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Speak / Lesson 3

How to Introduce Where You are From, and Introducing the Different forms of You

In the Persian language, there are two different ways of saying 'you'-- a formal version, 'shomā,' and an informal version, ‘tō.’ In this lesson, we learn both forms and when it's appropriate to use them. For instance, when you're talking to a close friend or a family member close to your age, you would use the informal ‘you,’ ‘tō’. When speaking with someone older than you, or someone you should show respect for, you use the formal version, ‘shomā.’ Iranian culture places high value on respect, so when in doubt, err on the side of formality. We discuss this more on the podcast so that you are confident with your choice of which to use.

In addition to the different forms of you, we go over some questions you can ask using the formal or informal versions of ‘you’. These include:

  • And you?
  • What is your name?

Another wonderful topic of conversation and good way to get to know others is by asking them where they're from. This is a great topic of conversation no matter where in the world you are. We'll learn the formal and informal way of asking. The phrases learned in this section include:

  • Where are you from? (informal)
  • Where are you from? (formal)
  • I am from ________

We also learn a list of countries and how to say them in the Persian language. The countries learned in this lesson include:

  • Iran (pronounced ee-rān)
  • the United States
  • Spain
  • England
  • Germany
  • France
  • Mexico

We also include several other countries in the bonus vocabulary.


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: salām, hamegee!

Matt: Welcome back to Chai and Conversation.

Leyla: Chai and Conversation brings you weekly lessons of conversational Persian all the way from Austin, Texas! Our program is unique in that it is the first and only podcast created specifically for people wanting to learn conversational Persian.

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Leyla: We will talk more about this after the lesson. But for now, Matt, are you ready to begin?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great! Let's begin to Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation.

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Matt: And now let's get on with the lesson.

Leyla: Yes, let's Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation.

Leyla: So last time on ‘C and C’, we were learning how to introduce ourselves and say, 'my name is.' Matt, do you remember how to say ‘my name is’?

Matt: esmé man matt hast.

Leyla: Great, that's right, ‘esmé man matt hast’-- I would say ‘esmé man leyla hast’ and Matt would say…

Matt: esmé man matt hast.

Leyla: Great, and now you try-- Say 'esmé man ____ hast' and of course, enter your own name.

Leyla: Now we also once introduced the phrase for 'and you'. If I say 'esmé man leyla hast' how would I say 'and you?'

Matt: va shomā?

Leyla: That's right, 'va shomā'. So, 'esmé man leyla hast, va shomā?'

Matt: esmé man matt hast.

Leyla: That's right. So as we said before, in Iran, there is a way to speak to people older than you and a different way to speak to people your own age or younger than you. In other words, there's a formal and informal way to speak. The formal way to say you is 'shomā' .

Matt: shomā

Leyla:shomā’ is the word we've been using already, in 'va shomā'.

Matt: va shomā

Leyla: But there's another way to say you to people who are your age or younger than you and that is ''


Leyla: That's right, ‘’. So let's go through that again. If you're talking to someone you must be respectful of, or someone older than you, you say 'va shomā'

Matt: va shomā

Leyla: When you are speaking, you need to be thinking about whether you should use the formal 'you' or the informal way, and this sometimes changes the form of the sentence you're saying. Up until now, we have learned 'va shomā,' which means 'and you'. This will get you by in a lot of situations, and is an adequate way of communicating, but sometimes it's nicer and more appropriate to ask a full question. For example, if you say 'esmé man leyla hast', the natural question would be, 'what is your name?' There are two versions of this depending on whether you use the 'tō' form or the 'shomā' version. First let's focus on the '' form. With '', you say 'esmé tō cheeyé?'

Matt: esmé tō cheeyé?

Leyla: esmé tō cheeyé?

Matt: esmé tō cheeyé?

Leyla: You would use this when you are referring to someone you would use the '' form with. So if I ask you, Matt, ‘esmé tō cheeyé?’ You would answer…

Matt: esmé man matt hast. esmé tō cheeyé?

Leyla: esmé man leyla hast. And if I ask you the listener 'esmé tō cheeyé?' you would answer… 

Leyla: Now, if you are speaking to someone you must speak to in the formal sense, you would instead say 'esmé shomā cheeyé?' So, Matt, ‘esmé shomā cheeyé?’

Matt: esmé man āghāyé borneouf hast.

Leyla: Matt answered a bit differently here, with his last name, as would probably be more appropriate in a formal relationship. ‘āghāyé’ in Persian means ‘Mr.' We will cover that later, since it has another Persian letter you have probably never heard before. Now, Matt, ask me what my name is in a formal sense.

Matt: esmé shomā cheeyé?

Leyla: esmé man khanoomé shams hast. ‘khanoomé’ mean ‘Ms.’ in Persian. Now I'm going to ask you, the listener: esmé shomā cheeyé?

