What is Ezafe in Persian?

What is Ezafe in Persian?

What is Ezafe in Persian?

Aug 27, 2019 - Blog
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What is Ezafe in Persian?

 

"Have you ever wondered what "Ezafe in Persian" means and how you should use it?

Many learners often find it a bit confusing in the beginning but don't worry, here is all you need to know about this tricky vowel!"

Ezafe is an unstressed vowel -e  which is pronounced similar to the letter "e" in English "ten" and connects different words together. We have discussed about Persian alphabet and Persian vowels before, but using this unstressed vowel needs some information."

 

History of Ezafe in Persian

Originally, just like every other early Indo-European language (such as Latin, Greek, and Proto-Germanic), in Old Persian nouns had case endings. A genitive construction would have looked much like an Arabic iḍāfa construct, with the first noun being in any case, and the second being in the genitive case, as in Arabic or Latin.

Avestan Language

However, over time, a relative pronoun such as tya or hya (meaning "which") began to be interposed between the first element and its genitive attribute.

Tisdall states that the modern Persian ezafe stems from this relative pronoun which, that in Eastern Iranian languages (Avestan) was yo or yat. Pahlavi (Middle Persian) shortened it to ī (spelled with the letter Y in Pahlavi scripts), and after noun case endings passed out of usage, this relative pronoun which (pronounced /e/ in New Persian), became a genitive "construct" marker.

Thus the phrase

  • mard-e xub مردِ خوب

historically means "man which (is) good" rather than "good man."

 

Where to use Ezafe in Persian?

In Persian, we use it primarily in four situations:

  • Possession: to connect the possessed noun with its owner
  • Adjectival phrases: to modify nouns
  • Naming: to connect people and titles; places, days,seasons and their names.
  • Place and direction: to indicate a place or direction.

 

Using Ezafe for possession

Persian Possessive Adjective

We use the ezafe is used for indicating possession as well. The possessor follows the possessed.

For example:

Pedram's Book کتاب پدرام
Their Car ماشین آن ها
My hands دست های من
My father's friend دوست پدرم
His life زندگی او

 

When a word ends in a consonant, the ezāfe is pronounced but not written. However, we can mark it using the diacritical mark kesre کسره, which becomes the kesre-ye ezāfe کسرهٔ اضافه.

Pedram's Book کتابِ پدرام
Their Car ماشینِ آن ها
My father's friend دوستِ پدرم

 

Note:

If any of the words has adjectives, its adjectives come right after it.

Kamran's dirty ball توپ کثیف کامران
My friend's new bicycle دوچرخه جدید دوستم
Neighbour's big flower گل بزرگ همسایه
Bahareh's white doll عروسک سفید بهاره
The village's long river رودخانه طولانی روستا

 

Using Ezafe for adjectives

Adjectives

Adjectives are linked to their noun using an ezafe. Unlike English, the noun precedes its adjective in Persian.

Good morals اخلاق خوب
Exhausting day روز خسته کننده
Short film فیلم کوتاه
Dark room اتاق تاریک
Heavy Laptop لپ تاپ سنگین

Note:

When the noun ends with a vowel, another letter or sound should step between the ezafe and the noun to prevent the two vowels being pronounced right after each other. This letter is “ی”, which in this position, should be pronounced like the letter “y” in the English word “yes”.

Big house خانه بزرگ
Blue window پنجره آبی
Hard tasks کارهای سخت
Strong force نیروی قوی
Old heater بخاری قدیمی

 

As you see, the letter “ی” in this case is always pronounced but not always written. In fact, writing it as a separate letter is a very new standard and is only common in Iran. The conventional way is to simply avoid writing but for some words like "کارهای سخت" it should be written.

 

An adjective can follow a singular or plural noun. As in English, the adjective stays in single form when the noun becomes plural. One noun can take one or more adjectives.

Great men مردان بزرگ
Country's polluted cities شهر های آلوده کشور
My wife's old friends دوستان قدیمی همسرم
Digital numbers اعداد دیجیتال
Broken wooden chairs صندلی های چوبی شکسته

As you see in the above example, the letter “ی” is used here again to link two vowels together.

 

As in English, the word “و”, meaning “and”, can come to attribute more than one adjective to a noun or more than one noun to an adjective:

Active and smart students دانش آموزان فعال و باهوش
Beautiful and wild birds پرندگان زیبا و وحشی
Old and valuable goods اجناس قدیمی و با ارزش
Asian boys and girls پسران و دختران آسیایی
Fast lines and networks خطوط و شبکه های پر سرعت

 

Notice that the word “و” can be read both as “o” and “va”, but the latter sounds rather formal.

 

Using Ezafe for naming

Naming

We utilize Ezafe in cases for naming people and things as well.

The university of California دانشگاه کالیفرنیا
The country of Argentina کشور آرژانتین
Hafez Street خیابان حافظ
Mr. Basiri آقای بصیری
The autumn season فصل پاییز

 

Note:

If a word ends in the short vowel designated by the heh do-cheshm (ه), then ezāfe may be marked in another way as well.

In this case,  a hamze ء is added on top of the final heh:

Our house خانهٔ ما 
Next Week هفتهٔ دیگر 
The good examples امثلهٔ خوب

This method of writing in not being used that much in recent Persian writings and was mostly used in the past. If you ever see that in a book or text, keep in mind that it is equal to the usage of "ی" described before.

Our house خانه ی ما
Next Week هفته ی دیگر 
The good examples امثله ی خوب

 

Using Ezafe for place and direction

Place and direction

Many of the words indicating place and direction are also followed by an ezafe when preceding a noun.

Under the bed زیر تخت
Inside the city توی شهر
Outside of the room بیرون اتاق
Above the clouds بالای ابرها
Down the stairs پایین پله ها

 

"In this post we tried to expalin the usage of Ezafe in Persian with different examples to make it clarified for people who are new to this language. You can start learning Pesian from basic level by using our courses for free."

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