How to improve your written Persian: 7 tips

Going to the doctor, buying a bus ticket, finding an apartment, or just, you know, opening your mouth and having a regular conversation – most students of Persian are impatient to talk; you’re learning Persian to communicate, after all.

But please don’t forget that writing is another important aspect of communication – even in the age of Instagram. To help you out, we‘ve put together seven super actionable tips for improving your written Persian.

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1. Read, read, read

You’re not alone. “Read more” is so often suggested because it can help you write better and it works! Reading introduces you to new Persian vocabulary, interesting word choices, and beautiful phrases that you can use in your own writing. Don’t worry about what you “should” read. The important thing is to read widely and often. Articles, novels, non-fiction, blogs, news, magazines – if it’s written (and written well), read it!

2. Ban these words

To propel your writing into another world, ban these baddies from your work: خیلی “very”, واقعا “really”, کاملا “quite”, خوب “good”, and چیزها “things”. You might wonder how deleting a few simple Persian words could help your writing so much. Well, the fact is that these are not useful words. Actually, they don’t communicate strongly and without them, your text will mean the same – and read far better!

3. Use a thesaurus

After you’ve removed useless Persian words from your writing, it’s time to choose excellent replacements. Actually, this is where your new best friend, the thesaurus, comes in. Use it to exchange Persian words you use too often for more interesting, suitable, or advanced alternatives. (For example: پیشرفت > ارتقا; اسکناس > پول نقد; تغییر دادن > عوض کردن; خرسند > خوشحال; غمگین > ناراحت). In fact, avoiding common or beginner’s vocabulary individualizes your text and makes it sound more sophisticated. However, be careful not to go overboard! Your writing still has to read naturally and should make sense to your chosen audience (see point number 5).

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4. Use and notice collocations

Collocations are words that tend to go together even though other word combinations are also grammatically correct. Think of the Persian collocation باران شدید “heavy rain”. Grammatically, you could use باران قوی “strong rain” – but it sounds strange to accustomed ears. ّFor example: درختان بلند tall trees (نه درختان دراز, not high trees), among some others. Becoming familiar with typical collocations can make your writing sound more natural.

To increase your awareness of collocations, begin with a base word – such as ساختن “make”, انجام دادن “do”, گرفتن “get”, شکستن “break”, گفتن “tell” – and research associated collocations. You could also begin with a “type” of collocation and memorize some examples. Some types are:

  • Adverb + adjective (کاملاً راضی “completely satisfied”, به شدت ناامید “bitterly disappointed”)
  • noun + adjective (گل زیبا “beautiful flower”, هوای پرم “hot weather”)
  • Verb + noun (تکالیف خود را انجام دهید “do your homework”, اسم خود را بنویسید “Write your name”)
  • Noun + noun (پنجره ی خانه “house window”, سقف اتاق “room’s ceiling”)

5. Know your audience

When writing, it’s very important to write for your audience. Think about it: You use a different language when updating your CV than when writing a university essay or your Instagram page or article for your personal blog. Essentially, the difference in your tone and choice of words. So before tapping out any old text, please consider:

Is your text more formal, such as an employment cover letter, a university application letter, or an essay? These texts are:

  • Usually more complex and with longer sentences and more thoroughly explored points
  • Not so emotional and not designed to move the reader
  • Typically written with expanded words (نمی توانم “I can not”, نمی خواهم “I don’t want )

On the other hand, you might be writing something informal, like a blog post, personal letter, or marketing copy or maybe you want to write a memoir in your diary. In that case:

  • Use simpler language and shorter sentences to break down your ideas
  • Include contractions and abbreviations (such as نمیتونم can’t, نمیخوام “I don’t want”)
  • Use colloquial language and write as if you were speaking directly to the reader (this includes slang idioms, figures of speech, asides, and personal pronouns (من “I”, تو “you”, مال من “my”, مال تو “your” and…)
  • Experiment with empathy and emotion

6. Prefer active over passive language

For clearer, more concise writing, it’s generally better to use the active voice rather than the passive one. (Just look: “کوسه موج سوار را گاز گرفت The shark bit the surfer” is clearer and somewhat more evocative than “ موج سوار توسط کوسه گاز گرفته شد The surfer was bitten by the shark”).

7. Don’t write in a vacuum

It’s very difficult to learn alone, so be brave and ask for feedback on your writing. Good proofreaders are native Persian speakers with an interest in writing and language or non-native speakers with an advanced level. After your proofreader has checked your work, please implement their advice and ask for a final review before submitting or publishing your piece.

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