Hi everybody! Welcome to the Duolingo Swedish course! Swedish is a North Germanic language spoken by about 10 million people, primarily in Sweden and Finland. Swedish and English are not too distantly related, so you might see some similarities that will help you out along the way. Swedish is also closely related to Danish and Norwegian, so if you speak one of these languages already, learning Swedish will be a breeze. We are so glad that you have decided to learn Swedish, and we hope that you enjoy the course! :)
Swedish and English work in pretty similar ways, which is good news for English speakers who want to learn Swedish! Some things are even simpler in Swedish than in English. You know how in English we say "I am" but "you are"? In Swedish, verbs are in the same form regardless of whatever word comes before. In fancy linguistics terminology (if you're into that sort of thing), verbs in Swedish don't agree for grammatical person or number. This means that the verb är ("to be" in the present tense) never changes, even when it does in English.
He is a man. = Han är en man.
You are a man. = Du är en man.
I am a man. = Jag är en man.
Pretty simple, isn't it? It's funny how Swedish is simpler than English in this way.
In other ways, English is simpler than Swedish. Swedish has something that English doesn't have called "grammatical gender," which basically means that every noun (person, place, thing, or idea) in the language is assigned to one of two categories: en-words (also called common gender or utrum in Swedish) or ett-words (also called neuter gender or neutrum in Swedish).
These two grammatical gender categories have nothing to do with actual gender. It's ett barn 'a child' (neuter) but en man 'a man' (common) and en kvinna 'a woman' (common). Other languages (like French) have grammatical genders like feminine and masculine, while others (like German and Russian) have three categories: feminine, masculine, and neuter. Swedish just has two: common and neuter. This is just a sneak preview. We'll get into this more later… :)
Pronouns are little words like he, I, me, and her. Here are some of the Swedish pronouns that you learn in this lesson:
Swedish and English are pronounced pretty similarly, but Swedish has some extra letters: ä, ö, and å. Here are some other notable differences in pronunciation:
|a||always open, like in all or father|
|j||like y in English yellow|
|ä||like in hat or pet|
We'll talk more about pronunciation as you go.
Three words with irregular pronunciations are taught in this lesson:
jag → the
det → the
och → the
The table below lists all of the words that you encounter in the lesson. A table like this will be included in the Tips and Notes for each skill in case you want to make flashcards or tables on your own!
|är||am, is, are (present tense of "to be")|
|en man||a man|
|en kvinna||a woman|
|en pojke||a boy|
|en flicka||a girl|
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|
Congratulations on making it through the first lesson! That's the first step. Well done! Here are some tips and notes to help you out as you continue.
In English, we only have one word for "you." If you're talking to one person, you say "you." If you're talking to two people, or three people, or four people, you still can say "you," or depending on where you're from and what dialect you speak, you might say something like "y'all" or "you guys." In Swedish, there are two separate words for "you": du (for when you're talking to one person) and ni (for when you're talking to two people or more). Think of it like a mandatory "y'all." In Swedish, if you're ever talking to more than one person, you must use ni instead of du. Here are some examples:
Lars, du är här. = Lars, you are here. (because you're addressing one person)
Lars och Anna, ni är här. = Lars and Anna, you are here. (because you're addressing multiple people)
In this lesson, we also introduce you to a few more plural pronouns:
|ni||you (plural = y'all)|
Adding these to the pronouns that you learned in the last lesson, here is a table of all the pronouns that you should know after completing this lesson:
|ni||you (plural = y'all)|
If you read the Tips and Notes from the last lesson, you might remember that Swedish has something that English doesn't have called "grammatical gender," which basically means that every noun (person, place, thing, or idea) in the language is assigned to one of two categories: en-words (also called common gender or utrum in Swedish) or ett-words (also called neuter gender or neutrum in Swedish).
These two grammatical gender categories have nothing to do with actual gender. It's ett barn 'a child' (neuter) but en man 'a man' (common) and en kvinna 'a woman' (common). Other languages (like French) have grammatical genders like feminine and masculine, while others (like German and Russian) have three categories: feminine, masculine, and neuter. Swedish just has two: common and neuter.
Why is grammatical gender important? Because it dictates how we say "a/an" in Swedish. If the word belongs to the category of en-words, it will take the word en to mean "a/an."
en kvinna = a woman
en man = a man
en pojke = a boy
en katt = a cat
If the word belongs to the category of ett-words, it will take the word ett to mean "a/an."
ett äpple = an apple
ett barn = a child
At first, it might be difficult to keep track of the gender of each word as you learn it, but you'll get used to it soon enough! Practice makes perfect. :)
To turn a sentence into a question in Swedish, you switch the order of the subject and the verb.
Jag sitter. = I am sitting. →
Sitter jag? = Am I sitting?
Jag har bröd. = I have bread. →
Har jag bröd? = Do I have bread?
De har ett barn. = They have a child. →
Har de ett barn? = Do they have a child?
In the last lesson, you learned the verb är (is, are, am, be). In this lesson, you will learn the verbs har (have, has), sitter (sit, sits, is sitting, are sitting), and vet (know, knows). Notice that Swedish doesn't differentiate between I am sitting and I sit. Both are Jag sitter. Nice and simple!
Three quick pronunciation notes for this lesson! You're introduced to a new sound (and a new letter): ö. The letter ö is pronounced close to oo in book. You'll get lots more practice later.
