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Keys for Writers, Second Edition
Ann Raimes
ESL Tip Sheet 3: Farsi (Persian)

Spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

The written language
  • Arabic alphabet, written from right to left. This can cause students to reverse letters in words.
  • No capital letters. 53.
  • Quotation marks are seldom used even though speech is usually written as direct speech: *She said I will help them. 40d; 49; 62d.
Sentence structure and word order
  • Common order is S-O-V. 34b.
  • Coordination is more common than subordination. Students might overuse coordination. 34f.
  • Although and but can occur in the same sentence. *Although it is raining but we will still have the picnic. 62e.
Nouns and pronouns
  • No distinction between he and she, and no equivalent of it. 44a.
  • Nonhuman plurals have no plural endings. 58a; 60b.
  • No plural form is used after a number: *four new lamp. 58a.
  • Only one relative pronoun for human and nonhuman subjects or any case, so students might not distinguish between who and which. 46a.
  • Farsi includes the object pronoun in a relative clause: *The editor whom you met her last week has gone to Canada. 46i.
Verbs and verbals
  • No auxiliary equivalent of do. 41c.

    No gerund form (-ing), so students might use infinitive: *She avoids to go. 61d; 63e.

  • Uses the equivalent of have to form the past progressive. 41d.
  • The spoken language interchanges past tense and present perfect. 41e; 41f.
  • Present tense is used in same way as present progressive, present perfect, and future in English: *I study here for a year. 41e.
Adjectives and adverbs
  • Adjectives follow nouns. 45.
  • No articles: Farsi indicates definiteness and specificity with a noun suffix. Any unmodified noun may be generic: *Computer has changed our lives. Students might have difficulty with the and with marking generic nouns. 60.

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