As opposed to a definite article, an indefinite article is used to indicate that the identity of a noun is unknown. Persian marks nouns for indefiniteness both in singular and plural forms using the enclitic “-i”. English does not have an exact equivalent for Persian’s indefinite plural. It is translated with “some”, “any” or simply, a bare plural form.

The indefinite article is grammatically a distinct word but in Persian orthography, it is written attached to it preceding word. For educational purposes, it is separated from its host word with a hyphen (-) in Latin transcription. If the preceding word ends in the vowel sounds “â, o, u”, an epenthetic consonant is added between the word and the indefinite article. This consonant can be ی (-y-) or ئ (-ø-). The former is more prevalent.

Indefinite Singular Indefinite Plural
a man
some/any men
a woman
some/any women

More examples:

Indefinite Parts of Speech

The indefinite article is used in making indefinite pronouns, adjectives and adverbs.

The Place of Indefinite Article

In English, the indefinite article is placed at the beginning of a noun phrase: “a house”, “a big house”, “a bigger house”, “a big and modern house”. In Persian, the indefinite article is normally placed at the end of a noun phrase and in certain cases, directly after the noun. This clearly demonstrates that Persian’s indefinite article is a distinct word and not a suffix; it can have different places in a phrase.

As stated above, the indefinite article can be placed after the noun it modifies. In this case, it replaces the genitive postposition “-(y)e”.

This structure is particularly used when adjectives end in the vowel “-i”: