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Speak / Lesson 4

How to Say Where You Live, and Answer Simple Questions

In this lesson, you'll have a chance to test out your comprehension of the vocabulary learned and see if you're able to use the words and phrases in the correct context.

We also learn the words needed to answer simple questions in the Persian language-- essential when having any casual conversation! These words are:

  • Yes (balé)
  • Yeah-- informal (āré)
  • No (na)

Then we learn how to say where we live (and if it’s different than where we are from), and how to answer some simple questions. The phrases in this section include:

  • I am from ___________.
  • I am not from _________.
  • I live in ______________.
  • Where do you live?
  • I am from _______________ but now I live in ______________.

As always, we'll go over several potential conversations you could have using just this vocabulary.

In addition, we learn that in the Persian language, it's not necessary to state the subject in a sentence. The subject is understood based on how you conjugate the verb. For instance, instead of saying 'man az eerān hastam' (meaning, ‘I am from Iran’), you could simply say 'az eerān hastam'. The listener can tell from the conjugation of the word 'hastam' that the sentence is referring to the first person singular, so you can drop ‘man’ (meaning ‘I’).



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 back to Chai and Conversation! By now, you know that Chai and Conversation is the podcast for anyone wanting to learn conversational Persian at a manageable and fun pace.

Matt: We're only four weeks into the program, but we have received so many comments and emails from you our listeners, and we really appreciate the feedback, support, and suggestions.

Leyla: We have been so delighted to hear from listeners all around the world, from the United States, Europe, and even a listener from Japan! Language is the key to any culture, and that's the whole point of this podcast.

Matt: With such a lack of effective learning materials out there for people who want to learn to speak Persian, we hope that through this podcast we are providing you an invaluable resource to gain an understanding into Persian culture.

Leyla: The podcast is only one part of the Chai and Conversation system. There are many many more learning materials available on our website, with Chai spelled C-H-A-I.

Matt: But we will tell you more about this after the lesson.

Leyla: And now, fārsi yād begeereem. This means 'let's learn Persian'.

Matt: fārsi yād begeereem bā Chai and Conversation!


Leyla: In the past few weeks, we've been covering quite a number of words and phrases that will help you get started off in Persian. We've been learning how to greet people, how to bid them farewell, as well as how to introduce yourself, different forms of you, and how to ask people where they are from, and how to answer with where you are from. We are going to review some of that, to make sure we have a good understanding and memory of what we've learned. Matt, do you remember how to say 'hello'?

Matt: salām.

Leyla: Ok, and as Matt is answering, you should be seeing if you can remember the words and answer on your own as well. So salām is indeed 'hello'. What about ‘good morning’?

Matt: sobh bekhayr.

Leyla: That's right. sobh bekhayr. And then ‘good afternoon’ ends with the same word 'bekhayr', but the first word is different. Do you remember what ‘good afternoon’ is?

Matt: asr bekhayr.

Leyla: asr bekhayr. That's right. Throughout the day you could also say 'good day'. Do you remember the word for 'good day'?

Matt: rooz bekhayr.

Leyla: Exactly, and what about ‘good night’?

Matt: shab bekhayr.

Leyla: Now, listeners, can you remember how to say 'goodbye'? ______. Matt, can you help them out?

Matt: khodāhāfez.

Leyla: Great. And can you remember how to ask someone how they are feeling? One short word.

Matt: chetor-ee?

Leyla: Right, chetor-ee. And now you know that chetor-ee is the informal way to ask someone how they are doing. So, Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: khayli khoobam, merci.

Leyla: man ham khayli khoobam. khayli khoobam was one of the answers, and it means ‘very well’. How would you say 'well'?

Matt: khoob.

Leyla: khoob. And what about 'I'm not well'?

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: And can you remember the word you use to mean 'I'm doing excellent'?

Matt: ālee.

Leyla: And can the listeners remember the word for 'I'm not bad?' ______. Matt?

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: So we have khoobam, khayli khoobam, khoob neestam, bad neestam, and ālee, and I think those were all the answers we covered in the first podcast. We also learned how to say 'my name is', listeners, can you remember how to say 'my name is _____'?

Matt: esmé man hast.

Leyla: So 'esmé man Leyla hast' and…?

Matt: esmé man Matt hast.

Leyla: We also learned how to ask the question 'what is your name', and we learned two versions of this. Do you remember Matt the informal version of this question we learned?

Matt: esmé tō chee-yé?

