Speak / Lesson 68

Families (Vocabulary Sprint)

In this lesson, we learn the common terms for members of a family. Family in Persian is khānevādé. In this unit of Chai and Conversation, we are learning several vocabulary words related to a certain theme at once. Listen to the lesson for many different words associated with families. Many common words are in the list below. Listen to the lesson for many other words related to this topic.

mothermādar مادَر
daughterdokhtar دُختَر
grandfatherpedar bozorg پِدَر بُزُرگ
grandmothermādar bozorgمادر بُزُرگ
sisterkhāhar خواهَر
maternal auntkhālé خالِه
paternal auntamé عَمِه
maternal uncledāyeeدایی
paternal uncleamooعَمِو


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: Hello and welcome to lesson 85 of Chai and Conversation. I'm Leyla, your host and I'm joined by my husband Chris. Salam Chris

Chris: Salam. This is Chris. I am Leyla's husband and I'm learning Persian along with the rest of you.

Leyla: And we are in our vocabulary sprint unit of Chai and Conversation. And we're learning groups of vocabulary around a certain topic. And today's topic is a very important one in Persian culture. And that is the topic of family.

Chris: Oh, yes, family is a very important one. I would say it is central to the Persian identity.

Leyla: That's right. And to that end, we have a lot of words related to different members of your family that are pretty interesting. And so first let's start with the word for family. And that is khanevadeh

Chris: khanevadeh

Leyla: That's right. So that's the general word for family. And let's just go through different family members. First the word for mother is madar

Chris: Madar

Leyla: Madar, and this has the same roots is all these different languages mother a mother. I could go down the list. So it should be very easy for you to learn. So again, madar,

Chris: madar

Leyla: and the word for father. Pedar.

Chris: Pedar

Leyla: So again, very similar to Latin words. Madre, Padre. The word for sister in the Persian language is khahar

Chris: khahar

Leyla: And that one's a little bit different but we bring it back with the word for brother and that is baradar

Chris: baradar

Leyla: baradar and that is brother. So again. Let's go through these one more time. Mother madar

Chris: madar

Leyla: madar,

Chris: madar

Leyla: Father- pedar

Chris: pedar,

Leyla: sister. khahar

Chris: khahar

Leyla: And the word for brother bardar.

Chris: Baradar

Leyla: And now that we're on the topic of us brothers and sisters Chris and I actually don't have any full brothers and sisters. We have half brothers and sisters. So to say a half sister you say khahareh natanee

Chris: khahareh natanee

Leyla:  That's right. khahareh natanee

Chris: khahareh natanee

Leyla: And that means half sister and I have one half sister and Chris has two.

Chris: I have three half sisters actually. That's okay. In fact, two of them are staying with me right now in Austin. It's been wonderful.

Leyla: That's right. And we each also have half brothers. Baradareh natanee

Chris: Baradareh natanee. So what does natanee mean?

Leyla: Natanee that not of the same body so they're just half. Tan is body so then natanee

Chris: Not fully from the same.

Leyla: Exactly. Okay, but then there's also a word for step siblings. And that would be a step brother would be a nabaradaree

Chris: Nabaradaree

Leyla: And a step sister is a nakhaharee

Chris: Nakhaharee

Leyla: which takes us to step father and stepmother. The step mother is namadaree.

Chris: Namadaree

Leyla: and a stepfather is napedaree

Chris: Napedaree

Leyla: that's simple enough. So again, namadaree, napedaree. And then nabaradaree nakhaharee that would all be in the step family, whereas khahareh natanee and baradareh natanee is half.

Gotcha. Okay. I understand.

Chris: Okay. So then going on to other members of a family, a grandmother is madar bozorg.

Chris: madar bozorg

Leyla: and my grandfather is a pedar bozorg

Chris: pedar bozorg. I love that word bozorg.

Leyla: Bozorg means grand, big.

Chris: grandfather

Leyla: And Iranians always make a big distinction of trying to figure out if someone's from your mother's side or your father's side. So a grandmother on your mother's side is madar bozorgeh madaree.

Chris: madar bozorgeh madaree

Leyla: and then a grandmother on your father side is madar bozorge pedaree

Chris: madar bozorgeh pedaree

Leyla: Yeah, and that's a distinction that you always make. Is it madaree? Or is it pedaree? Which side is it on? So from the same token, let's talk about aunts. So like Chris said, his sisters are in town, and they are are watching our sons. And so to our sons, your sisters are ameh

Chris: ameh

Leyla: So the word for aunt. But if my sisters were in town, they would be called khaleh.

Chris: khaleh.

Leyla: So your aunt on your mom's side is khaleh

Chris: khaleh

Leyla: and your aunt on your father's side is ameh

Chris: ameh. Now in Persian culture, there's also there's a lot of jokes made about your father's sister. Whereas your mother's sisters are always, you know, revered in an upstanding way it's, you know, it's an interesting distinction.

Leyla: It is. And then your uncle's on your father's side are amoo

Chris: Amoo

Leyla: and your uncle's on your mother's side, our dayee,

Chris: dayee

Leyla: So one other interesting thing that I want to point out is that this vocabulary goes both ways. I don't know if you know this, Chris, but, for example, a mother, her child will call her mother, madar, that a mother will also call her child, madar, no matter if it's a boyor a girl. Did you know this?

