ا ب پ ت ث ج چ ح خ د ذ ر ز ژ س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ک گ ل م ن و ه ی

Perso-Arabic script

The Persian alphabet (Persian: الفبای فارسی‎, UniPers: Alefbâye Fârsi), or Perso-Arabic alphabet, is a writing system used for the Persian language.

The Persian script shares many features with other systems based on the Arabic script. It is an abjad, meaning vowels are underrepresented in writing. The writing direction is exclusively right-to-left. The script is cursive, meaning most letters in a word connect to each other; when they are typed, the computer automatically joins adjacent letterforms. However, some Persian compounds do not join, and Persian adds four letters to the basic set for a total of 32 characters.

The replacement of the Pahlavi scripts with the Persian alphabet to write the Persian language was done by the Tahirid dynasty in 9th-century Greater Khorasan.[1][2]


Example showing the Nastaʿlīq calligraphic style's proportion rules.

Below are the 32 letters of the modern Persian alphabet. Since the script is cursive, the appearance of a letter changes depending on its position: isolated, initial (joined on the left), medial (joined on both sides) and final (joined on the right) of a word.[3]

The names of the letter are mostly the ones used in Arabic except for the Persian pronunciation. The only ambiguous name is he, which is used for both ح and ه. For clarification, they are often called ḥe-ye jimi (literally "jim-like ḥe" after jim, the name for the letter ج that uses the same base form) and he-ye do-češm (literally "two-eyed he", after the contextual middle letterform ـهـ), respectively.

# Name Name in Persian script DIN 31635 IPA Contextual forms
Final Medial Initial Isolated
0 hamza[4] همزه ʾ [ʔ] ـئ ـأ ـؤ ـئـ ئـ ء أ
1 ʾalef الف ā [ɒ] ـا آ / ا
2 be بِ b [b] ـب ـبـ بـ ب
3 pe پِ p [p] ـپ ـپـ پـ پ
4 te تِ t [t] ـت ـتـ تـ ت
5 s̱e ثِ [s] ـث ـثـ ثـ ث
6 jim جیم j [d͡ʒ] ـج ـجـ جـ ج
7 che چِ č [t͡ʃ] ـچ ـچـ چـ چ
8 ḥe(-ye jimi) حِ [h] ـح ـحـ حـ ح
9 khe خِ x [x] ـخ ـخـ خـ خ
10 dāl دال d [d] ـد د
11 ẕāl ذال [z] ـذ ذ
12 re رِ r [ɾ] ـر ر
13 ze زِ z [z] ـز ز
14 že ژِ ž [ʒ] ـژ ژ
15 sin سین s [s] ـس ـسـ سـ س
16 šin شین š [ʃ] ـش ـشـ شـ ش
17 ṣād صاد [ɬ] ـص ـصـ صـ ص
18 z̤ād ضاد [dz] ـض ـضـ ضـ ض
19 ṭā, ṭoy (in Dari) طی, طا [ts] ـط ـطـ طـ ط
20 ẓā, ẓoy (in Dari) ظی, ظا [ɮ] ـظ ـظـ ظـ ظ
21 ʿeyn عین ʿ [ʔ] ـع ـعـ عـ ع
22 ġeyn غین ġ [ɣ] ـغ ـغـ غـ غ
23 fe فِ f [f] ـف ـفـ فـ ف
24 qāf قاف q [ɢ] ـق ـقـ قـ ق
25 kāf کاف k [k] ـک ـکـ کـ ک
26 gāf گاف g [ɡ] ـگ ـگـ گـ گ
27 lām لام l [l] ـل ـلـ لـ ل
28 mim میم m [m] ـم ـمـ مـ م
29 nun نون n [n] ـن ـنـ نـ ن
30 vāv واو v / ū / ow / (w / aw / ō in Dari) [v] / [uː] / [o] / [ow] / ([w] / [aw] / [oː] in Dari) ـو و
31 he(-ye do-češm) هِ h [h] ـه ـهـ هـ ه
32 ye یِ y / ī / á / (ay / ē in Dari) [j] / [i] / [ɒː] / ([aj] / [eː] in Dari) ـی ـیـ یـ ی

Letters that do not link to a following letter

Seven letters (و, ژ, ز, ر, ذ, د, ا) do not connect to a following letter, unlike the rest of the letters of the alphabet. The seven letters have the same form in isolated and initial position and a second form in medial and final position. For example, when the letter ا "alef" is at the beginning of a word such as اینجا "injā" (here), the same form is used as in an isolated "alef". In the case of امروز "emruz" (today), the letter ر "re" takes the final form and the letter و "vāv" takes the isolated form, but they are in the middle of the word, and ز also has its isolated form, but it occurs at the end of the word.


Persian script has adopted a subset of Arabic diacritics: zabar /æ/ (fatḥah in Arabic), zir /e/ (kasrah in Arabic), and pesh /o/ or /o/ (ḍammah in Arabic, pronounced zamme in Western Persian), sukūn, tanwīn nasb /æn/ and shadda (gemination). Other Arabic diacritics may be seen in Arabic loanwords.

Short vowels
(fully vocalized text)
Name Name in Persian script Trans. Value
zebar زبر
a /a/
zir زیر
i /i/
pish پیش
sokoon سکون

Tanvin (nunation)

(fully vocalized text)
Name Name in Persian script
َاً، ـاً، ءً
Tanvin e nasb تنوین نصب
Tanvin e jarr تنوین جرّ
Tanvin e rafe تنوین رفع


(fully vocalized text)
Name Name in Persian script
tashdid تشدید

Other characters

The following are not actual letters but different orthographical shapes for letters, a ligature in the case of the lām alef. As to hamze, it has only one graphic since it is never tied to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes 'seated' on a vāv, ye or alef, and in that case, the seat behaves like an ordinary vāv, ye or alef respectively. Technically, hamze is not a letter but a diacritic.

