Note: This section is incomplete and only has tips and notes up to Adverbs 1.
External Resources Edit
Two genders - but four pronouns! Edit
That seems a bit overkill - but it is actually quite logical (we Swedes like logic).
First of all you might wonder what a gender is. Well, there are two kinds of gender – natural (male and female) and grammatical gender.
English only uses natural gender ("he" for males, "she" for females and "it" for objects) whereas Romance languages such as French use natural genders ("he" and "she") as grammatical gender as well (everything is thus either a "he" or a "she" in French).
Swedish has a double system. When talking about people, we use the natural gender (he and she) but when we aren't talking about humans, you have to look at the grammatical gender. Swedish words belong either to the en-words (also called n-words, common gender or utrum) or to the ett-words (also called t-words, neuter or neutrum).
The names en-words and ett-words are derived from the indefinite article (singular) of each group, both corresponding to a(n) in English.
|hon she||han he||den it||det it|
Basics 2 Edit
Introducing new stuff with det är Edit
In Swedish, when we start talking about something new, or point out what something is, we use the construction det är. It is a lot like it is in English, but there's an important difference: the Swedish construction never changes. We use it for ett words and enwords, for people and for plural objects, and it's always det är. So we say:
Det är ett äpple – It is an apple Det är en bok – It is a book Det är en flicka – It is a girl Det är tidningar – They are newspapers
Read more about this construction here.
This and that in Swedish Edit
You're going to learn about this more in depth later, but in case you wonder if you couldn't just say this or that when we say det är, here's the deal:
- There are two ways to say this in Swedish: either det här/den här or detta/denna.
- The Swedish counterpart to that is det där/den där, but sometimes you can also use det/den to mean that.
Those words are taught a little later in the course so you don't need to worry about them just yet, but just in case you were wondering.
This means "welcome", but we don't use it in the expression you're welcome. That would be varsågod.
”I speak -ska” Edit
Nope, Swedes don’t have a particular thing for ska music but most names of languages are derived from the name of the country, the adjective or the nationality with the ending –ska added to it.
|Sverige Sweden||svensk(t) Swedish||en svensk a Swede||svenska Swedish (language)|
|England England||engelsk(t) English||en engelsman an Englishman||engelska English (language)|
Oh, and as you have probably already noticed, we do not capitalize adjectives, nationalities or languages (only countries). Unless they happen to come first in the sentence, of course.
”A GLASS AND GLASS-THE” Edit
Swedish uses two separate indefinite articles, both equivalent to the English a(n), en and ett. The former is used with en-words and the latter with ett-words, hence the names of the two groups.
When it comes to the definite form, it gets weird. Edit
Swedish does not use a separate article like English the, instead, we add an ending to the word in question. Guess which one!
en-words take -en and ett-words take -et.
However, we do not like to have two vowels next to each other (we just think it sounds wrong). So should the word end in a vowel, we just add the corresponding consonant.
SOMETIMES WE DROP THE LAST -E- OR -A- IN THE WORD (E.G. “EN GAFFEL” – “GAFFELN”) BUT YOU DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THAT QUITE YET!
|Indefinite singular||Definite singular|
|en sked a spoon||skeden the spoon|
|ett glas a glass||glaset the glass|
Fågeln och spindeln Edit
Hmm... did you spot the definite article at the end? Looks a bit strange, doesn't it? One would have expected "fågelen" and "spindelen". Well, to be honest, you can - in some Swedish regions (in the South for instance).
