Farsi Phrases (Persian Phrases) to Sound Local

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A comprehensive list of useful Farsi phrases to help you feel local when visiting Iran or Afghanistan.

Farsi phrases to sound local - cover image

Phrasebooks tend to tell you just “hello” and “goodbye”. But you need to use these polite Farsi phrases to survive and be respectful in day-to-day life in Iran (as well as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and other places that speak Farsi).

For example, in English, people don’t often greet you with “Hello”. Most people say “Hi”, “Hey”, or some other variant. That’s what we’re trying to show in this list of Farsi phrases: colloquial phrases people actually say that sound a lot more natural. These earn you points!


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Farsi/Persian Survival Phrases — Summary

Print it out!

We’ve prepared a PDF version of this list of Farsi phrases for you to print out or download to your phone.

More detail below. But here’s your quick guide! (See below for pronunciation tips.)

EnglishفارسیFarsi (transliterated)
HelloسلامSalaam
Welcome!خوش آمديد!khosh aamadid!
Pleased to meet youخوش وقتمkhosh vakhtam
(General politeness) I hope you’re not tiredخسته نباشیدkhaste nabaashid
(General politeness, response) I hope you are in peaceسلامت باشيدsalaamat baashid
How are you? (formal, casual)احوالتون چطوره؟ahvaal-e-tun chetoreh?
How are you? (informal?)چطوری؟chetori?
I’m fine, thanksخوبم، مرسیkhubam, mersi
I’m not badبد نیستمbad nistam
Well…واللهvallah…
I’m sorry (slightly apologetic)/excuse meببخشیدbebakhshid
I’m very sorry (apologetic, for mistake)معذرت میخوامmaz’erat mikhaam
With your permission (excusing oneself)با اجازتونbaa ejaazatun
Don’t worry about it/You’re welcome/I appreciate it/By all meansخواهش میکنمkhaahesh mikonam
Please (inviting), welcomeبفرمايدbefarmaaid
I don’t know where my phone is.نمی دانم تلفنن کجاست.nemidunam telefonam kojaast
Where is the bathroom (toilet)?دستشویی کجاست؟dast-shui kojaast?
Do you work here?شما اینجا کار میکنید؟shomaa injaa kaar mikonid?
This meal was delicious! (may your hands not hurt)دستتون درد نکنهdastetun dard nakoneh
Response to “This meal was delicious” (may your head not hurt)سرتون درد نکنهsaretun dard nakoneh
How much is this?این چنده؟in chandeh?
It’s a little expensive for me.این برای من يک کمی گرونه.in baraye man yek kami geruneh
Can you make it cheaper?میتونید ارزونترش کنید؟mitunid arzuntaresh konid?
Thank youمرسیmersi
Thank you (variant)خيلی ممنونkheili mamnun
Thank you (more formal)متشکرمmoteshakeram
This is not worthy of you (when handing a present or tip)اين قابل شما نیستin qaabel-e shoma nist
May I trouble you for something?میتونم یک زحمات بهتون بدم؟mitunam yek zahmat behetun bedam?
May I request something of you?می تونم یک خدمت از شما بپرسم؟mitunam yek khedmat az shoma beporsam?
May I ask a questionمی تونم یک سئوال بپرسم؟mitunam yek so’al beporsam?
Good job! Well done!آفرین! بارک الله!aafarin! barikallah!
Yes/Noآره / نهaareh/nah
Yes (polite)بلهbaleh
Yes (in response to request, order) (lit. “eye”)چشمchashm
Pleaseلطفاlotfan
Goodbyeخداحافظkhodaa haafez
Goodbye (variant, means “God is the preserving”)خدانگهدارkhodaa negahdaar
See you later (sing/plural)میبینمت/میبینمتونmibinamet/mibinametun
Finished! It’s over!تمام شدtamum shod!
Shall we go?بریم؟berim?
Shall we go this way?از این طرف بریم؟az in taraf berim?
This way, pleaseاز این طرف لطفآaz in taraf lotfan
May I? May we?میتونم؟ میتونیم؟mitunam? mitunim?
I just want to look.فقط میخوام نگاه کنم.faqat mikhaam negaa konam.
I don’t knowنمیدونم.nemidunam
I’m not sureمتما’ان نیستم.motma’en nistam.
One second, pleaseیک لحظه, لطفآ.yek lahzeh, lotfan.
Let me just… (allow me to)اجازه بدین…ejaazeh bedin…
very, really (including as a question)جداjeddan
very, really (including as a question, another variant)واقعاvaagh’an

Essential greetings in Farsi

Yes, salaam (سلام) is the most fundamental greeting you should know.

