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You will learn ... / Persian... edit

  • Verb tenses
    • Subjunctive (be-)
    • Can, may, should, must
    • How to ask questions

Persian pronunciation edit

For help in pronouncing Persian words : Persian pronunciation

Verbs edit

The prefix "be-" or "bo-" edit

The subjunctive marker be-/bo- is used:

  • 1. in the case of uncertainty (i.e. after shâyad (maybe), agar (if), bâyad (must) and the like.
  • 2. If there are more than two verbs in a sentence (no matter past or present) the second, third .... verb begin with be-.

So you see that when you have to use "to" before the second verb in English you have to use "be-" in Persian.

So the correct forms are:

  • "Mixahæm sibi boxoræm"
  • "Mixastæm sibi boxoræm"

"in the past tense, you can also say "Xastæm" instead of "Mixastæm" for "I wanted"

Xâstam and mixâstam are two different tenses.

  • Xâstam means "I wanted",
  • Mixâstam means "I used to want".

Adding mi- to the simple past tense makes it durative. For many verbs like "mi-did-am" you can always translate it in English as "I used to see" but for the sense-related verbs like "mixâstam" depending on the context both "I want" or "I used to want" can serve as English translation.

You can we use the prefix "be" in all the following examples(?):

  • I like/love VERBing (for example "Zeban yad begirem dust daram" ("I love learning languages") (?)
  • I tried to VERB
  • I hate VERBing (for example "az benevisad moteneffer ast" ("he hates writing") (?) (I have a feeling that this is a little different)
  • I started/ended VERBing

and so on...

  • I like/love VERBing ("Zeban yad gereftan dust daram". Gereftan is the infinitive.
  • I tried to VERB. (Sa'y kardam be-Verb-am).
  • He hates VERBing ("az neveshtan moteneffer ast"
  • I started/ended VERBing. (Shoru' kardam neveshtan).

As you see for VERBing we use normally the infinitive form in Persian.

Can, may, should, must edit

I already learnt these before, but now that I have a clearer picture of the usage of the prefix "be," I would just like to ask one example for each auxillary verb to make sure that I am using it right. Thanks in advance.

Can edit

  • "I can go to school" Is it "mitoonam beh medreseh beram" ?(from where I learnt, the prefix "be" was not used in "can")
  • "I could go to school" IS it "mitevanestem beh medreseh beravam" ??
  • "I can go to school" is "mitoonam beh medreseh beram".

Be- is used here because it is the second verb. (In literature and some instances of the spoken language be-can be omited, whenever you see a verb without a be- or mi- you can be sure it has been the be- which is omited thus it is subjunctive, mi- is never omited).

  • "I could go to school" is "mitavânestem beh medreseh be-rav-am".

Like in English the present tense is used for "go".

May, might edit

I know how to say "might have VERBed"

  • "I might have eaten that apple" should be "shayæd an sib ra xordeh bashæm" (is this true?, the website I learnt from does not use the prefix "be")

But I do not know how to say "might VERB":

  • "I might eat that apple" ??
  • "I might have eaten that apple" is indeed "shayæd an sib ra xordeh bashæm".

xorde bâsham is the subjunctive from for the past tenses. In the past tense -bâsh- (historically be+ast) is used for making the subjunctive form.

  • "I might eat that apple": "Shâyad ân sib-ra be-xoram".

Should, must edit

Again I know how to say "must have VERBed"

  • "I must have eaten that apple" Is it "bayæd an sib ra mixordæm" ? (the website I learnt from does not use the prefix "be" here.)

But I do not know how to say "must VERB"

  • "I must eat that apple" ??
  • "I must have eaten that apple" Is "bâyad an sib râ xorde bâsham"
  • "bayæd an sib râ mixordæm" means: "I had to eat that apple".
  • "I must eat that apple" is: "Bâyad âan sib râ be-xor-am.

If edit

Teshekkor mikonam. (thank you)


  • Agar in sib râ bo-xor-am ... (If I eat this apple ...)
  • Agar be-xâh-i bo-xor-i. (If you would want to eat).

The first be- is because of (uncertainty), the second because it is the second verb.

  • Agar mi-xâh-i boxori. (If you want to eat).
  • Agar xâsti boxori. (If you wanted to eat).
  • Agar mi-xâsti boxori. (If you always wanted to eat).

Past subjunctive:

  • Agar xorde-bâshi. (If you have eaten).

    • "if you don't go to school today, you will be punished" Is: "agar emruz beh medreseh na-rævi, tanbih xâhi shod".

Negation of subjunctive: The be- is replaced by na-.

  • How about the 2nd kind of "if" (subjunctive):
    • "if you ate the entire cake, you would get sick." is "Agar hame-ye Kayk râ mi-xordi (ehtemâlan) mariz mi-shod-i.

The durative past tense (mixordi) has as subjunctive the same form (mixordi). Ehtemâlan means possibly.

    • "If you had not eaten that cake, you would not have thrown up". is: "Agar ân Kayk râ na-xorde-budi, bâlâ ne-mi-âvardi.

Ne-mi-âvardi is the subjunctive of the durative (repeatetive) form mi-âvardi (you brought during a certain time). Bâlâ means up.

Tækrar (that means "again"(?)) teshekkor mikonæm. Correct form: Dobâreh (again) tashakkor mikonam.

Active voice:

Indicative --> Subjunctive edit

  • miravam --> beravam
  • xâham raft --> beravam
  • raftam --> rafte bâsham
  • rafteh-am (I have gone) --> rafte bâsham
  • mi-raftam --> mi-raftam
  • rafte budam (I had gone) --> rafte budeh bâsham

Passive voice:

Indicative --> Subjunctive edit

  • xorde mi-shavam (I am (being) eaten) --> xorde be-shavam
  • xorde xâham shod (I'll be eaten) --> xorde beshavam.
  • xorde shodam (I was eaten) --> xorde shode bâsham
  • xorde shodeh-am (I have been eaten) --> xorde shode bâsham
  • xorde mi-shodam (I used to be eaten) --> xorde mi-shodam
  • xorde shode budam (I had been eaten) --> xorde shode budeh bâsham.

Future perfect tense edit

How about the future perfect tense:

  • "By the time spring comes, he will have already left.

Is the second part is like "terk kerdeh khahed bud" ?

  • "By the time spring comes, he will have already left. gives :
  • "Bahâr ke be-ây-ad, u digar rafte ast/u injâ râ tark karde-ast".

We use just the tense based on "present participle" i.e. "rafte ast" for "Will have VERB-ed".

Why don't you say "Bahâr ke mi-ây-ad", but say "Bahâr ke be-ây-ad," in the example here?

"Bahâr ke be-ây-ad" means: "When (in the case/if) spring comes"
  • "Bahâr ke miâyad" means: "When (every time) the spring comes".

Imperatives edit

I have learnt that imperatives can be built in two ways: with or wihout the prefix "bo":

  • Go! --> Ro! or Boro!

Is this the case for all verb imperatives? Does the prefix "bo" have an additional meaning?

-- Basically all the imperatives are made as: be+present stem, whithout personal endings (except for 2nd person plural).

Using imperative without be- is found in literary works and in spoken Persian in the case of much used verbs be- is omited in combinations.

  • like: Behtar (be-)sho! "become better".
  • bâz (be-)kon! "Open"!

Next thing you should know is that under the influence of "o" in some frequently used verb stems preffix be- is pronounced bo- in standard spoken Persian. Thus:

  • Boro, Boxor, bokon but: begu, beshuy (Wash!), bedân (Know!).

The same happens to be- becoming bi- in spoken language in some cases like:

  • bi-yâ (come!), bi-âr (be-âvar) )bring!) etc.

Exercises edit

Ex 1 : Quiz edit

Go to the Quiz.

Ex 2 : Memory training edit

Write out the Persian words, section by section.

Have 2 columns, clearly separated, and write Persian and English. Then cover up one column (eg. English) with paper and write the corresponding words on the paper. Then try it the other way round, cover up the Persian, and write out the words using the English as cues. This will be a little bit more difficult.

Repeat all this after an interval, the more you do it the easier you will remember the words.

If you want to add words to this page, please make sure you put them into a sentense in Lesson 2 wherever you can.

Khâhesh mikonam (You're welcome).