Speak / Lesson 17

How to Describe Things (Includes List of All the Colors)

In this lesson, we learn all about how to describe things. We begin with the colors in the Persian language:




After that, we go over some common descriptive words, and we'll use them to describe chickens as an example. The descriptive words we go over include:

  • big
  • small
  • quick
  • slow
  • nice-looking
  • ugly
  • expensive
  • cheap

And more! We go over a dialogue in which we talk about expensive cars. 


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 everyone and welcome back to Chai and Conversation!

Matt: We are now in Unit 2 of the lessons, and we are continuing to build up our vocabulary and conversational skills.

Leyla: We've been talking a lot about food lately, and we still have a bit more to cover on that topic, but I thought we'd change gears a bit for this lesson and learn another important part of language learning- how to describe things.

Matt: In this lesson, we'll be going over some frequently used adjectives and end it with a dialogue that deals with choosing a car.

Leyla: As always, you can find bonus materials for this lesson and all the other lessons on our website at chaiandconversation.com with chai spelled chai. But enough of that for now, Matt, are you ready to begin the lesson?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great, then let's begin to learn Persian with Chai and Conversation!

Leyla: So Matt, you know this already, but I'll tell my listeners, this week I went out and purchased 9 baby chickens. That's one of the benefits of living in Austin TexasÉ it's not uncommon to have chickens in the backyard. My grandmother used to raise them in Ahvaz Iran as well, so I guess I'm going back to my roots in a way. So, to have a bit of fun with it, let's learn to describe these chickens. First, the word for chicken is 'morgh'

Matt: Morgh

Leyla: Right, so we have that difficult gh sound in thereÉ hopefully everyone's gotten that down by now. So the word for chicken- morgh

Matt: Morgh

Leyla: So the chickens I chose happen to come in all different colors, red, orange, brown, white, black, with accents of every color in between. We haven't gone over colors before in the program yet, so let's go ahead and do that now. First, the word for color is rang

Matt: Rang

Leyla: And the word for colors, plural is rangha

Matt: Rangha

Leyla: So let's start with black- seeya

Matt: Seeya

Leyla: White is sefeed

Matt: Sefeed

Leyla: So black and white, seeya o sefeed

Matt: Seeya o sefeed

Leyla: Purple is banafsh

Matt: Banafsh

Leyla: Blue is abee

Matt: Abee

Leyla: And ab if you remember is the word for water. So the color of water, blue, abee

Matt: Abee

Leyla: Green is sabz

Matt: Sabz

Leyla: And again, remember in food greens is sabzee

Matt: Sabzee

Leyla: And we also have the dish gourmet greens, ghormeh sabzee

Matt: Ghormeh sabzee

Leyla: Yellow is zard

Matt: Zard

Leyla: Orange is naranjee

Matt: Naranjee

Leyla: Similar to the Spanish for orange, naranja. Naranjee

Matt: naranjee

Leyla: Next, there are two different commonly used words that mean 'red'. The first is sorkh

Matt: sorkh

Leyla: And the second ghermez

Matt: Ghermez

Leyla: Sorkh and ghermez. So let's learn one last color before going over all of these one more time. The word for the color brown is 'ghahveyee'

Matt: Ghahveyee

Leyla: And Matt, do you happen to remember the word for coffee?

Matt: Of course, it's Ghahve

Leyla: That's right, ghahve. So ghahve, coffee, ghahveyee brown. Ghahveyee

Matt: Ghahveyee

Leyla: So you ready to go over all these colors again? So white is sefeed

Matt: Sefeed

Leyla: Black is seeyah

Matt: Seeyah

Leyla: Purple, banafsh

Matt: Banafsh

Leyla: Blue, has to do with the color of water, do you remember this on your own Matt?

Matt: Abee

Leyla: That's right, blue is abee. The color of green is the same as greens or herbs, can you remember that one?

Matt: Sabz

Leyla: That's right! Yellow, I'll help you out with, it's zard

Matt: Zard

Leyla: Orange, like the Spanish word naranja

Matt: Naranja?

Leyla: Close! Naranjee

Matt: Naranjee

Leyla: Great. Then red has two versions. The first is sorkh

Matt: Sorkh

Leyla: And the second is ghermez

Matt: Ghermez

Leyla: These are both used equally often, and they can both be used for any shade of red. It just depends on your preference of which you'd like to choose. They each contain the difficult sounds we've learned, so maybe you can choose based on which is less difficult for you to say, gh or kh, ghermez or sorkh. And finally, brown, which is similar to the word for coffee. Can you remember it Matt?

