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Speak / Lesson 56

The Etiquette for Talking on the Phone

Lesson 56 covers language needed for talking on the phone, including etiquette used in greetings and saying goodbye on the phone.


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?)


Matt: Hello and welcome to lesson 56 of Chai and Conversation

Leyla: We are so glad you’ve joined us! In this unit, we’re going over vocabulary you’ll use in different social situations in the Persian language- probably the main reason you’re learning the language in the first place. In several lessons this unit, we’ve covered being hosted. However, there’s another situation many of you are probably in quite often that we haven’t really covered extensively, and that is being on the phone. Now Matt, having lived with Ladan, you probably know that Iranians call each other all the time.

Matt: Yes, definitely- Ladan talks to her mom on the phone every day even though they probably see each other as often.

Leyla: Right, Iranians love to keep in touch. So, we covered a little bit of this in the dialogue series, but what is the word used when picking up the phone- do you remember, or have you heard this before Matt?

Matt: Yes, I believe it’s ‘alo’

Leyla: Exactly, ‘alo’. Of course, this is a French word, but we’ve adopted it and it’s the most widely used greeting. So when someone calls, you pick up the phone and say ‘Alo?’

Matt: Alo?

Leyla: Now before we get further, let’s do a little dialogue of what a typical opening of a phone conversation would be like if I called Matt. I’ll start

ring ring

Matt: Alo?

Leyla: Salam Matt, Leyla hastam

Matt: Salam Leyla!

Leyla: Salam! Khoob hastee?

Matt: Khoobam merci! To khoobee?

Leyla: Khoob merci! Ladan, Kimiya khooban?

Matt: Areh salam meeresoonan!

Leyla: Salamat bashan

Matt: Chris khoobeh?

Leyla: Chris ham khoobeh. Oon ham salam meeresooneh.

Leyla: Ok, so hopefully you got most of this so we don’t need to translate everything. But this is basically the way all conversations start in the Persian language. You never get straight to the point- big surprise right? You always start out by asking how the person is doing, and by asking how their loved ones are doing. I did that right away, saying Ladan, Kimiya khooban? Are Ladan and Kimiya well? Matt responded by saying ‘areh, salam meeresoonan’


Matt: Areh, salam meeresoonan


Leyla: Meeresoonan means they send. So they send hellos. So this is his way of saying ‘yes, they’re good, they’ve been asking how you’re doing. And the response to salam meeresoonan is for me to either say ‘salam beresoon’ meaning send them my hellos as well, or what I said in this conversation, salamat bashan, which means may they be healthy. So it’s either salam beresoon

Matt: Salam beresoon

Leyla: Meaning send them my hellos. Or ‘salamat bashan’, may they be healthy. Salamat bashan

Matt: Salamat bashan

Leyla: So this whole process of going through all these how is so and so’s is called ‘ahval porsee’

Matt: Ahval porsee

Leyla: So when you call someone, you must go through this ahval porsee process- it’s just built into the time you have to spend when you’ve called them. After you go through the process, you can get on with your business. Now what if you’re calling a business, or calling a residence to get in touch with someone? Then you don’t need to go through this ritual with just anyone who answers the phone. However, a common phrase to tell someone when they’ve picked up the phone is ‘khasteh nabasheed’

Matt: Khasteh nabasheed

Leyla: This literally means don’t be tired, but means something along the lines of ‘I hope you’re not tired’ or like ‘you’re hardworking, hope it’s not making you tired. It’s a bit hard to translate to English. So khasteh nabasheed

Matt: Khasteh nabasheed

Leyla: and a simple response to this is just ‘khayli mamnoon’

Matt: Khayli mamnoon

Leyla: Great. Ok, how about if you want to get a hold of someone, and they’re not the ones who pick up the phone. Like, I call Matt’s house, but I actually want to talk to talk to Ladan. I can ask this in several ways. One is ‘meetoonam ba Ladan sobat konam?’

Matt: Meetoonam ba Ladan sobat konam?

Leyla: And this simply means ‘Can I speak to Ladan’ Sobat konam is the first person conjugation for to speak. Sohbat konam

Matt: Sohbat konam

Leyla: And meetoonam means Can I. Meetoonam

Matt: Meetoonam

Leyla: So meetoonam ba Ladan sobat konam?

