Persian verbs

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infinitive[edit]

The infinitive form of the verb is constructed by adding the suffix æn to the past root of the verb. Ex: Khærid+æn= to buy

Normal Persian verbs can be formed using the following morpheme pattern:

( NEG - DUR or SUBJ/IMPER ) - root - PAST - PERSON - ACC-ENCLITIC

Negative[edit]

  • Negative prefix: نَه/næ - changes to نِه/ne before the Durative prefix, نَه/næ itself is used for negative imperative by adding it to the present root of the verb, ex: Næ+Gu= Nægu= Do not say

Durative[edit]

  • Durative prefix: می/mī

For example

  • raftam (I went) → raftam (I used to go)
  • ravam (I go)
  • rafte-am (I have gone) → rafte-am (I have been going)

See The following section on Infinitive and Conjugation.

Verbs :Infinitive and Conjugation[edit]

Any Persian verb has a past stem and a present stem. So, for example, the verb 'to go' in Persian, has:

  • رفتن raftan = 'to go', the infinitive form
  • رفت raft = 'went', the past stem
  • رو rav- = 'go', the present stem
    As it can be seen here, unlike English where we use to before the present stem of the verb to form the infinitive to go, Persian adds the suffix -an to the past stem of the verb to form the infinitive raft-an (to go). In other words, as a rule of thumb, if you take any Persian infinitive and eliminate its ending, -an, you will end up with the past stem of the verb. All you need to know then is the present stem.
  • Conventionally, we might write an English verb. say to go as: to go1 (went2, gone3); where the superscript 1 indicates the present stem, and the superscript 2 presents the past tense.
  • Accordingly, the Persian counterpart of English 'to go' might be shown as raft2-an (rav1-).
  • There is no need to specify the past participles of any Persian verb, as they are quite regularly formed by addition of an e-ending to the past stem of the verbs. So, رفته rafte = gone.

The only exception is the verb būdan (to be)[1] which has six present stems for six persons as follows:

Persian English Persian English
1st Person ام -am am ایم -īm (we) are
2nd Person ای *(thou art) اید -īd (you) are
3rd Person است ast is اند -and (they) are

As an example, in the following sentences, the present forms of the verb 'to be' are used as copulas:
______________ "man doxtar-e to am; īn barādar-e man ast; to pedar-e man ī "
______________ (‘I am your daughter; this is my brother; thou art my father.’)
Like auxiliaries, these forms are added to the past participle of any verb to conjugate the verb in Present perfect. Therefore, for raft-e (gone) we will have

Persian English Persian English
1st Person رفته ام rafte-am (I) have gone رفته ایم rafte-īm (we) have gone
2nd Person رفته ای rafte-ī *(thou hast gone) رفته اید raft-īd (you) have gone
3rd Person رفته است rafte ast (S/he, it) has gone رفته اند rafte-and (they) have gone

The same endings are used after 'būd' (as the past tense of būdan 'to be') to act as the auxiliaries in the conjugation of pluperfect (E.g. رفته بودم rafte būdam = I had gone, although etc.) with the exception of ast which never is eliminated in past or pluperfect (e.g rafte būd = he had gone). The following table shows the conjugation of the verb in simple past tense:

Persian English Persian English
1st Person رفتم raft-am (I) went رفتیم raft-īm (we) went
2nd Person رفتی raft-ī *(thou wentest) رفتید raft-īd (you) went
3rd Person رفت raft (S/he, it) went رفتند raft-and (they) went

Adding the prefix mī- to the above conjugation turns it to a continuous action in the past (e.g. mī-raft-am 'I used to go')
It appears that in all these cases, ast is the only one which is dropped out. In the conjugation of the Present-tense or subjunctive mood, ast of the third person singular is to be replaced by -ad. (NB. Remember that the prefix mī-, used before present or past stems, indicates a continuous action in time):

