It’s good to know some essential Persian phrases if you’re travelling to Iran. You can find someone who knows basic English almost everywhere you go specially touristic places like Tehran, Isfahan or Shiraz. But if you’re talking to a taxi driver or shopping in a Bazaar it might be a good idea to know some phrases.
You must know that Persian alphabet is like Arabian alphabet and it is written from right to left. It’s good to learn Persian numbers so that you can read price tags or menus. Numbers are written from left to right.
Hello – Salaam
How are you? – Haalet chetoreh? Khoobi?
What’s up? – Che khabar?
Nice to meet you. – Khoshbakhtam.
I’m from X (The country) – Man ahl-e X hastam.
Thank you. – Mersi/Mamnun.
You’re welcome. (In reply to thank You) – Khaahesh mikonam.
Sorry/ Excuse me! – Bebakhshid!
Good morning! – Sobh be kheyr!
Good night! – Shab be kheir!
I’m not Taarofing. – Taarof nemikonam.
When it comes to shopping in Iran, It’s all about haggling. Especially in Bazaars you should keep haggling forever.
How much does it cost? Gheymatesh chandeh? (or you could simply ask “Chandeh?”)
Give me some discount. Takhfif bede. (Or you could simply say “Takhfif!”)
It’s expensive. Geruneh.
Finding an address
People in Iran are so helping that they will go out of their way to get you what you want. If you get someone to write the address in Persian for you then I can assure you that you will be safe to go anywhere in the town.
Where is X? X Kojaast?
How can I get to X? Chetor mitunam be X beram?
Street = Khiabaan (Azadi street: Khiabaan-e-Azadi)
Alley = Koocheh (Shohada alley: Kooche-ye-Shohada)
I’m lost. Man gom shodam.
Asking for help
Iran is generally a very safe country and you don’t need to worry about your safety travelling to Iran but in case of emergency, it’s better to remember these numbers:
Police – 110
Ambulance – 115
If you’re in a hurry, it’s better to ask other people to call emergency numbers. Otherwise, it’s more probable to find someone speaking English if you call 110. They will help you with reaching other services as well.
Help! – Komak!
It’s better to learn Iranian numbers or keep them on a notebook close to you. This way you will feel more confident when ordering food in a restaurant or buying something.
One: yek / Two: do /Three: seh /Four: chaahaar/ Five: Paanj / Six: shesh /Seven: haft / Eight: hasht/ Nine: noh/ Ten: dah
Thousand: Hezaar (Three thousand tomans: Seh hezaar toman)
At first you might get a bit confused about money and our two currencies in Iran (Rial and Toman) and that’s why I have explained it clearly in this post.
Hitchhiking in Iran is not common at all. So you should somehow explain what you’re doing on the road. You need to clearly explain that you are not going to pay for the ride. There’e a few words to learn in this matter:
Do you go to “X” on your way? Shoma Ta “X” mirid?
Can you take me with you? Mishe man ro ba khodet ta X bebari? / mishe manam bebari?
I don’t have money. Man pool nadaram. (Be careful saying this to drivers. You might end up trying to politely reject the money they’re giving you!)
Free (Whether it is free food or ride or anything else) – Majani/ raaygan
There is also another term “Salavaati” which doesn’t exactly mean free but using it will clearly make your point. Hearing the word Salavaati coming from a foreigner will probably make the driver laugh and break the ice between you, cause it is an old Persian idiom.
Food and restaurant
Chances are, during your stay in Iran, you will be overdosed by Kebab. It’s not that Kebab is the best Iranian dish. But in my opinion, we’ve got a lot of better tasting food in Persian cuisine. But you won’t find many of them in restaurants. Also, Kebab is considered a luxury food and the reason Iranians might insist in feeding you loads of Kebab is because they honor you.
However, you don’t need to be polite and accept their offer every time. You should politely explain that you are interested in tasting other Iranian dishes as well.
If you are a vegetarian things get a little bit difficult. Although we have some vegetarian food in Iran, you probably won’t find them in typical restaurants.
Restaurant – restooraan
Menu – meno
I’m a vegetarian – Man giaah khaaram. (Vegetarian: Giaah khaar)
without meat – bedooneh goosht
Stew (if you’re done having kebab everywhere!) – Khoresht
Drinks – Nooshidani (Of course I mean nonalcoholic drinks!)
Dinner – shaam
Lunch – Naahaar
breakfast – sobhaaneh
I’m hungry! – Gorosnameh!
I’m full – Sir shodam. (You will definitely need this phrase if you’re being hosted by an Iranian family. Read more about Iranian hospitality here.)
Knowing colors might help you while shopping.
Green: Sabz/ Yellow: Zard/ Red: Ghermez/ Blue: Aabi/ White: Sefid/ Black: Siaah/ Purple: Banafsh/ Pink: Soorati/ Brown: Ghahveyii
Times and days
As you might know, in Iran Thursday and Friday are the weekend days. Banks and offices are open till noon on Thursdays and they are all closed on Fridays.
Saturday: Shanbeh/ Sunday: Yek-shanbeh/ Monday: Do-shanbeh/ Tuesday: Seh-shanbeh/ Wednesday: Chaahaar-shanbeh/ Thursday: Panj-shanbeh/ Friday: Jomeh
Well… I guess we’ve covered the basics in this post and you’re good to go. If you’re interested to learn how to say other things in Persian just leave a comment below.