How are you?

How are you? = حالِ شُما چِطَور است؟ (ḥāl-i shumā chiṭawr ast, “haal-e-sho-maa-che-tour-ast”), literally “How is your (formal-plural, always used in this case) situation/condition?” “āl” (condition, situation) is taken from Arabic.

Unlike Arabic, Persian uses its “to be” verb, بودَن (būdan), in the present tense, but it has a very irregular present form: هَست (hast), or possibly است (ast) in third person singular.

What’s up? /What’s new? = چه خَبَر؟ (chi khabar, “che-kha-bar”), literally “what’s the news?” “Khabar” is the singular form of the Arabic akhbār, meaning “the news.”

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Who What Where When Why How

Today we’re going over the question words: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Who = که (kah, pronounced “ke”); can become کی () for purposes of elision, as in کیست (kīst), combining که and است (ast, meaning “is”) into “Who is it?” (که is also a particle meaning something like “that,” used frequently to mark relative clauses, but if we ever get into that kind of thing it will be much later)

What = چه (chah, “che”); similar to the above can become چی (chī), as in چیست (chīst), “What is it?”

Where = کُجا (kujā, “ko-jaa”); “Where is it?” = کُجاست؟ (kujāst), “Where are you going?” = کُجا می رَوی؟ (kujā mī ravī). Another translation of “where” is جائی که (jāʾī kah) but it is not used in questions, only for clauses (as in, for example, “the place WHERE something happened”), so we’ll encounter it later.

When = کَی (kay), not to be confused with the second form of “who,” کی (), shown above; “When are you going?” = کَی می رَوی؟ (kay mī ravī). As with “where,” Persian uses a different translation for “when” as a clause (“the time WHEN something happened”), which is وَقتی که.

Why = چِرا (chirā, “che-raa”); “Why are you going?” = چِرا می رَوی؟ (chirā mī ravī).

How = چِطَور (chiṭawr, “che-tor”); “How are you?” = حالِ شُما چِطَور است؟ (hāl-i shumā chiṭawr ast).

Under the weather?

Persian is my favorite way to express what’s afflicting me this week:

سَرما خوردَم (sarmā khūrdam) means “I have a cold”

For some reason having a cold is a Persian idiom that literally translates as “ate a cold,” using the past tense of the verb خوردَن (khūrdan, “to eat”). You may also encounter the Arabic زُکام (zukām, “zo-kaam”) in place of sarmā.

And if you didn’t get a flu shot this year, it may be the case that آنفلوانزا دارید (ānfluwānzā dārīd), “You (plural or formal) have the flu,” from the verb داشتَن (dāshtan, “to have”).