Persian English Persian English
1st Person می روم mī-rav-am (I) go می رویم mī-rav-īm (we) go
2nd Person می روی mī-rav-ī *(thou goeth) می روید mī-rav-īd (you) go
3rd Person می رود mī-rav-ad goes می روند mī-rav-and (they)go

The future tense is formed by using additional auxiliary xāh- (want) and the past tense of the verb. (NB. [x] as a part of conventional transliteration is pronounced like 'ch' in Bach, Loch Ness)

Persian English Persian English
1st Person خواهم رفت xāh-am raft (I) will go خواهیم رفت xāh-īm raft (we) will go
2nd Person خواهی رفت xāh-ī raft *(thou willest go) خواهید رفت xāh-īd raft (you) will go
3rd Person خواهد رفت xāh-ad raft (S/he, it) will go خواهند رفت xāh-and raft (they) will go

There also some more complicated tenses that we have not addressed here. However, the following examples for the third person plural would show the structure and the semantic of these rare cases as they are used in very high level Persian by the contemporary authors. The endings would be exactly the same as the present perfect, described above.

  • می رفته ام mi-rafte-and '(They) have been going'
  • رفته بوده اند rafte būde-and = '(they) had gone (in my/our absence)'/ '(It appears that they) had gone'

Intransitive, Transitive and Causative[edit]

Like English verbs, Persian verbs are either transitive (need object) or intransitive; the only difference is that in Persian an accusative marker (enclitic), را , comes after any definite direct object. Examples:

  • Intransitive: دویدم davīd-am = 'I ran'.
  • Transitive: او را دیدم ū dīd-am = 'I saw him'

Note: If the direct object is indefinite, no را is needed. Example:

  • cf. مردی دیدم mard-i dīd-am = 'I saw a man' vs. مردی را که می شناختم، دیدم mard-i ke mī-šenāxt-am dīd-am = 'I saw the man who I knew'.
    An intransitive verb can be turned into a transitive one by making the former into a causative verb. E.g.
  • مُردن mord-an (to die) is an intransitive verb, so the subject and object of the verb is the same: او مُرد ū mord = ' he died'.
  • The present stem of مُردن mordan (to die) is میر mīr (die). The causative is based on the present stem to produce a new infinitive میراندن mīrānd-an (present stem: میران mīrān) 'to make die'.
  • The causative can then act as a transitive verb: او را میراندمū mīrānd-am = 'I made him die' ≈ 'I killed him'
  • Compare with the transitive verb کـُشتن košt-an (to kill) → او را کُشتتمū košt-am = 'I killed him'.

Let's look at another example:

  • Intransitive verb: خوابیدن xwbīd-an (present stem: خواب xwb-) 'to sleep' → خوابیدم xwbīd-am = 'I slept'.
  • Causative form: خواباندن xwbānd-an 'to cause to sleep' → او را خواباندم ū xwbānd-am = 'I caused him to sleep' ≈ 'I put him to bed'.

There are also cases where a causative verb is formed from a transitive verb:

  • Transitive verb خوردن xord-an (خور xor-) (to eat) → Causative: خوراندن xorānd-an (to make eat)≈ 'to fed'.

All in all, the formation of the causative verbs are not comprehensively productive, but it has been applied to certain verbs only . What is rather general with no exception is the accusative marker را () which accompanies the definite direct object of both transitive and causative verbs.
Formation of Causative Verbs:
Causative of present stems are formed by adding ān- to the present stem of the verb; a new infinitive can be then created by adding -dan to the causative stem. Analogically, if we now inseminate the infinitive marker (-an) what is left would be the causative past stem. In other words:

  • Cusative past stem = Causative present stem + d.

The following examples clarify the formula.

  • E.g. دویدن / دو davīd2an (dav-1) (to run) → Present Stem: دو dav- → causative: دوان davān → New Infinitive: دواندن davān-dan → davānd2an دوان (davān1) 'to make run'
  • Note: The object of the causative like that of transitive verbs, if specific (determined), is indicated by an enclitic marker را . See the following examples:
  • می دوم mī-dav-am (I run) and Past دویدم davīd-am (I ran) versus their causative forms:
  • Present causative اسب را می دوانم asb rā mī-davānam (I make the horse run).
  • Past causative اسب را دواندم asb rā dav'ān'dam
Causative Enclitics for Present-Tense
Person Singular Plural
1st انم/-ānam انیم/-ānīm
2nd انی/ānī انید/-ānīd
3rd اند/ānad انند/-ānand
Causative Enclitics for Past-Tense
Person Singular Plural
1st اندم/-āndam اندیم/-āndīm
2nd اندی/āndī اندید/-āndīd
3rd اند/ānd اندند/-āndand

Subjunctive and Imperative[edit]

To form the subjunctive, a prefix be- is added to the present stem of the verb. A simple definition of the subjunctive is that it indicates no specific tense.

  • 'raftan (rav-)' (to go)→ rav- (go), present stem → be-rav- subjunctive stem.
  • Subjunctive forms can be used in the potential mood, eg. شاید بروم shāyad berav-am (Maybe I go); شاید برود shāyad berav-ad (Maybe s/he goes)
  • Subjunctive is also used in the present-tense of the conditional sentences: اگر بروم می دوم agar berav-am mī-dav-am (If I go, I [will] run).

Despite the superficial similarity between subjunctive and imperative forms, the difference appears as it comes to the 2nd persn singular, as it can be seen in the following table for the verb زدن ←زن zadan (zan-) (to hit, to beat). Note the difference between the b-forms of the imperative and subjunctive.

be-pefixed of the stem zan- (hit) Imperative
(2nd person singular)
Subjunctive
(2nd person singular)
بزن be-zan- بزن be-zan! بزنی be-zan-ī
--- Hit! (If/ You may/must ...) hit

NB.

  • When the present stem of the verb ends up in [-av], it changes to [o] in the imperative form of (ordering)2nd person singular, and by assimilation, be-prefix becomes bo-
  • رفتن / رو raftan (rav-) 'to go' → Present stem: رو rav- → Imperative برو *be-rav → boro 'Go!'
  • دویدن / دو. davīdan (dav-) 'to run' Present stem: دو dav- → Imperative بدو *be-dav → bodo 'Run!'

The Optative Forms[edit]

Although mostly appears in the classic literature , the optative mood is sometimes used in common Persian. To see how it is formed, we may look at the verb kardan (kon-) 'to do':

  • کردن / کن kardan (kon-) 'to do'→ Present Stem کن 'kon'- → Present-tense for 2nd person singular: کند kon-ad 'he does → Optative Replace a in the suffix -ad, with ā → کناد kon-ād (May s/he does it! → To negate it a prefix ma- is added: مکناد ma-kon-ād (May s/he does not that! We wish it will never happen) (= نکند nakonad in Modern Persian).
    Although in general, this inflection has been abandoned, yet significant remnants of its usage can be observed in some contemporary Persian compositions and colloquial proverbs, as in hærče bādā bād (هرچه بادا باد) "come what may" and dæst mærizād (دست مريزاد) lit. "May that hand not spill [what it is holding]", meaning "well done".
    (For a detailed discussion of the formation of aforementioned suffixes and conjugation of the verb to be, see Persian section under Indo-European Copula.

Active and Passive Voice[edit]

Example verb conjugations for first-person singular form of خوُردَن/khordæn "to eat". It is important to know that the following(In both active and passive voices) are never used in modern Persian: Indicative: Imperfective perfect, Imperfective pluperfect; Subjunctive: Imperfective preterite, Imperfective pluperfect

