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Speak / Lesson 25

Compound Verbs

Lesson 25 teaches compound verbs. Most compound verbs are constructed using the verbs shodan, to become, and kardan, to do. We'll conjugate these verbs and learn how to construct compound verbs with them. We'll then conjugate those verbs in the past tense.


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: Welcome to lesson five, the fifth in our series of grammar lessons.

Matt: We hope you've been enjoying the lessons so far.

Leyla: We're getting into very intermediate territory in such a short period of time, so let us know if you have any questions, or if we haven't explained something quite well enough yet

Matt: As always, you can go over previous lessons, and download essential bonus materials on our website at, with CHAI spelled CHAI

Leyla: And enough of that for now, Matt, are you ready to begin learning?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great, then let's begin to learn Perisan with Chai and Conversation.

Leyla: We spent the first few lessons in this unit going over verbs, and last week, we had a bit of a break to learn about the concept of ezafe. This week, we are going to go back to verbs.

We've already gone over a few simple verbs, and how to say them in the past simple tense. An example of a simple verb is raftan, to go. Raftan

Matt: Raftan

Leyla: So what I mean by simple verb is that it's just one word. The majority of Persian verbs, however, are compound verbs. This means that they consist of two or more words. The first word in a compound verb is either a noun, adjective, adverb or preposition, and the second word is a simple verb. This will become more clear after we go over a couple of examples. Thankfully, a large portion of these compound verbs are produced with the help of two simple verbs, one of which we've learned in a previous lesson! So the two verbs are shodan, or to become, and kardan, or to do. We learned 'kardan' and its conjugations in lesson 23. If I wanted to ask you, Matt, what you did over the weekend, I would say 'akhareh hafteh cheekar kardee?'

Matt: Akhareh hafteh cheekar kardee.

Leyla: We learned that this means 'what things did you do over the weekend.' So this is the first compound verb we learned- kar kardan.

Matt: Kar kardan

Leyla: And this means to do work. Kardan, again, is to do, and kar is work. So as we learned in lesson 23, in this context, it's used to mean general activities, like what general activities did you do over the weekend.

So, let me illustrate the use of this word in compound verbs with a few examples. Kardan literally means 'to do', but in many compound verbs, it also is used to mean 'to make'. This can be seen in the example of 'To make a phone call, or, 'telephone kardan'

Matt: Telephon kardan

Leyla: To play in Persian is 'bazi kardan'

Matt: Bazi kardan

Leyla: so again, you're literally saying 'to make play'. To cook in Persian is 'ashpazee kardan'

Matt: Ashpazee kardan

Leyla: So let's take go back to the first example of kar kardan, and use it to literally mean 'to do work'. We learned in lesson 23 how to find the past stem of the word, and we do this by taking off the an sound off the end. So what is the past stem of kardan Matt?

Matt: -Kard

Leyla: Exactly, kard. We went over the conjugation of the past stem of this word in lesson 23, but since it's so important to the concept of compound verbs, let's do it again now together as a refresher. So I did is 'kardam'

Matt: Kardam

Leyla: You did is 'kardee'

Matt: Kardee

Leyla: He, she or they did is oo kard

Matt: Oo kard

Leyla: We did is ma kardeem

Matt: ma kardeem

Leyla: You, formal did, is shoma kardeen

Matt: Shoma kardeen

Leyla: And they did is oona kardan

Matt: Oona kardan

Leyla: Great, so let's go back to the concept of working, or, as we are going to say it 'to do work'. So to say I worked, or again, I did work, we say kar kardam

Matt: Kar kardam

Leyla: We won't go through every single conjugation, as you should be able to figure it out by now. But as a tester, Matt, how do you say they worked, or 'they did work'

Matt: Oona kar kardan

Leyla: Exactly, oona kar kardan. Or how about we did work?

Matt: Ma kar kardeem

Leyla: Great, exactly! So let's go back to our previous examples. To play, is bazi kardan

Matt: Bazi kardan

Leyla: So Matt, how would you say you, informal, played?

Matt: Bazi kardee

Leyla: Great! How about he played?

Matt: Bazi kard

Leyla: Exactly. So to cook is ashpazi kardan

Matt: Ashpazi kardan

Leyla: How do you say you, formal, cooked?

Matt: Ashpazi kardeen

Leyla: Exactly, ashpazi kardeen

Matt: And how about we cooked

Leyla: Ashpazi kardeem

Matt: Right, ashpazi kardeem.

Leyla: We also learned how to say 'to make a phone call'. Do you remember the infinite of this Matt?

Matt: Telephone kardan

Leyla: Right, telephone kardan. So how would you say 'we telephoned'

Matt: Telephone kardeem

Leyla: Ok, right, and how about I telephoned

Matt: Telephone kardam.

Leyla: Great, I think you get the hang of this. Let's learn a few more compound verbs using to do, or kardan. A very common one using words we've learned before is 'kar kardan'

Matt: Kar kardan

Leyla: This means to work, or literally, to do work.

To say I practiced, you say 'tamreen kardan'

Matt: tamreen kardan

Leyla: So how do you say 'I practiced'

Matt: practiced kardam

Leyla: to watch is 'tamasha kardan

Matt: Tamasha kardan

Leyla: So how do you say 'I watched

Matt: Tamasha kardam

Leyla: Exactly, tamasha kardam.

Matt: To make is 'dorost kardan'

Matt: Dorost kardan

Leyla: So how do you say 'I made'

Matt: Dorost kardam

Leyla: Exactly, dorost kardam. Now let's take this a step further and learn how to use these compound verbs using kardan in sentences. Let's go backward, and start with dorost kardan. Let's say you want to say you made a sandwich. You would form the sentence by saying 'Sandeveech dorost kardam.'

Matt: Sandeveech dorost kardam.

Leyla: As you can guess, sandeveech is the word for sandwich in Persian. So you can think of the sentence as saying 'I did make a sandwich. Next, for the compound verb tamasha kardan, to watch, you could say 'feelm tamasha kardam'

Matt: Feelm tamasha kardam.

Leyla: Can you guess what this means Matt?

Matt: I watched a film.

Leyla: Exactly.

Before that, we learned 'tamreen kardan', or, to practice. to use this in a sentence you could say, I practiced piano. In Persian, this would be 'piano tamreen kardam'

Matt: Piano tamreen kardam

Leyla: And before that, we learned kar kardan. Let's form this into a sentence by saying I worked today. In Persian that would be 'emrooz kar kardam

Matt: Emrooz kar kardam

Leyla: And just for practice, Matt, how would we say 'I worked yesterday?' The word for yesterday is 'deerooz'

Matt: Deerooz kar kardam

Leyla: Perfect, derooz kar kardam. Now let's go over the next common verb used in forming compound verbs, and that is the verb to become or 'shodan'

Matt: Shodan

Leyla: This is an extremely useful verb. So first, let's figure out the past stem of the verb- Matt?

Matt: Shod

Leyla: And how did you figure that out?

Matt: By taking the –an off the end of the verb

Leyla: Exactly. So let's go through the conjugations. I'm going to say the English, then listeners, you try to say the correct conugation in Persian, and then check your answers with Matt. Go ahead and say the subject in this case, so that we remember it better. So first, I became

Matt: -man shodam

Leyla: You, informal became

Matt: -To shodee

Leyla: We became

Matt: -Maa shodeem

Leyla: He or she became

Matt: Oo shod

Leyla: You, formal or plural became

Matt: Shoma shodeen

Leyla: They became

Matt: Oona shodan

Leyla: Ok great. This verb, like kardan, can be used to form a whole host of compound verbs. Some of the most useful are those involving personal feelings. Let's go through a few of these, using the first person conjugation. So to say 'I became happy', you say 'khoshhal shodam'

Matt: Khoshhal shodam

Leyla: This is used often as a form of goodbye- for example, getting off the phone with someone, you can sign off with 'khoshhal shodam', meaning, your call made me happy. Khoshhal shodam

Matt: Khoshhal shodam

Leyla: Conversely, to say I became upset, you say 'narahat shodam'

Matt: Narahat shodam.

