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Abjad

Persian is an abjad, that means all letters stand as a consonant and that vowels are only used in speech and not written. Arabic is written from right to left while numbers are written from left to right.

Some letters can be used as consonant or as vowel so there will be in both category, in Persian or in Arabic there is no such differenciation.

A letter in persian can be written different according to its position in a word, here will be written each letter in its different form in the following order : Stand-alone -> Final-position -> Medial-position -> First-position

 

Abjad :

 

  • ‫آ‬  ‫ـا‬  ‫ـا‬  ‫‫ا‬‬‬‬‬ : "Alef", will be pronounced as the short vowel attached to it, or pronounced as the long vowel following. if written آ‬ at the beginning of a word, alef will be pronounced as long a: , if written ‫ا‬  it will be used as a consonant.  ‫‫

  • ‫‫بـ‬ـ  ‫ـبـ‬  ‫ـب‬  ‫‫ب‬‬‬‬‬ : "Be", pronounced as b in "bed" ; transliteration : b

  • ‫‫‫پـ‬  ‫ـپـ‬  ‫ـپ‬  ‫پ‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "Pe", pronounced as p in "pet" ; transliteration : p

  • ‫‫‫تـ‬  ‫ـتـ‬  ‫ـت‬  ‫‫‫ت‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "Te", pronounced as t in "tea" ; transliteration : t

  • ‫‫‫ثـ‬  ‫ـثـ‬  ‫ـث‬  ‫ث‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "Se", pronounced as s in "snake" ; transliteration : s

  • ‫‫‫جـ‬  ‫ـجـ‬  ‫ـج‬  ‫ج‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "ji:m", pronounced as j in "Joe" ; transliteration : j

  • ‫‫‫چـ‬  ‫ـچـ‬  ‫ـچ‬  ‫چ‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "che", pronounced as ch in "chapel" ; transliteration : ch

  • ‫‫‫حـ‬  ‫ـحـ‬  ‫ـح‬  ‫ح‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "he", pronounced as h in "hello" ; transliteration : h

  • ‫‫‫خـ‬  ‫ـخـ‬  ‫ـخ‬  ‫‫‫خ‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "xe", pronounced as ch in Scottish "Loch" ; transliteration : x

  • ‫‫‫د‬  ‫ـد‬  ‫ـد‬  ‫د‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "da:l", pronounced as d in "doll" ; transliteration : d

  • ‫‫‫‫ذ‬‬  ‫ـذ‬  ‫ـذ‬  ‫ذ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "za:l", pronounced as z in "zoo" ; transliteration : z

  • ‫‫‫‫ر‬‬  ‫ـر‬  ‫ـر‬  ‫ر‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "re", pronounced as a rolled r as in the spanish  "rojo" ; transliteration : r

  • ‫‫‫‫ز‬‬  ‫ـز‬  ‫ـز‬  ‫ز‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "ze", pronounced as z in "zoo" ; transliteration : z

  • ‫‫‫‫ژ‬‬  ‫ـژ‬  ‫ـژ‬  ‫ژ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "zhe", pronounced as s in "leisure" ; transliteration : zh

  • ‫‫‫‫‫‫‫‫سـ‬‬‬‬  ‫ـسـ‬  ‫ـس‬  ‫س‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "si:n", pronounced as s in "snake" ; transliteration : s

  • ‫‫‫شـ‬  ‫ـشـ‬  ‫ـش‬  ‫ش‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "shi:n", pronounced as sh in "short" ; transliteration : sh

  • ‫‫‫‫صـ‬‬  ‫ـصـ‬  ‫ـص‬  ‫ص‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "sa:d", pronounced as s in "snake" ; transliteration : s

  • ‫‫‫‫ضـ‬‬  ‫ـضـ‬  ‫ـض‬  ‫‫ض‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "za:d", pronounced as z in "zoo" ; transliteration : z

  • ‫‫‫‫ط‬‬  ‫ـط‬  ‫ـط‬  ‫ط‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "ta:", pronounced as t in "tea" ; transliteration : t

  • ‫‫‫‫‫ظ‬‬‬  ‫ـظ‬  ‫ـظ‬  ‫ظ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "za:", pronounced as z in "zoo" ; transliteration : z

  • ‫‫‫‫‫عـ‬  ‫ـعـ‬  ‫ـع‬  ‫ع‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "'eyn:", glottal stop, try to pronounce "uh-oh", you should make a glottal stop between the two sounds ; transliteration : '

  • ‫‫‫‫‫غـ‬  ‫ـغـ‬  ‫ـغ‬  ‫غ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "gheyn:", pronounced as the French r as in "rouge" ; transliteration : gh

