How to Learn Persian: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Learn Persian: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Learn Persian: 11 Steps (with Pictures)

Persian, also called Farsi, Parsi, Dari, Dari Persian, and Tajiki, is an ancient language that is spoken in many countries today. Farsi shares much of its vocabulary with Arabic. Furthermore, the Farsi script is a semi-cursive variant of the Arabic alphabet. More than 130 million people speak Persian. Although most of them live in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, many live in Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Israel, Turkmenistan, Oman, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.


Part 1 of 3: Speak Persian

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Step 1. Learn key phrases

Study the phrases commonly used when speaking Persian, this way you will learn the elementary vocabulary in context and have an idea of how the language makes sense. Learning the words in the context of sentences and conversations will help you remember them.

  • To greet someone, say Hello there: Dorood درود or Salam سلام, Welcome!

    : Khosh Amadid! خوش آمدید, How are you?

    : haleh shoma chetor ast? (formal) haletoon chetore? (informal) / حالتون چطوره؟ حال شما چطور است, Good Morning!

    : Sobh Be kheyr! صبح بخیر, Buenas tardes!

    : Asr be kheyr! عصر بخیر, and Good evening!

    : Shab be kheyr! شب بخیر

  • To say goodbye to someone, say Bye!

    : Ba’adan mibinamet بعدأ میبینمت, or Bye!

    : bedrood بدرود.

  • If you want to be polite, say Thanks: Mamnoon ممنون or Merci (as in French), Health (before a sneeze): A’afiat basheh عافیت باشه, Excuse me, … (to place an order): Bebakhshid ببخشید, Excuse me!

    (to pass: Bebakhshid ببخشید, Sorry: Bebakhshid / Mota'assefam ببخشید, and No problem: Moshkeli nist / Eshkali nadare مشکلی نیست.

  • To learn pronunciation, listen to recordings of key phrases.
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Step 2. Learn the dates and times Practice the days of the week and learn the words for year, month, and the hours of the day

Note that while the word for "day" is "Rooz", the days of the week do not include this word. Instead, words are constructed numerically from "shanbe", "Saturday". "Sunday" translates to "1 Saturday", while Monday is "2 Saturday" (shanbe, yek (1) shanbe, do (2) shanbe, etc.).

  • When you learn a word, look it up, listen to the recordings, and practice your pronunciation.
  • Learn the days of the week.

    • Saturday: shanbe شنبه
    • Sunday: yek shanbe یکشنبه
    • Monday: doshanbe دوشنبه
    • Tuesday seh shanbe سه شنبه
    • Wednesday: chehār shenebeh چهارشنبه
    • Thursday: panj-shanbeh پنج شنبه
    • Friday: ādineh آدینه or jom'e جمعه
  • Learn to talk about the hours.

    • Yesterday: deeRooz ديروز
    • today: emRooz امروز
    • morning: faRdā فردا
    • day: Rooz روز
    • evening: shab شب
    • week: hafteh هفته
    • month: maah ماه
    • year: sāl سال
    • second: sāneeye ثانيه
    • minute: daqeeqe دقيقه
    • hour: sā'at ساعت
    • morning: sobh صبح
    • sunset, evening: 'asr عصر
    • noon: zohr ظهر
    • late: ba'ad az zohR بعد از ظهر
    • midnight: nesf shab نصف شب
    • now: aknoon اکنون or hālā حالا
    • later: ba'dan بعداً
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Step 3. Account

Practice counting out loud. To learn the correct sounds, listen to recordings where native speakers pronounce the numbers.

  • 0: sefr صفر ۰
  • Step 1.: yek يک ۱
  • Step 2.: do دو ۲
  • Step 3.: se سه ۳
  • Step 4.: chahaar چهار ۴
  • Step 5.: panj پنج ۵
  • Step 6.: shesh شش ۶
  • Step 7.: haft هفت ۷
  • Step 8.: hasht هشت ۸
  • Step 9.: noh نه ۹
  • Step 10.: dah ده
  • Step 11.: yāz-dah یازده
  • Step 12.: davāz-dah دوازده
  • Step 13.: seez-dah سیزده
  • Step 14.: chāhar-dah چهار ده
  • Step 15.: panz-dah پانزده (formal) poonz-dah پونرده (informal)
  • Step 16.: shanz-dah شانزده (formal) shoonz-dah شونزده (informal)

  • Step 17.: hef-dah هفده
  • Step 18.: hej-dah هجده
  • Step 19.: nooz-dah نوزده
  • Step 20.: beest بیست
  • Step 30.: see سی
  • Step 40.: chehel چهل
  • 50: panjāh پنجاه
  • 60: shast شصت
  • 70: haftād هفتاد
  • 80: hashtād هشتاد
  • 90: navad نود
  • 100: sād صد
  • 1, 000: hezār هزار
  • 10, 000: dah-hezār ده هزار
  • 100, 000: sad hezār صد هزار
  • 1, 000, 000: yek melyoon یک میلیون

Part 2 of 3: Read and Write Persian

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Step 1. Learn to write the Persian alphabet and numbers

The Persian alphabet consists of 32 letters. These characters are written from right to left like all words.

