Nouns and adjectives


Grammatical gender and definite article

In Persian, the nouns have no gender designation and no definite article:

zan the woman mard the man daftar the magazine

Plural building

The plural is built for the majority of nouns by the suffix “-hâ”. The suffix “-ân” can also be used for living objects and body parts:

miz table mizhâ the tables
irani the Iranians Irânihâ / Iranian Iranians
ceŝm the eye ceŝmhâ / ceŝmân the eyes

If a living object ends with â or u, then a “y” is inserted. For those living objects ending with e, a “g” is inserted. If a living object end with u, then sometimes u is shifted into o and a “v” is inserted:

eĵdehâ the dragon eĵdehâyân the dragons
dâneŝju the student dâneŝjuyân the students
nevisande the author nevisandegân the authors
bânu the lady bânovân the ladies

For some Arabic loanwords Arabic plural forms are used, as well. These forms are usually made by either “ât” or “in”:

nazar opinion nazarhâ / nazarât the opinions
mo’allem the teacher mo’allemhâ / mo’allemin the teachers

If a word ends with e or i, then a “j” is inserted before “ât”. If a word ends with i, then “-in” is shifted into “-un”:

sabzi vegetable sabzijât the vegetables
mive the fruit mivejât fruits
enqelâbi the revolutionary enqelâbiun the revolutionaries

There are also Arab irregular plural forms:

hadaf the goal hadafhâ / ahdâf the goals
mas’ale the problem mas’alehâ / masâ’el the problems

Adjectives as nouns

Adjectives / participles can also be interpreted as nouns:

    xoŝgel beautiful / the Beautiful xoŝgelân the beautiful ones
mordan die morde died / the dead mordegân the dead ones

Mutual derivation of nouns and adjectives

Nouns and adjectives can usually be derived mutually by the addition of the suffix “-i”:

bozorg great bozorgi greatness cub the wood cubi wooden

If a word ends with â, o or u, then a “y” is inserted. If a word ends with e, then a “g” is inserted for resulting nouns. If the result is an adjective, then “g” is inserted in a few exceptional cases, such as haftegi (weekly) and xânegi (domestic):

zibâ beautiful zibâyi the beauty
radio the radio radioyi radio-
jâdu the magic jâduyi magical
zende alive zendegi life

Description of nouns (ezâfé)

Nouns can be described/specified using the bound conjunction “e”. This construction, also known as ezâfé has several applications.One of the applications corresponds to the English of and thus forms the genitive:

ketâb e pedar the book of the father

The same construction is used to describe a noun by a following adjective:

doxar e zibâ the beautiful girl doxtarân e zibâ the beautiful girls

A noun can also be further specified by another noun:

keŝvar e Iran the country of  Iran mâŝin e camanzani the mower

The construction may include several nouns and adjectives:

dust e pedar e man my father’s friend doxtar e qaŝanq e mehrabân the beautiful kind girl

Another application of this construction is the connection of a preceding form of address to a last name:

Xânom e Panâhju Ms. Panhahju Âqây e Âzâd Mr. Azad

Although often pronounced, the construction may not appear between first and last names:

Navid Xeradmand Âzitâ Nâmju

If a noun ends with a vowel (except i), a “y” is inserted:

sedâ ye boland the loud voice xâne ye pedar the father’s house
metro ye Tehran the Tehran Metro dâneŝju ye irâni the Iranian student

Definiteness and indefiniteness

The indefiniteness of a noun can be expressed either by preceding yek (one) or the following of the postposition “i”. One can also combine both methods:

yek ketâb ketâb i yek ketâb i  a book / any book

If a word ends with â, o or u, then a “y” is inserted:

sedâ yi a voice râdio yi a radio jâdu yi a magic

If the noun is described by an adjective, then the adjective can take the indefiniteness marker instead of the noun, as well:

havâ yi xub beautiful weather havâ ye xub i beautiful weather

If a noun takes the position of a definite direct object, then the postposition is used:

Man ketâb i xândam. I read a book. Man ketâb râ xândam. I read the book.

Several adjectives describing a noun can also be connected with the bound conjunction “o” (and). The indefiniteness marker follows the last adjective. In expressions with definite nouns, the postposition succeeds the last adjective:

ketâb e jâleb e gerân the interesting expensive book
ketâb e jâleb o gerân the interesting and expensive book
Ketâb e jâleb e gerân i xaridam. I bought an interesting expensive book.
Ketâb e jâleb o gerân i xaridam. I bought an interesting and expensive book.
Ketâb e jâleb e gerân râ xaridam. I bought the interesting expensive book.
Ketâb e jâleb o gerân râ xaridam. I bought the interesting and expensive book.

If a word ends with a vowel (except i) before the bound conjunction “o”, then a “v” is inserted:

sedâ vo cehre the voice and the face xâne vo mâŝin the house and the car
metro vo otobus the metro and the bus dâneŝju vo ostâd the student and the professor

Comparative, superlative and comparison

The comparative and superlative of an adjective are each formed with the suffix “-tar” or “tarin”. Superlative adjectives precede a noun without the bound conjunction “e”:

doxtar e zibâ the pretty girl
doxtar e zibâtar the prettier girl
zibâtarin doxtar the prettiest girl

There are a handful exceptions to this rule, such as xub (good), but behtar (better).

We use az (from, than) or less commonly (until, than) for the comparison. follows a verb:

Nasrin az Âzitâ zibâtar ast. Nasrin is prettier than Azita.
Âzitâ az hame bâhuŝtar ast. Azita is smarter than everyone else.
In ketâb gerântar ast tâ ân ketâb. This book is more expensive than that book.

The counterpart to the English “as … as ” is formed by harce (whatever). Here, the comparative form is used:

Xâne bâyad harce bozorgtar bâŝad. The house must be as large as possible.

The preposition, followed by a corresponding derived noun and the bound conjunction “e” is usually used for the equality comparison as follows:

Nasrin be zibâyi e Âzitâ nist. Nasrin is not as pretty as Âzitâ.
Âzitâ be bâhuŝi e Nasrin nist. Azita is not as smart as Nasrin.
In Ketâb be gerâni e ân ketâb ast. This book is as expensive as that book.

Demonstrative adjectives

The words in (this) and ân (that) are used in Persian before a noun as demonstrative adjectives. They always remain singular independently of the number of nouns, although they occur in plural as demonstrative pronouns inhâ (these) and ânhâ (those):

in ketâb this book ân Ketâb that book
in ketâbhâ these books ân ketâbhâ those books

An emphasis is achieved by the attachment of the particle ham:

hamin ketâb just (exactly) this book hamân ketâb just (exactly) that book

Other demonstrative adjectives are conin and conân (such a). They require an indefinite noun:

Conin ketâb i tâ konun nadideam. I have not yet seen such a book.
Conân kâr i xatarnâk ast. Such an act is dangerous.

Interrogative adjectives

Interrogative adjectives precede a noun as well:

Kodâm ketâb? Which book?
Cand nafar? How many people?
Ceqadr âb? How much water?

Some of them require the noun in the indefinite form:

Cejur ketâb i? What for a book?

Distributive adjectives

Distributive adjectives precede a noun, too:

hame ye dâneŝâmuzân all students
tamâm e dâstân the full story
barxi / ba’zi dustân some friends
cand ketâb a few books
candin ŝahr several cities
har kelâs (i) each class

The distributive adjective hic (literally “nothing”) is often used with an indefinite noun and always with a negative verb:

Hic dâneŝju yi nayâmad. No student came.