Leyla: Right, esmé tō chee-yé? And then we learned the formal version of this question, and that is slightly so different. Can you remember it Matt?

Matt: esmé shomā chee-yé?

Leyla: Very good. Now, we also covered something else last week. We covered 'where are you from.' Again, there are two versions of this. If you're trying to remember this, it might help if you think of it as the translated version, as 'Where are you a native of?' The Persian word for 'where' is…?

Matt: kojā.

Leyla: The word for 'native of' was…?

Matt: ahlé.

Leyla: And the informal ‘you’ is…?

Matt: .

Leyla: And the formal ‘you’ is…?

Matt: shomā.

Leyla: So putting it all together, the informal version of this question is ' ahlé kojā hastee?', and the formal version is 'shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?'. Let's repeat those. Informal- ' ahlé kojā hastee?'.

Matt: ahlé kojā hastee?

Leyla: And then the formal, 'shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?'

Matt: shomā ahlé kojā hasteen?

Leyla: Very good. To say 'I am from' you use a small word that means 'I am' which is…?

Matt: hastam.

Leyla: 'I' would be…?

Matt: man.

Leyla: And ‘from’ is…?

Matt: az.

Leyla: So, you could say 'I am from America' by saying…?

Matt: man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: One that we didn't cover last week, that I am actually quite embarrassed about is we didn't cover 'I am from Iran.' Now, taking in consideration 'Iran' in Persian is exactly that, 'eerān', how would you say 'I am from Iran', Matt?

Matt: man az eerān hastam.

Leyla: 'man az eerān hastam.' If you from Spain you would say-

Matt: man az espāniā hastam.

Leyla: Great, exactly, 'man az espāniā hastam'. And that's enough revision for the time being, we just want to revise from time to time to make sure that you are understanding everything that we have covered. We're going to cover something a little different now. It's now lesson 4 and definitely time that we learn the words for yes and no. Let's begin with the positive. The word for yes in Persian is 'balé'.

Matt: balé.

Leyla: The word for 'no' is very easy; it's 'na'.

Matt: na.

Leyla: Exactly, so 'balé'…

Matt: balé.

Leyla: …and na.

Matt: balé.

Leyla: balé.

Matt: na.

Leyla: So again, balé means 'yes'; na means no. So, Matt, I'm going to ask you a question and I want you to listen very carefully. 'tō az āmreekā hastee?' 'tō az āmreekā hastee?' Matt, what do you think that means?

Matt: ‘Are you from America’?

Leyla: Right, so could you answer that starting with 'yes', so 'yes, I am from America'?

Matt: balé, man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: Very good. Now, if Matt was going to answer negatively, to say 'no, I'm not from America', listen carefully to how he would do that. 'na, man az āmreekā neestam'. So let's go through this. You start with the word for ‘no’, which is na, and then at the end of the sentence, instead of saying 'hastam', you say 'neestam'. This means 'I am not'. neestam.

Matt: neestam.

Leyla: So, 'na, man az āmreekā neestam', meaning, no, I'm not from America. Now, I'm going to ask you the listener if you are from the United States. If you are, you're going to answer 'balé, man az āmreekā hastam.' And if you're not, you're going to answer 'na, man az āmreekā neestam'. So let's try this. 'tō az āmreekā hastee?'


So Matt, what would the listeners have answered if they are from the United States?

Matt: balé, man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: And if they're not from the United States?

Matt: na, man az āmreekā neestam.

Leyla:na, man az āmreekā neestam.’ Now, let's try asking the same question in the formal form. 'shomā az āmreekā hasteen?' So Matt, what question have I asked you?

Matt: ‘Are you from the United States?’

Leyla: Right, so, 'shomā az āmreekā hasteen?'

Matt: balé, man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: I just want to note here that in Persian, like in many other languages, the conjugation of the verb denotes who you are talking about. This allows you to drop the noun in many sentences. So for example, instead of saying 'man az āmreekā hastam,' you could simply say 'az āmreekā hastam.'

Matt: az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: The 'hastam' indicates that you are talking about yourself. One more thing about yes and no. So, we've learned that the word for ‘yes’ in Persian is 'balé'. There's another version of ‘yes’ that you will hear often that we should cover in this lesson, and that is 'āré'.

Matt: 'āré'.

Leyla: āré can best be translated as 'yea'. It's a more informal version of the word ‘yes’, and you don't want to use it with just anybody. For example, if you are speaking to someone you must be respectful of, you want to stick with 'balé'. In general, you're safe using balé, while 'āré' is used only in informal or comfortable situations. But you will hear it often, so I wanted to make sure we covered it. So, 'āré'.

