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Basics updated 2018-10-25

Two genders – but four pronouns!

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.

Examples

Female Male En-words Ett-words
hon she han he den it det it

Basics 2 updated 2018-10-25

Introducing new stuff with det är

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

This and that in Swedish

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.

Common Phrases updated 2018-10-25

Välkommen!

This means "welcome", but we don't use it in the expression you're welcome. That would be varsågod.

”I speak -ska”

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.

Examples

Country Adjective Nationality Language
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.

Food updated 2018-10-25

”A glass and glass-the”

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.

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!

Examples

Indefinite singular Definite singular
en sked a spoon skeden the spoon
ett glas a glass glaset the glass

Animals updated 2018-10-25

Fågeln och spindeln

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.

Examples

Indefinite Definite
en fågel a bird fågeln the bird
en spindel a spider spindeln the spider

A Møøse once bit my sister...

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

Definite forms updated 2018-10-25

Indefinite and definite singular

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.

Forms

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.

Examples

Indefinite Definite
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

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.

Examples

Indefinite Definite
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.

Examples

Indefinite Definite
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!

Plurals updated 2018-10-25

Plurals

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
en kvinna kvinnor kvinnorna
en hund hundar hundarna
en sak saker sakerna
ett hus hus husen
ett yrke yrken yrkena

How to predict the plural

En-words
Ett-words

Irregular plurals

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

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!

  1. armen the arm
  2. husen the houses
  3. äpplen apples

Possessives updated 2021-02-21

My, my, my – possessive pronouns

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.

Subject En-words Ett-words Plural
Jag min mitt mina
Du din ditt dina
Han hans hans hans
Hon hennes hennes hennes
Det dess dess dess
Den dess dess dess
Vi vår vårt våra
Ni er ert era
De deras deras deras

Who is kissing whose husband???

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”.

Example

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”.

Sin en-words
Sitt ett-words
Sina plural

Pronouns objective updated 2018-10-25

Pronouns and pronounciation

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!).

Subject Object
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).

Clothing updated 2018-10-25

Wearing clothes

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 , 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 updated 2018-10-25

Present Tense

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:

-ar

Present Tense English
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.

-er

Present Tense English
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!

-r

Present Tense English
bor live(s), is/are living
r 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!

Swedish English
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

Questions updated 2019-05-05

Asking questions.

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.

Swedish English
vad what
var where (location)
vart where (direction)
hur how
varför why
vem who
vems whose
när when
vilken/vilket/vilka which
vilka who (only for plurals)

Most of the time, we use these just like we would in English.

Swedish 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.

Form Swedish English
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

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 updated 2018-10-25

Prepositions

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 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 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!

Good luck!

Conjunctions updated 2018-10-25

Conjunctions

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.

Family updated 2018-10-25

See this discussion: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5667610

Occupations updated 2018-10-25

Occupations – without articles

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 updated 2018-10-25

Adjectives

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

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 (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
-t -a
stor stort stora
gul gult gula
snäll snällt snälla

Definite forms

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

Alternative patterns

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
d, glad tt, glatt da, 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

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 1 updated 2018-10-25

Adverbs

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

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.

Determiners updated 2018-10-25

Detta? Det här? What's this?

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.

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?

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,

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!

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:

Just like någon/något/några, they can also be used on their own as pronouns, in which case:

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!

Verbs: Present 3 updated 2018-10-25

Lesson 7: Particle verbs

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!

Lesson 8: Deponent verbs

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.

Lesson 9: Reflexive verbs

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'
etc, or:
Jag lär dig svenska 'I am teaching you Swedish'
Du lär mig svenska 'You are teaching me Swedish' etc.

Lesson 10: Reflexive particle verbs

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?'

Verbs: Past updated 2018-10-25

Past Tense

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.

ar-verbs

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.

er-verbs

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
r 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).

r-verbs

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.

Irregular verbs

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:

Verbs: Infinitive 1 updated 2018-10-25

Infinitive

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.

Common exceptions (Advanced)

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.

Adjectives 2 updated 2018-10-25

Comparative and Superlative

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
varm varmare varmast varmaste
billig billigare billigast billigaste
viktig viktigare viktigast viktigaste

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!

Verbs: Present Perfect updated 2018-10-25

Present Perfect

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
prata har pratat talk
höra har hört hear
klä har klätt dress, get dressed
äta har ätit eat

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!

Verbs: Modal updated 2018-10-25

Modal verbs

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 . 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.

Glossary

Finally, here is some of the verbs we will be learning in this lesson:

Swedish English
kan can
måste must
får may, be allowed to
borde should
get, receive
ska will, shall

Good luck!

Imperative updated 2021-09-16

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.

Examples:
läser -> läs!
äter -> ät!
lyssnar -> lyssna!
betalar -> betala!

Exceptions:
some very short verbs:
går -> gå!
tror -> tro!
ger -> ge!
but
gör -> gör!

Also note: kommer -> kom!

Imperative updated 2018-10-25

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.

Examples:
läser -> läs!
äter -> ät!
lyssnar -> lyssna!
betalar -> betala!

Exceptions:
some very short verbs:
går -> gå!
tror -> tro!
ger -> ge!
but
gör -> gör!

Also note: kommer -> kom!

Future updated 2018-10-25

Future

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!

With the present tense, usually using adverbs

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.

Ska

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

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.

Good luck!

Verbs: Past Perfect updated 2018-10-25

Past perfect

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
prata hade pratat talk
höra hade hört hear
klä hade klätt dress, get dressed
äta hade ätit eat

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.

Good luck!

Pronouns relative updated 2018-10-25

Relative pronouns

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.

Swedish English
vars whose
där where
som who, that, which
vad what
vilket 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.

Vars

Där

Som

Vad

Vilket

Continuous Forms updated 2020-09-23

Continuous Forms

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'

Directions & Positions updated 2018-10-25

Directions and positions

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:

English Position Direction
Here Här Hit
There Där Dit
Up Uppe Upp
Down Nere Ned/Ner
Home Hemma Hem

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

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

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

Suffixes

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)

Medical updated 2018-10-25

Speaking about body parts

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.

Compare:
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.

Passive Participles updated 2019-02-18

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.:

  1. Verbs ending in -ar get the participle ending in -ad. E.g. irriterar -> irriterad ('irritate', 'irritated')
  2. Verbs ending in -er get the ending -d E.g. stänger -> stängd ('close', 'closed'). If the root ends in a voiceless consonant (s, f, k, p, t), the -d is changed to -t instead.
  3. Strong verbs get the ending -en E.g. stjäl -> stulen ('steal', 'stolen')

The passive participle behaves like an adjective: it changes for number and gender.

  1. If the common gender form ends in -ad, the neuter form will be -at and the plural -ade. E.g. överraskad, överraskat, överraskade.
  2. If it ends in -d, the neuter will end in -t and the plural in -da: stängd, stängt, stängda
  3. If the common gender form ends in -en, the neuter form will be -et, and the plural -na. E.g. uppäten, uppätet, uppätna

Verbs: Future Perfect updated 2018-10-25

Future perfect

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:

Swedish English
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.

Verbs: Conditional updated 2019-11-17

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!

Example: 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
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.

Passive updated 2019-06-23

Passive

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

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.

Bygga

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.

Kasta

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.

Perifrastic passive

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:

Swedish English
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.

Agent

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 updated 2018-10-25

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.

Example:
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.

Celebration updated 2021-04-12

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 :)


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