Speak / Lesson 11

How to Speak About the Languages You Know

When talking to someone in something other than your native language, it sometimes helps to know what other languages they speak. Not only do you learn more about that person, but it can also potentially give you insight into other things you have in common with them. In this lesson, we learn how to talk about the languages we can speak, learn the words for different languages, and learn to speak about the proficiency with which we speak certain languages. Also, most importantly, we learn how to tell people to slow down if they're speaking too fast for us to understand.


  • Telling others which languages we can speak
  • Telling others about the proficiency with which we can speak those languages
  • The names of different popular languages
  • Ask others to slow down when speaking
  • Ask others how to say something in Persian


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. Esme man Leyla hast, and I am the teacher for the course.

Matt: Esme man Matt hast, and I am the student in this course.

Leyla: We hope you've been enjoying the past few lessons of Chai and Conversation. If you're new to the program, welcome!

Matt: As many of you know, Chai and Conversation is the first podcast created specifically for teaching Persian to beginners.

Leyla: Matt was a beginner to the Persian language when he started, and he's come a long way since then. Hopefully you've been joining along on the journey with him!

Matt: If you're new to the program, we would like to welcome you! You can download our first few programs by going to our website at chaiandconversation.com with chai spelled C-H-A-I.

Leyla: We are now at lesson 11, and we are marking what we are calling part II of Chai and Conversation. In the first part, lesson one through nine, we introduced you to the Persian language, and taught you a few useful words and phrases to get you started. In stage two we'll learn to use the Persian language in practical situations.

Matt: These practical situations include eating out at establishments, asking for directions, going shopping, etc.

Leyla: So welcome to part II. You've come a long way so far, and we're going to continue building our vocabulary at a fun and manageable case. So Matt, hazeree? Are you ready?

Matt: Hazeram!

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

Leyla: One of the first things you need to know when you are beginning to learn a language are speaking to a native speaker is how to cope if you can't understand what they are saying. In this lesson, you will learn to convey how much of the conversation and how to tell people what languages you can speak. So the first thing we're going to do is introduce ourselves for all our new listeners. Matt, do you want to start?

Matt: Ok, esme man Matt hast, dar Austin zendegee meekonam. shagerd hastam, va mooseeghee doost daram, varzesh doost daram, va doost daram farsi yad begeeram.

Leyla: Ok, so Matt basically said that he lives in Austin, that he is a student, and he listed a few things that he likes. First he said mooseeghee doost daram, that he likes music, varzesh doost daram, that he likes sports, and the last thing he said was doost daram farsi yad begeeram. This means that he likes to learn Persian.

And now my turn- man Leyla hastam, Irani hastam, vali man ham dar Austin zendegee meekonam. Mooseegheeyeh classic doost daram, doost daram film bebeenam. va doost daram zaban yaad begeeram.

So I said my name is Leyla, Irani hastam- We haven't done nationalities, we'll do that later on, but 'Irani hastam' is the way you say I am Iranian. Then I said a few things that I like, the first being mooseegheyeh classic, can you guess what that is Matt?

Matt: Classical music

Leyla: Exactly, doost daram film bebeenam, so I like to watch films, va doost daram zaban yaad begeeramÉ this is something we haven't learned. Zaban is the word for languages. So I am saying I like to learn languages.

So today we are going to be talking about languages. Let's begin with a phrase:

Farsi sobat meekonam.

Matt: Farsi sobat meekonam.

Leyla:, farsi sobat meekonam. Sobat means to speak, and Farsi sobat meekonam is 'I speak Persian'

If I'm saying to Matt, do you speak Persian?, I would say 'Farsi sobat meekonee?'

Matt: to Farsi sobat meekonee?

Leyla: And if we're being formal, I would change it to 'shoma Farsi sobat meekoneed?'

Matt: Farsi sobat meekoneed?

Leyla: Again, changing this to a question form is all in the intonation, so raising the end of the sentence turns it into a question. Farsi sobat meekoneed?

Matt: Farsi sobat meekoneed?

Leyla: To answer the question, you already know how to say 'yes, I speak Persian'

Matt: Baleh, Farsi sobat meekonam.

Leyla: You might want to say 'I don't speak Farsi'. Farsi sobat nemeekonam.

Matt: Farsi sobat nemeekonam.

Leyla: But all of our listeners speak at least a bit of Persian, so you might want to answer 'Kami Farsi sobat meekonam.'

Matt: Kami Farsi sobat meekonam.

Leyla: Kami means a bit so you're saying 'I speak a bit of Farsi'. Now there are words for so many languages, let's learn a few of them now-







This is another sound we have in Persian that we don't have in English, the 'J' sound.


Leyla: Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions here Matt. Engleesee sobat meekonee?

Matt: Baleh, Engleesee sobat meekonam.

Leyla: Faranzavee sobat meekonee?

Matt: Na, Faranzavee sobat nemeekonam.

Leyla: Espaniyayee sobat meekonee?

Matt: Baleh, kamee espaniyayee sobat meekonam.

Leyla: Now, sometimes you understand more of a language than you can speak. Meefahmam, means understand. So you can say Farsi meefahmam.

Matt: Farsi meefahmam

Leyla: Or you can say I understand a bit of Farsi 'Kami Farsi meefahmam'

Matt: Kami Farsi meefahmam.

Leyla: If I want to ask you, I would say 'Farsi meefahmee?

Matt: Farsi meefahmee?

Leyla: If I want to ask if formally, I would say 'Farsi meefahmeed?

Matt: Farsi meefahmeed?

Leyla: And if you want to say I don't understand, you simply say 'farsi nemeefahmam.'

Matt: Farsi nemeefahmam.

Leyla: A phrase you hear often when you say 'I don't understand is 'Bebakhsheed'

Matt: Bebaksheed

Leyla: This means I'm sorry. So Bebakhsheed, Farsi nemeefahmam

Matt: Bebakhsheed, Farsi nemeefahmam.

Leyla: And you might want to say 'I am learning Persian'. To say this you say 'Daram Farsi yaad meegeeram.' Yaad meegeeram is learning. And daram makes it present tense. I am learning Persian. Daram Farsi yaad meegeeram.

Matt: Daram Farsi yaad meegeeram.

Leyla: Another useful phrase when you are speaking with a native speaker and just starting out with a language, is to tell them to please slow down. To do this in Persian you say: 'Lotfan yavashtar sobat kon'

Mattt: Lotfan yavashtar sobat koneed?

Leyla: Lotfan is the word for please. Yavashtar is slower, and we already learned that sobat means to speak. So lotfan yavashtar sobat meekoneed?

Matt: Lotfan yavashtar sobat koneed

Leyla: This is of course the formal version. The informal version of this phrase would be 'lotfan yavashtar sobat meekonee?

Matt: Lotfan yavashtar sobat meekonee.

Leyla: Another way to phrase this would be 'Could you speak slower.' Meesheh is the Persian equivalent of 'is it possible'. So, meesheh yavashtar sobat koneed?

Matt: Meesheh yavashtar sobat koneed?

Leyla; And informally, 'meesheh yavashtar sobat konee?

Matt: Meesheh yavashtar sobat konee.

Leyla: Or even simplify it as saying 'yavashtar lotfan'

Matt: Yavashtar lotfan.

Leyla: This is a very simple way to just say 'slower please.' Now let's use meesheh, or is it possible, in the next phrase. 'meesheh tekrar koneed?'

Matt: 'meesheh tekrar koneed?'

Leyla: Tekrar is the Persian word for repeat. So this phrase means can you please repeat?' The informal version would be meesheh tekrar konee?

Matt: Meesheh tekrar konee?

Leyla: Finally, let's learn what to say if you hear a word, and you'd like to learn how to say it in Persian. beh Farsi chee meesheh? means what does it become in Persian. Beh Farsi chee meesheh?

Matt: Beh Farsi chee meesheh.

Leyla: You could begin with a word to learn how to say a specific word in Persian. So for example you say 'Camera beh Farsi chee meesheh?'

Matt: Camera beh Farsi chee meesheh?

Leyla: The answer is doorbeen by the way. Or if you say 'beh Farsi chee meesheh' by itself, it just means, what does it become in Persian, so it can be used for anything you hear.

Leyla: And that concludes the lesson! Hopefully you found this lesson useful, and you can use thes phrases to figure out how to say many things you could not say before in the Persian language.

Matt: As you know by now, there's a pdf guide in the bonus materials on the website that spells out all the words that you learned written phonetically in English!

Leyla: In addition to the pdf guide, there is an enhanced podcast in the bonus materials package that provides flash cards of the words we've learned, so that you can better understand the vocabulary.

Matt: We're excited to have you with us on this stage two of Chai and Conversation, and I look forward to you learning the Persian language with me.

Leyla: Yes, we look forward to you joining us next time on Chai and Conversation. And until then, khodahafez from Leyla!

Matt: And beh omeede deedar from Matt!