  • Write and spell the alphabet for practice.
  • Listen to recordings of native speakers spelling the alphabet. Try to learn intonation.
  • Make cards. On one side, write the Persian alphabet and romanization. On the other side, write the lyrics in Spanish. Evaluate yourself in your spare time.
  • The numbers are written the same as in Arabic except for 4, 5 and 6.
  • Unlike letters, numbers are written from left to right.
  • If you plan to study or live in Tajikistan, you better learn the Cyrillic alphabet.
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Step 2. Match most letters and words

In the Persian script most letters are joined. The Persian alphabet is semi-cursive, however there are exceptions. These letters "و, ژ, ﺯ, ﺭ, ﺫ, ﺩ, ﺍ" are attached to the one that precedes it, but not the one that follows.

  • Most letters in the Persian language are represented in four different ways depending on their position in a word: initial, medial, final, and isolated.
  • The "initial" is the first letter of the word and is joined with the next.
  • The "medial" is joined on both sides with the letter that is located before or after within a word.
  • The "end" is the letter at the end of the word. It usually has a "tail" or is slightly longer than those that precede it.
  • The "isolated" is the letter that remains alone, as in the alphabet.
  • The seven letters that are not joined only take two forms, "final" and "isolated".
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Step 3. Skip most of the vowels

In the Persian alphabet, “short vowels” (a, e, o) are omitted and “long vowels” (ā, ī, ū) are included. For this reason, many words look identical in their written form. Persian, you will have to deduce the meaning of these words according to the context.

In general, vowels in written language are written with a diacritical mark and are accompanied by a consonant

Part 3 of 3: Take Classes and Study Abroad

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Step 1. Find a place where classes are held in the area where you live

Search the internet for a place where classes are held in your area. Check advertisements at public universities, language schools, tutoring centers, and community centers in the area where you live. In addition to looking for “Persian” classes, look for “Farsi” classes, as the older name is still common in the United States.

If you live in a city, it will be easier to find a place where classes are held. If you live in a rural area, perhaps your best option is to take classes online

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Step 2. Get a tutor

If you want to learn a language that is not widely taught in your area, it may be easier to find a tutor. Get in touch with language schools and tutoring centers. Place ads on the classifieds and tutoring websites. Offer the rate you are willing to pay for each tutoring session. Look for other potential students who need classes and see how much they offer and if they require tutors in other languages. Keep in mind the rate in case you receive an offer.

  • Try posting flyers in places where people who speak Persian tend to be present, such as mosques and neighborhoods where Iranians, Tajiks, Afghans, and others reside.
  • If you know someone who speaks Persian, ask if he or someone you know could be your tutor. A Persian speaker with experience in teaching other subjects might be excited at the idea of supplementing their skills.
  • Ask a friend who speaks Farsi to set a regular day to converse with you in Farsi. Offer him a financial reward.
  • Consider taking a calligraphy class.
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Step 3. Sign up for classes online

If you can't find a place to take classes in your neighborhood, consider paying for classes online. Check the list of massive and open online courses, look for free tutorials on language teaching pages on the internet. You can also search for short classes online or find a tutor who will chat with you on Skype or chat. With a simple search, you can find several alternatives, so choose carefully.

  • Listening is critical to learning Persian, so be sure to take a class that includes a wealth of audio and multimedia resources.
  • Choose to take classes with teachers who are native speakers and have extensive teaching experience.
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Step 4. Study abroad

Be cautious and think carefully if you are going to travel abroad to study Persian. Unfortunately, traveling to any country where the main language is Persian represents a risk. If you are traveling to a country plagued by terrorism, violence or ravaged by the aftermath of civil war and international conflict, be sure to arrive in a city or town considered to be of lower risk. However, take into account the areas where you must travel to reach your destination.

  • Discuss the security issue extensively with the company that will organize your trip.
  • Consider a critical language scholarship. If you are a citizen of the United States and an undergraduate or graduate student, you may qualify for a scholarship in the study of critical languages or a similar scholarship program in your country. It is an intensive summer program with all expenses paid organized by the United States government. In the case of Persian, the program requires you to have at least one year of studies to access the scholarship.
  • Visit to find out about previously researched and trusted study abroad opportunities.
  • Verify that the program you choose is organized by an official institution, such as authorized colleges and universities.
  • Various governments consider places like Afghanistan high risk due to terrorism, armed conflict and violence.
  • The border areas and many areas of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are considered very dangerous due to terrorism, armed conflict and landmines.
  • Consider enrolling in a Persian class in a country where Persian is not the primary language, but where there are cities where you will find neighborhoods with residents who speak Persian.
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Step 5. Immerse yourself in the culture of the Persian language

If you have the option, watch TV shows and movies on the internet with subtitles. Pick a podcast and follow it regularly. Go to the major book distributors on the internet and look for books on the Persian language, children's books and comics.

  • Study poetry and learn the famous verses. In countries where Persian is spoken, poetry is a popular art and famous poets such as Ferdowsi, Hafez, Rumi and Sa'di are quoted in daily conversations.
  • If you are buying a book of Persian poetry, look for an edition that includes the translation on the facing page. In this way, even being a new reader you will be able to read in Spanish and consult the two versions from one side to the other.
  • Just as you did with the classes, be sure to look for books in "Farsi" in addition to "Persian."
  • Consider taking calligraphy classes. Enroll in Persian art classes online as you practice your writing skills.

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