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Swedish Filler Words: How to Talk Like a Swede

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It’s human nature to want to look as close to perfect as possible.

We want to buy the best clothes, the best makeup, the best food, or anything in-between. 

We only publish our most perfect pictures on social media. We delete the pictures or posts that people didn’t react enough to (or positively to).

We even try to talk as perfectly as possible. We want to sound accurate and trustworthy all the time.

And that’s where we fall for the big trap:

Filler words.

Today we’ll be talking about common Swedish filler words, whether you should use them, and how to do so appropriately when the situation calls for it.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words and why do we use them?
  2. Swedish Filler Words: How to Talk Like a Swede
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Conclusion

1. What are filler words and why do we use them?

A Definition in a Dictionary

A- What are filler words?

Filler words are the uh’s and um’s in our conversations. They’re the words we use during a pause in order to sound less awkward and make understanding easier for those listening. 

Heck, we even use filler words when sending work emails. 

Expressions like “I think,” “in my opinion,” “just,” “highly,” and many more are all examples of fillers we use in our texts. Think about it: Do they really contribute to the meaning of our message?

While the words themselves may have meaning in other contexts, they do not convey these meanings when used as fillers. 

In many cultures, some filler words are deemed as annoying despite being popularly used. Take the good old “innit” in British English. A detailed study by Mortar Research for gweek revealed that 47 percent of Brits find the “isn’t it” abbreviation annoying, and this attitude extends to other popular conversation fillers such as “like” and “basically.”

B- Why do we use them?

Question Mark Balloon

Despite Swedes being deemed as cold and avoidant of small talk, they frequently use filler words in their speech for many reasons.

They want to be polite.

Man Taking Hat Off to Show Respect

Imagine asking someone out for a date tomorrow night and they just hit you with a blatant “no.” That would sound pretty rude, wouldn’t it? 

That’s one situation where conversation fillers come in. Think about how much more polite it would be if they said something like: “Um, well, you know, I kind of have some plans for tomorrow night.”

They want you to understand.

Man Ordering from Menu

Have you ever noticed how presidents talk slowly in international conventions and gatherings? 

That’s because there are translators in the background, and the speakers want to give them enough time to interpret what they’re saying into another language. It’s not surprising to hear filler words continuously in these situations.

Another context where this may happen is when you’re explaining something to someone and you’re not sure whether they understand. 

You make the job easier for both parties by talking slower, and throwing in a few filler words here and there makes it sound more natural.

They want to be believed.

Hand on Holy Book

No one wants you to think they’re lying (especially when they actually are!). Using filler words is a great technique people use to mask their lies. 

While you should always take what you hear with a grain of salt, this is especially true if you notice the speaker overusing fillers while discussing something that should be straightforward.

Picture how children let go of a long “uhhh” every time they’re caught doing something they’re not supposed to do. 

2. Swedish Filler Words: How to Talk Like a Swede

Now that you know more about filler words in general, it’s time for you to study the most frequently used Swedish conversation fillers! We’ve included two examples with each word so that you can see it used in context. 

Öhm / Öh
Oh

Example #1

Öh, vad gör du här då?

Oh, what are you doing here then?

Example #2

Öh, varför är de så lata?

Oh, why are they so lazy?

Ja 

Yes

Example #1

Ja, jag förstår vad du menar.

Yes, I see what you mean.

Example #2

Jag förstår din kamp, ja.

I understand your struggle, yes.

Ehm / Eh 

Uh / Eh

Example #1

Ehm, jag tror inte att jag kan göra det.

Eh, I don’t think I can do that.

Example #2

Ehm, jag tror inte att vi har råd med det priset.

Eh, I don’t think we can afford that price.

Asså / Alltså 

Therefore / Thus

Asså or alltså can also mean “so,” but no English translation is totally correct. With continuous use and exposure, you’ll become familiar with how they’re used.

Example #1

Alltså titta på havet, gudomligt snyggt.

So look at the sea, divinely beautiful.

Example #2

Asså jag kan inte gå på universitet idag.

Thus, I cannot go to university today.

Va 

What

This is used to mean “excuse me” or “what” when the speaker is surprised or asking for clarification.

Example #1

Va? Jag hörde inte vad du sa.

What? I didn’t hear what you said.

Example #2

Va? Varför avbröt de vårt program?

What? Why did they cancel our program?

