Complex & Compound Verbs

In Persian, compound verbs are constructed of a verb and a non-verbal element, such as a noun, verbal noun, compound noun, adjective, past stem, and preposition. Normally in this case the non-verbal element goes through a semantic mutation:

red sorx سرخ
to blush; fry sorx šodan سرخ شدن
head, tip sar سر
to (pay a) visit; execution by severing the head sar zadan سر زدن

As in simple verbs, compound verbs also take the stress on the last syllable, in the infinitival form (as in, کوشش کردن )
kušeš karda׀n; but in finite compound forms, the stress falls on the last syllable of the non-verbal element:

همهٔ دانشجویان کوشش کردند
hameye dānešjuyān kuše׀š kardand
‘students all tried hard’

In compound verbs the particles and prefixes (i.e., می, neg. ن, imp./subj. ب, etc.) always come before the verbal element of the compound; as in,

می بردارم never برمی‌دارم
نبردارnever برندار
بزندگی کن never زندگی بکن

In this case the prefix or the verbal stem may take the stress, according to the context; as in, سفره را بر چیدند sofre rā ba׀r cidand, or sofre rā bar či׀dand ‘they wrapped up the table’, but in the negative the na- prefix takes the stress; as in,
سفره را بر نچیدند sofre rā bar na׀cidand ‘they did not wrap the table up’.

In verbs with کردن it is normal to drop the imperative/subjunctive ب; as in, کوشش کن instead of کوشش بکن and باید کوشش کنیم instead of باید کوشش بکنیم, etc. (See the imperative and the subjunctive sections).

Among the different Persian compound verbs, the majority have the verb کردن kardan as the verbal member of the compound.

Different kinds of compounds:

noun (اسم) + infinitive (مصدر):
The noun may be of Persian origin or a loan word:

to get, stand up pā šodan پا شدن
to pay a visit sar zadan سر زدن
to like, love dust dāštan دوست داشتن
to get along (with) kenār āmadan کنار آمدن
to phone, call telefon kardan تلفن کردن / تلفن زدن
to brake tormoz kardan ترمز کردن
to need lāzem dāštan لازم داشتن
to accept qabul kardan قبول کردن

The noun may be any kind of grammatical noun, such as:

A verbal noun اسم مصدر
try; to toil kušeš kardan کوشش کردن
to live zendegi kardan زندگی کردن
to pay visit didār kardan دیدار کردن

A compund noun اسم مرکّب:
گفتگو کردن got-o-gu kardan ‘to have a dialogue, converse’

to search jost-o-ju kardan جستجو کردن
to sweep roft-o-ru kardan رُفت و رو کردن
to establish bar qarār dāštan برقرار داشتن

Adjective (صفت) + infinitive:
The adjective may be simple or compound. Compound verbs with کردن kardan as the verbal member of the compound are active and with شدن šodan they are passive:

Simple adjectives:

to heal, recover xub šodan خوب شدن
to heal xub kardan خوب کردن
to blush; fry sorx šodan سرخ شدن
to fry sorx kardan سرخ کردن
to hold insignificant, look down at kucak šomordan کوچک شمردن
to let go (in a quarrel) kutāh āmadan کوتاه آمدن
to emotionally hurt āzorde kardan آزرده کردن

It should be understood that etymologically morphemes with [ā-] prefix are compounds, but in Modern Persian they are construed as being simple morphemes. For instance, such words as آفرین āfarin ‘praise (be upon thee), good job! bravo!’ (< ā + frin- ‘to bless’) are already taken as a simple morpheme as early as the Middle Persian period (Modern Persian آفرین āfrīn ‘praise thee’).

Compound adjectives:

دلگرم شدن
delgarm šodan
‘to be encouraged’

خوشبخت شدن
xošbaxt šodan
‘to prosper’

سوگوار شدن
sugvār šodan
‘to become mournful’

Past stem (بن ماضی) + infinitive:

پخت کردن
poxt kardan
‘to bake, cook’

تاخت زدن
tāxt zadan
‘to charge a horse, gallop’

آمد داشتن
āmad dāštan
‘to bring good omen/luck’

Prepositions (حروف اضافه) + infinitive (complex verbs):
Prepositions are used extensively in the construction of complex verbs. The most common are as follows:

باز bāz ‘again’ may be compared with the English re- prefix; as in, بازنشسته bāznešaste ‘retired’; bāz gaštan ‘to return’.

to return bāz āmadan باز آمدن
to stop, prevent bāz daštan باز داشتن
to return bāz gaštan باز گشتن
to relate (a story, etc.) bāz goftan باز گفتن

بر bar ‘up, above, over’ may be compared with the English –up in “to stand
up, pick up”:

to rise up (as in the sun); swell bar āmadan بر آمدن
to topple, be abolished; cease to be in use bar oftādan بر افتادن
to ignite, kindle; provoke excite; to get angry bar afroxtan بر افروختن
to pick up (especially, piece-by-piece), wrap up bar cidan بر چیدن
to stand up, get up bar xāstan بر خاستن
to pick up bar dāštan بر داشتن
to count one-by-one bar šomordan بر شمردن

در آمدن
dar āmadan
‘to get out’

در آمیختن
dar āmixtan
vi., vt. ‘to mix’

در آویختن
dar āvixtan
vi., vt. ‘to hang’

در افتادن
dar oftādan
‘to engage oneself in quarrel with…’

در پیچیدن
dar picidan
‘to muffle, entangle’

در نوردیدن
dar navardidan
to traverse, pass through’


فرا خواندن
farā xāndan
‘to summon, call upon’

فرا رسیدن
farā residan
‘to arrive (time)’

فرا گرفتن
farā gereftan
‘to learn’


فرو بردن
foru bordan
‘to swallow; vt. submerge’

فرو رفتن
foru raftan
vi. ‘to submerge’

فرو نشاندن
foru nešāndan
‘to extinguish, suppress, quell, quench (thirst)’

فرو کردن
foru kardan
‘to insert, thrust (into)’

ور var is a variation of بر ; but historically some compounds have been retained with one as opposed to the other. Normally the colloquial dialect opts for var- vs. bar-; as in, the colloquial ور داشتن vs. بر داشتن (which, however, a few speakers may still use). Also some expressions are constructed with one vs. the other, such as ور رفتن ‘to fool around with, meddle with’, which is pretty much constant among lay-persons as well as among the educated people.

ور افتادن
var oftādan
‘to summon, call upon’

ور چیدن
var cidan
‘to pick up (especially—but not necessarily—piece-by-piece)’

ور داشتن
var dāštan
‘to pick up’

ور رفتن
var raftan
‘to meddle with, fool around with’

Compound morpheme + infinitive:
It is possible that the non-verbal element in its turn be a compound. In this case we might also be dealing with a sort of expression:

از بر کردن
az bar kardan
‘to learn by heart, memorize’

از پا افتادن
az pā oftādan
‘to become too exhausted, lose one’s strength’

از پا در آمدن
az pā dar āmadan
‘to fall feeble (after a long resistance), “go down”’