Lesson 24: The Concept of ‘Ezafé’

Lesson 24 goes over the concept of ‘ezafe,’ which will allow you to communicate many things in the Persian language, including adjectives.


how are you?

Note: In Persian, as in many other languages, there is a formal and an informal way of speaking. We will be covering this in more detail in later lessons. For now, however, chetor-ee is the informal way of asking someone how they are, so it should only be used with people that you are familiar with. hālé shomā chetor-é is the formal expression for ‘how are you.’

Spelling note: In written Persian, words are not capitalized. For this reason, we do not capitalize Persian words written in phonetic English in the guides.


I’m well

Pronunciation tip: kh is one of two unique sounds in the Persian language that is not used in the English language. It should be repeated daily until mastered, as it is essential to successfully speak Persian. Listen to the podcast for more information on how to make the sound.

Persian English
salām hello
chetor-ee how are you?
khoobam I’m well
merci thank you
khayli very
khayli khoobam I’m very well
khoob neestam I’m not well
man me/I
bad neestam I’m not bad
ālee great
chetor-een? how are you? (formal)
hālé shomā chetor-é? how are you? (formal)
hālet chetor-é? how are you? (informal)
khoob-ee? are you well? (informal)
mamnoonam thank you
chetor peesh meeré? how’s it going?
ché khabar? what’s the news? (what’s up?)

Leyla: Hello everyone! We’d like to welcome you back to Chai  and Conversation.

Matt: We’re now on lesson 24 of Chai and Conversation

Leyla: In this lesson, we’re going to take a bit of a break from verbs, and move on to the magical concept of the ezafe. This little concept will allow us to communicate all sorts of things in the Persian  language.

Matt: Remember that bonus mateirals for this lesson and all of our other lessons can be found at www.chaiandconversation.com  with  Chai spelled CHAI.

Leyla: But enough of that for now, Matt, are you ready to begin the lesson?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great, then let’s begin to learn Persian with Chai and Conversation.


So again, in this lesson we are talking about ezafe.  We’ve covered it before many times, so most of the examples in this lesson should seem familiar to you. But this magical concept in the Persian language makes it possible for you to express MANY many things, so devoting an entire lesson to it will be very useful in the future.

So, like I said, we’ve used the concept of ezafe before. Matt, can you think of one instance where it’s been used?

Matt: When we want to talk about someone related to us, like zane man

Leyla: Right, so the e sound is called  ezafe.

Matt: And so it means my wife. It’s a way to link zan, or wife, to man, or me.

Leyla: Ok, great way of explaining it. So basically anytime you have a noun, such as zan, and you want to say more information about it, you link the word to the extra information with the sound e. So let’s go through the many ways we can illustrate the concept.

The first is, as Matt said in his example, to denote possession. So the formula in this case is that you first say the word that describes the belonging-­‐ this could be a person or an object. Then you say the sound e and end  it with the owner. So, we learned before ketabe to.

Ketab is the belonging, then the sound e, and to, or informal you, is the owner. Matt, what’s another example?

Matt: khooneye ma

Leyla: Khooneye ma. Ok, in this case, you’re talking about a house, and this is a good example, because in this cause the e sound changes to ye since khoone ends in a vowel. It would be awkward to say khoone-­‐e, so the ezafe becomes a ye sound. Khooneyeh ma. Our house.

The second way in which ezafe is used in the Persian language is to link a first name to a last name. So for example, our theme music is made by the musician Fared Shafinury. To say his name in Perisan you could say ‘fared-­‐e shafinury’.

Matt: Faride shafinury


Leyla: So with this, you are literally saying ‘fared, who belongs to the shafinury family.’ Or Matt, how would you say my name?

Matt: Leyla-­‐ye Shams

Leyla: Exactly… since my name ends in a vowel, you use the ye sound. Leyla-­‐ye Shams. Leyla, belonging to the Shams clan. Ezafe is also used when referring to people as Mr. or Mrs. We haven’t learned these words before. Mr in Persian is Agha

Matt: Agha

Leyla: So if we want to say Mr. Borneuf, for instance, we say ‘Agha-­‐ye Bourneuf.