The word de (they) is always pronounced as dom in modern Swedish, even though it's not spelled that way. Don't let yourself get tripped up by that, though!
Now, let's take a look at the word Sverige (Sweden). Even though there's a g in the word, it's pronounced like a y. This happens a lot in Swedish when a g is found before certain vowels, but we'll talk more about that letter. For now, just know that Sverige is pronounced like Sveh-ree-yeh and not Sveh-ree-geh.
|sitter||sit(s), is/are sitting|
|ett barn||a child|
|en katt||a cat|
|ett äpple||an apple|
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 en words, 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: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9708920
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Indefinite singular||Definite singular|
|en sked a spoon||skeden the spoon|
|ett glas a glass||glaset the glass|
In the last lesson, you learned the building blocks of sentences in Swedish — grammatical gender, pronouns, basic word order — to help you describe yourself and those around you. In this lesson, we'll take a step back from new grammar and learn some greetings! Here are the greetings that you will learn in this lesson:
|God morgon!||Good morning!|
|God kväll!||Good evening!|
In Swedish, language names, like svenska (Swedish) and engelska (English), are never capitalized, unless they are found at the beginning of the sentence.
|heter||is named, is called|
|en morgon||a morning|
|en kväll||an evening|
In this lesson, you'll get the basics of the definite suffix, and you'll get more practice building basic sentences to describe yourself and those around you.
In Swedish, there is no standalone word that means the. Instead, we add a suffix to the end of a word. Remember how Swedish has two grammatical genders (en-words and ett-words)? Well, these two categories of words take different suffixes that mean the.
For en-words, you add -n (or -en, if there's a consonant beforehand) to the end of the word. Here are some examples that you'll come across in the lesson:
en kvinna (a woman) → kvinnan (the woman)
en man (a man) → mannen (the man)
en flicka (a girl) → flickan (the girl)
en pojke (a boy) → pojken (the boy)
For ett-words, you add -t (or -et, if there's a consonant beforehand) to the end of the word. Here are some examples that you'll come across in the lesson:
ett barn (a child) → barnet (the child)
ett äpple (an apple) → äpplet (the apple)
This is just a sneak preview, and we'll go more in-depth in the next few lessons. Using a suffix to mean "the" instead of a separate word might be confusing at first, especially if you haven't studied a language that does something like this before, so don't beat yourself up if you make mistakes at first. You will have plenty of practice over the course of the next few lessons, and you will get used to it in no time!
The two grammatical genders of Swedish come into play once again when you're trying to say "it." If you're referring to something that is an en-word, you will use the word den. If you're referring to something that is an ett-word, you will use the word det.
Var är boken? Where is the book?
Jag har den. I have it. (because you're referring to bok, which is an en-word)
Var är äpplet? Where is the apple?
Jag har det. I have it. (because you're referring to äpple, which is an ett-word)
When you're introducing something ("It is a…"), however, you use det regardless of the gender of the following word:
Det är en bok. (It is a book.)
Det är ett äpple. (It is an apple.)
At this point in the course, you've come across several verbs (action words): köper (buy), ser (see), är (be), har (have), etc. Just like in English, Swedish verbs have different forms for different tenses (present, past, perfect). If you're talking about something that happened yesterday, or five years ago, you use the past tense. If you're talking about something that is happening now, or happens recurrently, you use the present tense. So far, we've been focused on having you learn present tense forms, so you'll be talking about the present until a little later in the course.
"How do I use the present tense?", you might ask. The present tense can be used to describe things that you are happening in the present, right now.
Jag köper en bok.
I am buying a book.
You can also use it to describe things that happen repeatedly.
Jag köper en bok varje dag.
I buy a book every day.
Just a few quick pronunciation notes for this lesson!
Notice the pronunciation of köper, which might be transcribed as shö-per in English spelling. As a general rule, before ö (and a few other vowels), the letter k is pronounced like sh. We'll get more into the details of this later, but for now, just know that köper is not the only word where k is pronounced this way.
Also, just a quick reminder that the common words det (it) and de (they) have irregular pronunciations. The -t at the end of det is silent, and de is pronounced like dom.
|den||it (for en-words)|
|en bok||a book|
|ett brev||a letter|
|en tidning||a newspaper|
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|
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
In this lesson, you might start to notice just how similar English and Swedish are. A lot of Swedish words for animals closely resemble their English equivalents: katt (cat), hund (dog → think "hound"), fågel (bird → think "fowl"). Swedish is full of words that are very similar to their English counterparts, called cognates. Make note of these similarities when they come up; it makes learning vocabulary a lot easier!
Remember how in Swedish, there is no standalone word that means the? Instead, we add one of two suffixes to the end of a word, depending on the grammatical gender of the noun. For en-words, you add -n (or -en, if there's a consonant beforehand) to the end of the word. For ett-words, you add -t (or -et, if there's a consonant beforehand) to the end of the word:
en kvinna (a woman) → kvinnan (the woman)
ett barn (a child) → barnet (the child)
In this lesson, you'll get more practice with the definite forms of nouns with animal words! There's one further complexity that you'll be introduced to in this lesson. If an en-word ends in an unstressed -el, you just add -n to form the definite instead of -en. There are two words in this lesson that this applies to: fågel (bird) and spindel (spider).
en fågel (a bird) → fågeln (the bird)
en spindel (a spider) → spindeln (the spider)
For now, you can just memorize these two forms, but keep in mind that these forms are not unique; they're part of a greater pattern in the Swedish language. You'll come across more -el words throughout the course, and you'll notice that this pattern extends to these words, too.
