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Speak / Lesson 7

How to Talk About Your Job and Where You Work

In this lesson, you learn how to talk about your job, say where you work, and whether or not you like your job. We learn vocabulary for a long list of jobs, including:

  • student
  • engineer
  • lawyer
  • writer
  • architect
  • accountant
  • cook
  • waiter
  • dentist
  • pilot
  • artist

We then learn how to combine these words into the phrase saying what we do and asking others what they do for a living. 

We also learn how to say whether or not we like our jobs, and to ask others if they like their jobs as well.

We then learn the vocabulary for different places you could work. These include:

  • Restaurant
  • Hospital
  • Factory
  • Office

However, not all people work-- so we also learn the following Persian phrases:

  • I work
  • I don't work
  • I am jobless
  • I am retired



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?)

Matt: Hello and welcome to learn Persian with Chai and Conversation.

Leyla: Each week on our show, we bring you a lesson in conversational Persian.

Matt: We hope you've been enjoying the lessons so far.

Leyla: We've come quite a long way since beginning, and we're going to continue building our vocab and language skills as the weeks go on!

Matt: We've also been working building content on our website, at with “chai” spelled C-H-A-I.

Leyla: Many of you wrote with questions pertaining to the Iranian culture, so we thought we'd answer these in the form of blog posts. Be sure to check out the blog on our webpage, and if you have any more questions, be sure to contact us!

Matt: But for now, let's begin the lesson!

Leyla: Agreed. Let's Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation!

Today we are talking about jobs. By the end of the lesson you can say where you work, tell details of your work, and say if you like your job or not. Of course, if you haven't started working yet, or if you don't have a job, we'll include vocabulary for you, too. Remember that learning a language is all about building your language and understanding, even if it doesn't directly apply for you. The first word we're going to learn we've used before. Before when you said ‘I am from the United States’, for example, how did you say it? Matt?

Matt: man az āmreekā hastam.

Leyla: Exactly, so the word for ‘I am’ is hastam. We're going to use this word to say ‘I am a teacher’, which would be man mo'alem hastam.

Matt: man mo'alem hastam.

Leyla: Let's try that word by itself: mo'alem.

Matt: mo'alem.

Leyla: Exactly, so man mo'alem hastam.

Matt: man mo'alem hastam.

Leyla: So when you are saying 'I am a teacher' in Persian, you don't need to say the 'a'. In essence, you are saying 'I am teacher'. So here, I am a teacher, and you're a student, so Matt, you would say “shāgerd hastam.”

Matt: shāgerd hastam.

Leyla: And here, we drop the “man” because, as we've explained before, “shāgerd hastam” implies that you're talking about yourself. So you don't necessarily need to put the “man”  in the sentence. So shāgerd is ‘student’. shāgerd.

Matt: shāgerd.

Leyla: Now, if you want to reduce the sentence further, you could also just say man mo'alem-am.

Matt: man mo'alem-am.

Leyla: Or even just mo'alem-am. That would be a complete sentence! So, mo'alem-am!

Matt: mo'alem-am!

Leyla: Or shāgerd-am.

Matt: shāgerd-am.

Leyla: These would both be completely valid things to say, but for now, we're going to keep the sentence structure man mo'alem hastam. Okay, so we have mo'alem and shāgerd, and now, let's learn another word: mohandes.

Matt: mohandes.

Leyla: This means 'engineer.' So, man mohandes hastam.

Matt: man mohandes hastam.

Leyla: Now let's try repeating all these words: mo'alem.

Matt: mo'alem.

Leyla: shāgerd.

Matt: shāgerd.

Leyla: mohandes.

Matt: mohandes.

Leyla: Very good. So Matt, how do you say 'I am a teacher', using the full sentence structure?

Matt: man mo'alem hastam.

Leyla: 'I am a student.'

Matt: man shāgerd hastam.

Leyla: 'I am an engineer'

Matt: man mohandes hastam.

Leyla: Now let's learn another word: vakeel.

Matt: vakeel.

Leyla: So this is related to the word “advocate,” which is used in the U.K. to refer to lawyers sometimes. Okay, so you can say man vakeel hastam.

Matt: man vakeel hastam.

Leyla: Or you might be neveesandé, a writer. neveesandé.

Matt: neveesandé.

Leyla: Or me'mār, architect. So that's what I studied and the field I work in, so I would say "me'mār hastam."

Matt: me'mār hastam.

Leyla: Let's repeat all of these again: mo'alem.

Matt: mo'alem.

Leyla: shāgerd.

Matt: shāgerd.

Leyla: mohandes.

Matt: mohandes.

Leyla: vakeel.

Matt: vakeel.

Leyla: neveesandé.

Matt: neveesandé.

Leyla: me'mār.

Matt: me'mār.

Leyla: Now, the question you would be asked to see what you do would be “ ché kāré hastee?”

Matt: ché kāré hastee?

Leyla: kār is ‘work’, and ché means 'what'. So, ché kāré hastee?

Matt: ché kāré hastee?

Leyla: You should know by now that that's the informal version of the question, and there's also a formal version of this question. shomā ché kāré hasteed?

Matt: shomā ché kāré hasteed?

