A guide to Persian: To Greet and Introduce

Persian is the official language of multi lingual Iran and every Iranian speaks it beside his/her mother tongue. Even though Persian borrows 28 out of 32 letters from Arabic, it is totally different language in which even the letters are pronounced differently. This relatively simple language is very easy to grasp. The grammar is not really complicated and the nouns and verbs have no gender. The language has a formal and an informal way of talking and I am going to give some guide on the informal Persian which is spoken in verbal communications in the streets. Meanwhile i’ll explain some cultural habits too.

When you meet an Iranian, you say Salam (Hello). They often greet by raising hand to shake or/and give a hug which is a common Middle Eastern tradition. And they will tell you: Kheili Khosh Amadid. (Welcome! for greeting.) But do not attempt to shake hands with a woman unless she voluntarily raises her hand.

In Persian for Mr, Ms they say “Aghaye [name], Khanoome [name]”  and out of respect they use plural verbs and pronouns.

If they ask you, “Khubi? / Halet Chetore?” (How are you?), you respond : “Khoobam, mamnoon. Va shoma?” ( I am fine, thanks. And you?)

If they do not know your name, then you may introduce yourself “Man [your name] hastam”. (I am [your name]) and in return ask their name: “Esm-e shoma chiye?” And when they respond, you say: “Khoshvaghtam.” (pleased to meet you.)

Was it easy? Now if you prefer to continue conversation in English which you are more fluent in, you can ask: “Shoma Englisi harf mizani?” (Do you speak English?) If they say yes, then you can breath in relief but if they can not, then they say “Na/ Kami” (no/ little).

They will ask you: “Kojayi hasti?” For example if you are from United States you say: “Man Amrikayi hastam.” ( I am American!) or if you are from India you say: “Man Hendi hastam.” ( I am Indian).

“Che khabar?” (What’s new?) which you may respond: “Chize khassi nist.” (Nothing much!)

Iranians will ask your opinion about the country: “Iran ro doost dashti? / Az Iran khoshet amadeh?” (Did you like it here?) The response is often: “Iran, keshvar-e jalebiye.” (Iran is an interesting country.)

“Shoghlet chiyeh?” (What is your job?) and you may respond: “Man motarjem/ taajer/ khabar negar hastam.” ( I am translator/ businessman / Journalist. )

It often takes time to greet in Iran. Iranians use a lot of Ta’arof (compliments) expressions in the introductions and greetings and also for saying a simple goodbye.

For example: “Hatman biya pish-e ma.” (For sure, visit us.) and if you tell them: “Shoma kheili mehraban hastid.” (You are really kind.) They respond: “Khahesh mikonam. Mehrabani az khodetoone.” (You are very welcome. You are more kind.) “Ghadamet roo cheshm.” (May your footsteps fall on my eyes = You are more than welcome.)

For foreigners it is often difficult to relate to this Ta’arof culture. But after sometime, they will get used to it and if it is not too much, they will even enjoy.

If It’s late and you have to go, you can just politely say: “Bebakhshid, man diram shode. bayad beram.” (Sorry, I am late, I have to go.) “Amma bar migardam! Ba’adan mibinamet.” (but I will come back. See you later.)

And while shaking hand again or giving a hug you thank them again and say good bye: “Kheili Mamnoon. Khoda Hafez.”

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