Matt: Ghahveyee

Leyla: Ok great! You can practice these on your own until you can remember them. But for now, let's learn how to use these colors to describe my new chickens! So one of the chickens is white. So to say 'this chicken is white, we say 'een morgh sefeede'

Matt: Een morgh sefeede

Leyla: This should be a familiar structure to you. We've taken sefeed and hast meaning 'is white' and reduced is to 'sefeede'. So een morgh sefeede

Matt: Een morgh sefeede

Leyla: If we want to simply say 'white chicken' we say 'morghe sefeed'

Matt: Morghe sefeed

Leyla: Now the e sound in this phrase, as in morgh-e is something we've learned before. It's called the 'ezafe' and it's used to link the adjective to the noun. So we just put the two words together and link them with this sound, simple as that. Morghe sefeed

Matt: Morghe sefeed

Leyla: Now let's say 'orange chicken'. Morghe naranjee

Matt: Morgheh naranjee

Leyla: So, knowing yellow is zard, how do we say yellow chicken?

Matt: Morgheh zard

Leyla: So now, I have three black chickens. Let's learn how to say 'these chickens are black.' First, let's learn how to make chicken plural. One chicken is morgh and multiple chickens are morgh-ha

Matt: Morgh-ha

Leyla: So this is a general rule. One color is rang, and multiple colors are rang-ha. So when you want to make something plural, you add 'ha' at the end.

Leyla: Let's take another noun we knowÉ can you think of one Matt?

Matt: Ummm, how about book, ketab

Leyla: Ok, that's a good one, book is ketab, so what is 'books'

Matt: Ketab-ha

Leyla: Ok, getting back to what we wanted to say 'these chickens are black. We simply say 'een morgh-ha seeyahan'

Matt: Een morgh ha seeyahan

Leyla: Seeyahan is a shortened version of seeyah plus hastand. Really it becomes seeyahand, but in conversation, the d becomes silent. So een morgh ha seeyahan

Matt: Een morgha seeyahan.

Leyla: And then to say black chickens we say 'morgh-haye seeyah

Matt: Morghaye seeyah

Leyla: Let's also revisit another concept we learned in a previous lesson. To say 'I have a sister' we said 'man ye khahar daram

Matt: Man ye khahar daram

Leyla: How would you say 'I have three sisters'

Matt: Man se khahar daram

Leyla: That's right, so nothing changes except the number. So let's apply this to black chickens. To say I have three black chickens, you simply say 'man se morghe seeyah daram.

Matt: Man se morghe seeyah daram.

Leyla: And to say I have one white chicken you say 'Man ye morghe sefeed daram

Matt: Man ye morghe sefeed daram

Leyla: Ok great! Now let's learn some more describing words that can be applied to these little chickens. Let's learn how to compare chicken sizes. First, lets learn the word for small. It's koocheek

Matt: koocheek

Leyla: So we could say 'een morgh koocheeke'

Matt: Een morgh koocheekeh

Leyla: Or, to say all the chickens are small, which is true right now, you say 'een morgh-ha koocheek-an. So we make both the noun and the verb plural, just as you would in English. So in English you say 'this chicken is small', and or 'these chickens are small'. In Persian you say een morgh koocheeke. Koocheekeh is a combination of koocheek and hast. Hast is the singular conjugation of is. And for plural you say een morgha koocheekan. Koocheekan is a combination of koocheek and hastand. Hastand is the plural conjugation of is. Een morghha koocheekan.

Matt: Een morgh ha koocheekan

Leyla: Now let's say one chicken is small, but we want to compare it with another chicken that is smaller. Een morgh koocheekeh, vali een morgh koocheek-tare. So to say something is more, we add a 'tare' to the verb. So een morgh koocheek-tareh.

Matt: Een morgh koocheek tareh

Leyla: And to say 'this is the smallest chicken we say have to flip things around a bit. We say 'een koocheektareen morghe'

Matt: Een koocheektareen morgheh.

