Word formation



New words can often be formed in Persian by compounding. A common compound is that of a noun or adjective with the present stem of a verb:

ketâb book foruŝ presence stem to sell ketâbforuŝ book Seller
dâstân story nevis presence stem to write dâstânnevis novelist
boland loud gu presence stem to say bolandgu speaker
xande laugh âvar presence stem to bring xandeâvar funny
mihan homeland parast presence stem to worship mihanparast patriot
sorur ioy âmiz presence stem to mix sorurâmiz joyfully
pul money dâr presence stem to have puldâr rich
hasrat jealousy angiz presence stem to cause hasratangiz causing jealousy

Some phrases of the bound conjunction “e” have become compound nouns. They can usually be recognized by assuming one stress:

toxmemorq egg âberu honor sarfenazar waiver

The same applies to the bound conjunction “o”:

sarosedâ noise âbohavâ climate baroru appearance

Often the past and the present stem of a verb are compounded using the bound conjunction “-o”:

jost past stem of to search ju present stem of to search jostoju search
goft past stem of to say gu present stem of to say goftogu dialogue
poxt past stem of to cook paz present stem of to cook poxtopaz cooking

There are some adjectives that are found as the first component of a compound in many cases:

xoŝ pleasant bad bad kam little
xoŝgel beautiful badrixt ugly kamâb arid
xoŝbâvar naive badaxlâq ill-humored kambud deficit

Conversely, there are some nouns that are found as the second component of a compound in many cases:

xâne house nâme letter kâr work
golxâne greenhouse dâneŝnâme encyclopedia varzeŝkâr athlete
ketâbxâne library kârnâme certificate tâzekâr newcomer

Many nouns and adjectives are formed by compounding simple nouns, adjectives and numbers:

âb water anbâr stock âbanbâr cistern
qul giant peykar body qulpeykar huge
câhâr four foot; leg câhârpâ quadruped
tiz sharp huŝ Intelligence tizhuŝ clever

A compound may be extended:

pâk clean kon present stem of to do pâkkon eraser
barf snow barfpâkkon windshield wiper    

Compounds may also include derivatives as components:

rang color rangin colored
kamân bow ranginkamân rainbow


Another way of forming new words in Persian is the derivation of a word by a prefix or suffix. However, there is also the so-called zero-derivation, by which a word can be changed to another part of speech without any further actions:

bozorg great; the great
âsibdide injured, the injured

Some prefixes and suffixes are words that have developed to a prefix or suffix due to common compounding.

Prefixes indicate a more general aspect and thus operate each on a relatively large amount of words:

Prefix Indicates Example Meaning Referenced word Meaning
ham- mutuality hamkâr colleague kâr work
nâ- negation nârâhat uncomfortable râhat comfortable
bâ- possession bâhuŝ intelligent huŝ intelligence
bi- shortage biadab rude adab courtesy
abar- largeness abarqodrat superpower qodrat power
be- possession benâm nominate nâm name
qeyre- contrast qeyretabi’i unnatural tabi’i natural
qâbele- ability qâbelecâp printable câp print
piŝ- precedence pishnamâyeŝ preview namâyeŝ performance
por- fullness porâb water-rich âb water

Although suffixes are more numerous, however, they usually operate on a smaller number of words:

Suffix Indicates Example Meaning Referenced word Meaning
-mand possession kârmand employee kâr work
-estân place bimârestân hospital bimâr ill
-gar activity gozâreŝgar reporter gozâreŝ report
-dân container namakdân salt shaker namak salt
-ce reduction daftarce booklets daftar booklet
-bân activity bâqbân gardener bâq garden
-ak reduction pesarak stripling pesar boy
-in material âhanin iron âhan ironclad
-vâr existence omidvâr hopeful omid hope
-nâk property namnâk humid nam humidity
-âne circumstance ruzâne daily ruz day
-gin property anduhgin sad anduh sadness
-kade place honarkade art gallery honar art
-gâh place darmângâh clinic darmân healing
-âsâ similarity qulâsâ huge qul giant
-vand membership ŝahrvand citizen ŝahr city

An exception is the suffix “-i”, which is used both for nominalization and adjectival and thus has a fairly large operation radius:

bozorg great bozorgi greatness cub wood cubi wooden

There are also suffixes forming a noun or an adjective from the present stem of a verb:

Suffix Indicates Example Meaning Referenced word Meaning
-eŝ nominalization tâbeŝ shine tâb present stem of to shine
-ande activity bâzande loser bâz present stem of to lose
-ân activity ravân fluent rav present stem of to run
activity binâ seeing bin present stem of to see
-âr nominalization neveŝtâr writing neveŝt present stem of to write

The suffix “-e” forms the participle from the past stem of a verb, which can be simultaneously interpreted as an adjective:

bast past stem of to close baste closed
poxt past stem of to cook poxte cooked

Also compound words can be derived:

tiz sharp hush intelligence
tizhuŝ clever tizhuŝi cleverness