  • ‫‫‫‫‫فـ‬‬‬  ‫ـفـ‬  ‫ـف‬  ‫ف‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "fe:", pronounced as f in "fat" ; transliteration : f

  • ‫‫‫‫‫‫قـ‬‬  ‫ـقـ‬  ‫ـق‬  ‫‫ق‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "qa:f", pronounced between the French r and a guttural k ; transliteration : q

  • ‫‫‫‫‫کـ‬‬‬  ‫ـکـ‬  ‫ـک‬  ک‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "ka:f", pronounced as k in "koala" ; transliteration : k

  • ‫‫‫‫‫گـ‬‬‬  ‫ـگـ‬  ‫ـگ‬  ‫‫گ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "ga:f", pronounced as g in "goat" ; transliteration : g

  • ‫‫‫‫‫‫لـ‬‬‬‬  ‫ـلـ‬  ‫ـل‬  ‫ل‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "la:m", pronounced as l in "love" ; transliteration : l

  • ‫‫‫‫‫‫مـ‬‬‬‬  ‫‫ـمـ‬‬  ‫ـم‬‬  ‫م‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "mi:m", pronounced as m in "map" ; transliteration : m

  • ‫‫‫‫‫‫نـ‬‬‬‬  ‫ـنـ‬  ‫ـن‬  ن‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "nu:n", pronounced as n in "nose" ; transliteration : n

  • ‫و‬  ‫‫ـو‬  ‫ـو‬‬  ‫‫و‬‬‬‬‬ : "va:v", pronounced as v in "valley" ; transliteration : v ( or as the long vowel u: )

  • ‫‫‫‫‫هـ‬‬‬  ‫ـهـ‬  ‫ـه‬  ه‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "he", pronounced as h in "hello" ; transliteration : h

  • ‫‫‫‫‫یـ‬‬‬  ‫ـیـ‬  ‫ـی‬  ی‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ : "ye", pronounced as y in "yes" ; transliteration : y ( or as the long vowel i: )

 

Vowels :

Farsi is written with Arabic script, even there are some differences between both you could easily read Farsi if you already know Arabic.

There is no proper vowels in Farsi, but there are 3 letters that can be considered as vowels, and 3 sounds, the short vowels, that are usually not written except in Coran or official books.

Short vowels :

There are sign attached to letters that cannot be written alone, and cannot be used alone ; also you will usually don't see it written, that means that you need to know a word to know his pronounciation. You will see this short vowels written in the Coran. As we cannot written those sign alone, we'll use the letter "ب" ("b") as exemple :

  • َبَ : this will be pronounced "ba", pronounced as a in "dad" ; transliteration : a

  • بِ : this will be pronounced "be", pronounced as e in "set" ; transliteration : e

  • بُ : this will be pronounced "bo", pronounced as o in "pork" ; transliteration : o

Long vowels :
  • ‫آ‬  ‫ـا‬  ‫ـا‬  ‫‫ا‬‬‬‬‬ : "Alef", will be pronounced as a long a as in "father" ; transliteration : a: if written آ‬ at the beginning of a word, alef will be pronounced as long a: , if written ‫ا‬  it will be used as a consonant.  ‫‫

  • ‫يـ  ‫ـيـ  ‫ـى  ‫ى‬‬‬‬ : "Ye", will be pronounced as a long i as ee in "feet" ; transliteration : i:

  • ‫و‬  ‫‫ـو‬  ‫ـو‬‬  ‫‫و‬‬‬‬‬ : "Vav", will be pronounced as a long u as oo in "boot" ; transliteration : u:

But : those long vowels can also be consonants ! Their pronounciation will be explain in the consonant part.

Other symbols :

ّ : "tashdid", is used to double a letter in a word.

ء‬ : "Hamze" is used as a glottal stop as ع  ‬ ("?eyn") ; transliteration : ?

‬ ًاً : "tanvi:n"‬‬ is used only on alef and used for adverbs.

