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Verbs: Present Simple
In order to be able to form the present simple, one should know the “present stem” of the verb. As the number of simple verbs in Persian is very little and the past and present stems of verbs are similar to each other, this won’t be much of a problem.
Here is the general formula for present simple verbs: (from left to right):
می + present stem + relevant suffix
The stress is always on the “می” syllable. The suffixes are the same with past simple except for one of them. Below is an example of the conjugation of a verb in present simple. Note again that here we are dealing with the present stem of the verb.
Verb Infinitive:
Present Stem:
[I] become
[you] become
[he/she/it] becomes
[we] become
[you (pl.)] become
[they] become
As you saw in the examples, unlike the past simple tense, the suffix "د َ " is used for the third person singular verb in present simple tense. Additionally, it is worth noting that a "virtual space" is used between the "می" prefix and the rest of the verb. This means that the last letter of "می" is written as if it is at the end of a word, but the next letter is written very close to it.
Pretty much like the English present simple, present simple in Persian talks about actions or states in the present time, things that always happen, things that will happen in future and general facts.
من هر روز به مدرسه می‌روم.
از پلیس‌ها می‌ترسم.
بچّه‌ها از تاریکی می‌ترسند.
همه می‌دانند که من می‌میرم.
خدا می‌بیندمان.
دشمنان می‌کُشندش.
مردم به من می‌خندند.
در تابستان هوا گرم می‌شود.
I go to school every day.
I am afraid of policemen.
Children are afraid of the dark.
Everybody knows that I will die.
God sees us.
The enemies will kill him.
People laugh at me.
The weather becomes hot in the summer.
To Have
There are two verbs in Persian that have different present simple conjugations; “to be” and “to have”. Let’s start with the easier one: “داشتن” (“to have”).
Verb Infinitive:
Present Stem:
[I] have
[you] have
[he/she/it] has
[we] have
[you (pl.)] have
[they] have
The only difference between this verb and other verbs is that the prefix “می” is omitted here.
To Be
The second exception, “to be”, is more complicated:
Verb Infinitive:
Present Stem:
‌َ م
‌َ ند
[I] am
[you] are
[he/she/it] is
[we] are
[you (pl.)] are
[they] are
And here are some examples:
تو ناراحتی.
او ناراحت است.
من و دوستانم متأسّفیم.
شما آزادید!
بچّه‌ها بیدارند.
ما خسته‌ایم.
آنها ترسویند.
[I] am happy.
You are sad.
He is sad.
My friends and I are sorry.
You are free!
The children are awake.
We are tired.
They are cowards.
They look more like suffixes (except “است”, of course). In the last two examples, the words preceding the suffix-like verb end with vowels (“خسته” means “tired” and “ترسو” means “coward”) and therefore the consonants “ا” (glottal stop) and “ی” (“y”) have come in between to prevent two vowels being pronounced right after each other.
Additionally, the word “است” too can undergo changes when following a vowel (The normal way is also correct):
دکتر عصبانی‌ست.
او تنهاست.
شهاب ترسوست.
The doctor is angry.
He/She is alone
Shahab is [a] coward.
Another odd thing about the verb “بودن” is that its present simple form is in no way related to its present stem. The usages of its present stem will be observed later, however, in the conjugation of more complicated tenses.
To Be (Alternate Conjugation)
By the way, this is not the only way the verb "to be" is conjugated in the present simple tense. Here is the alternative way:
Verb Infinitive:
Present Stem:
[I] am
[you] are
[he/she/it] is
[we] are
[you (pl.)] are
[they] are
Usually, when it is conjugated in this way, it shows emphasis and sometimes gives the meaning "to exist".
من می‌اندیشم، پس هستم.
خدا هست.
I think, therefore I am.
God exists.
This is not always the case, anyway. Here are some examples where the verb is used in its second form but has exactly the same meaning as its first form.
حسین هستم.
احسان و شایان در دانشگاه هستند.
ما افغان هستیم.
I'm Hossein.
Ehsan and Shayan are at the university.
We are Afghans.
Common Verbs
It was already mentioned that the number of Persian simple verbs is very little; most sentences contain combined verbs which are a combination of one simple verb and a noun (or preposition). Combined verbs will be covered later in future lessons.
Among the less than 250 simple verbs used in today’s Persian, 65 verbs that are commonly used both in written and colloquial Persian are listed here. This list will almost suffice till the end of our lessons and while reading any other simple Persian texts.