Leyla: Now, it's all very well asking what someone's name is, but now we're going to add to the questions, and learn how to ask someone where they are from. ‘Where are you from?’ in Persian, in the informal sense, is 'tō ahlé kojāyee?'

Matt: tō ahlé kojāyee?

Leyla: Now let's leave this formal bit, and concentrate on some answers for these questions. So, Matt, ask me where I am from and I will give you some example answers.

Matt: tō ahlé kojā hastee?

Leyla: man az āmreekā hastam.

Matt: man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: 'āmreekā' is the word for ‘the United States’. man az āmreekā hastam.

Matt: man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: Now, you might be from the United States, but you might well be from another country as well. Let's learn a few of these. ‘man az espāniā hastam.

Matt: man az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: Any guesses as to what that might be?

Matt: Spain.

Leyla: Right, ‘man az espāniā hastam.’

Matt: man az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: man az āmreekā hastam.

Matt: man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: Now, we are going to do some role-playing here. My name is going to be ‘Julietta’, and I am going to be from Spain, and Matt, you're going to be ‘Ricardo’, and you're going to be from Spain as well. So, you start.

Matt: esmé man ricardo hast, va man az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: esmé man leyla hast, va man ham ahlé espāniā hastam! What do you think that might mean? ‘esmé man leyla hast, va man ham az espāniā hastam!’

Matt: Too?

Leyla: Right, it means ‘also', 'I'm from Spain also'. So, Matt, how would you say ‘My name is Ricardo, and I am also from Spain?’

Matt: esmé man ricardo hast, va man ham az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: Great. Now, this time, esmé man leyla hast, va man az āmreekā hastam.

Matt: esmé man matt hast, va man ham az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: Great, so ‘ham

Matt: ham

Leyla:ham’ means 'also'. 'ham'

Matt: ham

Leyla: So 'man ham az espāniā hastam'

Matt: man ham az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: esmé man man julietta hast, va man az espāniā hastam.

Matt: esmé man ricardo hast, va man ham az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: esmé man leyla hast, va man az āmreekā hastam.

Matt: esmé man matt hast, va man ham az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: Now, we said before that there are two ways of asking where someone is from: one formal, one informal. We just learned the informal, now let's learn to ask someone that you don't know or someone that is older than you. The informal way of asking, ‘where are you from?’ is, 'to ahlé kojā hastee?' The formal way of asking is very slightly different. Listen carefully: 'shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?'

Matt: shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Leyla: So, we changed the conjugation of the verb from ‘hastee’ for informal to ‘hasteen’ for formal. ‘shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Matt: shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Leyla: shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Matt: shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Leyla: So 'kojā' in this sentence means 'where'. So, shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Matt: shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Leyla: Great. Let's add a few more countries, and then we'll do some role-playing. Listen to this: 'englees'

Matt: englees

Leyla: Great. Where do you think this is? Any guesses?

Matt: England.

Leyla: Great, that's right: ‘englees’

Matt: englees.

Leyla: So to say 'I am from England,' you would sa, 'man az englees hastam'

Matt: man az englees hastam.

Leyla: Right, ‘man az englees hastam.

Matt: man az englees hastam.

Leyla: Great, so we have englees, āmreekā, and espāniā. Let's learn another: 'man az mekseek hastam.'

Matt: 'man az mekseek hastam'.

Leyla: Can you guess this one?

Matt: Mexico.

Leyla: Perfect. ‘Mexico’ is ‘mekseek.’ So 'man az mekseek hastam.'

Matt: man az mekseek hastam.

Leyla: Or perhaps you are from ‘ālmān’.

Matt: ālmān

Leyla: Great, ‘ālmān’ is ‘Germany.’ So you would say 'man az ālmān hastam.'

Matt: man az ālmān hastam.

Leyla: Great, and ‘France’ would be ‘farāncé’.

Matt: farāncé.

Leyla: So, 'man az farāncé hastam.'

Matt: man az farāncé hastam.

Leyla: And that's all we'll be learning for today.

Leyla: Now, we've learned only a few words in this lesson, but like we said before, that's how we want to take it for Chai and Conversation-- nice and slowly.

Matt: You should try to listen to the podcast several times during the week so that you can become really confident with the language you've learned. There are also bonus materials on that will help you learn the language even better. You can help to support us by purchasing the bonus materials for a cost of only one dollar per lesson.

Leyla: This will help us to cover the cost of production and distribution, as well as providing you with a better grasp of the Persian language. Remember, you can also join our community on Facebook and leave us comments and suggestions. In addition, we would be honored if you would leave us a rating on iTunes. This is a good way for others to hear about the podcast.

Matt: Until next time, khodā-hāfez az matt.

Leyla: va bé omeedé deedār az leyla.