Matt: Aghaye Bourneuf Mrs. is Khanoom. khanoom

Leyla: So if we want to say Ms. or Mrs. Shams we say ‘Khanoome Shams’

Matt: Khanoome Shams

Leyla: These words khanoom and agha, don’t need to be used only in formal contexts, however. If you’re talking to a friend, you can say their name followed by either of these terms as a way to be polite. For example, Matt, you could call me Leyla  Khanoom

Matt: Leyla Khanoom

Leyla: And I could call you Matt Agha Matt Agha

And this would be very common among friends. I do want to note here that ezafe isn’t normally used when linking foreign names. For example, we learned before Leylaye Shams would be an acceptable way to say my name, but Matt, when we’re saying your name, we would just say ‘Matt Bourneuf’ not Matte Bourneuf. Sorry Matt.

Ok, moving on, another function of the ezafe is to link two nouns together. For example, say you want to say ‘the film Bambi’. You say ‘filme  Bambi

Matt: Filme Bambi

Leyla: So in this case, the word film is being described further by specifying which film it is. Next, let’s say you want to say ‘Main Street. The word for street is kheeyaban

Matt: Kheeyaban

Leyla: So you say ‘kheeyabane Main’ Kheeyabane Main

There is a very famous park in Tehran that I used to go to when I was a baby named Laleh Park. Matt, can you come up with how to say that in Persian?

Matt: Parkeh Laleh

Leyla: Exactly! Parkeh Laleh. Ok, next, you can use ezafe to link  a noun to an adjective. We did this a lot in lesson 18, where we learned to describe chckens. Matt, do you remember how to say ‘yellow  chicken?’

Matt: Morghe zard

Leyla: Exactly… In this case, morgh is the noun, and zard means yellow, and we link the two using the e sound, the ezafe. Morghe zard. So we can see that in Persian, opposite of English, the adjective comes AFTER the noun. Yellow chicken  becomes  chicken  yellow  in  Persian.  Morghe zard. How would you say ‘good  book’


Matt: Ketabeh khoob

Leyla: Exactly. So same thing here. Book good, ketabe khoob. How about bad film?

Matt: Filme bad

Leyla: Great, I think you have the hang of it. This is a good    point in the program to learn a new set of adjectives so we can use them to practice describing things! We learned many adjectives in Unit 2, let’s learn a few more. The word for tasty is  ‘khoshmaze’

Matt: Khoshmaze

Leyla: bad tasting, is bad maze Bad maze

So as you can guess ‘maze means taste’ Khoshmaze and badmaze. The word for food in general is ghaza

Matt: Ghaza

Leyla: So you could have ghazaye khoshmaze

Matt: Ghazayeh khoshmaze

Leyla: Which is good tasting food, and ghazayeh badmaze

Matt: Ghazayeh badmaze

Leyla: Which is bad tasting food. Comfortable is rahat

Matt: Rahat

Leyla: And uncomfortable is narahat

Matt: Narahat

Leyla: The word for chair is sandalee

Matt: Sandalee

Leyla: So comfortable chair is sandaleeyeh rahat

Matt: Sandaleeyeh rahat

Leyla: And uncomfortable chair is sandaleeyeh narahat

Matt: Sandaleeyeh narahat

Leyla: Short is kootah

Matt: Kootah

Leyla: And long is boland

Matt: boland

Leyla: The word for street is kheeyaboon. So short street is kheeyabaneh kootah

Matt: Kheeyabooneh kootah

Leyla: And long street is kheeyaboone boland

Matt: Kheeyabooneh boland

Leyla: Chic is just that-­‐ chic

Matt: Chic

Leyla: And shabby is ghorbatee

Matt: Ghorbatee

Leyla: This is one of my personal favorite words. So clothing is lebas

Matt: Lebas

Leyla: So lebaseh chic

Matt: Lebaseh chic

Leyla: And lebase ghorbatee Lebase

Matt: ghorbatee

Leyla: Dark is tareek

Matt: Tareek

Leyla: And light is roshan.


Matt: Roshan.

Leyla: So shabe tareek

Matt: shabe tareek

Leyla: And rooze roshan

Matt: Rooze roshan.

Leyla: That’s four new sets of adjectives. Now, as we’ve said before, you can link as many adjectives as you want to a noun by using ezafe-­‐ this is another reason it’s so magical. So say you want to say the short comfortable chair. You say sandaleeyeh cheeke  kootah

Matt: Sandaleeyeh  cheeke kootah

Leyla: Or the big long book, ketabeh bolande bozorg

Matt: Ketabeh  bolande bozorg

Leyla: You could also combine the many functions together. For example, say you want to say the beautiful Mrs. Portman. You say khanoomeh portmane zeeba

Matt: Khanoomeh  portmane zeeba

Leyla: Or similarly, if you want to say ‘my funny brother’, you say ‘baradareh bamazeye  man

Matt: Baradareh  bamazeye man.

Leyla: Bamaze az you can guess, means funny. So in the first case, first you link Portman to khanoom. Khanoome Portman, but by adding an ezafe to Portman, you let the listener know that you are about to reveal even more information. Khanoome portmane zeeba. The beautiful Mrs. Portman. Khanoome portmane  zeeba

Matt: Khanoome  portmane zeeba

Leyla: In the second case, you are first indicating that the brother is funny. Baradareh  bamaze

Matt: Baradareh bamaze

Leyla: This would simply mean the funny brother. But then you are taking it a step further to indicate that the brother belongs to you. Baradareh bamazeyeh  man.

Matt: baradareh  bamazeyeh man.

Leyla: Or, you could for instance say ‘shabe tareekeh sard’

Matt: Shabeh  tareekeh sard

Leyla: This means the dark and cold night. You can link as many adjectives as you’d like to a noun in this way. When the adjectives  are  similar  in  concept  like  in  this  case, howver, you can also say ‘shabeh tareek o sard’

Matt: Shabeh tareek o sard

Leyla: More literally meaning the dark AND cold night.

Matt: So those are all of the functions of the ezafe. In the bonus materials, we’ll include lots of exercises to practice linking words  together.

Leyla: At this point, let’s learn another concept that has to do with possession. When we first learned about possession, we learned using the example of a house. We said ‘my house, would be khooneyeh man, your house would be khooneyeh to, etc. However, there’s another way to talk about possession, and that is by using possessive endings. These are used often in conversation, and now is a good time to get in to them. Let’s use the noun ketab, or book to go through them. The possessive ending for my is  –am

Matt: -­‐am

Leyla: So my book is ketab-­‐am


Matt: Ketabam

Leyla: The possessive ending for your, informal, is –et

Matt: -­‐et

Leyla: So your book is ketabet.

Matt: ketabet

Leyla: This is only in conversation, by the way In literary Persian, it would actually be –at, as in ketabat. But we’ll stick with conversation as always.  Ketabet

Leyla: The possessive ending for his her or its is –esh

Matt: esh

Leyla: So his her or its book is ketabesh

Matt: ketabesh

Leyla: In literary Persian this would be ketabash. The possessive ending for our is  –emoon

Matt: Emoon

Leyla: So our book is ketabemoon Ketabemoon

The possessive ending for your, formal, is -­‐etoon.

Matt: -­‐etoon

Leyla: Your soup, formal, would be ketabetoon

Matt: Ketabetoon

Leyla: The possessive ending for their is eshoon,

Matt: -­‐eshoon

Leyla: So their book is  ketabeshoon

Matt: Now let’s go over these possessive endings again with the example of car,  masheen.

Leyla: My car, masheenam

Matt: Masheenam

Leyla: Your car, masheenet

Matt: Masheenet

Leyla: His or her car, masheenesh

Matt: Masheenesh

Leyla: Your car, formal or plural, masheenetoon

Matt: Masheenetoon

Leyla: their car, masheeneshoon

Matt: Masheeneshoon.

Leyla: Now, let’s tie this back to the ezafe by learning how to describe things and use the possessive endings. For example, let’s say ‘my small car’. The way we would say  it before would be Masheene koocheeke man.

Matt: Masheene  koocheeke man

Leyla: A trick by the way to remembering this is by saying the English phrase, or writing it down, and then saying the Persian backwards, while linking the words with an   ezafe. In this case the phrase is My Small Car. So you reverse it all, Car small My. Car masheene, small, koocheekeh, my, man. Masheene koocheeke man. Now, to sayit with the shortened version, you say ‘Mac heene koocheekam’

Matt: Macheene Koocheekam.