The en-word endings –el, –en, –er and –ar are very hungry endings so they eat up the following -e-, leaving us with only a consonant.
|en fågel a bird||fågeln the bird|
|en spindel a spider||spindeln the spider|
A Møøse once bit my sister... Edit
The national animal of Sweden is The King of the Forest, Alces alces, in American English known as the moose. In British English, this animal is called as an elk. Just to make things more complicated, there's an American animal called elk which is not at all the same animal as the moose or what the Brits call an elk, this is Cervus canadensis, also known as a wapiti (in Swedish: en wapitihjort, but we don't have them here). Complications don't stop there. The normal plural of both moose and elk is the same as the singular, so that it's one moose, several moose and one elk, several elk. The Swedish word behaves perfectly normal though: en älg, älgen in the singular, and in the plural: älgar, älgarna. There are lots of moose in Sweden. The yearly hunt is a big deal, notably the king likes to shoot the big animal. Moose can be a big traffic problem. There are road signs with moose on them to warn for them, these have become a sort of tourist symbol for Sweden, and especially German tourists have been known to steal those signs as souvenirs. Young moose are not shy and often like to enter people's gardens to eat apples. There's also usually at least one kid in every school who looks a lot like a moose and is nicknamed The moose. :P
Indefinite and definite singular Edit
All Swedish words are divided into two groups: en-words (or utrum) and ett-words (or neutrum). Unfortunately, you cannot know to which group a certain word belongs but there are some tips to have a greater chance of guessing right.
- Most words are en-words
- Most words designating a person are en-words ¹
- Have a look at the ending, many endings take the same article (e.g. –a² , –ing and –het are always en-words)
¹ One common exception is ett barn a child ² The only exceptions are ett öga, ett öra and ett hjärta.
The indefinite singular always takes an article. en-words take en and ett-words take ett
To form the definite form you simply add -en to the en-words and -et to the ett-words.
|en bok a book||boken the book|
Liebe Deutschsprachige & Lieve Nederlandstalige A special warning to you: in the vast majority of the cases, the ending -en is not a plural ending, as is German and Dutch! "Studenten" means the student. The plural of "student" is in fact "studenter).
Special cases Edit
Swedish does not like to have two vowels next to each other, so if a word ends in a vowel, we drop the -e- in the ending.
|ett kaffe a coffee||kaffet the coffee|
|en soppa a soup||soppan the soup|
Sometimes, we do keep the -e- in the ending, but we drop the -e- in the preceding syllable instead. This happens to ett-words ending in –el, –en, and –er.
|ett vatten a water||vattnet the water|
|socker a sugar||sockret the sugar|
But why, oh, why do you do this to me? Because “vattenet”, “sockeret” would be too blurry and sound way too Danish!
Swedish plurals have a reputation for being irregular and hard to learn. This is, in fact, not true. While there are certainly many irregular plural forms in Swedish, there is also a lot of predictability, and a large amount of words are entirely predictable if you know the rules!
Below are the 5 normal Swedish plural forms - both indefinite and definite.
|Singular||Plural indefinite||Plural definite|
How to predict the plural Edit
- -a → -or
en kvinna → kvinnor en gata → gator
- -e → -ar
en pojke → pojkar
- Words in -are have no special plural form.
en läkare → läkare
- -ing → -ingar
en tidning → tidningar
- Words with stress on the final syllable always take -er.
en elefant → elefanter en station → stationer en idé → idéer
- Words ending in -el, --er and -en usually take -ar, losing their e in the process.
en fågel → fåglar en vinter → vintrar
- One-syllable words can take either -ar or -er, usually the former.
en hund → hundar en färg → färger
- If they end in a consonant, they have no plural ending.
ett hus → hus ett barn → barn
- If they end in a vowel, they take -n.
ett yrke → yrken ett meddelande → meddelanden
Irregular plurals Edit
There are several irregular plural forms, usually these include changing the main vowel.
en man → män en mus → möss en hand → händer en bok → böcker
The ending -en Edit
It's important to remember that the ending -en can be one of three things: 1. the definite singular of an en-word 2. the definite plural of an ett-word ending in a consonant 3. the indefinite plural of an ett-word ending in a vowel Beware of this common trap for students of Swedish!
- armen the arm
- husen the houses
- äpplen apples
My, my, my – possessive pronouns Edit
Swedes like order. Therefore we have different possessive pronouns depending on the person (e.g. “we”) and the following word (which, as you know very well by know, is either an en-word or an ett-word - or plural). However, we thought there would be way too many pronouns if each person had three possessive pronouns, so we made an exception for the third person singular and plural, which only have one each.