Liksom / Typ 

Like

You’re probably familiar with the excessively used “like” in English-speaking countries. Liksom and typ are similar to that. Liksom is mostly used in Stockholm and less in other regions.

Example #1

Det där var inte gott liksom.

That was not, like, good.

Example #2

Men, liksom, vad gör du här?

But, like, what are you doing here?

Precis 

Precisely

Example #1

Precis. Det tar dem mer tid att göra samma uppgift för samma pris.

Precisely. It takes them more time to do the same task for the same price.

Example #2

Precis. Den sista föreläsningen var bättre.

Precisely. The last lecture was better.

Okej 

Okay

Example #1

Okej, jag tycker att din presentation är intressant.

Okay, I find your presentation interesting.

Example #2

Okej, låt oss prata om ditt projekt.

Okay, let’s talk about your project.

Eller hur

Right

Example #1

Han är korkad, eller hur?

He’s stupid, right? 

Example #2

Vi besöker Tyskland i sommar, eller hur?

We’re visiting Germany this summer, right?

Absolut 

Absolutely

This Swedish filler is used similarly to precis or exakt

Example #1

De har absolut ingen aning om Sverige.

They have absolutely no idea about Sweden.

Example #2

Du har absolut ingen aning om de ansträngningar vi gör för att organisera detta.

You have absolutely no idea about the efforts we make to organize this.

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

Most of us don’t take filler words seriously (if we even think about them at all). But their subconscious effects make it important to pay more attention to them and their role in conversation. 

Filler words affect us by contributing to the impressions people have about us. 

To leverage filler words to your advantage, knowing the pros and cons of using them is a great start.

A- Pros 

You sound more natural.

In a foreign culture, the most crucial issue for expats or immigrants is integration—and this is probably the biggest problem immigrants face in Sweden.

Even if you speak good Swedish and are open to learning, you might find yourself struggling to befriend locals.

Filler words can contribute to breaking that barrier while lending a more natural feel to your conversations in Swedish. 

Add to that some Swedish slang practice and you have a pretty good chance of getting invited to your first fika.

You sound friendlier.

Woman Giving a Thumbs-up

Especially when you’re a foreigner in another country, you want to appear as friendly as possible when asking for directions, making small talk, or talking to strangers for any reason.

A great hack to achieve that is using filler words. That familiarity and spontaneity vibe creates comfort and attracts people to you.

Still, filler words aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Here are some of the cons of using fillers in Swedish.

B- Cons 

You’re considered hesitant.

Going for a job interview, speaking at a conference, or going to a professional meeting? Leaving filler words at the door would be your best bet if you don’t want to come off as hesitant.

It’s hard to sell, teach, or even just communicate your ideas to people when they find you hesitant and unsure about what you’re talking about.

You’re perceived as having low self-confidence.

Confident Woman

Having low self-confidence, even in normal day-to-day life, affects how people interact with you. 

People tend to respect those with great self-confidence, and excessive use of filler words doesn’t make that impression.

C- How to Substitute Filler Words

Not sure what to replace filler words with?

Shhhh.

You guessed it: Silence.

When you have nothing to say, simply say nothing. Use that in-between time to think of your next sentence. 

Staying silent might feel distracting at first, but it can start to feel normal with practice. You can train yourself to do this by tapping yourself on the leg whenever you hear yourself using a filler word.

4. Conclusion

Congratulations. You now know more about Swedish fillers than probably most learners out there. Which of these filler words did you like the most? And which filler words do you use most in your own language?

You now have a huge leg-up over other foreigners competing to integrate and get Swedes’ attention.

Want to have an even bigger leg-up? Try learning some more Swedish

Not sure where to start? Enter SwedishPod101.

Our platform provides you with thousands of digestible lessons in audio, video, and text formats, all incorporated with the most effective language learning features.

This includes flashcards, slideshows, word lists, slowed-down audio, voice-recording tools, and more.

You can instantly access all of this with a free sign-up here.

Happy Swedish learning!

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Impress Your Date: Phrases to Express Your Love in Swedish

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If you google “dating in Sweden,” you’ll get loads of negative results and failure stories:

“Swedes have no dating culture.”
“Swedes just hang out and never date.”
“Swedes stay in their circles.”

Considering the nation’s strong emphasis on gender equality, Swedish women tend to be less dependent on men compared to women in some other countries. In addition, government-supported childcare makes it easier for mothers to be self-dependent.