But Farsi quickly devolves into an escalating spiral of pleasantries, with no rival in any language to my knowledge!

The most important ones are

  • Welcome: khosh aamadid (خوش آمدید). People will usually say this to you. Respond with mersi (مرسی).
  • “I hope you’re not tired”: khasteh nabaashid (خسته نباشید). Again, people will say this to you. It’s a general pleasantry expression, reflecting the fact that you’ve travelled to come to them. Respond with salaamat bashid (سلامت باشید), which means “I hope you are in peace”.

After that, a conversation can go anywhere. It may just switch to English!

The most useful Farsi word: befarmaaid

The word befarmaaid (بفرمايد) is the most useful word to learn in Farsi. You’ll hear it all the time, and you can use it and get a smile!

It’s a general “invitation”. You use it

  • When opening the door for someone
  • When offering someone a seat
  • Inviting someone to eat food or to serve themselves
  • When giving something to someone, like money or a phone
  • When inviting someone to speak

It has equivalents in other languages, like je vous en prie in French or itfaDDal in Arabic (with variants in pronunciation).

Thanking someone for a meal in Farsi

Before starting a meal, look at the host in the eye and say with a smile “dastetun dard nakoneh!” (دستتون درد نکنه)

This is formal tone but it doesn’t matter. I can even say this to my own mother. It literally means “may your hands not hurt”, referring to the work they’ve done making the meal.

You can say it after a meal too.

This is the Farsi equivalent of saying bon appetit! in French (or other European languages) before starting a meal. But it is really thanking the chef. It has the same effect.

Bargaining in Farsi

Everything is a negotiation in Farsi, just as in most of the non-Western world.

The difference between countries is in how aggressive the negotiation is and the tone that it takes. Farsi negotiation is aggressive, but very polite and calm, and sometimes even apologetic (unless someone senses they’re being conned).

That’s why in Farsi bargaining you’ll hear phrases like “I’m sorry” (bebakhshid, ببخشید) when saying something is too expensive, and “Please” (lotfan, لطفآ) or “Kindly…” (lotf konid, لطف کنید) when asking to reduce the price.

Pronunciation guide

Pronouncing Farsi is very easy, don’t worry. The conventions I use to are as simple as possible, and are like this:

  • Most consonants are the same (except where specified.
  • Vowels a, e, i, o, u: The same as Spanish, short vowels like in bad, bed, bin (British), fork, moon.
  • Unusual consonants: kh is the aspirated h like Spanish’s j or Hebrew’s ח, and the apostrophe ‘ represents a glottal stop
  • The long aa is like a long British “o” sound

Intonation is more difficult to get, but that’s why we always recommend tutors.

Note on colloquial/standard and informal/formal Persian

Farsi has many ways of expressing the same thing: there are variations on politeness, on abbreviation, and on colloquial/standard pronunciation. There’s also singular/plural differentiation when talking to someone.

(See our full guide to the differences between formal and informal Farsi.)

For example, here are a bunch of ways of saying “How are you?” with variations in the above (transliterated): chetori? halet chetoreh? chetor hasti? halet chetor? shoma chetorid? shoma chetorin? shoma chetor hastid? shoma chetor hastin? haletun chetoreh? hale shoma chetoreh?

Luckily, in Persian it’s not “weird” to be too formal unless you’re talking to a little kid (which is unlikely) or your best friend. It may seem polite but nobody is going to laugh or be offended. A friend may correct your tone though! (Don’t worry, the changes are very easy!)

In the above examples, I’ve kept the tone an appropriate balance, as formal as possible without being awkward.

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