Common Farsi Phrases for Tourists in Iran

Learning Persian

When travelling to a foreign country, knowing a few words and sentences may be helpful to communicate more easily with people. In Iran, you’ll often find yourself in situations where you don’t share a common language with the person in front of you, whether it’s a driver, a seller or a friendly person you met in the street. While the kindness of Iranians helps sort things out, knowing a few words of Farsi will definitely make you score some points and help you bond with people.

Why learning some Farsi can be useful as a Tourist in Iran?

There can be many reasons why a visitor would like to learn the language of the visited country. First, he or she may not be comfortable with English (which is not your case if you’re reading this article!), somehow considered as the international traveler’s language. Second, locals may not be so comfortable with English, which is the case in Iran. While you’ll always find young people speaking English in the cities, many Iranians are not able to communicate in English. Eventually, learning a language helps you create bonds with locals, as it shows that you’re willing to make efforts to speak and understand their culture.

There is no need to try hard to be able to communicate properly with people, though; after all, learning a language takes time. Yet, if you’re willing to learn Farsi by yourself, there are a few resources for self-study and you can even consider coming to Iran to study Persian! But for now, let’s just learn a few words and phrases that will make you shine during your trip to Iran!

Greetings and Politeness in Farsi

If there are only a few words you should know during your trip, it’s these ones. Basic greetings to be able to say “hello” and “goodbye”, but also to thank people or apologize, will be much appreciated when said in Farsi.

EnglishPersian (Farsi)
Good morningSobh bekheir
(note that “kh” is pronounced “r”)
Good evening / Good nightShab bekheir
WelcomeKhosh Amadid
GoodbyeKhoda Hâfez
Excuse me/SorryBebakhshid

There are many words in Farsi. The most common comes from French and is “Merci”. But you can also use one of these ones:

  • Mamnoon
  • Kheili mamnoon (“thanks a lot”)
  • Sepas Gozaram (with Persian roots, but pretty old fashion)
  • Daste Shoma Dard Nakone (literally “may your hand not be hurt”: a common and pretty way to thank people)
  • Tachakor (with Arabic roots)
  • Motchakeram (from Arabic as well)

And the answer to merci is “khâhesh mikonam” which would be translated into English to “you’re welcome”.

Useful Words and Sentences in Farsi

If you want to level up your ability to communicate in Farsi, you can learn a few sentences to say what you want, what you need, and other expressions that can be pretty useful during your trip.

Note that the following sentences are expressed in the first person singular (I, which is reflected in “am”). Furthermore, in Farsi, unlike English, the verb arrives at the end of the sentence.

EnglishPersian (Farsi)
I understandMifarmam
I don’t understandNemifarmam
(“ne” usually marks the negation)
I don’t speak FarsiFârsi balad nistam
I knowMidoonam
I don’t knowNemidoonam
I wantMikhâm
–          I want tea

–          I want a ticket

–          Chai mikhâm

–          Yek bilit mikhâm

I don’t wantNemikhâm
–          I don’t want coffee

–          I don’t want food

–          Ghaveh nemikhâm

–          Ghaza nemikhâm

I needLâzem dâram
–          I need a sim card–          Cart sim lâzem dâram
Can I…?Mitoonam?
–          Can I sit?–          Mitoonam beshinam
Where is…?… Kojast
–          Where is the metro?–          Metro kojast?
How much?Chand-e ?

Numbers in Farsi

With prices usually expressed in hundreds, thousands and millions, and a confusing way to deal with money (between Tomans and Rials) learning numbers won’t be a great help. Yet, it can be fun and still useful to be able to count to 10.

EnglishPersian (Farsi)

Having Conversations in Farsi

For sure, even if it’s with your taxi driver or someone you’ve encountered in the street, you can expect people to be curious about you and willing to talk. That’s how Iranians are, generally speaking. And it’s interesting to note that small talk is rarely about the weather! Instead, people prefer talking about social and political issues (rise in prices, etc.), and more importantly, private life! Yes, do not be surprised if a perfect stranger asks about your marital life, your personal background, and even your weight, just a few minutes after you’ve met that person!

Without going into that much details, here are a few sentences and words you can learn to go further than just “hello” when encountering someone:

EnglishPersian (Farsi)
How are you?–          Khubi? (informal)

–          Chetori? (informal)

–          Hâletoon chetori (formal)

I’m fineKhubam
My name is…Esme man… -e
–          My name is DaisyEsme man Daisy-e
What’s your name?–          Esme to chi-e? (informal)

–          Esme shomâ chi-e? (formal)

Nice to meet youKhosh bakhtam
Let’s go!Bezan berim!
Bon appetiteNooshe jan
Delicious (for food)Khosh mazeh

There are plenty of other words and sentences that you can learn to make your trip easier, but with this basic introduction to Farsi, you already have enough to manage your way out of many situations, while gathering much sympathy!

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Daisy Lorenzi

Daisy Lorenzi is a French writer and traveler who felt in love with Iran after visiting the country. In 2018, she decided to settle in Tehran and has been living in Iran since. She currently lives on Qeshm island, in the Persian Gulf.

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