Verb “To Be”

Personal endings of the verb “to be”—also called present copulas—which are affixed to the end of nouns or adjectives, with the exception of the third singular, are as follows:

I am am من ا ــَم
you are (singular) i توﺍﻴ ــی
he, she, it is ast او است
we are im ما ا ــیم
you are (plural) id شما ا ــید
they are and ﺁﻧها ﻴ ــَند

Each of these copulas has all the information about the person, the number, and the tense. That is to say, for instance, خوبم (without the pronoun من) already means “I am fine.”

Orthographically after a long [ā] and [ū], normally an euphonic یـ or alef (and in certain cases, either of the two) intervene between the noun/ adjective and these copulas. The exceptions are in the case of the second singular, which invariably takes only the یـ, and the third singular, which either stays as است, or is contracted (that is, it drops the initial alef).

Since the segment یی is pronounced as ’i and not yi, from early times within the Arabicized era some writers/copyists started writing the segment phonetically a ئی, which historically and etymologically is incorrect. That is, writing تو دانشجویی as تو دانشجوئی and چه موی زیبایی as چه موی زیبائی is entirely incorrect. It must be understood that hamze is not a feature that belongs to Persian grammar; it belongs to Arabic and cannot replace a Persian feature, or be used with Persian words. In the following examples, the یی (ییم, یید) segment is transcribed as –yi, but it should be pronounced as –’i:

I am here. man injāyam/injā am من اینجایَم / من اینجا ام
You are here. to injāyi تو اینجایی
He, she is here. u injā ast/injāst او اینجا است / او اینجاست
We are here. mā injāyim ما اینجاییم / ما اینجا ایم
You are here. šomā injāyid شما اینجایید / شما اینجا اید
They are here. ān hā injāyand/injā and آن‌ها اینجایند / آن‌ها اینجا اند
I am [a] student. man dānešjū(y)am من دانشجویَم/ من دانشجوام
You are [a] student. to dānešjūyi تو دانشجویی
He, she is [a] student. u dānešjū ast/dānešjūst او دانشجو است/ او دانشجوست
We are students. mā dānešjūyim ما دانشجوییم / ما دانشجوایم
You are students. šomā danešjūyid شما دانشجویید/ شما دانشجواید
They are here. ān hā danešjū(y)and آن‌ها دانشجویند/ آن‌ها دانشجواند

After the silent /h/ (and variably after /i/) an euphonic alef (never the یـ, with the exception of the second singular) is used:

I am at home. man dar xāne am من در خانه ام
You are at home. to dar xāneyi تو در خانه یی/ای
He, she is at home. u dar xāne ast او در خانه است
We are at home. mā dar xāneyim ما در خانه ایم
You are at home. šomā dar xāney id شما در خانه اید
They are at home. ān hā dar xāne and آن‌ها در خانه اند

Words ending in ی are inconsistence, as follows:

I am (an) Iranian. man irāniyam /irani am من ایرانیم/ایرانی‌ام
You are (an) Iranian. (singular) to irāniyi
تو ایرانیی/ایرانی‌یی‌/ایرانی‌ای
He, she is (an) Iranian. u irāni ast/irānist او ایرانی است / او ایرانیست
We are Iranian. mā irāniyim ما ایرانی‌ایم
You are Iranian. (plural) šomā irāniyid
شما ایرانی‌اید
They are Iranian. ān hā irāni and آن‌ها ایرانیَند/ایرانی‌اند

As Ferdowsi says:

من ایرانیَم ٬ این شعار من اسـت وطن دوســتی افتخـار من اسـت
چـو ایران نباشــد٬ تن مـن مبـاد بدین بوم و بر زنده یک تن مباد
man irāniyam, in šo’ār-e man ast vatan dusti eftexār-e man ast
co irān nabāšad, tan-e man mabād bedin bum-o bar zende yek tan mabād
‘“I am (an) Iranian,” this is my motto; patriotism (literally, loving the homeland) is my honor
Without Iran, may I cease to exist (literally, may my body cease to be);
May not even one soul (literally, body) exist in this land’

In this case Persian speakers are usually more comfortable using the long copulas (with the exception of the 3rd singular, in which case the long copula means a different verb, namely, ‘to exist’):

I am (an) Iranian. man irāni hastam من ایرانی هستم
You are (an) Iranian. to iāni hasti singular تو ایرانی هستی
He, she is (an) Iranian. u irāni ast/irānist او ایرانی است/ او ایرانیست
We are Iranian. mā irāni hastim ما ایرانی هستیم
You are Iranian. šomā irāni hastid plural شما ایرانی هستید
They are Iranian. ān hā irāni hastand آن‌ها ایرانی هستند

Note that the third singular است is a full grade verb, and not an ending.


Nouns: Adjectives:

I am happy. man xošhālam من خوشحالم I am a physician. man pezeškam من پزشکم
You are happy. to xošhāli تو خوشحالی You are a physician. to pezeški تو پزشکی
He/she is happy. u xošhāl ast او خوشحال است He/she is a physician. u pezešk ast او پزشک است
We are happy. ma xošhālim ما خوشحالیم We are physicians. ma pezeškim ما پزشکیم
You are happy. šoma xošhālid شما خوشحالید You are physicians. šoma pezeškid شما پزشکید
They are happy. ānha xošhāland آن‌ها خوشحالند They are physicians. ānha pezeškand آن‌ها پزشکند