In Persian writing system, only consonants have a dedicated letter. Short vowels are marked with diacritics and long vowels are represented with certain consonants.

Long Vowel “â”

The vowel â is always marked. It is denoted with آ at word initial and with a bare ا in all other positions.

WordPronunciationMeaning
آبâbwater
بادbâdwind
بارانbârânrain
آواâvâsound

Long Vowel “i”

The vowel i is always marked. It is denoted with ای at word initial and with the consonant ی in all other positions.

WordPronunciationMeaning
ایرانirânIran
سیبsibapple
فیلمfilmmovie, film
بازیbâzigame

Long Vowel “u”

The vowel u is always marked. It is denoted with او at word initial and with the consonant و in all other positions.

WordPronunciationMeaning
اوuhe, she
خوبkhubgood
ابروabrueyebrow

Short Vowel “a”

The vowel a is denoted with the consonant ه at word final. In other positions, it can be denoted by placing the diacritic ــَـ over the preceding consonant. This diacritic is called زبر (“zebar”) or فتحه (“fathe”).

WordPronunciationMeaning
اَبرabrcloud
آتَشâtashfire
نَهnano

In Iranian Persian, final a has transformed into e. The word نَه is an exception. In Afghan and Tajik Persian as well as many regional dialects of Iran, final a of classic Persian has been preserved:

WordModern PronunciationClassic Pronunciation
خانهkhânekhâna
بستهbastebasta

Short Vowel “e”

The vowel e is partially denoted with ا at word initial and with the consonant ه at word final. It can be clearly denoted by placing the diacritic ــِـ below the preceding consonant. This diacritic is called زیر (“zir”) or کسره (“kasre”).

WordPronunciationMeaning
اِمروزemruztoday
پِدرpedarfather
خانهkhânehouse

Short Vowel “o”

The vowel o is partially denoted with ا at word initial and with the consonant و at word final and sometimes, in medial positions as well. It can be clearly denoted by placing the diacritic ــُـ over the preceding consonant. This diacritic is called پیش (“pish”) or ضمه (“zamme”).

WordPronunciationMeaning
اُمیدomidhope
خُشکkhoshkdry
رادیوrâdiyoradio
مانتوmântomanteau

Summary

The following table summarizes vowel marking in different word positions. In addition to the diacritics zir (/e/), zebar (/a/) and pish (/o/), the letters ا and ی and و can be used to represent vowel sounds.

VowelWord InitialWord MedialWord Final
âآاا
aاَــَـه
eاِــِـه
iاییی
oاُــُـو
uاووو