Updated: Nov 12, 2022
Swedish (Svenska) is a Germanic language spoken by almost 10 million people in Northern Europe. Most of its speakers live in Sweden, Finland and the Åland Islands, where it is the official language. Swedish is a Nordic language, as are Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese.
In 1786, King Gustave III (King period: 1771–1792) established the Swedish Academy dedicated to preserving the purity, vigour and majesty of the Swedish language and its literature.
Swedish is described, by many people, as a singsong rhythm because it has a tone or pitch accent. The vocabulary contains many loanwords, especially from Low German and High German, and recently from French and English; for example:
to park / parkera
to study / studera
pipe / pippa
three / tre
apple / äpple
Antenna / Antenn
Hand / Handen
The alphabet is written with a Latin-based alphabet consisting of 29 letters: the 26 letters and three extra letters (vowels) Å, Ä and Ö.
There are two differences in pronouncing the nine vowels in Swedish: long or short. Short vowels come before a long consonant and Long vowels come before a short consonant, a vowel or at the end of a word.
When speaking Swedish, tone accents are very important because intonation differences can have different meanings.
There are two Swedish tones:
Rising tone: rises on the stressed syllable and falls on the next syllable. It commonly happens on single syllables words.
Falling-rising-falling tone: tone falls on the stressed syllable, then rises and falls again on the next syllable. It's more common for multiple-syllable words.
The writing structure is Subject-Verb-Object. In questions, the word order is Verb-Subject-Object.
Vad heter du? / What is your name?
Jag heter Adriana / My name is Adriana.
Feminine, masculine and neuter were the gender of Svenska; but nowadays there are two genders: common and neuter (masculine and feminine genders merged).
Swedish / English
Jag / I
du / you singular
han / he
hon / she
hen / gender-neutral
den / it for common gender
det / it for neuter gender
vi / we
ni / you plural
de / they
40 Swedish useful words and phrases:
Hej god dag / Hello good day
God kväl / Good evening
God natt / Good night
Hej då / Goodbye
Snälla / Please
Tack / Thank you
Tack så mycket / Thank you very much
Varsågod / You are welcome
Ursäkta / Exuse me
Förlat / I am Sorry (apologize)
Ja / Yes
Nej / No
Jag förstår inte / I don´t understand
Godmorgon / Good morning
Hur är det? How are you?
Bara bra, tack. Och du? / I’m fine, thanks. And you?
Vad heter du? / What´s your name?
Jag heter / My name is
Trevligt att träffas / Nice to meet you
Välkommen / Welcome
Varifrån kommer du? / Where are you from?
Jag kommer från.. / I am from..
Var vor du? / Where do you live?
Jag bor i.. / I live in..
Hur gammal är du? / How old are you?
Jag är ___ år gammal / I am ___ years old
Talar du svenska? / Do you speak Swedish?
Jag talar Engleska / I speak English
Ja, lite grann / Yes, a little bit
Nej, inte alls / No, not at all
Jag förstår / I understand
Jag förstår inte / I don´t understand
Jag vet / I know
Jag vet inte / I don´t know
Jag gillar dig / I like you.
Jag älskar dig / I love you
Jag saknar dig / I miss you
Skål / Cheers
Fika / coffee break
Ursäkta mig, var ligger toaletten? / Excuse me, where is the restroom/toilet?
Although in Sweden, a large percentage of the population speaks fluent English; it is important to belong to the Swedish society, and to learn the Swedish language.
The government offers free courses to immigrants who have received a residency, are over 16 years of age and are registered with the municipality.
The municipality is the one that offers the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI-Svenska för invandrare) courses at its different levels; They interview the person interested in learning Swedish to offer the appropriate type of course. It can also be learned and practised in: coffee sessions with native speakers; in student associations that organize socio-cultural activities: in professional Swedish for those whose jobs and professions require learning specific vocabulary; Swedish as a second language in which people learn advanced grammar and vocabulary and online classes with different materials to learn, such as movies, text, etc.
"After taking some Swedish courses at the university, it was a slow start for me in the beginning, but I practised with my colleagues at work and I was able to communicate and write in Swedish. It was not difficult when I spoke more and more. To learn quicker, I recommend reading newspapers, practising with a Swedish person and watching cartoons and movies in Swedish" (Yaw G, Ghana).
In March 1944 Astrid Lindgren fell and sprained her ankle. To pass the time, while she was resting it, she put the Pippi Longstocking (Full name: Pippilotta Victoriaria Tea-cosy Appleminta Ephraim’s-daughter Longstocking) stories down on paper, and in 1945 the story was printed out, and it became one of the world's most famous children’s book characters (Astrid Lindgren Company).
Swedish pop music began to be known in the world at the end of the 1960s. The group ABBA was one of the main exponents of this musical genre in its beginnings.
Swedish singers and groups
Pop: The Cardigans, Titiyo, Lars Winnerbäck, ABBA, Roxette, Håkan Hellström, Per Gessle, Gyllene Tider, Tomas Ledin, Lisa Nilsson, Molly Snandén, Laleh.
Jazz: Lisa Ekdahl, Miss Li,
Rock: Europe, The Hives, Kent, Lambretta, Mando Diao, Egle Eye Cherry, The Ark, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, The Sounds, Lisa Miskovsky
Rap: Petter, Fattaru, Feven, Timbuktu, The Latin Kings,
Dance/Electronic: Ace of Base, A-Teens, Alcazar, Basshunter, The Knife, Robyn, Eskobar, Barbados, E-type, Orup,
There are currently some channels on Youtube, which SFI teachers have developed to help you learn.
To keep up with what's happening in Sweden and the world in the country's language, there are resources with Easy Swedish, for example Nyheter på lätt svenska.
As you could read, many English-like phrases make it easy to learn the Swedish language and there are many online resources like videos, and texts that can help you become a pro and speak like a native.
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