: Lesson 0
Hej! Welcome to this free interactive Swedish course. We’ll start from scratch and teach some Swedish to you, and then we'll ask you to write certain things in Swedish in the form below. You’ll need to type in the answers before moving on.
Swedish comes from the same language family as English does, so it is very similar to English. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, Swedish is also pretty easy to learn for English speakers (just like Norwegian is, and slightly less so than Danish). Let’s try learning some.
Swedish for I is jag.
Swedish for to have is att ha.
It’s almost the same as in English just att is to and ha is have.
The next word is practically the same as well:
Swedish for it is det.
Look carefully at this word det: it ends with et. This et is neutral (you will learn what that means soon) and this et from neutral can also serve as the word for a or the. Well, to be precise, it actually turns into an ett for a, then but that’s just a slight change in writing.
What we need to know for now is that det means it. Another thing that you might be interested in knowing is that the t in det is never pronounced.
To put this all together, let’s learn the basic rule:
To turn the word for to do into a present tense form (I do, you do, etc.) you simply remove the word to (which is att in Swedish) and add an r on the end of the word.
This rule is a bit different for some words ending in a but it works for the most part, so you don’t have to worry about those right now.
Could you work out how to say:
Swedish for you is du.
This word is used when addressing people both formally and informally nowadays. It is backed up by an interesting story: people had an informal word for you for calling friends, which was du, and a formal one which was Ni. They also had a tradition of addressing people by their profession or title, as in "would professor like to read my paper?" instead of "would you like to read my paper?". If a person you were talking to didn’t have any title but you still wanted to address them politely, you would then say Ni. With time, the use of Ni started becoming a bit derogatory since you imply that the person you are talking to has no title... well, and the whole thing was a mess: switching between titles, Ni and du...
Until in 1968, when a few important politicians, including the Swedish prime minister at that time, stated that they wanted to be called by du and not by their title or Ni. That trend quickly caught on, and Swedish has virtually lost Ni in a few years. Well, that is until now, where Ni has been making a bit of a comeback (oh dear), but du is still very much the preferred way to address people.
Leaving the stories aside and starting to practice, how would you say:
As we are learning easy words, let’s learn the word for we which is the same as you pronounce it in English:
Swedish for we is vi.
So knowing that it also follows the same ending as I, you or all the other forms, how would you say:
Swedish for not is inte.
In Old English, they used to say they have not instead of they don’t have. That still is the case in Swedish so to say I don’t have it you are actually saying I have it not (notice the slight change in word order, as it comes before the not - but it just feels more natural like that). How would you say that:
Alright. Let’s learn more Swedish words:
Swedish for to be is att vara.
Just like in English the words to be and am, are, etc. are different. The good news is, they are a lot less different in Swedish:
Swedish for am, are, is is är.
It happens as if the word att vara was att ä instead ,and you just added that r ending to it. Practice this by imagining that your name is Olof (that’s a common Swedish name). Say:
The next word sounds almost exactly the same in English and in Swedish. Here it is:
Swedish for here is här.
When asking questions, Swedish also follows a very similar word order to that of English so for example even you are becomes are you? if you are asking a question. How would you ask:
Swedish for no is nej.
Thus you can answer the question that you have just asked:
Swedish for yes is ja.
This is the same ja in Norwegian, German, Dutch and is it also closely related to yes. Your other option is for answering that question would be:
Swedish for he is han.
This is similar to the word for she:
Swedish for she is hon.
Since the o in hon sounds a bit like a flat English u sound, you can remember these words by remembering the English word handgun, or handhon.
How would you say:
Swedish for because is eftersom.
It consists of two words: efter which is, of course, after, and som which is as (or like). Afteras... well, I have no idea why it is like that but it is.
Now for the purposes of our next exampl,e keep in mind that if you have a sentence with two connected "inte (some verb)" combinations in it, the second inte gets pulled before the verb rather than after it, so you will be saying inte är instead of ]är inte] in the last part of the sentence.
Swedish for to speak is att tala.
Coincidence or not, tala is a traditional rhythmic pattern in classical Indian music.
Swedish language names tend to end in ska. For example:
Swedish for Swedish is svenska.
How would you say:
Ask literally speak you Swedish?:
Here is another name that ends in ska:
Swedish for English is engelska.
You will also need to know that:
Swedish for and is och.