Name Transliteration IPA Final Medial Initial Stand-alone
alef madde ā [ɒ] ـآ آ
he ye -eye or -eyeh [eje] ـۀ ۀ
lām alef [lɒ] ـلا لا

Although at first glance, they may seem similar, there are many differences in the way the different languages use the alphabets. For example, similar words are written differently in Persian and Arabic, as they are used differently.

Novel letters

The Persian alphabet adds four letters to the Arabic alphabet: /p/, /ɡ/, /t͡ʃ/ (ch in chair), /ʒ/ (s in measure).

Sound Shape Unicode name
/p/ پ peh
/t͡ʃ/ (ch) چ tcheh
/ʒ/ (zh) ژ jeh
/ɡ/ گ gaf

Differences between Persian and Arabic alphabet

Many Arabic letters represent sounds not present in Persian; they are typically used only in loanwords and native Persian sounds replace them. For example, ذ, ض and ظ are all pronounced just like historical ze ز z.

Vowel notation is simple, but its history is complicated. Classical Arabic has a vowel length distinction; in writing, long vowels are normally written ambiguously by letters known as matres lectionis; short ones are normally not written (although certain diacritics are added to indicate them in special circumstances, notably in the Quran). Middle Persian also had vowel length and noted ā with alif ا, ē and ī with yāʾ ی, and ō and ū with wāw و. Short vowels (a, e, i, o and u) were normally not written.

The length distinction of Middle Persian no longer exists in modern Persian. The results of its collapse vary between Western Persian, Dari, and Tajiki, with eight- or six-vowel inventories. However, the alphabet retains the original spellings of most words. Thus, فارسي Fārsī "Persian" is pronounced in the Tehrani dialect fɒrsi and شير shēr "lion" and شیر shīr "milk" is ʃir, but in Dari, the same words appear as Persian pronunciation: [fɒrsi] but ʃer "lion", ʃir "milk".

The following is a list of differences between the writing system:

  1. A hamze (ء) is not written above or below an alef (ا) as it is in Arabic.
  2. The Arabic letter tāʾ marbūṭah (ة), unless used in a direct Arabic quotation, is usually changed to a te (ت) or he ه, in accordance with its actual pronunciation. Tāʾ marbūṭa, used in feminine nouns in Arabic, is a combined form of hāʾ, with the dots marking tāʾ and represents a [t] that is dropped in word-final position. Since Persian does not have grammatical gender, tāʾ marbūṭa is not necessary and is kept only to maintain fidelity in Arabic loanwords and quotations.
  3. Two dots are removed in the final ye (ی). Arabic differentiates the final yāʾ with the two dots and the alif maqsūra, except in Egyptian, Sudanese and Maghrebi Arabic usage, which is written like a final yāʾ without the two dots. Because Persian drops the two dots in the final ye, the alif maqsura cannot be differentiated from the normal final ye. For example, the name Mūsá "Moses" is written موسی. In the final letter in Mūsá, Persian does not differentiate between ye and the Arabic alif maqsūra.
  4. Hamze is removed in the final and isolated forms of kāf (ک) and is similar in shape to the initial and medial forms unlike in arabic (ك).
  5. The letters pe (پ), che (چ), že (ژ), and gāf (گ) are added because Arabic, lacking the phonemes, has no letters for them.
  6. Wāw (و) is used as vâv for [v] because Arabic has no [v], and Standard Iranian Persian has [w] only within the diphthong [ow].
  7. In the Arabic alphabet, hāʾ () comes before wāw (و), but in the Persian alphabet, he () comes after vâv (و).
  8. It is more standard to write the nunation in this order in Persian: ـً (fatḥa tanwīn or fatḥatān) then ا (alef). In Persian, the order is reversed: ا, then ـً. Thus, Arabic ـًا becomes ـاً in Persian: عصًا ʿaṣan becomes عصاً ʾasan. Writing ـاً in Arabic is also very common.
  9. The shapes of the Persian digits four (۴), five (۵), and six (۶) are different from the shapes used in Arabic and the other numbers have different codepoints.[5]
Name Persian Unicode Arabic Unicode
0 ۰ U+06F0 ٠ U+0660
1 ۱ U+06F1 ١ U+0661
2 ۲ U+06F2 ٢ U+0662
3 ۳ U+06F3 ٣ U+0663
4 ۴ U+06F4 ٤ U+0664
5 ۵ U+06F5 ٥ U+0665
6 ۶ U+06F6 ٦ U+0666
7 ۷ U+06F7 ٧ U+0667
8 ۸ U+06F8 ٨ U+0668
9 ۹ U+06F9 ٩ U+0669
ye ی U+06CC ي U+064A
kāf ک U+06A9 ك U+0643

Word boundaries

Typically, words are separated from each other by a space. Certain morphemes (such as the plural ending '-hâ'), however, are written without a space. On a computer, they are separated from the word using the zero-width non-joiner.

Alphabets derived from Perso-Arabic

See also


  1. ^ Ira M. Lapidus (2012). Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History. Cambridge University Press. pp. 256–. ISBN 978-0-521-51441-5. 
  2. ^ Ira M. Lapidus (2002). A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 127–. ISBN 978-0-521-77933-3. 
  3. ^ "ویژگى‌هاى خطّ فارسى". Academy of Persian Language and Literature. 
  4. ^ "??" (PDF). Persianacademy.ir. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  5. ^ "Unicode Characters in the 'Number, Decimal Digit' Category". 

External links