But that doesn’t mean romance is dead! In fact, Swedes are very warm and loyal once you’ve developed a bond with them. Learning how to express your love in Swedish will greatly benefit you, whether you’re fetching for something long-term (like marriage) or pining for a more short-term, no-strings-attached arrangement. Sweden is actually the perfect place to land a casual relationship, as this is what most Swedes are looking for. 

One of the best ways to win a Swede’s affection is to make an effort to learn their language, even if it’s only a few words and phrases. After all: 

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.

See a pattern there? 

Big effort for a big reward.

In this blog post, we’ll be covering the best expressions for picking up your Swede, dating them, or even getting married—not to mention everything in-between.

While most Swedes speak fluent English, it’s good to spice things up with some Swedish to show your partner how interested you really are. 

Without further ado, here are your 30+ Swedish love phrases.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-up Lines and More
  2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Endearment Terms
  5. Must-know Love Quotes
  6. Conclusion

1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-up Lines and More

A Couple Holding Hands and Smiling

All great things come from small beginnings. This means that your initial interaction needs skillful execution—no matter how small a gesture or phrase you use. And what’s a better execution than surprising your future date with some Swedish skills?

Before we get into the expressions below, it’s worth noting a few things about the dating culture in Sweden

Swedes are very outdoorsy people. As they like to say: Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder. / “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.” 

So you should expect your dates to take place somewhere like a bokskogen (beech tree forest) or by the seaside! It’s probably not going to be a boring date, especially if you bring some charcoal with you for a quick BBQ on one of the free park fire pits.

Alternatively, you might go for the typical Swedish snack break en fika to get coffee and a pastry. This should be your go-to option for a first date, especially if you haven’t met the person before.

It’s worth noting that after your first date, you’re expected to be exclusive. So, no dating around until you and your Swede decide to part ways.

Now that you have a good idea of how things work in Sweden, here are seven expressions to ask your Swede out. 

  • Do you want to go out on a date with me?
    Vill du gå på dejt med mig?

Swedes rarely make the first move, so you’ll probably have to do that for them. With Sweden being one of the best countries for gender equality, there are no unspoken gender roles. As such, you’ll likely be expected to make the first move even if you’re a woman.

  • Will you be my valentine? 
    Vill du bli min valentine?

Until recently, Valentine’s Day was largely overlooked in Sweden. But it’s continuously flourishing and becoming more important to the younger generation.

A fun fact is that Swedes have a unique name for Valentine’s Day. They call it alla hjärtans dag, which literally translates to “all hearts day.” It’s worth noting that Swedes pronounce the word “valentine” just as it’s pronounced in English. 

  • You mean so much to me.
    Du betyder så mycket för mig.

This sentence is great for affirming your appreciation for your partner, and it sends a clear sign of interest. You can use this sentence while hanging out or texting before you ask for a date.

  • I think of you as more than a friend. 
    Jag ser dig som mer än en vän.

Stuck in the friendzone and not sure how to get out? Text this sentence and see how far things will go. Worst case scenario is you’ll impress your desired date with your Swedish skills, even if they don’t feel the same way. 

  • I’ve got a crush on you. 
    Jag är förtjust i dig.

Looking for a crush confession text? Drop this phrase in your conversation and keep your fingers crossed. 

  • You’re so beautiful. 
    Du är så vacker.

Loving those Swedish features of your female date? You might wanna let her know before asking her out. 

  • You’re so handsome.
    Du är så snygg.

If you want your desired male date to know you’re into him, you might want to impress him with some Swedish and hope he asks you out!

2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More

A Man Holding a Heart Pillow in Grass

Swedes like to take things very slow. So falling in deeper may take more time than it’d normally take elsewhere. The following love phrases in Swedish might work wonders, but be sure to use them at the right moments and to not rush things.

I love you.
Jag älskar dig.

Words can’t describe my love for you. 
Ord kan inte beskriva min kärlek till dig.

If I know what love is, it is because of you.
Om jag vet vad kärlek är, då är det tack vare dig.

You mean so much to me.
Du betyder så mycket för mig.

You are my sunshine, my love.
Du är mitt solsken, min älskling.

A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you. 
Hundra hjärtan skulle vara för få för att bära all min kärlek till dig.

3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

Bouquet of Flowers

Let’s talk about marriage in Sweden.

Sweden is one of those places where people stay together and have children without ever getting married. Some Swedes find marriage to be unnecessary and out-dated, but that doesn’t mean that long-term relationships aren’t happening. 

But there are exceptions to every rule. If you’re dating a Swede, chances are they’d be more open to marriage and accepting of how you do things…

Will you marry me? 
Vill du gifta dig med mig?

I want to be with you forever. 
Jag vill vara tillsammans med dig för alltid.

We were meant to be together. 
Vi var menade att vara tillsammans.

I can’t imagine my life without you in it.
Jag kan inte tänka mig ett liv utan dig.

You are the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life. 
Du är den jag har väntat på hela mitt liv.

4. Endearment Terms

Intimate Couple Holding Hands

After you’ve established a relationship with your Swede, the perfect addition would be to start using a Swedish term of endearment to constantly remind your partner of what they mean to you. Here are six of the best Swedish endearment terms.

Love
Älskling

Dearie 
Raring

Dearest 
Käraste

My heart
Hjärtat

My all 
Mitt allt

Hottie  
Snygging

5. Must-know Love Quotes

Man and Woman on a Bike

After establishing a relationship, it may be worth getting a bit creative with how you express your love. And what better way to do so than by throwing in a few love quotes every now and then? Here are seven love quotes in Swedish to get you started.

“Love is like the wind; you can’t see it, but you can feel it.”
“Kärleken är som vinden, du kan inte se den, men du kan känna den.”

“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved is everything.”
“Att älska är ingenting. Att vara älskad är något. Men att älska och att vara älskad är allt.”

“Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop.” 
“Kärlek börjar med ett leende, växer med en kyss och slutar med en tår.”

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 
“Vi accepterar den kärlek vi tror vi förtjänar.”

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” 
“Ett kärleksfullt hjärta är den sannaste visdomen.”

“All you need is love.” 
“Allt du behöver är kärlek.”

“The best feeling is when you look at him and he is already staring.”
“Den bästa känslan är när du tittar på honom och han redan ser på dig.”

6. Conclusion

Congratulations on getting this far. I’d assume that you’re pretty serious about improving your Swedish skills, and that makes your odds of meeting an amazing Swede even higher.

Which of these Swedish love phrases was your favorite? Are you ready to try it out on your Swedish lover?

Want to learn even more beautiful Swedish vocabulary, like kyss mig (kiss me) or ge mig en kram (give me a hug)?

Enter the #1 online resource for learning Swedish: SwedishPod101.

With thousands of online lessons created by language experts, our platform offers an all-in-one system to take you from zero to hero in Swedish!

Our lessons are designed within the framework of a well-categorized system supported with proven learning techniques, such as online flashcards, slowed-down audio, and a voice comparison tool.

All of this and even more is available when you sign up for free on our website (no credit card needed).

And don’t just take my word for it—sign up now and see everything for yourself.

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Negation in Swedish: Learn How to Say No

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When learning a foreign language, it’s essential to have a lot of energy and positivity. After all, these are the qualities that will allow you to keep your spirits and your motivation up, and that will play a major role in reaching your language learning goals. 

This is why we would love to always be able to say yes!

But to master Swedish, you’ll also need to learn how to form negative sentences. Don’t worry, though, they’re only negative from a grammatical point of view. You can keep the positive vibe. 😉

In this article, you’ll learn about negation in Swedish: how to make a negative sentence, how to answer a yes-or-no question correctly, and how to use other useful negative expressions. 

We get it, saying no isn’t easy, especially for us people-pleasers…but it will be (at least from a language-learning perspective) after you finish reading this guide on Swedish negatives.

So, let’s waste no more time. Ready to start looking at how to say no and form negative sentences in Swedish?

A Woman Holding White Cards with Yes and No on Them
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Negative Sentences
  2. How to Give a Negative Answer to a Question
  3. Other Negative Words
  4. How Our Website Can Help

1. Negative Sentences

Negative sentences are those that state that something did not happen or is not true, or in the case of imperatives, they tell someone not to do something. In the English language, for example, we form negative sentences by adding the word “not” after an auxiliary verb (do, have, be, etc.).

  • Dave is not happy. 
  • We did not go to work today. 

Negations and negative expressions are a key component of any language. Imagine not being able to transform a positive sentence into a negative one…everyday life would get pretty interesting (and not in a good way!).

To avoid misunderstandings or other undesirable situations, it’s essential to learn how to build negative sentences in Swedish. Don’t worry, though, it’s actually quite easy and there are just a few rules you’ll need to remember.