You could also use these words (just drop the last letter - it works like that for the I form if you’re male) to say for example:
We haven’t talked about how to say they so let’s learn it now because it is just so not very much difficult:
Swedish for they is de.
No need to drop the last a for the de form. Say:
Do you remember that du and Ni story? Well, Ni comes from ni, which is a way of addressing many people (such as you guys or you all). While Ni is not used anymore, ni still is (even though it isn't used very often, as Swedes don't often get the occasion of talking to many people at once..). So you use du when you are speaking to one person, and you use ni when you are speaking to more than one.
How would you say:
Now we know all the main pronouns:jag (I), du (you), han (he) and hon (she), vi (we), ni (you guys) and de (they). We are just getting started, though.
Swedish for to want is att vilja.
I want to have it therefore it is my vill to have it.
You would expect it to become jag viljar for I want, but in fact there is an exception with this word. This exception works in our favor, though, because the word becomes even more like the one we have in English: vill.
If you want to say I want to have it in Swedish you don’t have to say to - att anymore, so you say I want have it. What is that:
This can also translate as we want it because in Swedish you never say we want it simply and you always have to say we want to have it.
Remember that to be was att vara. What is:
Let’s learn another word that we use for the same function as in English and that is very alike:
Swedish for to be able to is att kunna.
Literally it is to can but you don’t say to can in English but you do in Swedish. This word also doesn’t follow the pattern of becoming jag kunnar. Instead, it just becomes like the English for for can written in Swedish: kan.
Try to write:
Good. We have now learned two combinations: att vilje - vill and att kunna - kan. While we are on it, I want to introduce one more word.
!Swedish for should is borde.
You should go to your boarding school!
How would you say:
?I should speak Swedish.|Jag borde tala svenska.
Alright, with that out of the way, let's learn one more word.
Swedish for will is ska.
The word ska means shall or will in Swedish, and it is used to form the future just like in English! You use ska instead of will when you are talking about the future. How would you say:
The last word we learn in this lesson is:
Swedish for to do is att göra.
Let’s practice our knowledge now:
Let’s learn something:
Swedish for something is något.
You ask me if I have something?... No, I no got something.
This word is often shortened to and pronounced as nåt.
How would you say:
If you want to say I want something in Swedish you would usually say I want to have something. Try applying this:
Summarizing everything: we have learnt att vilja (to want) - vill (want), att kunna (to be able to) - kan (can), then ska (shall/will) and now we also know the words göra and något.
We have learned that to make verbs from to do into I do or he does you simply remove att and add an r. That was the first category and it includes over 80% of all words, so that’s a pretty safe bet to do so.
There are, however, a few other ways to do it. Let’s learn one more:
Swedish for to need is att behöva.
Think I need to behave.
The word behöva is one of the verbs that we will call the er-words. They are special because the er-words do not like the ending ar, so they do not simply add the r but also change the letter before to e. Thus their ending becomes er.
How would you say:
?I need it because I don't have it.|Jag behöver det eftersom jag har inte det.
?They need to have it.|De behöver ha det.
So we know how to talk about needing (att behöva), wanting (att vilja), having (att ha) and so on. The problem is, we can’t use this knowledge fully until we learn to talk about the things that we are doing. For this reason, let’s do so: we will also be learning words that are similar to those in English.
Swedish for a house is ett hus.
Look at this ett from ett hus. This is the same et from det (it is shortened a bit in det because it is always shortened unless it stands as the word for a). And in this case, this ett actually does stand for a.
You could say:
As we are talking about a house, let’s have a detour:
Swedish for in is i.
Couldn’t get simpler than that, could it. How would you say?
Fine, if we are talking about the house, we could also talk about the Swedish words for thing:
Swedish for a thing is en sak.
Attention now! Why is a house - ett hus, but our second word for a thing - en sak. Well, that’s because the word hus is of the neuter gender and the word sak is of non-neuter, that is, masculine or feminine (feminine in this case) gender. You see, all words (or rather nouns) are of one of three genders in Swedish: masculine, feminine or neuter. You can tell their gender by the article they have. For example, ett hus has the article ett (which usually gets shortened to et in other forms) in front of it, and that means it’s neuter, while en sak has an articleen in front of it, so it’s not neuter.
So words can be either:
one, neuter if their article is ett or
two, non-neuter (either masculine or feminine, but that doesn’t really matter for our practical purposes) if the article is en.
We won’t bother with genders and will just call the first group ett-words, and the second group en-words.
Having in mind that sak is an en-word, how would you say:
Alright, it is true that these sentences are quite unusual. When you talk about things you usually want to at least specify what things you are talking about or at least say the thing or the house and so on. We run into a problem here, though:
Swedish words for the are virtually the same as their words for a: en and et.
Well, you have a modification in that ett, as it becomes et, but you can't really here it very well in speech.
But this is confusing, right? If you want to say the thing, you can’t say en sak, because that would be the same as a thing. Luckily, Swedes figured out how to solve this confusion:
The Swedish words for the (en and et) go at the end of the word instead of in front of it.
Now that clears up the confusion. For example, if you have an et-word hus, you could say ett hus and that would mean a house, or you could put et at the end of the word and have huset to mean the house.
So how would you say:
That solves it! Now you can talk about things and stuff. Let’s learn one more word:
Swedish for time is tid and it’s an en-word.
How would you say:
Do you see that et in det? That’s an et because it assumes you are referring to an et-word, such as ett hus, by using it. It is kind of the default case.
However, if you were to refer to a thing that is non-neuter (therefore an en-word), det changes to den. So, how would you say talking about a thing - en ting:
Since we have all the words almost the same as in English (hus, ting/sak, tid), let’s learn more:
Swedish for good is god.
No, it’s not God, it’s god (Swedish for God is Gud (and it's an en-word), for that matter). Moreover, as we will later learn, there is another word for good, which is perhaps used even more frequently. But, for now, let's stick with this one.
How would you say:
Finally, you could use the word god for greetings as well. The simplest Swedish greeting is hey - hej. However, you could be more sophisticated and say, for example, good morning - if you knew that:
Swedish for morning is morgon.
It is the same word with a little bit different ending. How would you say:
Another small detour:
If you use the word i with morgon that can mean either in morning or tomorrow.
Swedish for night is natt.
Alright, vi ha learned a god amount of svenska. But let's not stop there.
Swedish for me is mig.
Swedish for to help is att hjälpa.
Hopefully both of those words should be easily recognisable to English speaker.
You may want to know that, just like att behöva, att hjälpa is another er word, so I help or he helps would be hjälper and NOT hjälpar.
How would you say:
Here is a word that you almost don’t need to learn:
Swedish for is för.
How would you say using the general it:
Imagine you got a present:
Now you wouldn’t usually get a house as a present but you might get a car. Surely, if you get a car as a present later you also get the bill because Swedish for a car is en bil.
Thus you can ask:
That’s how you do it. Now let’s learn another word:
Swedish for from is från.
If you can hear it pronounced, you will see how close this is to English. Just guess the word for England in the next sentences (hint: it’s the same). Say:
Nice. The only thing missing is to learn how to ask questions:
Swedish for what is vad.
Vad did you say?
Wicked. You may also want to ask where questions:
Swedish for where is var.
Var are you from?
Use the exact same word order too:
We have another word based on var. The Swedish word for why is literally wherefor. It kind of makes sense because in English therefore means because, so wherefore should mean why?:
Swedish for why is varför.
Nice! Our last question word is also this:
Swedish for how is hur.
If you still recall, the Swedish word for to do was att göra. How would you say:
Finally the expression how are you doing is also based on the word how in English and in Swedish. Except the Swedish say how do you have it? to ask this question. So, how would you ask how are you? or literally how do you have it?:
The usual answer is I have it fine. You already know how to say that. However, for the answer to this question Swedishs traditionally use another word for good. Let’s learn it:
Another Swedish word for good or well is bra.
You can use both god and bra to mean good, but Swedes usually prefer to use bra. It is also used in phrases like I am doing good. You could think of bra as the word for good, fine and well, while god is simply good. How would you answer to the question:
Good. You could also thank to make it nice in the end:
Swedish for thanks is tack.
?I am doing good, thanks.|Jag har det bra, tack.
Alright. The last thing we need to know how to say is bye. There are a lot of ways and we will only learn one. You will also need to know that the Swedish for so is så (so almost the same as in English.
When you want to say bye! in Swedish, you could say have it so good! (also using the word bra). You already have all the tools to make a guess what that is. So have it so good - bye:
This ends our learning for now. Let’s now have a simple Swedish conversation to test our knowledge. Imagine a Swedish car driver is at his job interview. Use Hej! for hi/hey/hello*: