Dari vs. Farsi

What's the Difference?

Dari and Farsi are two dialects of the Persian language, spoken primarily in Afghanistan and Iran respectively. While they share many similarities, there are also some notable differences between the two. Dari, also known as Afghan Persian, has been influenced by the local Afghan languages, resulting in a slightly different vocabulary and pronunciation compared to Farsi. Additionally, the writing system used in Dari is based on the Arabic script, whereas Farsi uses a modified version of the Arabic script. Despite these differences, speakers of Dari and Farsi can generally understand each other, as the core grammar and structure of the language remain the same.


Photo by Sandra Martins on Unsplash
Official LanguageYesYes
Native SpeakersApproximately 9 millionApproximately 110 million
Writing SystemRight-to-leftRight-to-left
GrammarSimilar to PersianSimilar to Dari
VocabularySimilar to PersianSimilar to Dari
UsagePrimarily spoken in AfghanistanPrimarily spoken in Iran
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Further Detail


Dari and Farsi are two major dialects of the Persian language, which is spoken by millions of people around the world. While they share many similarities, there are also distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the attributes of Dari and Farsi, including their origins, geographical distribution, phonetics, vocabulary, and written forms.


Dari and Farsi both belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. They have a common origin in Old Persian, which was the language of the Achaemenid Empire in ancient Persia. Over time, Old Persian evolved into Middle Persian, and eventually into the modern dialects of Dari and Farsi.

Geographical Distribution

Dari is primarily spoken in Afghanistan, where it serves as one of the official languages alongside Pashto. It is the native language of the Tajik ethnic group and is also spoken by other ethnic minorities in the country. On the other hand, Farsi is the official language of Iran and is spoken by the majority of the population. It is also widely understood in Tajikistan and parts of Uzbekistan, as well as among the Persian diaspora in other countries.


When it comes to phonetics, Dari and Farsi share many similarities. They both have a rich inventory of consonants and vowels, including sounds that are not present in English. However, there are some differences in pronunciation between the two dialects. For example, Dari tends to preserve certain sounds from Old Persian, such as the voiced retroflex fricative /ʐ/. In contrast, Farsi has undergone some phonetic changes over time, resulting in the loss of certain sounds and the introduction of new ones.


While Dari and Farsi have a significant overlap in vocabulary, there are also notable differences. These differences can be attributed to various factors, including historical influences, regional variations, and borrowings from other languages. For instance, Dari has been influenced by neighboring languages such as Pashto and Uzbek, while Farsi has borrowed words from Arabic, French, and English. As a result, some words may have different meanings or pronunciations in Dari and Farsi, even though they share a common root.

Written Forms

Both Dari and Farsi use the Arabic script for writing, with some modifications to accommodate the specific phonetic features of the Persian language. However, there are slight differences in the way certain sounds are represented in the two dialects. For example, Dari tends to use additional diacritic marks to indicate certain vowel sounds, while Farsi relies more on context and familiarity with the language to interpret the pronunciation. Additionally, there are some variations in spelling conventions and punctuation usage between Dari and Farsi.


In conclusion, Dari and Farsi are two dialects of the Persian language that share a common origin but have distinct attributes. While Dari is primarily spoken in Afghanistan and influenced by neighboring languages, Farsi is the official language of Iran and has borrowed words from Arabic and other languages. Despite their differences, Dari and Farsi are mutually intelligible to a large extent, allowing speakers of one dialect to understand and communicate with speakers of the other. Whether you choose to learn Dari or Farsi, you will be embarking on a journey to explore the rich culture, literature, and history of the Persian-speaking world.

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