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Learn Dari, the lingua franca of Afghanistan, with online lessons from the world’s best language learning software.

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Learn Dari

Dari (دری‎) is the language spoken in Afghanistan, where one of the world’s most ancient civilizations regards it as a lingua franca and the country’s official language alongside Pashto. Dari is spoken by 13 million, although the language’s similarity to Farsi (Persian) makes it difficult to get exact estimates. Dari is very closely related not just to Farsi, the Persian language spoken by the majority of Iranians, but also Tajiki and Arabic whose alphabets are remarkably similar.

Learning Dari can be crucial for those hoping to communicate with people living in Afghanistan or the Afghan refugees who reside in Pakistan. The country is rich in ancient and religious history and the 31 million people who call Afghanistan home often use Dari as a way to communicate in government affairs and the media. It’s estimated as much as 15-30% of the population of Afghanistan speaks Dari as a primary language, but another 50% of the Afghan people also speak it as a second language. The Dari language, which is sometimes referred to as Afghan Farsi or Eastern Persian, is taught in Afghan schools and is spoken by over a million people in neighboring Pakistan. While Persian and Dari are often considered dialects of the same language, there are differences in vocabulary and phonology.

Rosetta Stone sees learning Dari as a journey, with lessons that scale gradually towards building your confidence speaking the language. The real test of the effectiveness of any language learning program is whether or not you feel comfortable speaking it in real-world conversations. With that in mind, Rosetta Stone offers Dari lessons in an immersive environment that’s focused on speaking the language out loud and making deeper connections. Learning Dari is about learning the language of the Afghan people, not just the words.

The Dari Language for Beginners

One of the things beginners should know about the Dari language is that it is considered mutually intelligible from the Persian language, although there are some differences in pronunciation and grammar. Dari also has quite a few words borrowed from English, which can make acquiring vocabulary a bit easier for beginning language learners.

If you’re familiar with Arabic script, you’ll recognize the similarities in Dari. Both Persian and Dari are written with a modified version of the Arabic script with the addition of four unique letters that represent Persian sounds. Dari’s consonant-based alphabet is written right to left, and its calligraphy is considered an art form in Afghanistan. For beginners, however, the more complicated script and the right to left organization may feel overwhelming, so it’s important to set aside the script and focus on speaking Dari until you gain more confidence with the language.

Dari lessons from Rosetta Stone give beginners bite-sized learning that introduces words and common conversational phrases in context. Built on a method called Dynamic Immersion®, Rosetta Stone lets learners practice the words they already know while slowly introduce new phrases and concepts. This approach gives Dari language learners the confidence they’ll need to speak up for themselves in real-world conversations.

Learn Dari Pronunciation

Stress and pitch are both essential aspects of Dari pronunciation and, in some cases, changing either of these two factors can produce completely different meanings in the Dari language. Compared to the English alphabet’s 26 letters, Dari has 32 letters which means there are some unique sounds in the language not commonly used in English.

Dari dialects are something of a continuum, where the language as it is spoken in northern, central, or eastern Afghanistan regions such as Kabul differs markedly from the Persian/Dari spoken in the west. In western Afghanistan, Dari pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar closely mirrors Iranian Persian (Farsi). The dialect of Dari spoken in Kabul is the standard and Radio Afghanistan and other media and government communications modeled the Kabul pronunciations of Dari.

Learning vocabulary isn’t useful if you aren’t able to understand and be understood when you use the language with native speakers. That’s why Rosetta Stone has Dari lessons that incorporate practice for pronunciation into every lesson with a patented speech recognition engine called TruAccent®. As Dari words are repeated out loud, the engine gives real-time feedback comparing your accent to that of a Dari native speaker. This approach lets language learners get confident with spoken Dari before moving onto the next lesson.

The Best Way To Learn Dari Words

Before you delve into learning the Dari language, it’s important to make sure you’re following a few best practices that will make your lessons more effective. There are no shortcuts to learning a language, but the journey is definitely worthwhile.

Here are a few ways you can make the most out of the time you have to learn Dari.

1. Learn Dari words in context

Memorizing vocabulary lists isn’t going to be an effective way to get you comfortable with speaking the language. The best way to learn Dari words and phrases is in the context of the situations in which they are spoken, from roadside markets to taxicabs. That’s why Rosetta Stone builds Dari lessons around units that reflect those situations, so you’re always introduced to a new word or concept in an immersive environment rich with audio and visual cues. This dynamic approach connects beginners to deeper learning and is part of why the bite-sized Dari lessons from Rosetta Stone are so effective.

Here are a few words and common phrases you might learn in Dari:
  • Hello! سلام (salam)
  • Good morning! صبح بخیر (sobh bacher)
  • Hello! \روز بخیر (ruz bacher)
  • Good evening! شام بخیر (scham bacher)
  • Good night! شب بخیر (schab bacher)
  • Bye! (informal) خدا حافظ (choda hafez)
  • Good bye! (formal) تا دیدار بعد (ta didar bad)

2. Focus on Dari pronunciation

Before you move onto your next lesson, make sure you feel confident with how the Dari words and phrases you’re learning are pronounced. If you feel like you need extra help beyond your lessons in perfecting your accent, you can always take advantage of features like Rosetta Stone Stories that let you download and listen to stories from native speakers. Listening to native speakers is a great way to pick up patterns in speech you haven’t noticed before.

3. Ignore Dari script for now

The Dari script is beautiful and intriguing, and they’ll be plenty of time to marvel at it once you’ve gotten the hang of spoken Dari. It’s much more important for beginners to know how to speak Dari than it is to be able to read or write Dari. Once you’ve gotten plenty of practice speaking the language, however, getting familiar with Dari script is an important step for advanced learners so you can begin to read some of the works of literature and poetry that are written in the Dari language.

4. Speak Dari daily

Carving out time in your schedule to speak Dari daily will make a big difference in how confident you become as a Dari speaker and how quickly you progress in your language learning journey. Rosetta Stone understands life gets busy, so your Dari lessons sync across devices with language learning that never leaves your side.

Immerse Yourself in the Dari Language

One of the other vital steps in your commitment to becoming a Dari speaker will be to increase your exposure to the language. This can be a challenge since the majority of Dari speakers live half a world away. However, with a little bit of online sleuthing or a library card, you can find ways to interact with spoken Dari even if you don’t know a native speaker.

Get familiar with Dari literature and proverbs

The Dari language has many traditional proverbs that capture a rich tradition of Afghan culture and community. One of the ways these can be accessible even to beginning learners is through books of bilingual proverbs like those compiled by U.S. Navy Captain Edward Zellem during his time in Afghanistan. Originally published to promote Afghan literacy, the books are also great tools for Dari learners.

Recite Dari poetry

Dari poetry tends to have a rhythmic structure and singsong cadence that can make reading easier for language learners. Dari is also one of the languages of the poetry of Rumi, a famous 13th-century Afghan Muslim poet.

Watch Dari movies

It might surprise you to learn that quite a few movies are made in Dari each year and some films, many of which are documentaries about the region or the life of Afghan refugees, have garnered international acclaim. You can find websites that offer these titles to stream online or check with your local library to see if they have copies of any available.

Advantages to Learning Dari


Being bilingual can have many benefits, but when it comes to speaking Dari there are particular advantages in learning the language. Whether it’s for personal reasons like travel or professional ones like resume building, learning Dari can give your confidence and your career the boost you’ve been looking for.

Here are a few other ways that speaking Dari can be an advantage.

Learn more about Afghan culture

Afghanistan is the birthplace of ancient civilizations that date back 50,000 years, and its culture has deeply influenced religion, the arts, and politics throughout the region. Speaking and reading Dari is also essential for academics studying the history and people of Afghanistan.

Learning Dari can help you learn other languages

As mentioned previously, because of their similarities, learning Dari can open the door to acquiring other languages with greater ease such as Farsi or Arabic.

Speaking Dari is vital for traveling or doing business in Afghanistan

Several international companies have a presence in the Afghanistan region and those serving in the military also find speaking Dari to be an invaluable asset. Travelers to the country find the Dari language is vital for understanding and communicating with locals and having a more authentic, locally-focused experience.