Khmer Language: Addressing Persons

I’m fast losing my meager grasp of Khmer language! I find that quite sad coz lately I’ve been interacting more with English speakers and even my Khmer relatives and neighbors want to talk in English. I gather they like to practice speaking so who am I to refuse.

I wish I have the time to browse my Khmer books and also practice writing but time is something I really don’t have right now. So, I’ve decided I’m just going to hit two birds with one stone and post something here in an effort to refresh my basic Khmer language and also for reference.

This learn Khmer language post is all about forms of address. I have previously posted about family members in Khmer language, check it out if in case that is what you are looking for or browse through my Basic Khmer Language posts.

At first I find form of address confusing since Khmers tend to address persons depending on age and social stature. I was hesitant about calling a lady ‘Om’  or ‘Bong’ (auntie or elder sister) when she could possibly be younger than me, and should be called ‘Oun Srey’. 

Khmers are very polite and they have these words for calling/addressing other people. It’s quite unusual to be addressed directly by name unless you are of same age or really very close.

  • Man – Lo’k
  • Older Man or a Monk – Lo’k Ta
  • Older Woman – Om Srey (or just ‘Om’; ‘Ming’ is used by some; ‘Eee’ also used by Chinese descendants)
  • Younger Woman – Neak Srey
  • Younger Person – Neak Oun or just ‘Oun’
  • Grandma – Yeay
  • Grandpa – Ta

Also take note of these:

  • Me / I – Knyom
  • You – Neak
  • Him/Her – Koat
  • We – Yeung
  • Them – Poh Kay
  • Possesive (Mine/Yours) – add Roboh (ie. Roboh Knyom – mine)



  1. kayni

    March 27, 2015 at 3:54 am

    Wow, Khmer is quite different from Filipino.

    I’m curious. Do you pronounce every syllable like we do in Filipino?

    1. lui-in-penh

      March 31, 2015 at 9:09 am

      @kayni, yes its vastly different. their handwritten form is also so different. the way they speak is quite hard for me, they are very nasal and have a lot of consonant-consonant sound combinations that is quite hard to master.

  2. edelweiza

    March 31, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I can imagine your frustration. Lalo pa at gusto pala nila mag-English, mas natututo sila sayo kesa ikaw sa kanila. Parang ang hirap bigkasin ng Khmer language dahil sabi mo very nasal sila, haha. Good luck sayo, sis! 🙂

    1. lui-in-penh

      April 1, 2015 at 10:31 am

      nakakaloka sis. but once u get the hang of it, it gets easier.

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