Speak / Lesson 16

How to Talk More About Food and Specific Persian Meals

It's hard to talk about Persian food without wanting to eat it, so we apologize for this lesson in advance. In this lesson, we will go over different mealtimes that come up in every culture, such as:

breakfast - sobhāné

lunch - nāhār

dinner - shām

and a few other meals in between. We learn how to call people to a meal, and talk about a few different extremely popular Persian foods. 

We also learn how to leave a party. In Persian culture, leaving requires a whole ritual- it's not a simple process. So for instance, Iranians never simply say they have to go. Instead, they use the phrase 'bāyad yavāsh yavāsh beram,' which literally means 'I have to slowly, slowly go.' This begins the incremental process of leaving. They use the phrase a few times in order to warn the host that they're about to leave. It takes a few more steps to actually accomplish this task however, such as getting up, standing by the door for a while, standing by the car for a while, etc. Iranians just like to keep the party going.


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: In lesson 14, we went over the names for different places around town. In this lesson, we're going to expand on that by learning how to ask for directions and how to get more information about places in general. Let's begin, however, with vocabulary for more places around town that we didn't get to in that lesson, and let's also go over the vocabulary for a few different modes of transportation. Perhaps you're on vacation and you're not staying at home. You would stay in a hotel, or in Persian hotel

Matt: hotel

Leyla: So as you can see, the words for these two are not so different. Hotel vs. hotel. Hotel

Matt: Hotel

Leyla: The word for post office is edareye post

Matt: Edareye post

Leyla: We've learned edare before, it means office. So edareye post, post office

Matt: Edareye post

Leyla: The word for university is daneshgah

Matt: Daneshgah

Leyla: And school is madrese

Matt: Madrese

Leyla: You might remember the word madrasa- it was in the news quite frequently recently and was mistakenly translated as Islamic school. But in fact, madrese in Persian simply means school and has no relgious connotations. Madreseh

Matt: Madrese

Leyla: Keeping on the theme of children, daycare is 'mahdekoodak'

Matt: Mahdekoodak

Leyla: Let's learn one more extremely easy one, and that is the word for park, park

Matt: Park

Leyla: Now let's go over the vocabulary for a few forms of transportation. Let's start with car, masheen

Matt: Masheen

Leyla: Just like in English where automobile is an alternative for car, automobile is an alternative for masheen. Automobile

Matt: Automobile

Leyla: The word for bicycle in Persian is 'docharkheh'

Matt: docharkheh

Leyla: The word for bus is 'autobus'

Matt: Autobus

Leyla: The word for train is ghatar

Matt: Ghatar

Leyla: Plane is havapayma

Matt: Havapayma

Leyla: There are plenty other modes of transportation but let's learn one more for now and that is on foot, or peeyadeh

Matt: Peeyadeh

so now, if you see someone in the street and you want to ask them where something is, you could always add an intonation of a question to the word and look really lost, like muse? but you could also ask the complete question, where is the museum? We've learned the word for where before 'koja'

Matt: koja

Leyla: To say where is the museum then, you would say 'Muse kojast?'

Matt: muse kojast?

Leyla: And of course knowing that in Persian words are often combined, kojast is a combination of koja and hast. Kojast. Muse kojast?

Matt: Muse kojast?

Leyla: And if you see someone in the street and you'd like to stop them to ask them a question, you say 'I'm sorry'- bebakhsheed

Matt: Babakhsheed

Leyla: This literally means pardon me, or excuse me. Babakhsheed

Matt: bebakhsheed

Leyla: So to say excuse me, where is the museum, you say 'bebakhsheed, muse kojast?'

Matt: Bebakhsheed, muse kojast

Leyla: How would you say excuse me where is the bank?

Matt: Bebakhsheed, bank kojast?

Leyla: How about where is the restaurant?

Matt: Bebakhsheed, restooran kojast?

Leyla: There are several ways to ask for the location of a place, and one could be that you have a map, and they're going to point out the location on the map. To say this, we need to learn a couple of phrases. If you ask where a museum is, and they're going to point out the location to you, they could say 'eenjast'

Matt: eenjast

Leyla: meaning 'it's here'. or muse eenjast

Matt: muse eenjast

Leyla: They could also point to the building and if it is slightly in the distance could say 'oonjast' meaning it's there. oonjast

Matt: Oonjast

Leyla: So eenjast means 'it's here' and oonjast means 'it's there'. One more thing, you might be looking for a particular building and you might want to ask, is it near? or is it far? The word for near is nazdeek

Matt: Nazdeek

Leyla: so to ask is it near, you'd simply say 'nazdeeke?'

Matt: nazdeeke?

Leyla: so you know the word for here, it's eenja

Matt: eenja

Leyla: so to say is it close to here, you simply say 'nazdeeke eenjast?

Matt: Nazdeeke eenjast?

Leyla: And to say for instance, the museum close to here, you could say muse nazdeeke eenjast

Matt: Muse nazdeeke eenjast

Leyla: And as always, to make it a question, raise the tone at the end- muse nazdeeke eenjast?

Matt: Muse nazdeeke eenjast?

Leyla: The opposite of near is far which in Persian is 'door'

Matt: door

Leyla: So doore?

Matt: Doore

Leyla: that's is it far. To ask is it far from here, we have to flip things around a bit. To say is it far from here, the phrase is 'az eenja doore?'

Matt: Az eenja doore

Leyla: and to say is the museum far from here, it's

Matt: muse az eenja doore

Leyla: Now to combine these sentiments with the modes of transportation we learned earlier, there are several questions you can ask to find out whether the place you want to go is near or far. To begin, you could ask, 'could we get there by foot?' In Persian this is 'peeyade meeshe raft?'

Matt: Peeyade meesheh raft

Leyla: Meeshe is the word for is it possible, and you will hear this said a lot in Persian. Meeshe

Matt: Meeshe

Leyla: And to answer, you could simply say 'baleh meeshe'

Matt: Baleh, meesheh

Leyla: Which means 'yes it is is possible'. Or 'na, nemeesheh'

Matt: Na, nemeesheh

Leyla: Which means Òno, it is not possible'

Leyla: You could also ask 'could we get there by bus'É 'ba autobus meesheh raft?'

Matt: Ba autobus meesheh raft?

Leyla: Ba again is the word for with, so you can use this for any of the vehicles of transportation, for instance, ba machine meesheh raft, ba docharkheh meesheh raft, etc.

So now let's try a short dialogues combining the words we've learned so far. Matt, you start

Matt: Bebakhsheed, park kojast?

Leyla: Hamoon oonjast

Matt: Khayli nazdeeke!

Leyla: Bale, nazdeeke

Matt: Pass peeyade meeshe raft

Leyla: Baleh, meeshe

Matt: Khayli mamnoon!

Leyla: Moshgelee neest

Leyla: Ok, so you should have been able to recognize most of the words in this dialogue. First Matt asked 'babakhsheed, park kojast?' What does this mean Matt

Matt: It means 'excuse me, where is the park'

Leyla: Exactly, and I presumably pointed in some direction and said 'hamoon oonjast. Hamoon is a word that we haven't covered but it's a filler word which translates to the equivalent of 'it's right there'. So instead of simply saying 'there' you're saying 'it's right there' in a conversational way. Hamoon oonjast

Matt: Hamoon oonjast

Leyla: And Matt replied with 'khayli nazdeekeh!' You know both of these words, so what does that mean Matt?

Matt: It's very close!

Leyla: And then I replied that 'baleh nazdeeke'É yes it's close, simple enough. Then Matt replies 'pass peeyade meeshe raft'. Peeyade meesheh raft as we learned means 'it's possible to go by foot'. What do you think pass means Matt

Matt: Something like 'then'

Leyla: Exactly, so Matt is saying 'then it's possible to go by foot.' After Matt says 'khayli mamnoon' or thanks very much, I replied moshgelee neest. This means 'no problem'. Moshgelee neest

Matt: Moshgelee neest