Active Voice
Mood Tense Romanization Perso-Arabic
Indicative Present mi-khoræm می‌خورم
Indicative Preterite khordæm خوردم
Indicative Imperfective preterite mi-khordæm می‌خوردم
Indicative Perfect khorde æm خورده‌ام
Indicative Imperfective perfect mi-khorde æm می‌خورده‌ام
Indicative Pluperfect khorde budæm خورده بودم
Indicative Imperfective pluperfect mi-khorde budæm می‌خورده بودم
Indicative Future khāhæm khord خواهم خورد
Indicative Present progressive dāræm mi-khoræm دارم می‌خورم
Indicative Preterite progressive dāshtæm mi-khordæm داشتم می‌خوردم
Subjunctive Present bekhoræm بخورم
Subjunctive Preterite khorde bāshæm خورده باشم
Subjunctive Imperfective preterite mi-khorde bāshæm می‌خورده باشم
Subjunctive Pluperfect khorde bude bāshæm خورده بوده باشم
Subjunctive Imperfective pluperfect mi-khorde bude bāshæm می‌خورده بوده باشم


Passive Voice
Mood Tense Romanization Perso-Arabic
Indicative Present khorde mishævæd خورده می‌شود
Indicative Preterite khorde shod خورده شد
Indicative Imperfective preterite khorde mishod خورده می‌شد
Indicative Perfect khorde shodeast خورده شده‌است
Indicative Imperfective perfect khorde mishodeast خورده می‌شده‌است
Indicative Pluperfect khorde shode bud خورده شده بود
Indicative Imperfective pluperfect khorde mishode bud خورده می‌شده بود
Indicative Future khorde khāhæd shod خورده خواهد شد
Indicative Present progressive daræd khorde mishævæd دارد خورده می‌شود
Indicative Preterite progressive dasht khorde mishod داشت خورده می‌شد
Subjunctive Present khorde shævæd خورده شود
Subjunctive Preterite khorde shode bāshæd خورده شده باشد
Subjunctive Imperfective preterite khorde mishode bāshæd خورده می‌شده باشد
Subjunctive Pluperfect khorde shode bude bāshæd خورده شده بوده باشد
Subjunctive Imperfective pluperfect khorde mishode bude bāshæd خورده می‌شده بوده باشد

Compound verbs[edit]

In fact, most verbs nowadays are Compound verbs and many old simple verbs are changing to light verbs to achieve more regularity and richness. for example:

simple verb Compound verb
HOLIDAN HOL DADAN
ZANGIDAN ZANG ZADAN
PARDAKHTAN PARDAKHT KARDAN
ALUDAN ALUDE KARDAN
ZISTAN ZENDEGI KARDAN
AZMUDAN AZMAYESH KARDAN

so some verbs have lost their old meaning and converted to a suffix and they don't mean anything alone. For example "ZADAN" was originally the verb of beating but now the verb "KOTAK ZADAN" is used instead.

so Light verbs such as کَردَن/kærdæn "to do, to make" are often used with nouns to form what is called a compound verb, light verb construction, or complex predicate. For example, the word "صُحبَت/sohbæt"(Originally from Arabic) means "conversation", while "صُحبَت کَردَن/sohbæt kærdæn" means "to speak". One may add a light verb after a noun, adjective, preposition, or prepositional phrase to form a compound verb. Only the light verb (e.g. کَردَن/kærdæn) is conjugated; the word preceding it is not affected. For example: صُحبَت می‌کُنَم/sohbæt mikonæm ("I speak" or very near future "I will speak"; صُحبَت می‌کُنَم/sohbæt mikonæm also translates as, "I do speak" - this especially relates to, "I do speak" - as in the ability to speak a language)

دارَم صُحبَت می‌کُنَم/dāræm sohbæt mikonæm ("I am speaking")
صُحبَت کَرده‌اَم/sohbæt kærde æm ("I have spoken")
صُحبَت خواهَم کَرد/sohbæt khāhæm kærd ("I will speak")

