Persian grammar (Persian: دستور زبان فارسی, Dastur-e Zabân-e Fârsi lit. Grammar of the Persian language) is the grammar of the Persian language, whose dialectal variants are spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Caucasus, Uzbekistan (in Samarqand, Bukhara and the Surxondaryo Region) and Tajikistan. It is similar to that of many other Indo-European languages. The language became a more analytic language around the time of Middle Persian, with fewer cases and discarding grammatical gender. The innovations remain in Modern Persian, which is one of the few Indo-European languages to lack grammatical gender, even in pronouns.
While Persian has a standard subject-object-verb (SOV) word order, it is not strongly left-branching. However, because Persian is a pro-drop language, the subject of a sentence is often not apparent until the end of the verb, at the end of a sentence.
The main clause precedes a subordinate clause, often using the familiar Indo-European subordinator ke ("which").
The interrogative particle âyâ (آیا), that asks a yes-no question, in written Persian, appears at the beginning of a sentence. Grammatical modifiers, such as adjectives, normally follow the nouns they modify by using the ezâfe, but they occasionally precede nouns. Persian is one of the few SOV languages to use prepositions. The only case marker in the written language, râ (را) (in the spoken language, ـ رو ro or ـو o), follows a definite direct object noun phrase.
Normal sentences are subject-prepositional phrase-object-verb. If the object is specific, the order is (S) (O + râ) (PP) V. However, Persian can have a relatively free word order, often called scrambling, because the parts of speech are generally unambiguous, and prepositions and the accusative marker help to disambiguate the case of a given noun phrase. The scrambling characteristic has allowed Persian a high degree of flexibility for versification and rhyming.
In the literary language, no definite article ("the") is used; rather, it is implied by the absence of the indefinite article ("a, an"). However, in the spoken language, the stressed suffix ـه -e or -a is often used as a definite article. -e is mostly used in urban areas and -a is mostly used in rural areas. The first one is in newer dialects and the second one is in older dialects. The consonants and vowels changed throughout history.
For plural nouns, the definite plural marker ـها -hâ functions as both the plural marker and the definite article.
The indefinite article in both spoken and literary Persian is the number one, یک yek, often shortened to یه ye.
Main article: Persian nouns
Persian nouns and pronouns have no grammatical gender. Arabic loanwords with the feminine ending ـة reduce to a genderless Persian ـه which is pronounced -e in Persian and -a in Arabic. Many borrowed Arabic feminine words retain their Arabic feminine plural form ـات (-ât), but Persian descriptive adjectives modifying them have no gender. Arabic adjectives also lose their gender in Persian.
All nouns can be made plural by the suffix ـها -hâ, which follows a noun and does not change its form. Plural forms are used less often than in English and are not used after numbers or زیاد ziyâd "many" or (بسیار(ی besyâr(i). ـها -hâ is used only when the noun has no numbers before it and is definite.
In the spoken language, when nouns or pronouns end with a consonant, -hâ is reduced to -â .
In the literary language, animate nouns generally use the suffix ـان -ân (or variants ـگان -gân and ـیان -yân) for plurals, but ـها -hâ is more common in the spoken language.
Nouns adopted from Arabic usually have special plurals, formed with the ending ـات -ât or by changing the vowels. (E.g. کِتاب ketâb / کُتُب kotob for "book/books".) Arabic nouns can generally take Persian plural endings, but the original form is sometimes more common. The most common plural form depends on the individual word. (Cf. "indexes" vs. "indices" in English for the plural of a word adopted from Latin.)
There are two cases in Persian: nominative (or subject) case and accusative (or object) case. The nominative is the unmarked form of a noun, but when the noun is followed by a را râ or suffix ـ رو ro or ـو o, it is in the accusative. The other oblique cases are marked by prepositions.
Inanimate subjects do not require plural verb forms, especially in the spoken language: ketâbhâ unjâst ('the books "is" there').
Persian is a null-subject or pro-drop language, so personal pronouns (e.g. 'I', 'he', 'she') are optional. Pronouns add râ when they are used as the object but otherwise stay the same. The first-person singular accusative form من را man râ 'me' can be shortened to marâ or, in the spoken language, mano. Pronominal genitive enclitics (see above) are different from normal pronouns, however.
|1st||man مَن||mâ ما|
|2nd||to تو||šomâ شُما|
|3rd||u او (human)
ân آن (non-human),
vey وِى* (human only, literary)
|ânhâ آنها (non-human/human), |
išân ایشان (human only and formal)
* rarely used
|1st||man مَن||mâ ما|
|2nd||to تو||šomâ شُما|
išun ایشان* (honorary)
|unhâ/unâ آنها (normal), |
išun ایشان (honorary)
* uses 3rd person plural verb form
Persian resembles Romance languages like French in that the second person plural pronoun šomâ is used as a polite form of address. Persian to is used among intimate friends (the so-called T–V distinction). However, Persian also resembles Indo-Aryan languages like Hindustani in that the third person plural form, with the pronoun išun, is used for politeness to refer to one person, especially in the presence of that person:
Possession is often expressed by adding suffixes to nouns; the same suffixes can also be used as object pronouns. For the third person these are gender-neutral (unlike in English); for example, کتابش ketâbaš could mean 'his book' or 'her book'.
|1st||-am ـَم||-emân ـِمان|
|2nd||-at ـَت||-etân ـِتان|
|3rd||-aš ـَش||-ešân ـِشان|
|1st||-am ـَم||-emun ـِمون|
|2nd||-et ـِت||-etun ـِتون|
|3rd||-eš ـِش||-ešun ـِشون|
When the stem to which they are added ends in a vowel, a y is inserted for ease of pronunciation. However, with the plural marker ـها -hâ, it is also common in Iranian dialects to drop the -a-/-e- stem from the possessive marker. For example, 'my cars' could be translated as either ماشینهایم mâšinhâyam with the -y- or ماشینهام mâšinhâm. It can be simplified even more to the colloquial spoken form by dropping h, for ease of pronunciation, to ماشینام mâšinâm. Sometimes, ها -hâ is written attached to the word: ماشینها mâšinhâ.
Another way of expressing possession is by using subject pronouns or a noun phrase with ezâfe. Although in the third person this implies a change of person. These can also never be used as a possessive or direct object within a clause in which the same is the subject of the verb.
Object pronouns are the same as subject pronouns (followed by the postposition را râ), but objects can also be marked with the possessive determiners described above, which get attached to the verbs instead of nouns and don't need the postposition; consider the example "Yesterday I saw him" shown below.
|diruz u râ didam||دیروز او را دیدَم||Postposition را râ needed when using a subject pronoun as an object pronoun.|
|diruz didamaš||دیروز دیدَمَش||No postposition needed; possessive determiner attached to the verb.|
The demonstrative pronouns are این (in, this) and آن (ân, that) respectively. Their plural forms can be اینها (inhâ, these) and آنها (ânhâ, those) for inanimate nouns, or اینان (inân, these) and آنان (ânân, those) for animate nouns. Note that آن and آنها are also used as third-person subject pronouns.
Demonstratives can also be combined with the indefinite pronouns یکی (yeki, one) and یکیها (yekihâ, ones) to give: این یکی (in yeki, this one), آن یکی (ân yeki, that one), این یکیها (in yekihâ, these ones) and آن یکیها (ân yekihâ, those ones).
Adjectives typically follow the nouns they modify, using the ezâfe construct. However, adjectives can precede nouns in compounded derivational forms such as xoš-baxt (literally 'good-luck') 'lucky', and bad-kâr (literally 'bad-deed') 'wicked'. Adjectives can come in any different orders after a noun and in this case adjectives that come at the end have more emphasis. Comparative forms ('more ...') make use of the suffix -tar (تَر), and the superlative form ('the most ...') uses the suffix -tarin (تَرین).
Comparatives used attributively follow the nouns they modify, but superlatives precede their nouns.
The word 'than' is expressed by the preposition از (az):
سگ من از گربهٔ تو کوچکتر است
sag-e man az gorbe-ye to kučektar ast
'my dog is smaller than your cat'
Main article: Persian verbs
Normal verbs can be formed using the following pattern:
NEG – DUR or SUBJ/IMPER – root – PAST – PERSON – OBJ
|1st||ـَم -am||ـیم -im|
|2nd||ـی -i||ـید -id|
|3rd||ـَد -ad*||ـَند -and|
* In the past tense, the past stem alone is used without any ending (e.g. رفت raft, not رفتد *raftad)
|1st||ـَم -am||ـیم -im|
|2nd||ـی -i||ـید/ـین -id/-in|
|3rd||ـه -e*||ـَن -an|
* In the past tense, the past stem alone is used without any ending (رفت raft, not رفته *rafte)
|1st||ـَم -am||ـِمان -emân|
|2nd||ـَت -at||ـِتان -etân|
|3rd||ـَش -aš||ـِشان -ešân|
|1st||ـَم -am||ـِمون -emun|
|2nd||ـِت -et||ـِتون -etun|
|3rd||ـِش -eš||ـِشون -ešun|
Main article: Persian verbs
Here are the most common tenses:
The infinitive ending is formed with ـَن (-an): خوردن xordan 'to eat'. The basic stem of the verb is formed by deleting this ending: خورد xord.
The past tense is formed by deleting the infinitive ending and adding the personal endings to the stem. In the third person singular, however, there is no personal ending so خوردن xordan would become خورد xord, 'he/she/it ate'.
The imperfect tense is made by taking the past tense as described above and prefixing it with می mî-, thus میخوردم mîxordam 'I was eating', 'I used to eat'. This tense can also have a conditional meaning: 'I would eat', 'I would have eaten'.
The perfect tense is formed by taking the stem of the verb, adding ـه e to the end and then adding the different persons of the present tense of 'to be'. So خوردن xordan in the perfect first person singular would be خوردهام xordeam 'I have eaten' and the 3rd person singular would become خورده است xorde ast. However, in the spoken form, ast is omitted, making خورده xorde 's/he has eaten".
The pluperfect tense is formed by taking the stem of the perfect, e.g. خورده xorde, adding بود bud, and finally adding the personal endings: خورده بودم xorde budam 'I had eaten'. In the third person singular, بود bud is added (with no ending).
The future tense is formed by taking the present tense form of خواستن xâstan 'to want', and conjugating it to the correct person; this verb in third person singular is خواهد xâhad. Next, it is put in front of the shortened infinitive of the verb, e.g. خورد xord, thus خواهد خورد xâhad xord 'he/she/it will eat'. For compound verbs, such as تمیز کردن tamiz kardan 'to clean', خواهد xâhad goes in between both words, and کردن kardan is reduced to its stem, thus تمیز خواهد کرد tamiz xâhad kard 'he/she/it will clean'. In the negative, خواهد xâhad receives نـ na- to make نخواهد خورد naxâhad xord 'he will not eat'. The future tense is generally avoided in colloquial Persian.
The present tense is formed by taking the present stem of the verb, adding the prefix می mî-, and conjugating it. The present stem is often not predictable from the infinitive and so is to be learnt separately. The present stem of the verb خوردن xordan 'to eat' for example, is خور xor, so the present first person singular would be میخورم mîxoram 'I eat, am eating, do eat'. The third person singular ending is ـد -ad. The negative نـ is pronounced ne- before mî-, but in all other tenses, it is pronounced na-. Frequently the present tense is used together with an adverb (for example: فردا fardâ 'tomorrow') instead of the future tense described above.
The present subjunctive is made by changing the prefix mî- of the present tense to بـ be- or bo- (before a verb with the vowel o): بخورم boxoram 'I may eat, let me eat', بنويسم benevisam 'I may write', 'let me write'.
Light verbs such as کردن kardan 'to do, to make' are often used with nouns to form what is called a compound verb, light verb construction, or complex predicate. For example, the word گفتگو goftegu means 'conversation', while گفتگو کردن goftegu kardan means 'to speak'. One may add a light verb after a noun, adjective, preposition, or prepositional phrase to form a compound verb. Only the light verb (e.g. kardan) is conjugated; the word preceding it is not affected:
Other examples of compound verbs with kardan:
In the spoken language, certain commonly used verbs are pronounced in a shortened form:
Prepositions in Persian generally behave like in English and precede their object. They come in two kinds: the basic prepositions such as dar 'in', which are placed directly before the noun or pronoun without an ezâfe, and a more numerous class, made from nouns or adverbs joined to the following noun by an ezâfe (-e or -ye). They include the following: