Speak / Lesson 42

The Simple Subjunctive

This lesson teaches the simple subjunctive, which will allow you to take definite sentences like 'I am going to the movies tonight' to less definite ones like 'I could go to the movies tonight'.


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 the 42nd lesson of Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation! In this lesson, we’re going to be talking about the simple subjunctive tense. This will allow us to communicate in a different way than we were before. For instance, up to this point, we could only simply say things like ‘Tonight I am going to the cinema.’ However, what if you want to say ‘Tonight, I want to go to the cinema'- this will allow us to do just that.

Matt: We got a taste for this type of sentence structure in one of the dialogues- the one where the couple were trying to decide what to do in the evening

Leyla: That’s correct. So at that point, we learned the sentence structure, and now we’re going to learn how to construct other similar sentences.

Matt: Before we start, we’d like to remind you that if you’d like to get even more out of these lessons, you can become a premium member of Chai and Conversation on our website at www.chaiandconversation.com. By doing so, you’ll have access to the pdf guides of these lessons, and many other learning materials.

Leyla: The learning materials for unit 5 include exercise sheets and vocabulary lists that will help you to understand this more advanced material even better. But enough of that for now, let’s dive right into the lesson.

Leyla: So to simply say ‘tonight we’ll go to the cinema’ you say ‘emshab meereem cinema’

Matt: emshab meereem cinema

Leyla: Of course you know this is the same tense we use for tonight we are going to the cinema. emshab meereem cinema

Matt: emshab meereem cinema

Leyla: So, this is a definitive statement- it’s something that’s definitely going to happen. Tonight we’re going to the cinema, simple enough. But, what if the situation isn’t so cut and dry and clear? For instance, what if you want to say ‘tonight we can go to the cinema’. Then, we need another verb, and that is the verb to be able, or tunestan

Matt: tunestan

Leyla: So when this verb is introduced, other changes take place in the sentence as well. Let me explain. So emshab meereem cinema- tonight we’re going to the movies. If you want to say ‘tonight, we can go to the cinema’ you say ‘emshab meetooneem bereem cinema’

Matt: Emsha meetooneem bereem cinema

Leyla: So meetooneem is the first person conjugation of to be able, or toonestan. meetooneem

Matt: meetooneem

Leyla: and when we qualify going to the cinema with toonestan, the following verb takes a be prefix- so bereem cinema. emshab meetooneem bereem cinema

Matt: emshab meetooneem bereem cinema

Leyla: so this might sound a little unclear, but let’s try another example. Let’s say emshab sham meekhoreem. this is a definite statement- what does it mean Matt?

Matt: It means tonight we eat dinner.

Leyla: That’s right. Emshab sham meekhoreem

Matt: emshab sham meekhoreem

Leyla: If you want to say tonight we can eat dinner, you say ‘emshab meetooneem sham bokhoreem

Matt: emshab meetooneem sham bokhoreem

Leyla: let’s try another one with a compound verb. emshab kar meekoneem

Matt: emshab kar meekoneem

Leyla: what does this mean matt?

Matt: tonight we will work

Leyla: right. So to change this sentence into we can work tonight we say ‘emshab meetooneem kar bokoneem

Matt: emshab meetooneem kar bokoneem

Leyla: Great. Now let’s go over the conjugations of toonestan so we can make even more sentences. So, as we said before, I can is man meetoonam

Matt: man meetonam

Leyla: you , informal can, is to meetoonee

Matt: to meetoonee

Leyla: he or she can is oo meetooneh

Matt: oo meetooneh

Leyla: we can is ma meetooneem

Matt: ma meetooneem

Leyla: you, formal, can is meetooneen

Matt: meetooneen

Leyla: they can is meetoonan

Matt: meetoonan

Leyla: Great. Super simple. So let’s use these to construct a few sentences. So let’s use another verb besides raftan or kar kardan. Let’s use the verb avaz khoondan, or to sing. avaz khoondan

Matt: avaz khoondan

Leyla: so again this is a compound verb, but we’ll be able to figure it out quickly. So let’s say a simple I sing. Man avaz meekhoonam

Matt: man avaz meekhoonam

Leyla: Az we learned before, this could also be used to mean I am singing. Man avaz meekhoonam

Matt: man avaz meekhonam

Leyla: If you want to say I can sing, you say ‘man meetoonam avaz bekhoonam

Matt: Man meetoonam avaz bekhoonam

Leyla: So just as before, the second verb drops the mee prefix, and adds be instead. Man meetoonam avaz bekhoonam

Matt: man meetoonam avaz bekhoonam

Leyla: Now, to simply make it negative, you say ‘man nemeetoonam avaz bekhoonam

Matt: man nemeetoonam avaz bekhoonam

Leyla: Great. How about you can sing, informal

Matt: to meetoonee avaz bekhoonee

Leyla: perfect. how about we can sign

Matt: ma meetoneem avaz bekhooneem

Leyla: Ok, I think we got it with the singing.


Leyla: Let’s try another verb- often to be able is used with request. For example, let’s learn how to say can you bring me tea. To say this we have to know the verb to bring. The infinitive of this verb is ovordan. Let’s go over both the present and the subjunctive conjugations of this word. I bring is man meeyaram

Matt: man meeyaram

Leyla: you bring informal is to meeyaree

Matt: to meeyaree

Leyla: he or she brings is oo meeyareh

Matt: oo meeyareh

Leyla: we bring is ma meeyareem

Matt: ma meeyareem

Leyla: you, formal, bring is shoma meeyareen

Matt: shoma meeyareen

Leyla: they bring is oona meeyaran

Matt: oona meeyaran

Leyla: Great. Now let’s go over the subjunctive conjugations. I bring is beeyaram

Matt: beeyaram

Leyla: Notice in this case, it switches from be to bee to make the word flow better. man beeyaram

Matt: man beeyaram

Leyla: you, informal bring is to beeyaree

Matt: to beeyaree

Leyla: he or she brings is oo beeyareh

Matt: oo beeyareh

Leyla: we bring is ma beeyareem

Matt: ma beeyareem

Leyla: you, formal bring is shoma beeyareen

Matt: shoma beeyareen

Leyla: they bring is oona beeyaran

Matt: oona beeyaran

Leyla: Ok, so to say can you bring tea, you say meetoonee chai beeyaree

Matt: meetoonee chai beeyaree?

Leyla: and we want to make it a bit more specific by saying can you bring me tea, so we say meetonee barayeh man chai beeyaree?

Matt: meetoonee barayeh man chai beeyaree?

Leyla: Perfect! Now let’s change it to ‘I can bring you tea’ Meetonam barayeh to chai beeyaram

Matt: meetoonam barayeh to chai beeyaram.

Leyla: Great! So because we’re trying to beef up our vocabulary as well as our grammar, we’re going to learn one last verb in this series, and that is to put. The infinite of the verb to put is gozashtan

Matt: gozashtan

Leyla: So let’s first go through the present conjugations of to put. I put is man meezaram

Matt: Man meezaram

Leyla: And Matt, I’ll let you go through the other conjugations. You informal put is

Matt: to meezaree

Leyla: He or she puts is

Matt: oo meezareh

Leyla: we put is

Matt: ma meezareem

Leyla: You formal put is

Matt: shoma meezareen

Leyla: and finally they put is meezaran

Matt: meezaran


Leyla: Ok great. So keeping these in mind, how would you change the mee prefix to be for I put. So meezaram to

Matt: bezaram

Leyla: So how would you say I could put

Matt: man meetoonam bezaram

Leyla: Or what about you could put

Matt: meetoonee bezaree

Leyla: So let’s say someone has given you tea, and afterwards, they ask you to put the cup in the sink. The word for cup is leevan. You would say leevan-o meetoonee bezaree too sink

Matt: Leevan-o meetoonee bezaree too sink.

Leyla: In this case, the word for sink is sink. Leevan-o meetoonee bezaree too sink

Matt: Leevan-o meetoonee bezaree too sink.

Leyla: So as you can see, the word leevan got the direct marker object ra. You can leave the cup in the sink. We’re going to review the direct object marker again and go over its many uses in a couple of lessons so you can become more confident in using it. But again, leevan-o meetonee bezaree too sink

Matt: leevan-o meetoonee bezaree too sink

Leyla: Let’s say one more example with gozashtan or to put. Masheeno meetoonam bezaram too garage. What does this mean Matt?

Matt: I can put the car in the garage.

Leyla: Exactly! Masheeno meetoonam bezaram garage

Matt: Masheeno meetoonam bezaram garage.

Leyla: Ok, great. To conclude, let’s go through the examples we learned one more time. First, let’s say a simple sentence again like tonight I go to the cinema. Emshab meeram cinema

Matt: emshab meeram cinema

Leyla: And now change it to tonight I can go to the cinema

Matt: emshab meetoonam beram cinema

Leyla: And then let’s try tonight we can work. emshab meetoneem kar bokoneem


Matt: emshab meetoneem kar bokoneem


Leyla: Next, let’s try ‘can you bring me a jacket’. meetoonee barayeh man jackat beeyaree

Matt: meetoonee barayeh man jackat beeyaree

Leyla: Finally, we learned to put. So let’s say you can put the tea on the table. Meetoonee chai-ro bezaree roo meez

Matt: Meetoonee chai-ro bezaree roo meez

Leyla: Great! There will be more examples and exercises in the premium materials for this lesson, but for now, we’ll leave it at that.

Matt: Thanks again for listening to this lesson of Chai and Conversation

Leyla: As always, you can go to our newly updated website at www.chaiandconversation.com, with CHAI spelled CHAI to listen to previous lessons and to become a premium member of the podcast.

Matt: As a premium member you’ll have access to bonus materials that will help you to understand the language even more.

Leyla: Thanks again for listening and ta dafeyeh baad from leyla

Matt: and khodahafez from matt