In a previous lesson, you learned that Jag heter… means My name is… You can use the same construction to say the name of other things, too.
Älgen heter Anna. (The moose's name is Anna.)
Björnen heter Hans. (The bear's name is Hans.)
Vad heter vargen? (What is the wolf's name?)
There are three small pronunciation notes for this lesson. First off, we have a new letter — å — which is pronounced closer to the English o sound than the a sound.
You'll notice that the words älg (moose) and varg (wolf) are pronounced like älj and varj, not with a hard g at the end. As a general rule, clusters of -rg and -lg at the end of the word are pronounced like -rj and -lj, respectively. There are plenty of words with these pronunciations throughout the course, so you'll get used to this quirk in no time!
You'll also notice that the initial d- in the word djur (animal) is silent, so the word is pronounced just like jur. This happens with a lot of consonants before j: dj, lj, gj, and hj are all pronounced just as j.
|en älg||a moose|
|ett djur||an animal|
|en anka||a duck|
|en häst||a horse|
|en hund||a dog|
|en björn||a bear|
|en fågel||a bird|
|en spindel||a spider|
|en varg||a wolf|
|en mus||a mouse|
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.
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).
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.
|en soppa a soup||soppan the soup|
|ett kaffe a coffee||kaffet the coffee|
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!
In this lesson, we'll be taking a step back from new vocabulary words and grammar to learn some important phrases that you can use to communicate your basic needs in Swedish!
While most of the phrases that you'll learn in this lesson are pretty straightforward, there are a few sticking points that need a bit of explanation.
The common phrase varsågod can have two meanings, depending on the context in which you're using it. The simplest meaning is you're welcome, as a response to tack (thank you). Here's an example of a context in which varsågod means you're welcome:
Person A: Tack så mycket! (Thank you very much!)
Person B: Varsågod! (You're welcome!)
Pretty simple, right? The other usage, which doesn't have an exact English counterpart, is said when you're giving something to somebody else. For example, if you're at a restaurant, the waiter might say varsågod when dropping off the food at the table, or you might say varsågod when handing over a file to a coworker. In this context, varsågod might be best translated as here you go. Here's a skeleton conversation in which varsågod carries this meaning:
Person A (handing over a file to another person): Varsågod! (Here you go!)
Person B: Tack så mycket! (Thank you very much!)
A quick note: if you're addressing two or more people, you should say varsågoda instead of varsågod. For now, you can just memorize this, but it follows the pattern of Swedish adjective declension that we'll talk about later in the course.
Another phrase that doesn't have a great English translation is hallå, which can mean hello but is more commonly used to call people to attention. If you're trying to say something in a noisy room of family members, you might shout hallå to get their attention, for example. It's a great word that any Swedish learner should know, but it can be a bit difficult for native English speakers to nail it down because there's no good translation. As always, practice makes perfect! You'll get the hang of it in no time.
At this point, you have encountered all three "special" Swedish letters: å, ä, and ö. You'll have plenty of time to get used to these new letters (and the sounds they make) over the course of the tree! Because English doesn't have these sounds, you can't find them on a typical English keyboard. When you're doing a lesson on Duolingo, there are buttons by the text box that you can click to access these letters. If you want to type these letters more easily, you can go into your computer settings and add an International keyboard layout or a Swedish keyboard layout to your list of keyboard input options. A quick Google search will walk you through the process if you need help!
There are two pronunciation notes for this lesson. First, take note of the /rs/ cluster in the words ursäkta (excuse me) and varsågod (you're welcome/here you go). You'll hear that it makes a sh-sound. This happens when r and s are next to each other, even across words (e.g. when there is an r at the end of one word and an s at the beginning of the next word).
You'll also notice that kanske is pronounced as if it were written kan-she (or, depending on the dialect, kan-sje with the Swedish sj-sound, to be discussed later).
|tack så mycket||thank you very much|
|god natt||good night|
|en natt||a night|
|varsågod||you're welcome, here you are|
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|
-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
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
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!
Food is yummy, isn't it? In this lesson, you'll learn how to start talking about your favorite foods in Swedish.
It's always helpful to learn how to ask questions in another language so that you can more fully participate in the conversation and unleash your inner curiosity about the world around you! At this point in the course, a quick review on how to form yes-or-no questions in Swedish might be helpful.
Basically, you just put the verb (the action word) at the beginning of the sentence! Not too bad, right? You'll come across a bunch of questions in this lesson, but here are some examples to get you started:
Mannen äter soppa. (The man is eating soup.) →
Äter mannen soppa? (Is the man eating soup?)
Hästen läser en bok. (The horse is reading a book.) →
Läser hästen en bok? (Is the horse reading a book?)
You'll get the hang of it in no time!