Who is kissing whose husband??? Edit
Imagine Maria is going for a walk with her husband Erik. On their way, they stumble across Annika and her husband Sven. Annika then suddenly kisses her husband. Which husband is she actually kissing? Her own husband Sven – or Maria’s husband Erik?! This is a crucial question for Swedes, so therefore we use something called reflexive possessive pronouns (only in the third person) which says that “it’s the subject’s”.
|Annika kysser sin man Annika kisses her husband||Puh, we can rest reassured, no conflict (Swedes are very afraid of conflicts) because sin tells us “it’s the subject’s” (i.e Annika’s) husband.|
|Annika kysser hennes man Annika kisses her husband||Oh, oh – we have a problem – this means that Annika is kissing not her own husband but “her” (i.e Maria’s) husband (i.e Erik)!|
This reflexive possessive pronoun also has three forms – and I daresay you may guess what they look like (and why)! They replace “hans”, “hennes” “dess” and “deras” if the subject is the “owner”.
Pronouns Objective Edit
Pronouns and pronounciation Edit
By now, you have already learnt the subject pronouns. In this lesson you will learn the objective forms. Pronouns are used a lot which might explain why not all of them are pronounced the way they are spelt. In very informal Swedish you might even find these pronouns written as they actually are pronounced, as in the brackets (crazy, right!).
|jag [ja] I||mig [mej] me|
|du you||dig [dej] you|
|han he||honom him|
|hon she||henne her|
|den it||den it|
|det [de] it||det [de] it|
|vi we||oss us|
|ni you||er you|
|de [dom] they||dem [dom] them|
How do you know which “it” to use? If “it” refers back to a word in a preceding sentence, you use den to replace en-words and det to replace ett-words. If “it” does not refer to a preceding word (as in “It is raining today”), we always use “det” (which would be “Det regnar i dag”). We also use "det" in the phrase "there is/are" (which would be "Det finns" in Swedish).
Wearing clothes Edit
The most common way of saying that someone wears clothes in Swedish is har på sig This is a reflexive particle verb. This means that the stress is always on på, which is a particle here, not a preposition, and the reflexive pronoun changes with person. So the whole verb looks like this in the present:
jag har på mig du har på dig han/hon har på sig vi har på oss ni har på er de har på sig
Verbs: Present 1 Edit
Present Tense Edit
Verbs are words that describe actions, such as to run or to eat. Verbs come in many different forms and we're about to learn about the Swedish present tense, used to describe what is happening right now, i.e. in the present time.
In English, a distinction is made between he runs and he is running. In Swedish, no such difference exists, both would be correctly translated with han springer.
The Swedish present tense is very simple and easy to learn and is formed in three different ways. With very few exceptions, it always ends with the letter -r. Let's have a look:
|hoppar||jump(s), is/are jumping|
|betalar||pay(s), is/are paying|
|simmar||swim(s), is/are swimming|
These are the -ar-verbs. They are 100% regular. Not that this matters right now, but it will later.
|sover||sleep(s), is/are sleeping|
|säljer||sell(s), is/are selling|
|sjunger||sing(s), is/are singing|
In this group we find the regular -er-verbs, but also many of the irregular, so called "strong" verbs. This doesn't matter either at this stage, but again, it will later on!
|bor||live(s), is/are living|
|går||go(es), is/are going|
|ger||give(s), is/are giving|
In this group as well we find a mix. There are regular -r-verbs, as well as strong verbs. All of them are short, though, consisting of only one syllable.
Also, great news! We do not conjugate verbs based on who is performing the action. Ever! Not for the present tense, not for any tense! Not for any verb! Ever! We promise! 100% guaranteed!
|jag springer||I run|
|du springer||you run|
|han/hon springer||he/she runs|
|vi springer||we run|
|ni springer||you run|
|de springer||they run|
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Asking questions Edit
The main function of any language is the exchange of information. Because of this, being able to ask questions is an essential part of learning any language!
Luckily, asking questions in Swedish does not differ much from asking questions in English at all!
First, we have a selection of question words, just like in English.
Most of the time, we use these just like we would in English.
|Vad gör du?||What are you doing?|
|Var är du?||Where are you?|
|Vems hund är det?||Whose dog is it?|
Note that the Swedish equivalents of which are conjugated just like the adjectives.
|En-words||Vilken bil?||Which car?|
|Ett-words||Vilket hus?||Which house?|
|Plural||Vilka hundar?||Which dogs?|
Also you might have noticed Swedish contains two words for where. What for? It's quite simple really, one is for location, where you are, and one is for direction, where you are heading.
- Var är du? (Where are you?)
- Vart går du? (Where are you going?)
Don't worry if you mix these up sometimes, a lot of native speakers do it all the time!
Inversion is when you change the word order in certain situations. Let's take a look at English:
- You are running.
- Are you running?
Notice how we completely changed the meaning of the sentence just by switching the positions of you and are. Amazing!
And even more amazing: Swedish uses a system very similar to this:
- Du springer. (You are running.)
- Springer du? (Are you running?)
Just like above, we made a question just by switching the positions of du and springer.
One thing to note is that when using modal verbs (auxiliary verbs) you only invert the modal verb:
- Han kan springa. (He can run.)
- Kan han springa?. (Can he run?)
Again, very similar to English. Note however that unlike English, Swedish does not use to do as an auxiliary verb.
- Do you run? (Springer du?)
- Do you like me? (Gillar du mig?)
Enough reading, it's time for some practice! Good luck and enjoy the simplicity that is Swedish questions!
Prepositions are words that describe spatial or temporal relations. In other words, words such as: on, under, to, and from.
Prepositions in Swedish are used very similarly to their English counterparts.
Many times they will be literal translations of each other:
-Äpplet är på bordet. (The apple is on the table.)
-Barnet är under bordet. (The child is under the table.)
But sometimes the translations don't match at all:
-Jag är på stan. (literally: I am on the city)
This means that while prepositions many times are very similar in the two languages you are going to have to learn them the hard way: through practice and experience.
But there's no need to be discouraged by this! Remember, a lot of them are similar to English and there are not very many prepositions in either Swedish or English. Just make sure to keep at it and you will be speaking great Swedish in no time!
A conjunction is a small word used to link sentences together. English examples are and, but, because, and that.
Some conjunctions, such as och, eller and men are normal conjunctions and merely join two sentences together:
Jag ser dig och du ser mig. I see you and you see me. Jag vill äta glass men det vill inte du. I want to eat ice cream but you don't.
But there are also so called subordinate conjunctions, such as att, eftersom and innan. They create a subordinate clause, which means that they introduce something that is dependent on the rest of the total sentence.
Jag vet att du är här. I know that you are here. Jag äter maten eftersom den är god. I eat the food because it is good.
Now, this is all fine and dandy, but there is something to these subordinate conjunctions that is important to know! Just like in English, they can be moved around in and be put both before and after the rest of the sentence. When they are moved to the front, the verb of the other, main part of the sentence must immediately follow them!
Att du är här vet jag . That you are here, I know. Eftersom den är god äter jag maten. Because it is good, I eat the food.
NB: The conjunction därför att can never start a sentence, in such cases we use eftersom instead.
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See this discussion.
Occupations - Without Articles Edit
Generally when you speak about professions in Swedish, you don't use an article. So when you say in English I am a doctor, in Swedish you should say Jag är läkare., without the article.
The article can be used with professions in some cases, but beware, it may change the meaning. Compare: Han är clown = He works as a clown. (it is his job) Han är en clown = He is like a clown. (he behaves like a clown) In English, if you say He is a clown, you could mean either one of those two things.
If there are any adjectives involved however, the article is used: Hon är en bra läkare = She is a good doctor.
Adjectives 1 Edit
In English, adjectives never change their form. In Swedish however, they change all the time—in fact, they have to! Just like German, Spanish or French, adjectives in Swedish have to agree with the noun they modify.
This means, that Swedish adjectives have different forms depending on whether the noun is definite or indefinite, whether it’s singular or plural, and whether it’s an en or an ett word.
Indefinite forms Edit
When an adjective is used with an indefinite noun, such as en fisk or ett hus, it changes according to the form of the noun it modifies.
For singular en-words, the suffix is -Ø (i.e. nothing at all), meaning the adjective is identical to the basic form: en stor fisk, en gul bil, en snäll hund.
For singular ett-words, the suffix -t is added to the basic form: ett stort hus, ett gult bord, ett snällt meddelande.
For plural words, the ending is always -a, regardless of the gender of the word: stora fiskar/hus, gula bilar/bord, snälla hundar/meddelanden.
|Singular en||Singular ett||Plural en/ett|
Definite forms Edit
If the noun is definite, the adjective takes the ending -a in all cases, no matter gender or number. What’s important to note, however, is that whenever a definite noun is used together with an adjective, an article is placed in front of the adjective. This article is denfor singular en-words, det for singular ett-words, and de for plural words (note that de is pronounced as ‘dom’).
en stor fisk → den stora fisken ett gult bord → det gula bordet snälla hundar → de snälla hundarna
This article is mandatory—the only time it isn’t used is in proper names and epithets: Svarta Havet ‘the Black Sea’, Röda Torget ‘the Red Square’, Vita Huset ‘the White House’.
The definite form of the adjective is also used with possessives, even though the noun itself is not definite:
min fisk → min stora fisk ditt bord → ditt gula bord Eriks hundar → Eriks snälla hundar
In addition to the definite -a form, there is also a definite form ending in -e. This form is used in the singular when the noun being referred to is male (and would be referred to as han as opposed to den): den store mannen, den nye ministern, den kloke pappan. It is common in epithets referring to men: Lille Prinsen ‘the Little Prince’, Alexander den Store ‘Alexander the Great’.
It should be noted that this masculine form is optional in the written language, and usually absent in colloquial Swedish, the exception being in names and titles such as those mentioned above.
|Singular en||Singular ett||Plural en/ett|
|(den) -a||(det) -a||(de) -a|
|(den) stora||(det) stora||(de) stora|
|(den) gula||(det) gula||(de) gula|
|(den) snälla||(det) snälla||(de) snälla|
Alternative patterns Edit
There are a number of adjectives not conforming to the pattern described above. Some of these are irregular, but most of them can be grouped together in the patterns shown below.
|Singular en||Singular ett||Plural/Definite|
|egen, öppen||eget, öppet||egna, öppna|
|fri, ny||fritt, nytt||fria, nya|
|röd, glad||rött, glatt||röda, glada|
|hård, stängd||hårt, stängt||hårda, stängda|
|skalad, älskad||skalat, älskat||skalade, älskade|
|trött, rätt||trött, rätt||trötta, rätta|
|tyst, exakt||tyst, exakt||tysta, exakta|
|sann, tunn||sant, tunt||sanna, tunna|
|dum, långsam (short vowel)||dumt, långsamt||dumma, långsamma|
|enkel, vacker||enkelt, vackert||enkla, vackra|
Irregular adjectives Edit
Some adjectives simply do not change at all, just like in English. These generally end in -s, -e or -a: en bra film, ett bra hus, bra personer den bra filmen, det bra huset, de bra personerna en främmande film, ett främmande hus, främmande personer den främmande filmen, det främmande huset, de främmande personerna
A couple of adjectives have irregular forms:
en liten pojke, ett litet hus, små katter den lille/lilla pojken, det lilla huset, de små katterna
en gammal man, ett gammalt hus, gamla katter den gamle/gamla mannen, det gamla huset, de gamla katterna
Verbs: Present 2 Edit
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Adverbs 1 Edit
Adverbs are small words modifying verbs, adjectives or other adverbs! English adverbs often end in -ly (such as happily), but many simply have no particular ending (such as very).