Numbers

Here is a table to remember for numbers in Farsi :

... ... 10 + .. ...0 ...00 ..000 ..000 000 ..000 000 000
0-۰ صفر [sefr] ده [da] tens hundreds thousands millions billions
1-۱ یک [yek] یازده [ya:zda] ده [da] صد [sad] هزار [heza:r] میلیون [milion] میلیارد [miliyard]
2-۲ دو [do] دوازده [dava:zda] بیست [bi:st] دویست [devi:st] دو هزار [do heza:r] دو میلیون [do milion] دو میلیارد [do miliyard]
3-۳ سه [se] سیزده [si:zda] سی [si:] سیصد [si:sad] سه هزار [se heza:r] سه میلیون [se milion] سه میلیارد [se miliyard]
4-۴ چهار [chaha:r] چهارده [chaha:rda] چهل [chehel] چهار صد [chaha:r sad] ... ... ...
5-۵ پنج [pandj] پانزده [pa:nzda] پنجاه [pandja:] پانصد [pa:nsad]
6-۶ شش [shesh] شانزده [sha:nzda] شصت [shast]  ...
7-۷ هفت [haft] هفده [hefda] هفتاد [hafta:d]
8-۸ هشت [hasht] هجده [hedjda] هشتاد [hashta:d]
9-۹ نه [no] نوزده [nu:zda] نود [navad]

Then you just have to add numbers one after another, adding a [o] between each example : 2.748.169.513 : [do miliyard, o haft sad o chehel o hasht milion, o sad o shast o no heza:r, o pa:nsad o si:zda]

Ordinals are produced by the addition of -م [om] on the number, except of first which is said اوّل [a:vval], second دوم [dovom], third سوم [sevom], etc...

For halfs, you can use سوم [ni:m] ( half ) after the number  : یک و نیم [yek o ni:m] -> one and halfنیم یک  [ni:m-e yek] -> half one

Grammar, general rules

Sentence structure :

The sentences in Persian follow a Subject-Object-Verb, Persian is an agglutinative language using mainly suffixes and prepositions.

Means that phrases will be structured as [man be madrase ru:a:m] (lit : "I to school go")

Genders :

There s no grammatical gender in Persian, he, she or it are expressed the same way.

 

Articles :

There are no articles in Persian, but the indefinite article (a, an) can be express with یک  [yek] ( one ), and the object of a sentence can be definite with the particle را [ra:].

 

Negation :

The negation in Persian is simply expressed with ن [na] in front of a verb ( but after the [mi] prefix of present tense ), or with نه [na] to answer to a question.

فارسی می دانی ؟ [Fa:rsi mi da:ni ?] : do you you know Farsi ?

نه، من فارسی می ندانم [na, man farsi mi nada:nam] : No, I don't know Farsi. (lit :"no, I Farsi pref-present no-know-I")

 

 

Compound verbs :

There are many compound verbs in Farsi, they are formed with a simple verb and a noun or an adjective : to like, to love : ‫ دوست داشتن‬ [du:st da:shtan], that means literally, "to have friend".

There are many compound verbs formed with ک ردن [kardan] (to do)

Pronouns and particles

Personals and possessives pronouns :

There are no difference between personnal and possessive pronouns ( I and my ), there is neither no difference between I and me, things are then easy to remember in Persian:

nom
Singular 1st من [man]
2nd تو [to]
3rd او [u:]
Plural 1st. ما [ma:]
2nd* شما [shoma:]
3rd formal ایشان [I:sha:n]
familiar آنها [a:nha:]

 

demonstrative pronouns :

این**[i:n] and آن [a:n] , respectively this and that are the two demonstratives pronouns in Persian, [i:n] will be used to show something close while [a:n]** will be used for something further.

The demonstratives are also used in the formation of the adverbs "here" : اینجا**[i:ndja] and "there" : آنجا**[a:ndja]

 

Interrogative pronouns :

One of the most important things to learn in any language are the interrogative pronouns, how to say who, what, where, etc... :

  • چه**[che**] ? : what ?
  • چطور**[chetowr] ?** : how ?
  • چند ت**ا [chand ta] ?** : how much ? / how many ?
  • کجا**[kodja:] ?** : where ?
  • کی [key] ? : when ?
  • چرا**[chera:]?** : why ?
  • کی**[ki] ?** : who ?
  • کدام**[koda:m] ?** : which ?

 

Conjonctions :

  • These are the main conjonctions in Persian, they are used in a similar way than in european languages :
  • یا**[ya:]** : or
  • و**[o]/[va]** : and
  • ولی**[vali]** : but
  • اما**[ama]** : but
  • اگر**[a:gar]** : if
  • پس**[pas]** : then
  • چون**[chu:n]** : because
  • وقتیکه**[vaqti:ke]** : when
  • که**[ke]** : that

 

Prepositions :

Here are the main propositions in Persian :

  • به**[be]** : to
  • در**[dar]** : in
  • از**[a:z]** : from
  • بعد از [ba'd a:z] : after
  • سر**[sar-e]** : next to
  • تا**[ta:]** : until
  • بین**[beyn-e]** : between
  • روی**[ru-ye]** : on
  • زیر**[zir-e]** : under
  • برای**[bara:-ye]** : for, to
  • با**[ba:]** : with
  • بدون**[bedu:n-e]** : without

 

Examples : [be Tehran mi ru:am] : I go to Tehran ; [dar Esfaha:n hastam] : I am in Isfahan ; [zan-e man a:z Istanbul hast] : my wife is from Istanbul

 

There is :

There is is simply formed with the simple form of [budan] ( to be ) : است [a:st], the negative form is a contraction with [na] and [a:st] : نیست [ni:st]

 

ra را :

The particle را [ra] is used after a noun as a definite article ; it can also be used after a pronoun to form the "object pronoun" : [manra:] = me ;

[ra] is only used for the object of a sentence and never the subject.

Nouns and adjectives

Plurals :

Plurals are simply formed by adding the suffix ‫ها‬ [ha] after nouns, except after a number. Ex :

  • dog : ساگ [sa:g]
  • dogs : ساگها [sa:gha]
  • two dogs : دو ساگ [do sa:g]

 

Adjectives :

Adjectives are invariable, they don't change according to the gender ( there is no gender ), to the case ( there is no cases ) and to the number ( the plural suffix is only one the noun ). They are placed after the noun.

 

Ezafe :

There is particle in Persian to link nouns together with other nouns, adjectives, or pronouns. It is not written but pronounced [e] or [ye], according if the last letter of the noun is consonant or not -> a big catیک گربه بزرگ  [yek gorbe-ye bozorg]

 

Comparative :

Comparatives and superlatives are formed with a suffix you add after the adjective  تر‬ [tar] : more and  ترین‬ [tarin] : the most

  • beautifulزیبا‬ [zi:ba:]
  • more beautiful :  زیباتر [zi:ba:tar]
  • most beautiful :  زیباترین [zi:ba:tarin]

You can make comparaison using ‫ از‬ [a:z] (from,than), by putting it between the subject and the object : [Esfaha:n az Tehra:n zi:ba:tar ast] : Isfahan is more beautiful than Tehran ( lit: "Isfahan from Tehran beautiful-more is")

There two words to express more and less alone : بیشتر [bi:shtar] and کمتر [kamtar]

Verbs

Verb to be :

In Persian, the infinitive of the verb to be is [budan], it is conjugate as any other verb, with no irregularities.

But in present tense, to express a current statement or quality, people will use the short form, by adding the personnal ending ( end II ) at the end of the noun, only for the third person, ‫ است‬[a:st] will be placed after the noun ( or adjective ).

Number : Singular Plural
person : 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
ending : [-am] [-i:] [a:st] [-i:m] [-i:d] [-and]

But examples will be more clear :

  • علی خیلی بیمار است [Ali xeyli: bi:ta:r a:st] : Ali is very sick  ( lit : "Ali very sick is" )
  • بیمارم [bi:ta:ram] : I'm tired ( lit : "tired-I" )
  • مرد بدی : you are a bad man ( lit : "bad man-you" )

 

Conjugaison :

Conjugaison in Persian is quite regular, and you don't need to know many things to start to conjugate correctly so it's worth to learn some :

Each verb in Persian has two form, one will be used to express past, future and infinitive (root II), while the other one will be used to form present and imperative (root I), for each verb you need to learn those two forms, don't forget that many verbs are compound verbs so there is not so much simple verbs to learn.

Here is how to form the different tenses :

  • Infinitive : is formed with the root II by adding the suffix ن [an] to the root. -> [kardan] : to do
  • Present : is formed with the root I by adding the prefix می [mi] before the root ( attached or not ) and the ending I as suffix. -> [mi konam] : I do ; [mi nakonam] : I don't do ;
  • Simple past : is formed with the root II by adding the ending II as suffix. -> [kardam] : I did ; [nakardam] : I didn't do ;
  • Future : is formed with the verb ‫خواه‬ [xa:h] (want - root I ) with the ending I as suffix followed by the root II of the conjugated verb -> [xa:ham kard] : I will do ; [naxa:ham kard] : I won't do ;
  • Personal endings : you normally don't use personal pronouns in Persian but personal endings instead
singular plural
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
posses ام [a:m] ات [a:t] اش [a:sh] مان [ema:n] تان [eta:n] شان [esha:n]
End I م [am] ی [i:] د [d] یم [i:m] ید [i:d] ند [and]
End II م [am] ی [i:] - [-] یم [i:m] ید [i:d] ند [and]

Imperative :

The imperative is simply express with the root I of the verb preceded by the prefix ب [be] or the prefix ن [na] for negative -> [bekon] : do ! ; [nakon] : don't do !