In English, we have to say "a glass of water" or "a cup of coffee." Swedish is a bit simpler! You can drop the word "of" in your translation and simply say ett glas vatten (literally, a glass water = a glass of water) or en kopp kaffe (literally, a cup coffee = a cup of coffee). This might be familiar to you if you have studied another Germanic language. If not, it might sound a little weird in your head for a bit, but you'll get used to it in no time! :)
In English, you can say "I am cooking" or "He is cooking." In Swedish, you have to specify what you are cooking with the verb laga. If you already have a specific thing that you are cooking in mind, you can say something like Jag lagar kyckling (I am cooking chicken), just like in English. If you're just talking about cooking in general, though, and you have no specific food in mind, you have to add the word mat (food) to the sentence: Jag lagar mat (I am cooking food). You can't just say Jag lagar (I am cooking) — the sentence feels wrong, like it's missing a word at the end. In fancy linguistic terms (if you're into that sort of thing), laga is obligatorily transitive in Swedish, while cook is not obligatorily transitive in English. It's just a tiny difference between Swedish and English, but it has the tendency to strike people unawares.
The Swedish word peppar does not refer to bell peppers. A bell pepper is en paprika. English has only one word for both: "pepper."
Do you remember how the word köper (buy) is pronounced with a soft k? In this lesson, you encounter a few more words with soft k: kyckling (chicken) and kött (meat). As a general rule,
|laga (mat)||to cook|
|en fisk||a fish|
|ett kött||a meat|
|en pasta||a pasta|
|en soppa||a soup|
|en kyckling||a chicken|
|en mat||a food|
|en frukost||a breakfast|
|en frukt||a fruit|
|en ost||a cheese|
|en smörgås||a sandwich|
|ett glas||a glass|
|en tomat||a tomato|
|ett socker||a sugar|
|en öl||a beer|
|en peppar||a pepper|
|ett ägg||an egg|
|ett salt||a salt|
|en meny||a menu|
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).
You know how in English, we say "I saw him" and not "I saw he"? The word he is what we call a subject pronoun, meaning that it can serve as the subject (main actor/theme) of a sentence. The word him is what we call an object pronoun, meaning that it can serve as the object/recipient of a sentence. That's why we say "I saw him" instead of "I saw he" — him is the recipient of the action of seeing.
In Swedish, subject pronouns have counterparts in object form, just like how he becomes him in certain positions in English. Here is the list:
|Subject Pronoun||Object Pronoun|
|du||you (singular)||dig||you (singular)|
|den||it (for en-words)||den||it|
|det||it (for ett-words)||det||it|
|ni||you (plural)||er||you (plural)|
The main thing to watch out for with these object pronouns is pronunciation. The words mig and dig are pronounced irregularly, as if they were spelled mej and dej (i.e. they both rhyme with nej, which you learned in a previous lesson). Similarly, the word dem (them) is pronounced like dom, identical to the pronunciation of the corresponding subject pronoun de (they). Both are pronounced just like dom in speech, but they are differentiated by spelling in writing. Interestingly, you might encounter these spelling pronunciations (mej, dej, and dom) in informal writing as you continue to learn Swedish. Pretty fun, huh?
|den||it (for en-words)|
|det||it (for ett-word)|
Remember how en kvinna means a woman, while kvinnan means the woman? In this lesson, you're going to learn how to say the definite form (the form that means "the X") for all of the nouns that you've learned so far.
In Swedish, the definite form of a noun is created by adding on a variety of suffixes, depending on the grammatical gender of the word and whether the stem ends in a consonant (a hard sound, like b) or a vowel (an open sound, like a, i, or ö). If you're a native English speaker, you might find it strange at first, because you're probably used to "the" being a standalone word. With a little practice, you'll know the definite suffixes like the back of your hand!
To create the definite suffix of an en-word, you just add the suffix -n to the end of the root.
en stuga (a cabin) → stugan (the cabin)
en pojke (a boy) → pojken (the boy)
en soppa (a soup) → soppan (the soup)
If the stem ends in a consonant, however, you'll need to add the suffix -en instead.
en fisk (a fish) → fisken (the fish)
en mat (a food) → maten (the food) en frukt (a fruit) → frukten (the fruit)
Easy as pie, right? To say the definite form of an ett-word, you just add the suffix -t to the end of the root.
ett äpple (an apple) → äpplet (the apple)
Just like with en-words, if the stem ends in a consonant, you'll need to add the suffix -et instead.
ett brev (a letter) → brevet (the letter)
(ett) salt (salt) → saltet (the salt)
(ett) bröd (bread) → brödet (the bread)
The only "exceptions" to these rules come about with words that end in -el, -er, and -en, which can do funny things when they turn into the definite form. You saw in a previous lesson that en fågel (a bird) and en spindel (a spider) became fågeln (the bird) and spindeln (the spider), even though we would expect them to be spindelen och fågelen according to the rules listed above. You'll see more words that follow this pattern throughout the course.
Something similar happens with certain words ending in -er and -en. The last vowel of the word magically disappears!
(ett) socker (sugar) → sockret (the sugar) (NOT sockeret)
(ett) vatten (water) → vattnet (the water) (NOT vattenet)
These types of "exceptions" are actually pretty predictable, so don't get too worked up about them. For now, you can just memorize the forms that you need to know and learn the rest later.
|en stuga||a cabin|
So far, you've been talking about things in the singular: a cat, one dog, a book, etc. But what if you wanted to talk about two cats, or three dogs, or four books? In this lesson, you'll learn how to form the plural in Swedish so that you can do just that!
Like a lot of other things in Swedish, grammatical gender plays an important role in how you form the plural (the -s form in English) in Swedish. Here are some rules that you can use to form the plural of en-words:
If the word ends in -a, the plural ending is -or:
en flicka (a girl) → flickor (girls)
en stuga (a cabin) → stugor (cabins)
en anka (a duck) → ankor (ducks)
The vast majority of en-words that do not end in -a take the plural ending -ar:
en pojke (a boy) → pojkar (boys)
en tidning (a newspaper) → tidningar (newspapers)
en häst (a horse) → hästar (horses)
en hund (a dog) → hundar (dogs)
Some en-words that do not end in -a, including words with stress on the final syllable, take the plural ending -er:
en katt (a cat) → katter (cats)
en station (a station) → stationer (stations)
en elefant (an elephant) → elefanter
Remember those pesky words ending in -el, -er, and -en that did funny things when we added the definite suffix? Think vatten → vattnet? These same words also lose a vowel when we add the plural suffix:
en spindel (a spider) → spindlar (spiders) (NOT spindelar)
en fågel (a bird) → fåglar (birds) (NOT fågelar)
en cykel (a bicycle) → cyklar (bicycles) (NOT cykelar)
And here are the rules for forming the plural of ett-words!
If an ett-word ends in a vowel, it usually takes the plural ending -n. So far, you've only learned one ett-word that ends in a vowel:
ett äpple (an apple) → äpplen (apples)
All other ett-words (i.e. those that do not end in a vowel) stay the same in the plural! Easy peasy!
ett barn (a child) → barn (children)
ett brev (a letter) → brev (letters)
ett djur (an animal) → djur (animals)
Like most languages on Earth, Swedish not without exceptions to the rules! In this lesson, you'll learn two words with an irregular plural form:
en man (a man) → män (men)
en bok (a book) → böcker (books)
You'll notice that män sounds a lot like its counterpart men in English, which is also an irregular plural. This shared irregularity stems from the fact that Swedish and English are related languages. Pretty cool, right?
At first, it might seem like there are a billion plural rules to memorize, but you'll get lots of practice throughout the course. Have no fear! You'll get the hang of it in no time at all! :)
|en cykel||a bicycle|
In the previous lesson, you learned how to say things like "dogs," "cats," and "animals"? But what if you wanted to say "the dogs," "the cats," or "the animals"? In this lesson, you'll learn how!
In order to say the Xs in Swedish, you'll use a form of the noun called the definite plural. Here are some quick rules to help you turn the plural form of a noun into the definite plural form!
If the plural ends in -r, the definite plural ending -na is added to the end of the word:
kvinnor (women) → kvinnorna (the women)
katter (cats) → katterna (the cats)
pojkar (boys) → pojkarna (the boys)
böcker (books) → böckerna (the books)
If the plural form ends in -n (i.e. ett-words ending in a vowel), the definite plural ending -a is added to the end of the word. So far you only know one word that follows this pattern:
äpplen (apples) → äpplena
If the plural form is identical to the singular form (i.e. ett-words that don't end in a vowel), the definite plural ending -en is added to the end of the word.
brev (letters) → breven (the letters)
barn (children) → barnen (the children)
djur (animals) → djuren (the animals)
Don't get confused by the fact that -en can be both the definite plural ending for ett-words and the definite singular ending for en-words. The overlap is tricky, but practice makes perfect!
Note that the irregular plural män (men) becomes männen (the men) in the definite plural.
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 now, 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.
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”.
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 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|
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.
|vilka||who (only for plurals)|
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.
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:
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:
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:
Again, very similar to English. Note however that unlike English, Swedish does not use to do as an auxiliary verb.
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.
See this discussion: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5667610
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.
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.
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|
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 den for 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|
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|
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
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.
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.
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|
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.
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!
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!
Deponent verbs are verbs that have the same form as passive verbs (ending with an -s) but are not passive.
All the verbs taught in Lesson 8 of this skill are deponent verbs.
You've already learned one before this lesson: finns, the verb used in the construction Det finns = There is/are.
Morphologically, deponent verbs work the same as other verbs, except that they have the ending -s in every form. Compare: Jag känner dig ('I know you') – Det känns bra ('It feels good').
This is all you really need to know about them, but if you want to know more, you can read here.
Some verbs are reflexive, which means they need to have a reflexive pronoun as an object. To take the verb skyndar sig 'hurry' as an example, it will be like this:
Jag skyndar mig 'I am hurrying'
Du skyndar dig 'You are hurrying'
Han/hon/hen/den/det skyndar sig 'He/she/it is hurrying'
Vi skyndar oss 'We are hurrying'
Ni skyndar er 'You are hurrying'
De skyndar sig 'They are hurrying'
Some verbs can be either reflexive or not reflexive, but take a normal object instead when they're not reflexive. For instance, the Swedish verb lär – either you learn 'yourself', or you teach someone else:
Jag lär mig svenska 'I am learning Swedish'
Du lär dig svenska 'You are learning Swedish'
Jag lär dig svenska 'I am teaching you Swedish'
Du lär mig svenska 'You are teaching me Swedish' etc.
Verbs can be both particle verbs and reflexive at the same time. In that case, what is said above about both those things apply to them. Some examples are
The particle can also come last, as in bryr sig om (literally: 'worries oneself about')- 'cares': Bryr du dig om mig? - 'Do you care about me?'
While it's great to be able to express what is happening right now, a lot of times we will want to talk about what happened earlier. This is were the past tense comes into play.
As with the present tense, there is no difference between I drew and I was drawing. Both are Jag ritade.
Let's look at how we do this in Swedish.
|Present tense||Past Tense||English|
|pratar||pratade||talked, was/were talking|
|simmar||simmade||swam, was/were swimming|
|öppnar||öppnade||opened, was/were opening|
If the present form is -ar, the past form is -ade. This is 100% regular. No exceptions. Remember that both forms have an a in them.
|Present tense||Past Tense||English|
|häller||hällde||poured, was/were pouring|
|ringer||ringde||phoned, was/were phoning|
|läser||läste||read, was/were reading|
|köper||köpte||bought, was/were buying|
|hör||hörde||heard, was/were hearing|
Ok, this group might look a bit crazy, but it really isn't. The above are all regular er-verbs. If the verb is regular and its present ends in -er, then the past tense is -de.
Unless, the core of the verb ends in either of p, t, k, or s. In this case it takes -te, because we find this easier to pronounce.
If the core ends in r, the regular er-verbs have no present ending, but it still gets its -de in the past tense. Unfortunately, if you see hör you can't see that it is an er-verb, but if you see hörde you immediately know it is a regular er-verb and that it's present form must be hör (only regular er-verbs have a past tense in -de).
|Present tense||Past Tense||English|
|tror||trodde||believed, was/were believing|
|bor||bodde||lived, was/were living|
|klär||klädde||dressed, was/were dressing|
Finally among the regular verbs, we have the short regular r-verbs. Here we simply add -dde, and we're done with them.
|Present tense||Past Tense||English|
|ser||såg||saw, was/were seeing|
|är||var||was/were, was/were being|
|kommer||kom||came, was/were coming|
|springer||sprang||ran, was/were running|
|dricker||drack||drank, was/were drinking|
|skriver||skrev||wrote, was/were writing|
Last of all, irregular verbs. Your favorite, I know! There are a couple of patterns here, but nothing that would ever fit in a description like this, I'm afraid.
Worth noting, however, is that:
Since English and Swedish are related, many irregular verbs are the same: drack-drank, såg-saw, kom-came. This is a great help trying to remembering them.
Just like in English, strong verbs don't have a particular ending, instead they usually change their core vowel. This is where you can go look for patterns, just like in English.
The imperative is formed by removing -er from verbs ending in -er in the present tense, and removing -r from verbs ending in -ar in the present tense.
läser -> läs!
äter -> ät!
lyssnar -> lyssna!
betalar -> betala!
some very short verbs:
går -> gå!
tror -> tro!
ger -> ge!
gör -> gör!
Also note: kommer -> kom!
Many times, the infinitive form is referred to as the base form. This is not without reason. When memorizing verbs this is the one most frequently used and most conjugation stem from this form. But what do we use it for?
The infinitive form is used when using a modal verb. These are verbs such as want, will, must. This is actually very similar to how we use the infinitive form in English.
In Swedish it is almost exactly the same.
The difference here is that we don't use any equivalent to to in Swedish, except for in some cases. These are the most common ones.
Here, the Swedish word att acts like the English word to.
Note that we do not need to add att if we have an object directly followed by a verb in infinitive form.
-Låt alla blommor blomma. (Let all flowers bloom) -Vi såg honom springa. (We saw him run)*
There isn't that much to learn as an English speaker when it comes to Swedish infinitive. Learning when to use att and when not to is the key to mastering it, and that will (as usual) come with practice.
Yes, there are exceptions, we're sorry...
Modal verbs do not require the use of att. These include words such as kunna, måste and vilja. For more information regarding modal verbs, refer to the lesson Verbs: Modal.
There are also some ordinary verbs that do not require att. These are börja, sluta, besluta, lära, lära sig.
By now we know some adjectives. We know how to say something is pretty or someting is ugly. But how do we express that is not just pretty, it's the prettiest or that those shoes are uglier than those shoes?
We call these forms comparative and superlative.
Comparative form is used when you compare one thing to another.
And superlative is used when some is of the highest degree possible of something.
So how do we create these words in Swedish? Let's take a look at the regular ones first.
|Positive||Comparative||Superlative undefined||Superlative defined|
For some adjectives, we prefer to compare them with mer and mest rather than using endings .This typically happens with adjectives ending in -isk and participles. However in many cases, both work.
And now to the bad news. A lot of adjectives are irregular, especially the most common ones. You are going to have to learn these the hard way, through practice and experience. But don't lose hope yet, many of these are so common that you will learn the forms really fast!
Present perfect is used to express a past event that has present consequences. That's a very vague description, let's look at examples instead. What if we want to say I have eaten or He has written a book, how do you say that in Swedish? That is when we need to use present perfect and that is also what we are going to learn in this lesson.
What we have to do to express present perfect in Swedish, is to create a form of the verb, that we can use as an adjective. Then we combine this with the present form of ha, which is har.
This probably looks complicated, and to be perfectly honest, it is. There are four different basic ways to construct present perfect in Swedish, and they look like this:
|Infinitive||Present Perfect||English Translation|
|klä||har klätt||dress, get dressed|
The form we use for the main verb is supine and when we combine this with the auxiliary verb har, we get present perfect, the equivalent of the English past participle.
This is one of those places where Swedish differs more than usual from English so this might need some extra practice. One thing to note is that this form is very common in Swedish and you will have to get used to it not only to understand what people say, but so that you can speak in a more Swedish way.
All the difficulties aside, good luck with your lesson in Swedish present perfect!
Modal verbs are verbs that indicate what we in linguistics call modality. Modality is what allows us to attach things such as belief, attitude, and obligation to statements. This means that words such as must, may, want, are all modal verbs.
This probably sounds very abstract at the moment, let's look at how modal verbs can completely change a sentence:
Here we use have as a modal verb.
Here, the modal word is want.
You can already see how important modal verbs are. But how do we use them in Swedish? You just add the modal verb, followed by the main verb in infinitive form.
(If you need a little refresher on the infinitive form, take a quick look at the lesson in infinitive form.)
Notice how we change går from present tense to the infinitive gå. If we use other tenses, we conjugate the modal verb, not the main verb.
Here, we change såg from past tense to the infinitive form, se.
Finally, here is some of the verbs we will be learning in this lesson:
|får||may, be allowed to|
The imperative is formed by removing -er from verbs ending in -er in the present tense, and removing -r from verbs ending in -ar in the present tense.
läser -> läs!
äter -> ät!
lyssnar -> lyssna!
betalar -> betala!
some very short verbs:
går -> gå!
tror -> tro!
ger -> ge!
gör -> gör!
Also note: kommer -> kom!
First of all, there is good news and bad news. The bad news are there are three different ways to express future in Swedish. The good news are all of these three ways are really simple!
The first one is basically just present tense with an adverb to describe what time we are talking about.
Although the same kind of constructions exist in English they are a bit more common in casual Swedish.
In Swedish, ska is the equivalent of the English verb will, as in I will. You might stumble upon the spelling skall instead of ska. This is often considered very formal or old-fashioned. Unless you're writing formal texts, just use ska. There is a sort of ’modal’ nuance to ska: whenever you use this form, somebody wants something to happen (or not happen). You could also say that somebody controls what is going to happen, or has decided to do something.
Kommer att is a bit hard to translate directly, but the closest equivalent would be going to. It is often used when making predictions about what is probably going to happen. In other words, often about things that you can't control.
If you happen to mix up ska and kommer att it will sound a bit strange to the native speaker but it will still be grammatically correct. Don't be discouraged by this, you will learn the more subtle differences between the two in time and with practice.
Do you remember how we learned a couple of lessons back how to create Swedish present perfect? If you do, then this is going to be a real breeze!
In the present perfect lesson, we learned how we could form sentences such as:
Jag har ätit = I have eaten
Du har hört = You have heard
We're now going to create very similar sentences, but they are going to take place in the past!
Jag hade ätit = I had eaten
Du hade hört = You had heard
We still use the supine form to create the past perfect, but with the past tense form hade instead of the present tense ha.
Let's take a look at the same table on how to use the supine as we did in the present perfect lesson, but update it for the past perfect instead:
|Infinitive||Past perfect||English translation|
|klä||hade klätt||dress, get dressed|
All in all, the Swedish past perfect works much the same way as it does in English:
Jag blev bjuden på middag men jag hade redan ätit.
I was invited to dinner but I had already eaten.
Knowing how to use the past perfect is extremely useful for those times when you have to describe what happened in the past, such as what you did last weekend.
Oh, and one last thing. As you know by now, the very common words sade and lade are pronounced just sa and la in Swedish. But this is not the case with hade - it's actually pronounced as though it were written hadde.
I have a car. It is red. I also have a bike. It is blue.
The above sentences are all correct English, but if you read it out loud, it sounds very clunky. We can use what we call relative pronouns to make it feel more fluent.
I have a car that is red and a bike that is blue.
This looks and sounds a lot better! Of course, we can do the exact same thing in Swedish.
|som||who, that, which|
The most important thing to notice here is that you can not use vem orvar as relative pronouns in Swedish. vem and var are just question words. Here are some examples to make things a bit easier.
Thus far, we have learned that the Swedish present tense covers both the English simple present (e.g. 'I eat') and the English present continuous ('I am eating'). While this is correct, we are going to nuance this a little bit.
In Swedish, there are certain constructions emphasizing a continuous action - and which correspond to the English present continuous (i.e. the -ing form).
håller på is used when the continuity is strong and we want to emphasize this. It is followed by att plus an infinitive. You will likely also come across it with och plus the present tense, but this is colloquial and not accepted in the course.
Jag håller på att lära mig svenska. 'I am (in the process of) learning Swedish.'
If the emphasis is less strong, but the markedness is still desired, we can use one of the verbs sitter/ligger/står together with another present tense verb. This is equal to the English present continuous, but different in the sense that not only does it mark continuity, it also marks the position of the subject.
Jag ligger och läser. 'I am (lying and) reading.'
Jag sitter och tittar på teve. 'I am (sitting and) watching television.'
Jag står och lagar mat just nu. 'I am (standing and) cooking right now'
In Swedish, it is very common that words change depending on whether it describes a position or a direction. You have already encountered the two words for where in Swedish; Var (position) & Vart (direction), but now it is time to expand on the subject. The following table summarizes the most important words:
Let’s make things a bit clearer with a few examples:
”I am here” - Jag är här
”She is coming here” - Hon kommer hit
“He is there” – Han är där
”I am going there” - Jag går dit
”She is up on the roof” - Hon är uppe på taket
“You climb up on the roof” - Du klättrar upp på taket
“She is down on the first floor” - Hon är nere på den första våningen
”He jumps down from the roof” - Han hoppar ned/ner från taket
“We are not at home” - Vi är inte hemma
“They are going home” - De åker hem
Framme is a peculiar word which translates to “there” in English, but it has notions of both position and direction. It is usually used when talking about the destination, either while going there, or after having reached it. Sounds confusing? Maybe a few examples can make it clearer.