Leyla: It more literally translates to 'I became uncomfortable' but in the Persian language, this means the same as I became sad or upset. To say I became angry you say 'asabanee shodam'

Matt: Asabanee shodam

Leyla: To say I became tired you say 'khasteh shodam

Matt: Khasteh shodam

Leyla: Let's learn a couple more examples of compound verbs using the verb shodan. To say 'to open' you say 'baz shodan'

Matt: Baz shodan

Leyla: This is used when talking about an establishment or an object- it's literally 'to become open.' So for example, to say 'the door opened', you say 'dar baz shod'

Matt: Dar baz shod

Leyla: Or to say 'Nordstrom's opened', you say 'Nordstrom baz shod'

Matt: Nordestrom baz shod.

Leyla: The opposite of that would be 'basteh shodan'

Matt: Basteh shodan

Leyla: And this means 'closed'. So to say 'the door closed' we would say 'dar basteh shod'

Matt: Dar basteh shod

Leyla: Or, the store closed would be 'maghazeh basteh shod'

Matt: Maghazeh basteh shod

Leyla: And as you can tell, the word for store in Persian is maghazeh

Matt: Maghazeh

Leyla: Next, hazer shodan means 'to become ready.' Hazer shodan

Matt: Hazer shodan

Leyla: You can use this in several different ways. For example, to say 'the food became ready', you say 'ghaza hazer shod

Matt: Ghaza hazer shod

Leyla: Or say you've been getting ready to go somewhere, and you just put that last shoe on. You say 'hazer shodam'

Matt: Hazer shodam

Leyla: I became ready.

Matt: Ok, before we wrap this lesson up, let's go over a dialogue that illustrates this concept with a few of the verbs we've learned today. I'm going to start

Leyla: Matt, akhareh hafteh cheekar kardee?

Matt: Ashpazee kardam

Leyla: Eh, chee dorost kardee?

Matt: Ghormeh sabzee dorost kardam.

Leyla: Cheghadr aali! Ladan chee fekr kard?

Matt: Ladan khayli khoshhal shod.

Leyla: Ok, this was a very simple dialogue, but illustrated this concept. So I first asked Matt, Akhareh hafteh cheekar kardee? Which means

Matt: 'What did you do during the weekend?

Leyla: And Matt replied

Matt: Ashpazee kardam

Leyla: This is a compound verb and it means 'I cooked', or literally 'I did cooking.' I asked 'chee dorost kardee?

Matt: Dorost kardee is also a compound verb, and chee dorost kardee means 'what did you make.'

Leyla: Matt replied with a compound verb, saying 'ghormeh sabzee dorost kardam.

I asked Ladan chee fekr kard. I snuck in a compound verb we didn't go over in the lesson and that is fekr kard

Matt: fekr kard

Leyla: This means 'to think'. It's more literally 'to make thoughts'. So chee fekr kard means 'what did she think'?

Matt: Chee fekr kard

Leyla: And Matt replied

Matt: khayli khoshhal shod

Leyla: Which means 'she became very happy'

Matt: So as you can see, compound verbs are very prominent in the Perisan language, and pretty much inescapable if you want to make conversation. And with that, let's wrap up this lesson.

Leyla: Thanks so much for joining us

Matt: As always, bonus materials can be found on our website at, with Chai spelled CHAI

Leyla: Khob, khoshhal shodam, khodahafez, from Leyla

Matt: And khayli khoshhal shodam, ta baad, from Matt!