Lesson 9: How to Use Question Words, More Family Vocabulary, and a Few Filler Words and Phrases

In Iranian culture, family is extremely important. Instead of having just one Persian word for 'aunt' for instance, we have two- there is a different word for the sister of your father (amé) versus the sister of your mother (khālé). So when referring to one or the other, people know exactly whether you are speaking of your maternal or paternal aunt. Similarly, while there is only one word for 'cousin', in Persian there are eight different words for cousin depending on whether they are female or male, or whether they are on your mother or father's side of the family. This might seem complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it makes figuring out who a given person is referring to quite easy!

In this Persian (Farsi) lesson, we go over all the different words for extended family. These will be very useful when talking to Iranians, because, as we've said, family is extremely important in Iranian culture.

In addition, we learn the most important question words to help you form useful questions when having conversations. Questions are a useful tool for getting to know someone, and these question words will allow you to form many different sentences using the vocabulary we've learned so far. The questions words we go over in this lesson are:

  • Who
  • When
  • Where
  • What
  • How
  • Which

We also learn some key questions you can form using these words including:

  • Where are you?
  • What do (would) you like?
  • How's it going?
  • Who is this?
  • Why not?
  • How many?
  • How?
  • Where is it?
  • How much?

At this point of Chai and Conversation, you'll be amazed by how much you can understand of casual Persian conversations.


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 and welcome to learn Persian with chai and conversation, the podcast for anyone looking to learn conversational Persian. My name is Leyla and I’ll be your teacher for this course.

Matt: And my name is Matt and I will be learning Persian along with you.

Leyla: Chai and conversation will teach you conversational Persian in weekly lessons of about 15 minutes each.

Matt: If you know anything about Iranians, they don’t do anything without first grabbing a cup of tea – or as they call it, chai. So pour yourself a cup and join us in learning the Persian language.

Leyla: Hello and welcome to Learn Persian with chai and conversation. The point of this podcast is to provide you with a simple, effective and easy way to learn conversational Persian. As we’ve said, my name is Leyla and I’m joined by Matt.

Matt: Hello.

Leyla: If you’ve downloaded this program, you are looking for a way to learn to speak and understand Persian. I was born in Iran, and although I moved to Texas when I was only four years old, I grew up speaking the language. My mother was a Persian language instructor who taught me to read and write the language from an early age. But if you’re learning on your own, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lack of effective learning material out there, online and otherwise. And although there are so many language learning podcasts available, none of them are for learning the Persian language. We decided to put an end to this by creating a podcast specifically for people seeking to learn conversational Persian.