“Are we there yet?” - Är vi framme snart?
“We are there now” - Vi är framme nu
In the first example we are talking about the destination while being on our way.
In the second example we have reached the destination after having finished the journey. It essentially means “We have arrived”.
Förbi is used when something is passing by something else, and could be used both for time and space. I.e:
“The car drives by the school” - Bilen kör förbi skolan
“Our time has passed” - Vår tid är förbi
In many cases where English uses a preposition to describe directions, Swedish would rather add a suffix to indicate the same meaning. For example:
Uppifrån – From above
Uppåt - (To) up
Uppför - Uphill (or up along)
Speaking about body parts, this is a good place to point out that in English, you always refer to your body parts with possessive pronouns. In Swedish however, we usually think that it is enough to use the determinate form of the noun.
Jag borstar tänderna - I am brushing my teeth
It is not wrong to say Jag borstar mina tänder in Swedish, but that's not the idiomatic way of saying it.
Read more about how to speak about body parts here.
The passive participle (or perfekt particip) is normally used to say that something has happened to an object, and that the action is finished. So it has both a passive meaning and a past tense meaning.
There are a few patterns for how they are created, e.g.:
The passive participle behaves like an adjective: it changes for number and gender.
Future perfect is the tense that describes an action that will be completed at a certain point in the future. This tense is easy beacuse it works just the same way in Swedish as in English. Just pay attention to the Swedish word order:
|Jag kommer att ha hittat den i morgon.||I will have found it tomorrow.|
|I morgon kommer jag att ha hittat den||Tomorrow I will have found it.|
When the adverb (i morgon, tomorrow) comes first in the clause, the word order in Swedish is inverted, since the verb must be in second place.
What is the conditional?
"The conditional" is just a fancy way to say that we are talking about "would" phrases -- anything that would happen or could have happened or would have happened.
How do we form the conditional?
We use the word skulle much like we use the word "would" in English. All you have to do is add skulle before the verb infinitive! Easy peasy!
Jag skulle läsa om hon lyssnade.
I would read if she listened.
You can do the same thing in more complex constructions. "Would have" can be directly translated to skulle ha, which is followed by the perfect form of the verb (like läst or kommit), just as in English.
Example: Jag skulle ha läst om hon hade lyssnat. I would have read if she had listened.
Vore is the conditional form of the verb vara -- to be. It is actually derived from the archaic past subjunctive mood that once existed in Swedish (and still does in a few set expressions). Although there are some nuances, for now you can use vore just as you would use skulle + any other verb. Because vore already includes the conditional aspect, it would be redundant (and grammatically incorrect) to say skulle vore.
There are two kinds of passive in Swedish, the s-passive and the perifrastic passive. Their forms are easy to learn, the problem is to know when to use the passive.
S-passive is formed by adding the ending -s to the verb.
Verbs that end on -ar in the present tense thus take -as instead, while verbs that end on -er in the present tense end on just -s in the passive present. In the tables below, the passive is shown in action with the -er verb bygga and the -ar verb kasta.
|Form||Active form||Passive form|
|Future||Vi ska bygga ett hus.||Huset ska byggas.|
|We will build a house||The house will be built.|
|Present||Vi bygger ett hus.||Huset byggs.|
|We are building a house.||The house is being built.|
|Past||Vi byggde huset.||Huset byggdes.|
|We built the house||The house was built.|
|Present perfect||Vi har byggt huset.||Huset har byggts.|
|We have built the house.||The house has been built.|
|Form||Active form||Passive form|
|Future||Vi ska kasta en boll.||Bollen ska kastas.|
|We will throw a ball.||The ball will be thrown.|
|Present||Vi kastar en boll.||Bollen kastas.|
|We are throwing a ball.||The ball is being thrown.|
|Past||Vi kastade bollen.||Bollen kastades.|
|We threw the ball||The ball was thrown.|
|Present perfect||Vi har kastat bollen.||Bollen har kastats.|
|We have thrown the ball.||The ball has been thrown.|
The perifrastic passive is formed with an auxiliary verb, bli (become) or vara (be), plus a perfect participle. The participle is inflected as an adjective, as usual:
|Huset var redan byggt.||The house was already built.|
|Husen var redan byggda.||The houses were already built.|
|Kyrkan var redan byggd.||The church was already built.|
If there is an agent in a passive sentence – the agent is the one who performs the action of the verb – the preposition av is used:
Huset byggdes av tre bröder. ~ The house was built by three brothers.
Future preterite can be described as the future seen from the past. It is used when speaking about something you were planning at a point of time in the past, or something you thought was going to happen. The forms are the same as for the conditional, skulle + infinitive, but the meaning is not the same.
När vi skulle åka upptäckte vi att bilen var stulen .
When we were going to go, we discovered that the car was stolen.
The people in this sentence discovered that their car was stolen at a point in time where their leaving had not yet happened – they were going to go, the leaving was still in the future for them.
Congratulations on finishing the course! We hope that you have enjoyed learning the language so far, and we wish you the best of luck on the rest of your Swedish-learning journey! Lycka till :)