Matt: āré.

Leyla: And this is simply just 'yea'. So we're going to cover one other thing in this lesson. We've already talked about saying where you are from, like 'man az eerān hastam'. You can also replace the country you are from with a city or town. So you could say 'man az tehrān hastam' or 'man az new york hastam'. Now we are going to talk about how to say where you live. This is a slightly longer sentence so listen carefully. To say 'I live in Austin', you would say 'man dar austin zendegee meekonam.' There are a lot of words we haven't heard before in here, so let's break it down. First, a word you're familiar with, 'man'. What does this mean, Matt?

Matt: ‘I’.

Leyla: Great. zendegee is the word for 'life'. So in this sentence, it literally means ‘live’. zendegee.

Matt: zendegee.

Leyla: Great word. Dar is the word for 'in'. So, 'dar'.

Matt: dar.

Leyla: And our verb meekonam means something along the lines of 'I do'. So, repeat this, Matt: man dar austin zendegee meekonam.

Matt: man dar austin zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: Or try man dar tehrān zendegee meekonam.

Matt: man dar tehrān zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: So to ask the question 'where do you live?', in the informal form, what is the word for 'where' again?

Matt: kojā.

Leyla: Ok, so you ask tō kojā zendegee meekonee?

Matt: tō kojā zendegee meekonee?

Leyla: So, Matt, tō kojā zendegee meekonee?

Matt: man dar Austin zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: Can you ask me the question please?

Matt: tō kojā zendegee meekonee?

Leyla: man dar tehrān zendegee meekonam. Or alternately, as we learned before, we could drop the 'man' in this sentence and simply say dar tehrān zendegee meekonam.

Matt: dar tehrān zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: If we were using the formal version of this question 'Where do you live', we would say shomā kojā zendegee meekoneen?

Matt: shomā kojā zendegee meekoneen?

Leyla: So we changed the conjugation of the verb from meekonee for informal to meekoneen for formal. Now, we already studied how to say where you are from. So for example, man az eerān hastam. Now let's imagine a situation similar to mine, where you are from Iran, but you currently live in Austin. Let's combine what we learned in the last lesson with what we learned this lesson to say this. It would be man az eerān hastam, vali dar austin zendegee meekonam. Can you try to repeat that, Matt?

Matt: man az eerān hastam, vali dar austin zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: And what would you think vali means?

Matt: ‘But’.

Leyla: That's right, vali is the Persian word for 'but'. Vali.

Matt: Vali.

Leyla: So let's try the full thing: man az eerān hastam, vali dar austin zendegee meekonam.

Matt: man az eerān hastam, vali dar austin zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: Great! So let's try another one, let's say you are originally from the United States, but now you live in Paris. The word for Paris in Persian is pārees. Matt could you say that? ‘I am from the United States, but I live in Paris.’

Matt: man az āmreekā hastam, vali dar pārees zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: ahsant! That's right. ahsant, by the way, is the word for 'excellent' or 'well done'. Now let's learn one more word to make your vocabulary a bit more complete and give you something else to work with. The Persian word for now is hālā.

Matt: hālā.

Leyla: That's right, hālā.

Matt: hālā.

Leyla: So you could say 'I am from Spain, but now I live in Texas'. This would be man az espāniā hastam, vali hālā dar teksās zendegee meekonam.

Matt: man az espāniā hastam, vali hālā dar teksās zendegee meekonam.

Leyla: ālee, ahsant!

Matt: We hope you enjoyed this fourth lesson of Chai and Conversation. We've been posting lessons weekly, so stay tuned next week for the fifth lesson.

Leyla: As we've mentioned several times, these free podcasts are only a part of Chai and conversation. You can find out how to become a premium member and received lots of bonus materials on our website, with chai spelled C-H-A-I. One of the most useful bonus materials is the Enhanced Podcast version of the lessons, which have flashcards of the words you learn as you listen. The pdf guides also provide somewhat of a transcription of each lesson so that you can visualize each of the words we learn spelled phonetically in English. In addition, there are quiz podcasts that will help you to review the material, as well as introduce bonus material to each lesson.

Matt: We have been receiving so much positive feedback, and some wonderful suggestions. We want to thank you all for it! Also, if you like the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a rating on iTunes.

Leyla: Well, tā daf'eyé ba'ad, or until next time, from Leyla.

Matt: And bé omeedé deedār from Matt.