Ever find yourself stuck, wanting to go beyond the basic Persian greeting, Salam (سلام)? You’re in the right place! In this article we’ll cover all of the different ways you can greet someone throughout the day, as well as some common responses to look out for. Like many Indo-European languages, greetings may change depending on the formality of a situation, so make sure to look out for context clues!
1. Salam (سلام)
Translating simply to “hello,” this is the most common greeting in Persian. Salam (سلام) literally means “peace,” and the response back would generally be the same. It is shortened from the original Arabic greeting salam-aleykom (سلام عليكم), meaning “peace be upon you,” though this full phrase can also be used in Persian in more formal settings, with a slight change in pronunciation: salamalaikom (سلامعلیکم).
2. Sobh bekheir (صبح بخير)
If this also sounds familiar, you must know a little bit of Arabic! This Persian phrase for “good morning” bears a significant resemblance to its Arabic counterpart, sabah al-khair (صباح الخير). The typical reply would be the same words, repeated back. Sobh bekheir is the singular form, used when you’re talking to one other person. To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say sobh-e-toon bekheir (صبحتون بخير), to which the response could be the same, the singular form sobh bekheir, or sobh-e shoma ham bekheir (صبح شما هم بخير), meaning “good morning to you, too.” Among older generations of Persian speakers, you may hear another response: aqebat bekheir (عاقبت بخیر), meaning “good ending.”
Kindly note that Persian speakers from Afghanistan (speakers of the Dari dialect) tend to pronounce the word “bekheir” as bakhair, though the Persian script stays the same.
3. Zohr bekheir (ظهر بخير)
Meaning “good afternoon,” this phrase is also derived from Arabic. This greeting can be used from noon until around 3 pm, and the same words would be replied back. To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say, zohr-e-toon bekheir (ظهرتون بخير). To this, one would reply zohr-e-shoma ham bekheir (ظهر شما هم بخير), meaning “good afternoon to you, too.” Once again, this is the Farsi pronunciation used in Iran; speakers of Dari would pronounce this phrase as zohr bakhair.
4. Asr bekheir (عصر بخیر)
Moving on from the previous greeting, asr bekheir is used in the second half of the afternoon – from roughly 3 pm until sunset. Translating more or less to “good late afternoon,” this greeting is historically tied to one of the daily Muslim prayers that goes by the same name, asr (عصر). The typical response would be the same words repeated back, asr bekheir (عصر بخیر). To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say asr-e-toon bekheir (عصرتون بخير). To this, one would reply asr-e-shoma ham bekheir (عصر شما هم بخير), meaning “good late afternoon to you, too.” Speakers of Dari would say this greeting as asr bakhair.
5. Vaght bekheir (وقت بخیر)
This phrase literally translates to “good time,” or “may your time be well,” and can be used as a greeting at any time of the day, similar to the English phrase “good day.” The same words can be replied back. Meanwhile, in formal settings, when addressing a group of people, or when speaking to an elder, one would use the phrase vaght-e-toon bekheir (وقتتون بخير), to which the response would be vaght-e-shoma ham bekheir (وقت شما هم بخير), meaning “good day to you, too.” Again, tweak the bekheir to bakhair when speaking in Dari Persian.
6. Rooz bekheir (روز بخير)
Much like the previous phrase, the greeting rooz bekheir (روز بخير) can be used at any time of the day, as it simply means “good day.” To address a group of people or show respect to an elder, you would say rooz-e-toon bekheir (روزتون بخير), which would be followed by the response rooz-e-shoma ham bekheir (روز شما هم بخير), or “good day to you, too.” Make sure to tweak the bekheir to bakhair in all instances when speaking in Dari Persian.
7. Dorood (درود)
This Persian word is a formal greeting, commonly heard on the radio and television. Interestingly, this is the only word in our list of greetings that comes from Old Persian (also known as Avestan), which predates the Arabic influence on the language.
Hopefully, you are now feeling more confident with your ability to greet people in Persian under a variety of circumstances! If you are interested in exploring what comes after the greeting, consider studying Persian with NaTakallam. Choose between the Farsi and Dari dialects, and work alongside our brilliant native language tutors from displaced communities, building bridges and friendships.
Book a session today to kickstart your language-learning journey!
– Copywriting: Gina Bagnolo.
– Copyediting: Yasmine, Emmy, Tara, Mikaela.