Persian (Fārsī / فارسی) فارسی / Fārsī (Persian)

Persian is a member of the Western Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken by about 130 million people, mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and also in Uzbekistan, Iraq, Russia and Azerbaijan. There about 72 million native speakers of Persian, and another 38 million second language speakers.

Persian at a glance

  • Native name: فارسی (Fārsī) [fɒːɾˈsiː]
  • Language family: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western Iranian, Southwestern Iranian
  • Number of speakers: c. 130 million
  • Spoken in:Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraq, Russian and Azerbaijan
  • First written: 600 BC
  • Writing systems: Old Persian Cuneiform, Pahlavi, Manichaean, Avestan, Persian, Cyrillic and Latin scripts
  • Status: official language in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan


Name of the language

In Afghanistan Persian is known as Dari (درى) or Dari-Persian, while in Tajikistan it's known as Tajiki (Тоҷики / تاجيكى).

Under Mongolian and Turkish rulers, Persian was adopted as the language of government in Turkey, central Asia and India, where it was used for centuries, and until after 1900 in Kashmir.

Persian, Farsi or Parsi?

The official language of Iran is sometimes called Farsi in English and other languages. This is a correct transliteration of the native name of the language, however many, including the ISO and the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, prefer the name Persian for the language. Some speakers use the older local name: Parsi (پارسی). There is some discussion about this topic at: and wikipedia.

Iran or Persia?

Until 1935, Iran was known as Persia in English. However, the Persian people have called their country Iran since the Sassanid period (226-651 AD). There's further discussion about this at


Written Persian

Old Persian was first written in about 600 BC in the Old Persian Cuneiform. The language had evolved into what we known as Middle Persian by about 300 BC, and was written with the Pahlavi, Manichaean and Avestan alphabets. From 800 AD the language is known as Modern Persian, and was written with the Persian of Perso-Arabic alphabet. There are also ways of writing Persian with the Latin alphabet.

In Tajikistan Tajik has been written with a version of Cyrillic alphabet since 1940. Between 1928 and 1940 it was written with a version of the Latin alphabet, and before then with the Perso-Arabic alphabet.

Persian alphabet الفبای فارسی / alefbā-ye fârsi (Persian alphabet)

After the Islamic conquest of the Persian Sassanian Empire in the 7th and 8th centuries AD, the Arabic alphabet was adapted to write the Persian language. This is now known as the Persian or Perso-Arabic alphabet (الفبای فارسی / alefbā-ye fârsi).

Notable features

Persian alphabet and pronunciation

A recording of the Persian alphabet by Bahaareh Asghari (بهاره اصغرى)


Notes and corrections by Ali Jahanshiri


Persian numerals

A recording of these numbers by Bahaareh Asghari (بهاره اصغرى)

Download alphabet charts for Persian (Excel)


Sample text

تمام افراد بشر آزاد به دنیا می آیند و از لحاظ حیثیت و حقوق با هم برابرند, همه دارای عقل و وجدان می باشند و باید نسبت به یک دیگر با روح برادری رفتار کنند.

A calligraphic version of this text

A calligraphic version of the sample text in Persian

Provided by Travis Castle

Transliteration (by Ali Jahânshiri)

Tamâm-e afrâd-e bašar âzâd be donyâ miâyand va az lehâz-e heysiyat-o hoquq bâ ham arâbar-and. Hame dârâ-ye aql-o vejdân mibâšand va bâyad nesbat be yekdigar bâ ruh-e barâdari raftâr konand.

A recording of this text by Bahaareh Asghari (بهاره اصغرى)


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos in Persian

Information about Persian | Latin alphabets for Persian | Phrases | Numbers | Family Words | Tower of Babel | Links | Learning materials



Information about the Persian language

Learn Persian (Farsi) online with PersianPod101
Learn Persian (Farsi) with Glossika
Learn Persian with Ling

More Persian links

Iranian languages

Avestan, Baluchi, Bartangi, Dari, Gilaki, Hazaragi, Ishkashimi, Judeo-Persian, Juhuri, Khufi, Kumzari, Kurdish, Luri, Mazandarani, Munji, Ossetian, Ormuri, Oroshor, Persian, Parthian, Pashto, Rushani, Sanglechi, Sarikoli, Shabaki, Shughni, Tajik, Talysh, Tat, Wakhi, Wanetsi, Yaghnobi, Yazghulami, Yidgha, Zazaki

Languages written with the Arabic script

Adamaua Fulfulde, Afrikaans, Arabic (Algerian), Arabic (Bedawi), Arabic (Chadian), Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Gulf), Arabic (Hassaniya), Arabic (Hejazi), Arabic (Lebanese), Arabic (Libyan), Arabic (Modern Standard), Arabic (Moroccan), Arabic (Najdi), Arabic (Syrian), Arabic (Tunisian), Arwi, Äynu, Azeri, Balanta-Ganja, Balti, Baluchi, Beja, Belarusian, Bosnian, Brahui, Chagatai, Chechen, Chittagonian, Comorian, Crimean Tatar, Dargwa, Dari, Dhatki, Dogri, Domari, Gawar Bati, Gawri, Gilaki, Hausa, Hazaragi, Hindko, Indus Kohistani, Kabyle, Kalkoti, Karakalpak, Kashmiri, Kazakh, Khowar, Khorasani Turkic, Khwarezmian, Konkani, Kumzari, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Lezgi, Lop, Luri, Maguindanao, Malay, Malay (Terengganu), Mandinka, Marwari, Mazandarani, Mogholi, Morisco, Mozarabic, Munji, Noakhailla, Nubi, Ormuri, Palula, Parkari Koli, Pashto, Persian/Farsi, Punjabi, Qashqai, Rajasthani, Rohingya, Salar, Saraiki, Sawi, Serer, Shabaki, Shina, Shughni, Sindhi, Somali, Soninke, Tatar, Tausūg, Tawallammat Tamajaq, Tayart Tamajeq, Torwali, Turkish, Urdu, Uyghur, Uzbek, Wakhi, Wanetsi, Wolof, Xiao'erjing, Yidgha

Page last modified: 04.03.24


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