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Lesson Transcript

Salām be hamegi! Man Anita hastam. Hi everybody! I’m Anita
Welcome to PersianPod101.com’s “Persian in 3 minutes.” The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Persian.
In the last lesson, we learned several of the most common greetings in Persian. Do you remember them?
In this lesson we’re going to learn a very useful phrase: “Do you speak English?”
If you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance in English, this phrase can be a lifesaver. And because you’re asking in Persian, you can be sure that everyone will understand what you’re saying, even if their answer is no.
Here's the informal - and easy - way to say it:
Englisi baladi?
[slowly] Englisi baladi?
In Persian, Balad means "can” or “to be able to." Adding -i to the end makes it an informal question. Englisi baladi? means "Can you (speak or communicate in) English?" Literally, it’s “Can you English?”
However, this is only used in very informal situations with close friends.
Now we’re going to make this sentence more polite. By simply adding -id to balad instead of -i, it becomes a slightly more formal question:
Englisi baladid?
[slowly] Englisi baladid?
But it's always a good idea to be as polite as possible when addressing strangers. Here's the most polite form:
Āyā shomā englisi sohbat mikonid?
[slowly] Āyā shomā englisi sohbat mikonid?
Let’s pay close attention to a useful new word here - Āyā is a question word used at the start of sentences to turn a regular sentence into a yes or no question. Āyā shomā englisi sohbat mikonid? means "Do you speak English?"
By adding bebakhshid, or "excuse me," the sentence becomes even more polite:
Bebakhshid, āyā shomā englisi sohbat mikonid?
[slowly] Bebakhshid, āyā shomā englisi sohbat mikonid?
If someone replies to you in English, you’ll know the answer to your question is “Yes!” But if they answer you in Persian, you might receive one of these responses:
Bale. "Yes."
[slowly] Bale.
Yek kami "A little."
[slowly] Yek kami.
Na, man englisi sohbat nemikonam. "No, I cannot speak English."
[slowly] Na, man englisi sohbat nemikonam.
Na, man englisi balad nistam. "No, I can't (speak) English."
[slowly] Na, man englisi balad nistam.
Since this last example is a negative reply to a yes or no question, we need to say Na meaning “no” at the beginning of the sentence. We also said nemikonam meaning “don’t” after the verb sohbat meaning “talk”/”speak”, or nistam meaning ”am not” after the verb balad meaning “can”.
Combined with sohbat meaning “talk”/”speak”, now you know that sohbat nemikonam means “I don’t speak,” and sohbat mikonid means “you speak.”
Also, nistam is actually the negative version of hastam, but it looks slightly different in the negative form. Verbs and phrases change depending on the person speaking.
Now it’s time for Anita's Advice.
Persian people study the English language at school, and love to use English. So most people will understand you if you speak to them in simple English! For those of you whose native language is not English, you can use this same basic question for any language you need.
Here are some other language names in Persian…
Itāliāyi for Italian.
Roosi for Russian.
Espāniyāyi for Spanish.
Ālmāni for German.
In this lesson, we mentioned that the expression bebakhshid means “excuse me,” but did you know that this could also be used as an apology? In the next lesson, we will learn this and other ways to apologize in Persian. It’s never too late to show your good manners when speaking with Persian people!
I'll see you in our next Persian in 3 minutes lesson.