Matt: Meetoonam ba Ladan sobat konam?

Leyla: And Matt can answer in several ways. If she’s there, and she can talk he can say ‘Baleh, gooshee ro negar dar’. Gooshee is the colloquial word for phone, and it literally means receiver. You should recognize the word goosh, right Matt?

Matt: Yes, it means ear

Leyla: Exactly, so ear piece, received. Negar dar means hold on. So hold on to the receiver, or hold on a minute. Gooshee ro negar dar

Matt: Gooshee ro negar dar

Leyla: Or he could say ‘sure, hold on one moment.’ ‘Baleh, yek lahzeh sabr kon’ so he can go get her to the phone. Yek lahzeh means one moment. Yek lahzeh

Matt: Yek lahzeh

Leyla: And sabr kon means wait. Sabr kon

Matt: Sabr kon

Leyla: So yek lahzeh sabr kon. Hold on a moment. Yek lahzeh sabr kon

Matt: Yek lahzeh sabr kon

Leyla: In which time hopefully he’ll go get her to the phone. He could also explain this by saying ‘beram sedash konam’, or ‘let me go call her’ beram sedash konam

Matt: Beram sedash konam

Leyla: Ok, let’s put this all together. So Matt, you can ask me if you can talk to Chris, my husband, and I’ll answer, yes, hold on a moment, let me go call him.

Matt: Khob, hala meetoonam ba Chris sobat konam.

Leyla: Albateh, gooshee ro negar dar, beram sedash konam.

Ok, I threw in the word, albateh in there, that means of course, or certainly. Albateh

Matt: Albateh

Leyla: And gooshee ro negar dar of course means hold the phone. Gooshee ro negar dar

Matt: Gooshee ro negar dar

Leyla: And finally, beram sedash konam

Matt: Beram sedash konam

Leyla: Perfect. Now if that person isn’t home, you’re going to have to inform the person calling. So if I ask Matt if Ladan is home and she’s not, or if she is and secretly doesn’t want to talk to me, he can say ‘motasefaneh khooneeh neest’. Motasefaneh means ‘unfortunately’. So motasefaneh

Matt: Motasefaneh

Leyla: And Matt, what does khooneh neest mean?

Matt: It means she’s not home

Leyla: Exactly, khooneh neest, she’s not home. Motasefaneh khooneh neest

Matt: Motasefaneh khooneh neest

Leyla: If someone isn’t home, you could offer to leave them a message. Matt could ask ‘paygham bezaram?’ Paygham is the word for message. So should I leave a message, paygham bezaram?

Matt: Paygham bezaram?

Leyla: Wonderful. And you can either leave your message, or respond with ‘na, khayli mamnoon, badan zang meezanam’. Badan  means later, so I’ll call later. Badan zang meezanam

Matt: Badan zang meezanam.

Leyla: At this point, you know plenty of ways to say goodbye, and most of these apply to getting off the phone as well. Let’s just go over a few of these just as a review. One way to indicate that the call is ending is to say ‘khob, khoshhal shodam’ meaning, I became happy, or talking to you made me happy. ‘Khob, khoshhal shodam’

Matt: khob, khoshhal shodam

Leyla: You could follow up with goodbyes by say ‘feylan khodahafez’. Do you remember what this means Matt?

Matt: It means goodbye for now

Leyla: Perfect, goodbye for now.  A very popular way to say goodbye on the phone is to simply say ‘ghorbanat’

Matt: Ghorbanat

Leyla: Which means, I would sacrifice myself for you. So at the end of the conversation, you could simply say ‘ghorbanat’

Matt: Ghorbanat

Leyla: And this indicates goodbye. So we’ve gone over some greetings, some pleasantries, and other vocabulary that comes along with phone etiquette in the Persian language. We’ll leave it at that for this lesson

Matt: And you know that as always, you can get all this and bonus materials to go along with this lesson on our website at with Chai spelled CHAI.

Leyla: That’s right. We’ll be back next lesson with more on etiquette in the Persian language.

Matt: And until then, khodahafez from Matt

Leyla: And beh omeedeh deedar from Leyla!