As can be seen from the examples, the head word (in this case, صُحبَت/sohbæt) remains unchanged throughout the conjugation, and only the light verb کَردَن/kærdæn is conjugated. They may be compared to English verb particle constructions, such as hand down (leave as an inheritance) and set up (arrange), or German compound verbs, such as radfahren (to ride by bicycle) and zurückgehen (to go back) or in Spanish Poner la mesa (to set the table) or Faire attention (to pay attention) in French . In present progressive tense, the verb داشتن is used which means "to have" (I have=دارم). In future tense, the verb خواستن is respectively used which means "to want", just the same as the English cognate Will (خواهم). Some other Light verbs are: Dādæn (to give) as in Rokh Dādæn= to happen, Gereftæn (to take) as in Pā Gereftæn= to start to grow , Zædæn (to hit) as in Hærf Zædæn= to talk, to speak , Khordæn (to eat) as in Sogænd Khordan= to take a vow, Shodan (to become) as in Arām Shodan= to calm down, Budæn (to be) as in Amāde Budæn= to be ready etc.

Some other examples of compound verbs with کَردَن/kærdæn are:

  • فِکر کَردَن/fekr kærdæn, "to think"
  • فَراموش کَردَن/færāmush kærdæn, "to forget"
  • گَریه کَردَن/gærye kærdæn, "to cry"
  • تِلِفُن کَردَن/telefon kærdæn, "to call, to telephone"
  • تَعمیر کَردَن/tæmir kærdæn, "to fix"

Other equivalents for فِکر کَردَن/fekr kærdæn and گَریه کَردَن/gerye kærdæn are پنداشتن/Pendāshtæn and گریستن/Geristæn that are normally used in literary context rather than daily conversations.

Auxiliary Verbs[edit]

  • بایَد/bāyæd - 'must': Not conjugated
  • شایَد/shāyæd - 'might': Not conjugated
  • تَوانِستَن/tævānestæn - 'can': Conjugated
  • خواستَن/khāstæn - 'want': Conjugated. Subordinating clause is subjunctive
  • خواهَد/khāhæd - 'will': Conjugated. Main verb is tenseless

Details[edit]

Infinitives and stems[edit]

Infinitives end in تن (-tan) or دن (-dan). The principle parts to remember are the past stem and present stem. The past stem is the easier to recognize, as it is determined simply by removing the ن (-an) from the infinitive.

  • کردن (kardan, to make/to do) - کرد (kard)
  • داشتن (dâštan, to have) - داشت (dâšt)
  • گرفتن (gereftan, to take) - گرفت (gereft)
  • دیدن (didan, to see) - دید (did)

The present stem tends to vary more, and in many common verbs bears little resemblance to the infinitive or past stem. In some verbs, the present stem is identical to the past stem, but for the -t/-d.

  • کردن (kardan) - کن (kon)
  • داشتن (dâštan) - دار (dâr)
  • گرفتن (gereftan) - گیر (gir)
  • دیدن (didan) - بین (bin)

Participles[edit]

Persian verbs have two participles - past and present.

The past participle is formed by adding ه (-e) to the past stem

  • کردن (kardan) - کرده (karde)
  • داشتن (dâštan) - داشته (dâšte)
  • گرفتن (gereftan) - گرفته (gerefte)
  • دیدن (didan, to see) - دیده (dide)

The present participle is formed by adding نده (-ande) to the present stem

  • کردن (kardan) - کننده (konande)
  • داشتن (dâštan) - دارنده (dârande)
  • گرفتن (gereftan) - گیرنده (girande)
  • دیدن (didan) - بیننده (binande)

Personal forms[edit]

Personal forms of verbs are formed mostly with simple prefixes and suffixes. Prefixes tend to be modal, while the suffixes are personal.

The personal suffixes are:

  • ـم (-am) (first person singular)
  • ـی (-i) (second person singular informal)
  • ـد (-ad) (for non-past tenses), colloquially pronounced -e nul (for past tenses) (third person singular informal)
  • ـیم (-im) (first person plural)
  • ـید (-id) (second person plural), colloquially pronounced -in
  • ـند (-and) (third person plural), colloquially pronounced -an

The most important and common prefixes are the progressive می (mi-) which forms imperfective tenses and بـ (be-) for subjunctives.

