Persian Grammar
Learn About Persian Language

This grammar collection focuses on Iranian Persian. However, Persian dialects are widely intelligible and knowing one of them, you can communicate well with Persian speakers of other countries.

Vowels

Iranian Persian has six vowel sounds. The column IPA shows their phonetic value in International Phonetic Alphabet:

VowelIPAEnglishExample
âɒ:hotآب
âb
(water)
aæcatابر
abr
(cloud)
eeeggپدر
pedar
(father)
ii:eagleفیل
fil
(elephant)
oofortyگل
gol
(flower)
uu:ruleروز
ruz
(day)

Diphthongs

Diphthongs are formed by the combination of different vowels with i and u. The diphthongs that exist in Iranian Persian are:

CombinationDiphthongIPAEnglishExample
â + iây/ɒ:j/iceچای
chây
(tea)
e + iey/ej/caseسیل
seyl
(flood)
o + ioy/oj/boyهوی
hoy
(an exclamation)
u + iuy/u:j/-روی
ruy
(zinc)
o + uow/oʊ/boneموز
mowz
(banana)

The classic diphthong ay (a + i) has transformed into ey in Iranian Persian but it has been preserved in Afghan Persian, Tajik Persian as well as many regional dialects of Iran. However, there are a few words that are still pronounced as ay:

WordPronunciationMeaning
ایوبayyubJob (biblical name)

Consonants

There are 23 consonant sounds in Persian:

ConsonantLetter(s)IPASoundExample
bبbbookبرادر
barâdar
(brother)
chچt͡ʃchainچهل
chehel
(forty)
dدddoorدر
dar
(door)
fفffallفیل
fil
(elephant)
gگggameگل
gol
(flower)
ghغ
ق
ɣFrench rireقورباغه
ghurbâghe
(frog)
hه
ح
hhatهفت
haft
(seven)
jجd͡ʒjobجنس
jens
(type)
kکkkeyکفش
kafsh
(shoe)
khخxGerman Buch
Spanish ojo
خوب
khub
(good)
lلllegلب
lab
(lip)
mمmmealمادر
mâdar
(mother)
nنnnoنان
nân
(bread)
pپppenپدر
pedar
(father)
rرrrug (thrilled as in Italian)روز
ruz
(day)
sس
ث
ص
ssadسال
sâl
(year)
shشʃshoeشب
shab
(night)
tت
ط
tteaتوپ
tup
(ball)
vوvvanورزش
varzesh
(sport)
yیjyesیک
yek
(one)
zز
ذ
ض
ظ
zzooزانو
zânu
(knee)
zhژʒs in measure
French je
ژله
zhele
(jelly)
øع
ء
ʔglottal stopمعنی
maøni
(meaning)

It is best to denote each consonant with a single letter and avoid a combination of two letters to represent one sound. Adjacent consonants do not always merge together to form a single sound. For example, in the word mazhab (مذهب), the consonants z and h are pronounced individually and do not represent the zh sound (/ʒ/): maz-hab, and not ma-zhab. I would rather use the following monographs …

DigraphMonographExample
chč
c
čehel
چهل
(forty)
ghğAfğânestân
افغانستان
(Afghanistan)
khxxub
خوب
(good)
shššab
شب
(night)
zhžžele
ژله
(jelly)

… but they are only common in academic books. The average native speaker does not know these letters and would not feel the necessity to adopt them. The digraphs "ch, gh, kh, sh, zh" are what Persian speakers use in everyday life. Accordingly, I use them here and in my other learner-oriented works, such as Persian vocabulary and Persian verb conjugator.

In academic books, غ is denoted with ɣ and sometimes with q. However, the letter ɣ belongs to Greek alphabet. Furthermore, the letter q denotes ق in dialects that differentiate between غ and ق, including Afghan and Tajik Persian. Therefore, q should not be sued for غ. My proposition is ğ. It is both a Latin-based character and also, in harmony with the digraph-monograph pattern of other letters: sh-š, zh-ž and gh-ğ.

The letter c does not represent any sound per se. Therefore, both c and č can be used in lieu of ch. The latter is what usually used in academic books.

The letter ø, or any other letter to denote glottal stop, is the sole letter I consider essential to be added to what used by native speakers (explanation here).