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Introduction to Verbs in Persian

In Persian, any verb can be interpreted independent of other parts of the sentence. This means that if a verb is extracted from the sentence, it can answer three questions about the action:

  • WHEN?
  • WHAT?
  • WHO?

These questions are answered by three elements, which usually come in this order:

  • Tense prefix (can be absent)
  • Verb tense root
  • Person suffix:

(read from right to left)

Tense prefix + Verb tense root + person’s suffix

Tense prefix (WHEN?) [can be absent in some tenses]

This prefix is the same across each tense, regardless of the person for which the verb is used.

Verb tense root(WHAT?)

In Persian, you need to learn 2 forms of each verb:

  • Infinitive
  • Imperative

The root for different tenses (e.g. present simple, past perfect) can be easily generated from these two forms. This topic will be expanded in next lessons under each tense lesson.

Person suffix(WHO?)

You learned person suffixes for to-be verbs here. The person suffixes for other verbs are precisely the same as person suffixes for to be verbs, except for singular third person (he/she).

The person suffix for singular third person (he/she) is /d/. However, some tenses do not need any person suffix for singular third person (he/she). Hence the universal person suffix table will be as below:

مفرد تلفظ Used for
ـم /-am/ I
ـی /-i/ you [singular]
د یا -* /-d/ or /NONE/* he/she
جمع تلفظ Used for
ـیم /-im/ we
ـید /-id/ you [singular]
ـند /-and/ they

* in some tenses it is dropped, but in others it is /-d/

Personal Pronouns

ضمیر شخصی (Personal Pronouns)

مفرد تلفظ Single
من /man/ I
تو /to/ you [singular]
او /u/ he/she
جمع تلفظ Plural
ما /mā/ we
شما /šomā/ you [plural]
ایشان /išān/ they

Note: Persian is a genderless language; Therefore, او /u/ refers to both he and she.

Note: Unlike English, the pronouns for second person (singular) and second person (plural) are different.
تو /to/ you [singular]
شما /šomā/ you [plural]

Note: Persian speakers tend to use plural forms of pronouns and verbs in formal situations or with strangers. It is also a sign of politeness. Hence, even if you are referring to one person, you are recommended to use شما /šomā/ or ایشان /išān/ instead of تو /to/ and او /u/ respectively.

Example 1:

من فکر می کنم شما را قبلا جایی دیده ام
/man fekr mikonam šomā rā qablan jāi dideam/

I think I have seen you before.

Example 2:

ممکن است از ایشان بخواهید بلند صحبت کنند؟
/Momken ast az ishšān bexāhid boland sohbat konand?/

Can you please ask him/her to speak loudly?

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