Leyla: So just as we flipped things in English from This chicken is smaller to this is the smallest chicken, we switched it from 'een morgh koocheektare' to een koocheektareen morgheh'

Matt: Een koocheektareen morgheh

Leyla: So to say smallest, we add a 'tareen' to the adjective. Koocheektareen. So let's go through all three of these again. Een morgh koocheeke

Matt: Een morgh koocheeke

Leyla: Een morgh koocheektare

Matt: Een morgh koocheektare

Leyla: Een koocheektareen morgheh

Matt: Een koocheektareen morghe

Leyla: Now let's learn some more adjectives. We've learned small, now let's learn big. Big is bozorg

Matt: Bozorg

Leyla: So using the same rules, we add tar to the end to form bigger. Bozorgtar

Matt: Bozorgtar

Leyla: And we add tareen to make it biggest. Bozorg tareen

Matt: Bozorgtareen

Leyla: Now let's learn quick, ferz

Matt: Ferz

Leyla: So quicker is ferz-tar

Matt: Ferztar

Leyla: And quickest is ferz-tareen

Matt: Ferztareen

Leyla: Slow is kond

Matt: Kond

Leyla; Slower is kondtar

Matt: Kondtar

Leyla; And slowest is kondtareen

Matt: Kondtareen

Leyla: Nice looking is ghashang

Matt: Ghashang

Leyla: Nicer looking is ghashangtar

Matt: Ghashangtar

Leyla: And best looking is ghashangtareen

Matt: Ghashangtareen

Leyla: Ugly is zesht

Matt: Zesht

Leyla: Uglier is zeshtar

Matt: Zeshtar

Leyla; And ugliest is zeshtareen

Matt: Zeshtareen

Leyla: Now let's say again, we're talking about the chickens, and you want to say 'this black chicken is nice looking.' You would say 'een morghe seeya ghashange.

Matt: Een morghe seeyah ghashange.

Leyla: so first you are describing it, saying 'een morgheh seeyah and then saying something about it, namely that it is nice looking, ghashange. Een morgheh seeyah ghashange

Matt: Een morgheh seeyah ghashange

Leyla: Now let's say you want to say the red chicken is slow. Een morgheh sorkh konde

Matt: Een morgheh sorkh konde

Leyla: But that the yellow chicken is slower. Vali oon morgheh zard kond-tare

Matt: Vali oon morgheh zard kont-tare

Leyla: Notice I changed 'een' meaning this to oon meaning that. So een morgheh sorkh konde, vali oon morgheh zard kond-tare. Let's say it seaparately one more time and then we'll put it together. 'Een morghe sorkh konde,

Matt: Een morghe sorkh konde

Leyla: vali oon morghe zard kond-tare

Matt: Vali oon morghe zard kond-tare

Leyla; Ok, together it's een morghe sorkh konde, vali oon morgheh zard kon-tare

Matt: Een morghe sorkh konde, vali oon morgheh zard kond-tare.

Leyla: Ok, we're nearing the end of the lesson, but we're going to finish it up with a dialogue, and in order to do that, we'll need to learn a couple more words. This dialogue is going to involve deciding on buying a car. So first, the word for car- masheen

Matt: Masheen

Leyla; Just a note, you could also use the word 'automobile'

Matt: Automobile

Leyla: But masheen is a little more common. Machin

Matt: Machine

Leyla; And Matt, following the rule of adding 'ha' to make it plural, how do you say 'cars.'

Matt: Machine-ha

Leyla: That's right. Now we've learned the word for good before, do you remember it Matt?

Matt: Khoob

Leyla: Right. So, this is one of the words that has an exception when converting it to comparative adjectives. For example to say better you don't say 'khoobtar' as you would think. Rather, you say 'behtar'

Matt: Behtar

Leyla: And best builds on the word for better, and is behtareen'

Matt: Behtareen.

Leyla; So khoob

Matt: Khoob

Leyla: Behtar

Matt: Behtar

Leyla: And behtareen

Matt: Behtareen

Leyla: Now let's learn the word for expensive. And that is geroon

Matt: Geroon

Leyla: So more expensive is geroontar

Matt: Geroontar

Leyla: And most expensive, geroontareen

Matt: Geroontareen

Leyla: And cheap is arzoon

Matt: Arzoon

Leyla; Cheaper is arzoontar

Matt: Arzoontar

Leyla: And cheapest is arzoontareen

Matt: Arzoontareen

Leyla: So let's quickly go over the base of all the adjectives we have learned so far, and then we can have a dialogue using the words we've learned. Here we go