Leyla: So the possessive ending goes on the end of the phrase. Say you want to say My expensive small car. Again think of the reverse, Car small expensive my, and go from there. Macheene koocheekeh geroone  man.


Matt: Macheene koocheeke geroonem  man

Leyla: And can you think of how to say it with the possessive ending Matt? The possessive ending will go on the last word.

Matt: Macheene  kocheeke geroonam.

Leyla: Perfect! Now there is another way to talk about possession and that is using the concept of property. This is another way that ezafe is used. The word mal means  property. Mal

Matt: Mal

Leyla: So to say ‘mine’ you say ‘male man’

Matt: Male man

Leyla: So with this, you are literally saying ‘the property of me’. Yours, informal is male to

Matt: Male to

Leyla: And so on. To say who’s is this, you say ‘male keeye? Maale keeye?

Matt: So you could ask for instance een masheen male keeye? Een masheen male keeye?

Leyla: Een means this. So ‘Een masheen’ is this car. Een masheen

Matt: Een masheen

Leyla: Een masheen male keeye?

Matt: Een masheen male keeye.

Leyla: If it’s your car, you say ‘een masheen mal-­‐e mane’

Matt: Een masheen maleh mane

Leyla: Or simply, maleh mane

Matt: Maleh mane

Leyla: Now that we’ve learned een, this, we should learn oon, or that. Oon

Matt: oon

Leyla: So I’m going to ask, who’s phone is that, and Matt, answer that it’s yours. Oon telephone male keeyeh?

Oon telephone male mane

Matt: Perfect.

Leyla: Now I’ll ask whose book this is, and you answer that it’s your book. Een ketab male  keeyeh?

Matt: Een ketab male mane

Leyla: Ok, it’s time for a short dialogue using all these words we’re learning.

Matt: Salam, man Aghayeh Smith  hastam.

Leyla: Salam aghayeh Smith. Man khanoome Nouri hastam. Salam  Khanoomeh Nouri.

Matt: Een docharkheh maleh shomast? Na,  Maleh pesarame.

Leyla: Cheh ghashangeh! Khayli mamnoon.

Matt: Shoma masheen ham  dareen?

Leyla: Masheen ham daram. Vali masheenam kharabeh! Eh, kharabeh?  Cheh bad.

Matt: Baleh, vali een docharkheh ro khayli doost daram.


Leyla: Ok, so this dialogue used a lot of the vocabulary we’ve been learning. Let’s go through it. First, Matt said

Matt: Salam, man aghayeh Smith  hastam.

Leyla: So he used the ezafe in aghayeh smith to say I am Mr. Smith.

Then I said, man khanoomeh nouri hastam. Again, I’m saying ‘I am Ms. Nouri, using the ezafe. Then I asked ‘een docharkeh maleh shomast? What does this mean Matt?

Matt: It means is this bike belonging to you?

Leyla: Right, exactly, using the formal you, because they don’t know each other. And Aghayeh Smith replied

Matt: Na,  Maleh pesarame

Leyla: And what does this mean? It is my sons.

Right exactly, you can use Mal in this way too. You can say ‘Maleh Matt-­‐e. Meaning, it’s Matt’s, for instance. Then I replied ‘Cheh ghashange!’ meaning it’s so nice! I then asked shoma masheen ham dareen? What does this mean?

Matt: Do you also have a car?

Leyla: Right, and you replied

Matt: Masheen ham daram, vali masheenam kharabeh

Leyla: Ok, in this sentence you said ‘masheenam’ meaning my car using the possessive ending. So masheenam kharabeh. My car is not working. Kharab is the word for not working, or messed up.  Kharab.

Matt: Kharab

Leyla: And Matt ended by saying ‘baleh, vali een docharkheh ro khayli  doost daram.

Matt: Can you work that out  Matt?

Leyla: It’s yes, but I like this bike very much.

Matt: Exactly! And with that, we are at the end of lesson 24! Matt: Thank you so much for joining us!

Leyla: As always, bonus materials and our previous lessons can be found at www.chaiandconversation.com, with CHAI spelled CHAI.

Matt: And until next time, khodahafez from Matt Leyla: And beh omeedeh deedar from Leyla!