Instructions for forming various tenses will be given below with example conjugations of the verb کردن. An example translation will be given for the 1st person singular to give a basic idea of the tense's use. Note that personal pronouns are frequently dropped and are provided here for clarity.

Simple past[edit]

The simple past is formed with the past stem and personal endings.

  • من کردم (man kardam) (I did)
  • تو کردی (to kardi)(You did – familiar, singular)
  • وی کرد (vay kard)
  • ما کردیم (mâ kardim)
  • شما کردید (šomâ kardid)(You did – formal, plural)
  • آنها کردند (ânhâ kardand)

Present imperfect[edit]

The present imperfect is formed by prefixing می to the present stem with personal endings

  • من می‌کنم (man mi-konam) (I do)
  • تو می‌کنی (to mi-koni)
  • وی می‌کند (vay mi-konad)
  • ما می‌کنیم (mâ mi-konim)
  • شما می‌کنید (šomâ mi-konid)
  • آنها می‌کنند (ânhâ mi-konand)

Past imperfect[edit]

The past imperfect is formed by prefixing می to the simple past

  • من می‌کردم (man mi-kardam) (I was doing)
  • تو می‌کردی (to mi-kardi)
  • وی می‌کرد (vay mi-kard)
  • ما می‌کردیم (mâ mi-kardim)
  • شما می‌کردید (šomâ mi-kardid)
  • آنها می‌کردند (ânhâ mi-kardand)

Present perfect[edit]

The present perfect is formed by adding the present-tense suffixes of the verb بودن (to be) to the past participle.

  • من کرده‌ام (man karde-am) (I have done)
  • تو کرده‌ای (to karde-i)
  • وی کرده است (vay karde ast)
  • ما کرده‌ایم (mâ karde-im)
  • شما کرده‌اید (šomâ karde-id)
  • آنها کرده‌اند (ânhâ karde-and)

Pluperfect[edit]

The pluperfect is a compound tense formed from the past participle and the simple past of the verb بودن (to be)

  • من کرده بودم (man karde budam) (I had done)
  • تو کرده بودی (to karde budi)
  • وی کرده بود (vay karde bud)
  • ما کرده بودیم (mâ karde budim)
  • شما کرده بودید (šomâ karde budid)
  • آنها کرده بودند (ânhâ karde budand)

Present and past progressive[edit]

The progressives are compound tenses.

The present progressive is formed with the personal present tense of داشتن before the present imperfect.

  • من دارم می‌کنم (man dâram mi-konam) (I am doing)
  • تو داری می‌کنی (to dâri mi-koni)
  • وی دارد می‌کند (vay dârad mi-konad)
  • ما داریم می‌کنیم (mâ dârim mi-konim)
  • شما دارید می‌کنید (šomâ dârid mi-konid)
  • آنها دارند می‌کنند (ânhâ dârand mi-konand)

Similarly, the past progressive is formed with the past tense of داشتن preceding the past imperfect.

  • من داشتم می‌کردم (man dâštam mi-kardam) (I was doing)
  • تو داشتی می‌کردی (to dâšti mi-kardi)
  • وی داشت می‌کرد (vay dâšt mi-kard)
  • ما داشتیم می‌کردیم (mâ dâštim mi-kardim)
  • شما داشتید می‌کردید (šomâ dâštid mi-kardid)
  • آنها داشتند می‌کردند (ânhâ dâštand mi-kardand)

Present subjunctive[edit]

The present subjunctive is formed from by prefixing بـ (be-) to the present stem with personal endings.

  • بکنم (bekonam) (that I do)
  • بکنی (bekoni)
  • بکند (bekonad)
  • بکنیم (bekonim)
  • بکنید (bekonid)
  • بکنند (bekonand)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Toofan, M. Zabān: ast yā hast? [Language: Is or Exists?]. Ketāb-e Tehrān.2014