The ezâfé (اضافه in Persian, изофа (izofa) in Tajik) is a grammatical construct in Persian 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.
Orthography and Pronunciation
In Iranian and Dari Persian, which are written in the Perso-Arabic style script, the ezâfe is frequently unwritten. It is never identified in writing after words that end in consonants, and is frequently not identified when following words that end in the short vowel ـه (-e). However, there are two ways to mark ezâfe after these words ending in ـه (-e):
Whether to leave the ezâfe unmarked or use hamza or ye is largely a matter of stylistic preference, though some will argue vehemently that one or more are incorrect. For instance, Persian purists argue that the hamza is specific to the Arabic language and cannot be used for Persian grammatical forms not found in Arabic. Students of Persian can expect to encounter all three methods of handling ezâfe with words ending in the short vowel. It should be noted that the form with ye must not be confused with the suffix -i ـهای (-e-i) which forms adjectives from nouns.
- ـای (â-ye)
- ـوی (u-ye)
The ezâfe is one of the main ways to link words together to express possession. The most basic translation in these cases is "of".
|برادر من (barâdar-e man, “my brother”)||бародари ман (barodari man, “my brother”)|
|خانه همسایگان ما (xâne-ye hamsâyegân-e mâ, “our neighbors' house”)||хонаи ҳамсоягони мо (xonayi hamsoyagoni mo, “our neighbors' house”)|
With descriptive adjectives
In Persian, adjectives normally follow the nouns they modify. In such cases, the noun takes ezâfe.
|اسب سفید (asb-e sefid, “white horse”)||аспи сафед (aspi safed, “white horse”)|
|اسبهای سیاه (asb-hâ-ye siyâh, “black horses”)||аспҳои сиёҳ (asphoyi siyoh, “black horses”)|
Combination of possession and adjectives
Both uses of the ezâfe construction can easily be combined in such a way that every adjective follows the noun it modifies.
اسبهای سیاه برادر بزرگ من
аспҳои сиёҳи бародари бузурги ман
In Persian, firstname and surname (and similar constituents) are separated by ezafe:
- محمد تقی بهار (mohammad-taqi-ye bahâr)
- سید حسن مدرس (seyyed hasan-e modarresi-ye tabâtabâyi)
- محمد بن زکریای رازی (mohammad ebn-e zakariyâ-ye râzi)
Ezafe is not used in the names of contemporary non-Persians even when the name is pronounced in its Persianized form:
- رجب طیب اردوغان (rajab tayyeb ardoğân)
- ^ Those using the latter name maintain that the sign used to indicate this use of the ezafe is unrelated to the hamza and instead derived from the letter ی. See https://sites.la.utexas.edu/persian_online_resources/language-specific-grammar/ezafe-2/
- ^ A common mistake in encoding this combination of characters is using, among others, the unicode character ۀ (U+06C0) to express this occurence of ezafe. This is discouraged by the ISIRI 6219 standard which instead recommends U+0647(ه),U+0654(hamza) and, if necessary, a zero-width non-joiner. 'See Notes on some Unicode Arabic characters:' by Jonathan Kew