathering, and we wish you Happy Chinese New Year.

To learn more about Thai culture, check out our articles on subtle Thai traits only Thais will understand. Alternatively, check out a perspective piece on why Thai “minor wife” culture should stop.

Featured image adapted from: Shoppee, Kapook

Article originally published by Surachat Chuenchomsakun on 11 February 2021. Last updated by buranond on 8 February 2024. 


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