Leyla: Simple enough. Okay, so, Matt, I'm going to ask you using the informal version to see what you do, and you go ahead and answer. Matt, ché kāré hastee?

Matt: shāgerd hastam.

Leyla: Now, in a previous lesson, we learned how to say 'and you' in the formal sense, “va shomā?”. This isn't used too often when speaking Persian, but it is useful in some circumstances. So let's learn how to say the same phrase in the informal sense. ‘And you’ in [the informal sense would] be “ chetor?”

Matt: chetor?

Leyla: This literally means 'what about you?', ‘how about you?’. So now, when I ask you “ché kāré hastee?” and you answer “shāgerd hastam,” Matt, you could continue to the conversation in the informal sense by saying “ chetor? ché kāré hastee?” and this just means 'what about you? what do you do?'. Let's try this in a conversation. ché kāré hastee?

Matt: shāgerd hastam. chetor? ché kāré hastee?

Leyla: man mo'alem hastam.

Notice I emphasized the word “man” in there, to emphasize 'I am a teacher'. Again, you don't need this; I could have just said “mo'alem hastam.” This just emphasizes 'well, I am a teacher'. So Matt, if I've said “man mo'alem hastam,” and you wanted to answer back along the lines of ‘well, I am a student’, how would you say it?

Matt: man shāgerd hastam.

Leyla: So “ché kāré hastee?” means 'what kind of worker are you?' ‘what kind of work do you do?’. And with this, you answer with your profession. You could ask a different type of question; you could say “kojā kār meekonee?” This means ‘where do you work?’. Note that the 'you' or “” in this question is implied.

To answer this question, you could answer what type of place you work in. For example, you could say 'I work in an office'. To say this, we'll use a few words we've learned already. ‘I work in an office’ would be “dar edāré kār meekonam.” You'll recognize the word “kār,” which means ‘work’, and “dar,” which means ‘in’. You've also learned the word meekonam before; it means 'I do'. So edāré is the word for ‘office’. man dar edāré kār meekonam.

Matt: man dar edāré kār meekonam.

Leyla: Or as I said before, dar edāré kār meekonam.

Matt: dar edāré kār meekonam.

Leyla: Watch the word “kār.” It's a long A: kār.

Matt: kār.

Leyla: So I'll ask you again, “kojā kār meekonee?” ‘where do you work?’, and you can answer “man dar edāré kār meekonam.” So, Matt, kojā kār meekonee?

Matt: man dar edāré kār meekonam.

Leyla: Or you can work in a factory: kārkhooné.

Matt: kārkhooné.

Leyla: And these two words together, kār is ‘work’, and khooné is ‘house’, so you're saying ‘a house of work’: a factory. So, man dar kārkhooné kār meekonam.

Matt: man dār kārkhooné kār meekonam.

Leyla: And watch the dar: man dar kārkhooné kār meekonam.

Matt: man dar kārkhooné kār meekonam.

Leyla: Or a restaurant: restoorān.

Matt: restoorān.

Leyla: Or a hospital: beemarestān.

Matt: beemarestān.

Leyla: And finally, let's learn how to ask if you like your job. To say it in the informal form, you ask “kāretō doost dāree?”

Matt: kāretō doost dāree?

Leyla: doost means ‘to like’, and dāree means 'do you'. So, again, kāret-ō doost dāree?

Matt: kāret-ō doost dāree?

Leyla: To say yes, you say “balé, kāram-ō doost dāram.”

Matt: balé, kāram-ō doost dāram.

Leyla: Or to say ‘no’, you say “na, kāram-ō doost nadāram.”

Matt: na, kāram-ō doost nadāram.

Leyla: In the formal form, you can ask “kāretoon-ō doost dāreed?”

Matt: kāretoon-ō doost dāreed?

Leyla: So now, let's try having a conversation with all these words we've learned so far in this lesson. I'll start. 

salām! esmé man sara hast.

Matt: salām! man dāneeyel hastam.

Leyla: dāneeyel, ché karé hastee?

Matt: man doktor hastam.

Leyla: kojā kār meekonee?

Matt: dar beemārestan kār meekonam.

Leyla: kāret-ō doost dāree?

Matt: khayli kāram-ō doost dāram.

Leyla: And hopefully, you understood all those words in that conversation. Now, there's one more thing we're going to learn before we wrap up the lesson, and that is how to say you don't work at all. To say 'I don't work', you say “man kār nemeekonam.”

Matt: man kār nemeekonam.

Leyla: And this just means 'I don't work'. And to say you are without a job, you say “man beekāram.”

Matt: man beekāram.

Leyla: There's a subtle difference between the two. beekāram is usually what you use if you've been laid off or fired, or would like a job but don't have one. To say that you work, you say "kār meekonam."

Matt: kār meekonam.

Leyla: And to say you don't work, you say “kār nemeekonam.”

Matt: kār nemeekonam.

Leyla: Or if you're retired, you could say “man bāzneshasté hastam.”

Matt: man bāzneshasté hastam.

Leyla: bāzneshasté is the word for ‘retired’, so you're saying 'I'm retired.'

And that brings us to the end of Lesson 7!

Matt: Thanks again for listening and we look forward to you joining us next time on Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation.