Swedish is a Germanic language of the Nordic branch, and is spoken throughout Sweden and in some parts of Finland. Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians can however, make themselves mutually understood since their languages are similar. Most Swedes speak English as a second language.

Since they share common roots, and the Old Norse language left sprinklings of words in Anglo-Saxon, it is easy to find many similarities between English and Swedish. The pronunciations alter, however, and there are sounds in Swedish that are not found in English. There are also three letters not found in English, viz., å, ä, and ö.

Like other Low-Germanic languages, verbs are the same regardless of the person or number (e.g., Jag är, du är, etc. for the verb to be), and definite articles, like in the other Scandinavian languages, are determined by endings on the noun. Swedish has two genders, common ("en" words), and neuter ("ett" words).

disclaimer: I'm no expert on this but this is what I pieced together. If anything's wrong, tell me about it.


Swedish is a Northern Germanic language spoken in Scandinavia. It is closely related to Norwegian and Danish. It is also related to Faroese and Icelandic Swedish is spoken by over 9 million people and is written in the Latin Alphabet (with 3 additional vowels: å, ä, and ö)


  • a
    • a as in father (long)
    • u as in must (short)
  • e
    • a as in face (long)
    • e as in bet or a as in hat (short)
    • e as in happening (mute)
  • i
    • i as in machine (long)
    • i as in bid (short)
  • o
    • oo as in food (long)
    • oo as in good (short)
  • u
    • tightly pronounced, peculiar to Swedish (long)
    • between oo as in good and u in hut (short)
  • y
    • ü as in German müde (long)
    • shorter ü sound (short)
  • å
    • o as in home (long)
    • o as in German hoffen (short)
  • ä
  • ö
    • eu as in French peu (long)
    • shorter ö sound (short)
  • J - y as in yes
  • R - rolled as in Spanish


  • Subjective
    • Singular
      • Jag - I
      • Du - You
      • Ni - You (Old Fashioned)
      • Han - He
      • Hon - She
    • Plural
      • Vi - We
      • Ni - You
      • De - They
  • Objective
    • Singular
      • Mig - Me
      • Dig - You
      • Er - You
      • Honom - Him
      • Henne - Her
    • Plural
      • Oss - Us
      • Er - You
      • Dem - Them


Verbs are fairly simple in Swedish, because they don't change with who's saying them (Jag är, Du är, Han är, and so forth.) There are four conjugation groups in Swedish, but most verbs are of the first conjugation group.

Verbs in the first conjugation are simple. Let's take tala (to speak). To conjugate it in the present tense, take the infinitive (tala) and add -r. Jag talar - I speak. For the Imperfect (Past) tense, take the infinitive (tala), and add -ade. Jag talade - I spoke. The supine tense (used for constructing perfect tenses) is formed by adding -at. Verbs are made into past participles with -ad. Past Participles are only used as adjectives in Swedish. Verbs are negated by placeing inte (not) after them. Jag talar inte - I do not talk. The future tense is formed by putting the present tense form of skola (skall) infront of the infinitive. Jag skall tala - I shall speak. Conditional tenses are formed with the past tense form of Mskola (skulle) plus the infinitive. Jag skulle tala - I would speak.

The imperative (command) tense is the same as the infinitive. Tala! - Speak!

Perfect tenses (like the English: I have walked) are formed by smashing the verb ha, conjugated har in the present tense and hade in the past tense, with the supine of the verb. Jag har talat - I have spoken; Jag hade talat - I had spoken. The perfect future and perfect conditional tenses are constructed as so: skall + ha + supine form of verb. Jag skall ha talat - I shall have spoken; Jag skulle ha talat - I should have spoken

Adverbs are placed after the verb in swedish. maximumlobster pratar svenska långsamt, - maximumlobster speaks slowly in Swedish.


Like in lots of languages, Swedish nouns have genders. In Swedish there are two: Common and Neuter. Common, just as its name implies, contains about 75% of Swedish nouns. Its indefinite article is en. Neuter nouns contain the other 25%. The neuter gender's article is ett.

Articles function differently in Swedish than in English. If you place the article before the verb, it is an indefinite article. en hummer - a lobster. But if you place the on the end of the noun, it becomes the definite article. hummern - the lobster. In neuter nouns, the suffix is -et rather than -ett.

Swedish nouns have five declensions to govern how their plurals are formed. First declension plurals are common nouns and end in -or. Second declension nouns are also common gender and form plurals with the -ar suffix. Third declension nouns contain both genders and form plurals with -er. Fourth declension nouns are rare common nouns that end in a vowel in their singular forms. Their plural suffix is -n. Fifth declension nouns are from both genders and have no plural form, they are both singular and plural. To make the plurals definite (e.g. the lobsters), add the suffix -na. Armarna, the arms.

Possessives are formed in Swedish by adding -s (no apostrophe) to the end of a noun, after the rest of the suffixes. hummers - lobster's; hummerns - the lobster's.

Swedish adjectives must agree with nouns. In singular common nouns, the regular form of the adjective is used. En kall vinter, a cold winter. If the noun is neuter, add a -t to the end. Ett kallt bad, a cold bath. To use an adjective with a plural noun (of either gender), add -a to the end. Kallar vintrar, cold winters. Putting adjectives into a state ready for comparison is simple: add -are for the comparitive (e.g. bigger, better), and add -ast for the superlative (e.g. biggest, best). To compare, you use the word än where in English you would use the word than. Han är längre än jag, He is taller than I. Equality is expressed with lika and som. Han är lika ung som jag, he is as young as I. (We're going to cut this short here, because it gets complicated and I'm not good at it. We don't want the blind leading the blind, as my Grandma would put it.)

Other Things

ett (or en), två, tre, fyra, fem, sex, sju, åtta, nio, tio, elva, tolv. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. That was fun. Add -ton to make the teens. Femton, fifteen. Tjugo, trettio, fyrtio, femtio, sextio, sjuttio, åttio, nittio. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety. For the numbers between, put the big number together with the little one: Tjugotre, Twenty-three. Hundra, tusen, miljon. Hundred, thousand, million. 1999, Ettusenniohundranittionio.

Telling Time
What time is it? is rendered Vad är klockan? (Literally: What is the clock?). To respond: Klockan är två, the clock is two, or better yet: It's 2 o'clock. Halv means half; kvart is quarter; över is used for past, and i is until/to. Fem i tolv, five to twelve.

Ni and er are honorific pronouns that are used when speaking to elders, titled people, and people you are just being introduced to.


  • Essential Swedish Grammar, by Julian Granberry
  • http://web.hhs.se/isa/swedish/
  • 2 Swedish people I know

Thanks to ilteroi, pfft, tres equis, and SwedishWhore for pointing out mistakes. :D

Some useful Swedish words

For emergencies

112                  Emergency phone number
toalett              toilet
Var är toaletten?    Where is the toilet?
Var ligger närmaste toalett?    Where is the nearest toilet?

Also, Var kan jag köpa varma underkläder? = "Where can I buy some warm underwear?". Yes, this can become a real emergency if you're not prepared for it! (I've seen it happen.)

kläder               clothes
mössa                warm winter hat
handskar             gloves
vantar               mittens ("tumvantar" are warmer than "fingervantar")
halsduk              scarf
sockor/strumpor      socks
långkalsonger        long underpants (buy two pairs!)
tröja                jumper
jacka                jacket
täckbyxor            warm winter trousers
skor                 shoes
stövlar              boots

Food and drink

mat                  food
pizza                pizza
korv                 sausage
varmkorv             hot dog
hamburgare           hamburger
kött                 meat
hamburgerkött        smoked horse meat (common on sandwiches)
renkött              reindeer meat (common in the north)
älgkött              moose meat (not so common)
björnkött            bear meat (not so common)
fisk                 fish
potatis              potatoes
grönsaker            vegetables
sallad               salad
smörgås              sandwich
vatten               water
mjölk                milk
filmjölk             sort of like yoghurt (good with müsli)
öl                   beer
te                   tea
kaffe                coffee

That should keep you alive for a day or two.


ja                   yes
nej                  no
tack                 thank you
ja tack              yes please
nej tack             no thanks

karta                map
telefon              telephone
dator                computer
hotell               hotel
bastu                sauna
tåg                  train
buss                 bus
cykel                bike
bil                  car
tandborste           tooth brush
handduk              towel
bindor               sanitary pads
tamponger            tampons
kondomer             condoms (Profil by RFSU are good)

Swed"ish (?), a. [Cf. G. Schwedish, Sw. svensk.]

Of or pertaining to Sweden or its inhabitants.

Swedish turnip. Bot. See under Turnip.


© Webster 1913.

Swed"ish, n.

The language of Swedes.


© Webster 1913.

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