Chris: No, I've never heard that before.

Leyla: Okay, so it's reciprocal. So it's a little bit difficult to explain, but it also happens with the words for aunts and uncles. So for example, our son Rooz will call his uncle dayee, and then if the dayee wants to refer to Rooz they'd also say, okay, dayee, beeya eenja, come here dayee

Chris: So my brother would, would refer to Rooz as dayee

Leyla: as dayee as a term of endearment, saying This is how you see me. I see you the same way.

Chris: Wow, that blows my mind.

Leyla: It's an interesting thing. It's not in other cultures I've been seeing this talked about a lot in the Iranian culture lately. I never realized that it's a weird thing. It's just something that you instinctively instantly do. So for example, Rooz, our son will come to you and say, Hey, Daddy, and you'll go Oh, Daddy, you're sweet.

Chris: That is super interesting.

Leyla: Yeah. So that is also something to keep in mind.

Chris: It's gonna it's gonna have to go against my Western nature to call my sons Daddy

Leyla: That's true. It is very strange. Let's go now to cousins. Now in English you have one word for cousin, cousin. In Persian yet different combinations of what a cousin could be.

Chris: Oh my goodness.

Leyla: Okay. So let's understand the concept. We won't go through every single word but as we said, we have four different words for uncle and aunt right, depending on where they're on your father's side or on your mother's side.

Chris: Right, let's go through those again. But this time, your father's sister is called ameh.

Leyla: Ameh.

Chris: Your father's brother is called

Leyla: amoo.

Chris: Amoo. Your mother's sister is called

Leyla: khaleh

Chris: khaleh. Your mother's brother is called

Leyla: dayee

Chris: dayee.

Leyla: Yes.

Chris: So there you go on your father's side you get amoo and ameh. On your mother's side you have the dayee and khaleh.

Leyla: Right. Exactly. And then for cousin then the way you say cousin is to say if it's the son or the daughter of an aunt or an uncle on your mother or father's side so as you can see there's 16 different combinations. So say it is your aunt on your mother's side's son. It is a pesar khaleh

Chris: pesar khaleh

Leyla: Is your boy cousin on your mom's sister's side.

Chris: Okay, please shouldn't there just be eight different combinations

Leyla: Maybe I got the math wrong- eight different? Yes. Okay. Yeah, that's right. So then there's that. And then let's say it's your girl cousin on your dad's side, your dad's sister. It would be dokhtar ameh.

Chris: Dokhtar ameh.

Leyla: exactly dokhtar ameh is your girl cousin on your dad's sisters side.

Chris: Okay, we've covered a son and daughter so far in this sprint

Leyla: pesar

Chris: pesar

Leyla: pesar is your son. We have not covered it. Pesar is just the word for boy pesar

Chris: pesar

Leyla: and then your daughter is just the word for girl dokhtar

Chris: dokhtar.

Leyla: Okay, and to say like my son it's pesareh man

Chris: pesareh man

Leyla: and my daughter dokhtareh man

Chris: dokhtareh man

Leyla: Okay, so now let's go on to vocabulary first spouses. The word for husband is showhar

Chris: showhar

Leyla: and the word for wife is just the word for woman. It's zan

Chris: zan

Leyla: But a word for a spouse in general is hamsar.

Chris: Hamsar

Leyla: my equal head. And that's a nice word. So we can use that hamsar

Chris: hamsar

Leyla: And that could be either your husband or your wife, just your equal head, your spouse your equal. Okay, moving on to vocabulary related to families in general, a big family would be khanevadeyeh bozorg

Chris: khanevadeyeh bozorg

Leyla: So khanevadeyeh

Chris: khanevadeyeh

Leyla: bozorg

Chris: bozorg

Leyla: and most Iranians have very big families. So this is a big one or you can have a small family khanevadeyeh koocheek

Chris: khanevadeyeh koocheek

Leyla: The word for, for being married marriage is ezdevaj

Chris: ezdevaj

Leyla: And the word for a wedding that ceremony that you have is aroosee

Chris: aroosee

Leyla: So, to be to have a fiance or to be be truth to someone is namzad

Chris: namzad.

Leyla: Yeah, so namzad is a fiance. Okay, and a girlfriend, doost dokhtar

Chris: doost dokhtar

Leyla: doost dokhtar, a friend that's a girl though that is the word for girl and a boyfriend would be doost pesar

Chris: doost pesar

Leyla: Okay, so again, the word for family khanevadeh, and that was a lot of different vocabulary related to families but it is an important part of Iranian culture. So you can by the number of sheer number of words that we have to describe individual family members, how important families are.

Chris: It's a nuanced subject with multiple ways to discuss and describe the family unit,

Leyla: Right. And so on our bonus vocabulary, we'll have nice charts to explain all this little family tree drawing to make it a little bit more clear, make it easier to understand. So hope you enjoyed this lesson and we'll be back next next lesson with another vocabulary sprint about a different subject to thank you for listening. Khodahafez from Leyla

Chris: Khodahafez from Chris. I'll see you next time.