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In this lesson, we learn one of the most important constructions in Persian, i.e. Ezafe/Genitive construction. We use this construction to connect two nouns, nouns, and their adjectives.

The ezāfe/ezafe (اضافه in Persian, or Farsi, изофа (izofa) in Tajik) is a grammatical construct in Persian language that serves a wide variety of purposes. The most common being the formations of possessive phrases and linking nouns to the adjectives that modify them. In the most general sense, it serves as a way to markedly connect certain words together semantically.

The ezāfe is usually pronounced as /-e/ or /-i/ depending on the vowel harmony of the preceding word. We write it as a short diagonal stroke under the final letter of the word that takes it. For example, in اسب سفید (asb-e sefid, “white horse”), the word اسب (asb, “horse”) takes the ezāfe /-e/. In this way we link it to the adjective سفید (sefid, “white”) that modifies it.

We also use ezafe to express possession between two or more nouns. In this case, the most basic translation in English is “of”. For example, in خانه همسایگان ما (xâne-ye hamsâyegân-e mâ, “our neighbors’ house”), the word خانه (xâne, “house”) takes the ezāfe /-e/ to link to the noun همسایگان (hamsâyegân, “neighbors”) that possesses it. The word همسایگان also takes the ezāfe /-e/ to link to the pronoun ما (mâ, “we”) that indicates ownership.

The ezāfe can also be used to link names together. Such as first name and surname, or title and name. For example, in محمد رضا شاه پهلوی (Mohammad Rezâ Šâh Pahlavi), the name محمد رضا (Mohammad Rezâ) takes the ezāfe /-e/ and links it to the title شاه (Šâh, “king”). The title شاه also takes the ezāfe /-e/ and links to the surname پهلوی (Pahlavi).

There are some exceptions and variations in the usage of the ezāfe in Persian. For example, some words that end in a silent /h/ may take a hamza or a ye instead of an ezāfe after them. Some verbs may change their stem when we negate them with an ezāfe. Some words may have two negative forms with different ezāfes.

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