In Swedish, the common adverbial ending, like English -ly, is -t. These adverbs are identical to ett-word adjectives.
vacker → vackert beautifully glad → glatt happily snäll → snällt kindly
Some adjectives ending in -ig take an adverbial ending in -en or -tvis.
verklig → verkligen really naturlig → naturligtvis naturally
And, of course, many adverbs simply have no particular ending: e.g. ofta, kanske, alltid.
Placement of adverbs Edit
Unlike English, adverbs are always placed after the verb in sentences that start with the subject. This is because of the V2 rule – the verb must always come second.
Jag springer ofta. I often run. Du äter hemma. You eat at home.
Like English, adverbs are placed before adjectives and other adverbs.
Huset är mycket blått. The house is very blue. Jag är lyckligt gift. I am happily married. Han är aldrig hemma. He is never at home.
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Detta? Det här? What's this?Edit
In Swedish, there are two sets of words, both meaning this/these.
First, there is den här, det här, de här. (singular en, singular ett, plural)
Second, there is denna, detta, dessa. (same thing here)
The difference in usage is a question of dialect and of formality.
- denna/detta/dessa are generally considered more formal. They are used together with an indefinite noun, and this formation is usually found mostly in the written language.
- den här/det här/de här are generally considered slightly less formal. They are used with a definite noun, and are common both in the written language and in the everyday language of Central and Northern Sweden, as well as Finland.
- denna/detta/dessa are also used in the spoken language of Western and Southern Sweden. In this case they're usually followed by a definite noun, but this formation is never written in the standard language.
Summary of the standard forms
|denna/detta/dessa||den här/det här/de här|
|denna bok||den här boken|
|detta hus||det här huset|
|dessa böcker||de här böckerna|
|dessa hus||de här husen|
Någon, något, and några? Who are they?Edit
These words have a few meanings depending on the context. Most commonly, they will mean some, a few or any when describing something else. They have to agree in gender or number with what they describe, thus it's någon bok (any/some book), något hus (any/some house) and några stenar (some/any/a few stones).
Furthermore, when used on their own as pronouns,
- någon means someone or anyone.
- något means something or anything.
- några means some (plural of someone/something) or any (plural of anyone/anything).
It might seem strange that both some and any can translate here, but context will tell.
You might come across the word någonting in Swedish. It means just the same as något, but is a little more formal.
All, alla, allt!Edit
Lastly, there are the words all, alla and allt. They are used to indicate all of something. By now, you've probably guessed it right, and indeed these also have to agree in gender or number with the noun, giving us:
- All mjölk/mjölken "all (the) milk", en-word
- Allt smör/smöret "all (the) butter", ett-word
- Alla bilar/bilarna "all (the) cars", plural
Just like någon/något/några, they can also be used on their own as pronouns, in which case:
- alla means everyone.
- allt means everything.
And just like with någonting, there is the word allting, which means the same as allt, but is a bit more formal.
You'll learn more about the forms of these words and a few more in these exercises. Good luck!
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Verbs: Present 3Edit
Lesson 7: Particle VerbsEdit
Particle verbs are very characteristic for the Swedish language. You have some in English too, but in Swedish there are many more and they are more frequently used. An English example would be turn off like in Turn off the radio!, which would be Stäng av radion! in Swedish, also with a particle verb.
In particle verbs, the particle is always stressed. The presence of the particle changes the meaning of the verb, so that the verb with the particle can mean something quite different from what the verb means on its own, just like Turn off the radio! means something very different from Turn the radio!
So, while dyker on its own means 'dives', dyker upp means 'shows up', 'appears'. While håller on its own means just holds, håller med means 'agrees'. In negated phrases, inte comes between the verb and the particle: Don't turn off the radio! will be Stäng inte av radion!