Speak / Lesson 1

How to Greet People and Ask How They're Doing

Salām, and welcome to the first-ever Persian (Farsi) language lesson of Chai and Conversation! In this lesson, we learn one of the most important things in any language – how to greet people and ask them how they are doing- in Persian! We also learn a few simple ways to reply when asked how we're doing. 

In addition, there's a short introduction to the teacher, Leyla Shams, and the student, Matt Bourneuf. If you're new here, you can find out more about our comprehensive language learning program here.


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 learn Persian with chai and conversation, the podcast for anyone looking to learn conversational Persian. My name is Leyla and I’ll be your teacher for this course.

Matt: And my name is Matt and I will be learning Persian along with you.

Leyla: Chai and conversation will teach you conversational Persian in weekly lessons of about 15 minutes each.

Matt: If you know anything about Iranians, they don’t do anything without first grabbing a cup of tea – or as they call it, chai. So pour yourself a cup and join us in learning the Persian language.

Leyla: Hello and welcome to Learn Persian with chai and conversation. The point of this podcast is to provide you with a simple, effective and easy way to learn conversational Persian. As we’ve said, my name is Leyla and I’m joined by Matt.

Matt: Hello.

Leyla: If you’ve downloaded this program, you are looking for a way to learn to speak and understand Persian. I was born in Iran, and although I moved to Texas when I was only four years old, I grew up speaking the language. My mother was a Persian language instructor who taught me to read and write the language from an early age. But if you’re learning on your own, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lack of effective learning material out there, online and otherwise. And although there are so many language learning podcasts available, none of them are for learning the Persian language. We decided to put an end to this by creating a podcast specifically for people seeking to learn conversational Persian.

Matt: And even though I grew up in Texas as well, I have a vested interest in learning the Persian language since I married an Iranian about a year ago. I feel that learning a language is the best way to open the door to any culture, and it would be nice to be able to better communicate with my in-laws, especially her grandparents who don’t speak any English at all. By listening to this podcast, you all are going to be learning quite a bit of Persian, and I am going to be learning along with you.

Leyla: Persian is the predominant language spoken in Iran, with over 62 million speakers in the country. But because there is such a large diaspora of Iranians living outside of Iran now, there are about just as many Persian speakers outside of Iran as well!

Matt: Many of you like me may have many Persian spouses or in-laws, or Persian friends, and would like to be able to communicate with them on a conversational level.

Leyla: Or perhaps you come from an Iranian or Persian speaking background, and would like to get more in touch with your heritage.

Matt: And in case you haven’t noticed, Iran has in been in the news quite frequently, especially in the past few years. This also may have piqued your interest in learning the language.

Leyla: Whatever the reason, Persian is a very beautiful language, and we are so happy that you have chosen to learn it with us! We’ve created this podcast with the goal of helping you to learn the language in a fun and casual manner in weekly podcasts of about 15 minutes each.

Matt: We will go at a nice and easy pace so that you can get the most out of the lessons. And since I don’t know any Persian at all, I will be learning along with you! In addition to the podcast, we’ve created a website, chaiandconversation.com, on which we’ll be posting additional information to help you learn.

Leyla: This additional material will include videos, pdf guides, music and much much more!

Matt: And, of course, we look forward to feedback and suggestions you may have. You can find out how to contact us through our website www.chaiandconversation.com

Leyla: So, are you ready to begin our first lesson Matt?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great, let’s begin to learn Persian with Chai and conversation!


Leyla: The first thing you learn when learning any language is how to say hello. In Persian, hello is “Salam.” Matt could you repeat that please

Matt: salām

Leyla: So when I say a word and Matt repeats it, you should repeat it out loud with him. That’s the best way to learn, through repetition of the words, and it’s the best way to develop your accent. Let’s try that one more time. The word for hello is salām.

Matt: salām

Leyla: salām

Matt: salām

Leyla: Great. So after you learn how to say hello, you generally follow it up with ‘how are you. In Persian, how are you is “chetori”

Matt: chetori

Leyla: I would like to note here that in Persian, as in French, Spanish and many other languages, there is an informal and formal way of speaking. Matt and I are friends, so we would most likely use the informal language. Formal is used only when speaking to people you don’t know very well, or people who are older than you. Because we’re trying to learn conversational and casual speaking, for today we’re going to be using informal speech. So again, how are you in Persian is

Matt: chetori

Leyla: So let’s put those together. Salām, chetori.

Matt: salām chetori

Leyla: salām chetori

Matt: salām chetori

Leyla: Now, you’ll probably want to be able to answer this question if you are asked. The most common form of answering the question how are you is ‘I am well’, ‘I am good’ or khoobam

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: Now , Matt has hung out with Iranians enough that he has heard this said before, but many of you may not be familiar with the sound ‘kh’. This presents our first big challenge to learning the Persian language. Matt, could you please repeat that sound again. Kh

Matt: kh

Leyla: I had an old Persian professor who learned the language in his 20s and explained that he learned to make this sound by continuously practicing it when he would wake up every morning. This might sound like a disturbing way to wake up in the mornings to you, but the point is, the more you practice it, the more natural you will become at saying it. And to successfully speak Perisan, you must be able to make this sound as it will come up again and again. So let’s try that again Kh kh kh

Matt: kh kh kh

Leyla: Great, and with this sound, again, we can say the word for I am well which is

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: So Matt, I’m going to try asking you how you are doing and you can answer me that you are well. So Leyla Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: So if I’ve asked you ‘chetori’ and you’ve answered back ‘khoobam’, what would bea nice way to continue the conversation?

Matt: By answer in how you’re doing

Leyla: Great so how would you do that

Matt: chetori

Leyla: Khoobam. After answering in this way, I could follow it politely by saying ‘I’m good thank you. Thank you in Persian is merci

Matt: merci

Leyla: This might sound familiar to you because it is taken from the French word for thank you, Merci, just prounounced slightly differently, with the r rolled. Merci

Matt: merci

Leyla: In fact, you’ll see many Persian words that overlap with French in the future. So again, the word for thank you in Persian is

Matt: merci

Leyla: So now with these few words, we can have our first conversation in Persian. I’ll begin

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Khoobam. merci Chetori?

Leyla: Khoobam, merci.

Leyla: Now we’re going to repeat this conversation again, but this time after I ask the question, Matt will give you some time so that you can provide an answer yourself before he gives his answer. Ready?

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori? … Matt: Khoobam merci, chetori?

Leyla: Khoobam, merci

Leyla: Great, so so far we have ‘Salam’ ‘Chetori’ ‘Khoobam’ ‘Merci’, four new words in your Persian vocabulary. So, now let’s continue with a different answer to the question ‘chetori’. Instead of saying ‘I’m good’, let’s say ‘I’m very good.’ To say I’m very good in Persian you say ‘khayli khoobam.’

Matt: khayli khoobam

Leyla: You may have noticed we encountered the ‘kh’ sound again. If you haven’t gotten a hang of this sound yet, don’t worry, it will come with practice! So again, I’m very good is

Matt: khayli khoobam

Leyla: So Matt, chetori

Matt: khayli khoobam. chetori?

Leyla: Khayli khoobam.

Leyla: However, you won’t always be doing good or very good. If you’re having a rough day, you might want to answer ‘I’m not good’, which in Persian is ‘khoob neestam’

Matt: khoob neestam

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Khoob neestam. chetori?

Leyla: Khoob neestam.

Leyla: So what if you’re not doing good, but things aren’t going so badly either? Another common way to answer the question ‘how are you’ would be to say that you’re not bad. In Persian, this would be ‘bad neestam’

Matt: bad neestam

Leyla: You may have noticed the word ‘bad’ in there. Bad has the same meaning as the Englih bad. Just make sure to note the subtle difference in the accent. Let’s try saying it the Persian way, bad’

Matt: bad

Leyla: That’s right, bad

Matt: bad

Leyla: So, again, I’ll ask you how you are and you answer that you’re not bad-

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Bad neestam. chetori?

Leyla: bad neestam

Leyla: Ok let’s run through all these answers quickly. I’m good is khoobam

Matt: khoobam

Leyla: I am not good is khoob neestam

Matt: khoob neestam

Leyla: And I’m not bad is bad neestam

Matt: bad neestam

Leyla: Khayli khoob! So that in Persian means very good! I’m going to be saying things like khayli khoob! when Matt answers correctly, so that you can have more practice hearing these vocabulary words.

Ok so far, I’ve been asking Matt ‘chetori’ and he’s been answering with [khoobam, khoob neestam bad neestam] and when he wants to ask me how I’m doing in return he says [chetori]? Now let’s learn a new way Matt can ask me how I’m doing without saying the full “how are you” back to me. Another way Matt could continue the conversation would be to simply say ‘and you?’ In Persian this would be va shomā?

Matt: va shomā

Leyla: Let’s practice this in conversation:

Leyla: Salām Matt, chetori?

Matt: Khoobam, merci. Va shoma?

Leyla: Khoobam merci.

Leyla: Great, now let’s try this again, and this time answer that you’re not bad.

Leyla: Salam Matt, chetori?

Matt: Bad neestam, va shoma?

Leyla: Man, khoobam merci!

Leyla: So I added a word in there, ‘man’. ‘Man’ in Persian means ‘me’. I added that in there to emphasize that me, I am good. So, man khoobam means I am good.

Matt: man khoobam

Leyla: You can use that to emphasize the other phrases we learned as well such as, me, I’m not bad, which would be ‘man, bad neestam’

Matt: man bad neestam

Leyla: or even I’m not good

Matt: man khoob neestam

Leyla: So let’s repeat all the words we’ve learned so far one more time.





Khoob neestam

bad neestam

va shoma?

Leyla: Great. Now let’s learn one last answer for the question how are you, and we’ll wrap up this lesson. So, let’s say you’re doing really really well, and you want to say ‘I’m great!’ In Persian this would be ‘ālee’

Matt: ālee

Leyla: ālee

Matt: ālee

Leyla: Let’s run through our answers one last time

I’m good (khoobam)

I’m not good (khoob neestam)

I’m not bad (bad neestam)

I’m great (ālee)

Leyla: Great, we’ve learned so much in this lesson. Let’s repeat it all again so we can definitely get a grasp on the vocabulary. Again, I’m going to say the words and Matt is going to repeat them, and you should repeat them along with Matt.

  • salām
  • chetori
  • khoobam
  • khayli khoobam
  • khoob neestam
  • bad neestam
  • āliyam

we also learned va shomā merci

Leyla: Great that wraps up our vocabulary for this lesson! It may not seem like we learned that much, but that’s how we want to do it for chai and conversation, to learn a few words each time that you will be able to practice in practical conversation at a pace that is easy to manage.

Matt: Like we mentioned before, the podcast is only one part of our learning system. We also have a lot of extra learning materials that you can download off of our website, www.chaiandconversation.com. These include pdf guides that go along with each lesson,that will help you reinforce what you’ve been learning on the podcast. These pdf guides spell out the words we have learned phonetically in English so that you can get a better grasp of how to pronounce them.

Leyla: And as we mentioned, we would love to have your comments and suggestions. We will be developing this program as we go along, and would love to hear what you would like to learn, and your reasons for learning Persian.

Matt: Thank you so much for listening to us, and we look forward to seeing you next time on Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation!