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 learn 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 a high value on respect, so when in doubt, err on the side of formality. In the podcast, we talk more about this 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 information 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: Salam 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.

Matt: I can say from experience that it is extremely difficult to find sources for learning conversational Persian for a casual learner.

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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.

If you're like me, your goal is to learn Persian. You can download our program directly from our website, www.chaiandconversation.com, with chai spelled C-H-A-I

Leyla: On our website, you'll find plenty more learning materials, such as pdf guides, quiz podcasts and enhanced podcasts.

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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: Esme man Matt hast.

Leyla: Great, that's right, esme man Matt hast- I would say Esme man Leyla hast and Matt would say

Matt: Esme man Matt hast

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

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

Matt: Va shoma

Leyla: That's right, va shoma. So, 'esme man Leyla hast, va shoma?'

Matt: Esme 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 'shoma' .

Matt: Shoma

Leyla: Shoma is the word we've been using already, in 'va shoma'.

Matt: Va shoma

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

Matt: 'towÓ

Leyla: That's right, tow. 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 shoma'

Matt: Va shoma

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 shoma,' 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 'esme man leyla hast', the natural question would be 'what is your name?' There are two versions of this depending on whether you use the 'to' form or the 'shoma' version. First let's focus on the 'to' form. With 'to', you say 'esme to cheeyeh?'

Matt: Esme to cheeyeh?

Leyla: Esme to cheeyeh?

Matt: Esme to cheeyeh?

Leyla: You would use this when you are referring to someone you would use the 'to' form with. So if I ask you Matt 'Esme to cheeyeh? you would answer

Matt: Esme man Matt hast. Esme to cheeyeh?

Leyla: Esme man Leyla hast. And if I ask you the listener 'Esme to cheeyeh?' you would answer

Leyla: Now, if you are speaking to someone you must speak to in the formal sense, you would instead say 'Esme shoma cheeyeh?' So Matt, 'Esme shoma cheeyeh?

Matt: Esme man aghayeh Borneouf hast

Leyla: Matt answered a bit differently here, with his last name, as would probably be more appropriate in a formal relationship. Aghayeh 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 how I'm doing in a formal sense

Matt: Esme shoma cheeyeh?

Leyla: Esme man khanoomeh Shams hast. Khanoomeh mean Ms. in Persian. Now I'm going to ask you the listener, esme shoma cheeyeh?

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 'To ahleh kojayee?'

Matt: To ahleh kojayee?

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

Matt: To ahleh koja hastee?

Leyla: Man az Amrika hastam.

Matt: Man az Amirka hastam.

Leyla: Amerika is the word for the United States. Man az Amrika hastam.

Matt: Man az Amrika 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 Espania hastam.

Matt: Man az Espania hastam.

Leyla: Any guesses as to what that might be?

Matt: Spain.

Leyla: Right, Man az Espania hastam

Matt: Man az Espania hastam.

Leyla: Man az Amrika hastam.

Matt: Man az Amrika hastam.

Leyla: Now, we are going to do some roll 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: Esme man Ricardo hast, va man az Espania hastam.

Leyla: Esme man Leyla hast, va man ham ahleh Espania hastam! What do you think that might mean? Esme man Leyla hast, va man ham az Espania 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: Esme man Ricardo hast, va man ham az Espnia hastam.

Leyla: Great, now this time, Esme man Leyla hast, va man az Amrika hastam.

Matt: Esme man Matt hast, va man ham az Amrika hastam.

Leyla: Great, so ham

Matt: Ham

Leyla: Ham means 'also'. 'Ham'

Matt: ham

Leyla: So 'man ham az Espania hastam'

Matt: Man ham az espania hastam.

Leyla: Esme man Juiletta hast, va man az espania hastam.

Matt: Esme man Ricardo hast, va man ham az espania hastam.

Leyla: Esme man Leyla hast va man az Amrika hastam.

Matt: Esme man Matt hast, va man ham az Amrika 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 ahleh koja hastee?' The formal way of asking is very slightly different. Listen carefully 'Shoma ahleh koja hasteeen?'

Matt: Shoma ahleh koja hasteen?

Leyla: So we changed the conjucation of the verb from hastee for informal to hasteen for formal. Shoma ahleh koja hasteen?

Matt: Shoma ahleh koja hasteen?

Leyla: Shoma ahleh koja hasteen?

Matt: Shoma ahleh koja hasteen?

Leyla: So 'koja' in this sentence means 'where'. So Shoma ahleh koja hasteen?

Matt: Shoma ahleh koja hasteen

Leyla: Great, let's add a few more countries, and then we'll do some roll 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 say '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, Amrika, and Espania. Let's learn another 'Man az Mexic hastam'

Matt: 'Man az Mexic hastam'.

Leyla: Can you guess this one?

Matt: Mexico

Leyla: Perfect. Mexico is Mexic. So 'man az Mexic hastam.'

Matt: Man az Mexic hastam.

Leyla: Or perhaps you are from 'Allman',

Matt: Allman

Leyla: Great, Allman is Germany. So you would say 'Man az Allman hastam.'

Matt: Man az Allman hastam.

Leyla: Great, and France would be Farance.

Matt: Farance.

Leyla; So, 'Man az Farance hastam.'

Matt: Man az Farance 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 www.chaiandconversation.com 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, khodahafez az Matt.

Leyla: Va beh omeedeh az Leyla.