The Persian Alphabet
Part of a verse by Hafez, 14th century Persian poet,
handwritten with pen in "Nastaliq" style
The alphabet used for writing Persian is a variant of the Arabic script. The Arabic script is used for writing many other languages including major Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic, Urdu, and Pashtu. It is based on older versions of the Arabic scripts, and the Persians have had great contributions to its development after the Islamic conquest. If you are already familiar with the script, you can skip this tutorial and just have a look at the cheat sheet to learn the minor features which are specific to the Persian writing system.
The Arabic script is read from right to left. Its most notable feature is that the letters of each word are usually written joined to each other, making each word look like a separate sign. However, learning 32 letters plus a handful of marks and rules is all one needs to do to be able to read and write Persian.
In this writing system, certain vowels are not represented by letters. They are instead shown by marks over and below the letters (not to be mistaken with the dots which are parts of the letters themselves). In everyday texts, books, newspapers, etc, these marks are omitted. Therefore, Persian text is quite concise and easy to write (Imagine you didn’t need to write half of the vowels when writing English) but harder to read for beginners who need to guess what vowels are omitted. Some words have identical sequences of consonants, thus identical written forms. In such cases, it is normal to include the omitted vowel marks to avoid ambiguity. In this alphabet tutorial, the vowel marks are not omitted so that reading becomes easier for beginners.
To make learning the alphabet the only challenge and avoiding the issue of vocabulary for now, I have tried to use mostly words that are familiar for English speakers. This includes simple words shared by Persian and English because of their common Indo-European origin, as well as modern European loan words that have entered Persian during recent decades.