A Family Doing Snow Activities During Winter Vacation

We did not go to work today.

Inte

The main word we use to make a positive sentence negative in Swedish is inte, which is a rough equivalent of the English word “not.”

Therefore, to make a positive sentence negative, we just need to insert the word inte. Easy enough, right? 

  • Jag studerar svenska. (I am studying Swedish.)
    Jag studerar inte svenska. (I am not studying Swedish.)
  • Han är här. (He is here.)
    Han är inte här. (He is not here.)

This construction is very simple and easy to use, don’t you think?

The only thing to take into account is where to put inte, so let’s see. 

Where to put inte in a sentence

As you could probably discern from the examples above, in a basic present-tense sentence, inte goes after the subject and the verb: 

  • Jag talar. (I speak.)
    Jag talar inte. (I don’t speak.)
  • Han skriver. (He writes.)
    Han skriver inte. (He doesn’t write.)
  • Vi ler. (We smile.)
    Vi ler inte. (We don’t smile.)

In compound tenses, however, which are tenses that have an auxiliary or helping verb as well as a main verb (like “I have been” in English), inte goes between the auxiliary and the main verb. Have a look at the following examples:

  • Jag har studerat svenska. (I have studied Swedish.)
    Jag har inte studerat svenska. (I have not studied Swedish.)
  • Jag har läst boken. (I have read the book.)
    Jag har inte läst boken. (I have not read the book.)
  • Hon hade öppnat dörren. (She had opened the door.)
    Hon hade inte öppnat dörren. (She had not opened the door.)

If the word order is reversed, for example in a question, inte will go after the main subject of the verb:

  • Gör han det? (Is he doing that?)
    Gör han inte det? (Isn’t he doing that?)
  • Har han gjort det? (Has he done that?)
    Har han inte gjort det? (Has he not done that?)

2. How to Give a Negative Answer to a Question

In general, questions can be divided into two groups: open-ended questions and closed-ended questions. A closed-ended question is usually one you can answer with a “yes” or “no,” without having to give any explanation. 

Let’s see how to answer these.

Chocolate Truffles

Do you like candy?

In English, we say: “Yes, I do,” or “No, I don’t.” After that, you’re free to give an explanation if you would like.

Logically, to respond to a yes-or-no question in Swedish (ja/nej-fråga), we also start with a yes (ja) or a no (nej). 

As in English, many students learn to answer this type of question by simply repeating the words in the question:

  • Gillar du godis? (Do you like candy?)
    Ja, jag gillar godis. (Yes, I like candy.)
    Nej, jag gillar inte godis. (No, I do not like candy.)

As you progress in your learning, however, this might become boring and repetitive—and let’s be honest, no native speaker uses this structure!

Det in Swedish

So, to be more natural, you could learn how to use the word det. It’s quite simple: Just place det after your ja or nej, add a verb, add a subject (and, if it’s a negative answer, inte). This will sound in Swedish like the English “Yes, I do,” or “No, I don’t.”

  • Har du en hund? (Do you have a dog?)
    Ja det har jag. (Yes, I do.)
  • Är du full? (Are you drunk?)
    Nej det är jag inte. (No, I am not.)

Pretty easy, right? It doesn’t end here, though. With the verbs är and har in the question, we can just reuse the same verb in the answer. But these are exceptions. With the majority of other verbs, when we respond, we’ll have to replace the verb used in the question with the verb göra (to do) and maintain the same structure with det:

  • Känner du honom? (Do you know him?)
    Ja, det gör jag. (Yes, I do.)
  • Kör du bil? (Do you drive?)
    Nej, det gör jag inte. (No, I do not.)

3. Other Negative Words

Of course, knowing how to use inte in all types of sentences is a good start, but there’s a lot more to learn about Swedish negation. 

Let’s see the most commonly used negative expressions in Swedish and how to use them with some example sentences. 

No / Nej

This simply means “no” and, as we just saw, can be used as a negative answer.

  • Nej, jag har inga pengar med mig. (No, I have no money with me.)

A Woman Trying to Find Money in Her Money Purse

No, I have no money with me.

Nothing / Ingenting

  • Jag gör ingenting. (I’m doing nothing.)

Sometimes, you’ll also find the word inget translated as “nothing.”

Not yet / Inte än

This expression also exists in the forms inte ännu and ännu inte. All three are correct. The word order to use with these is simple: inte (x) än, inte (x) ännu, and ännu inte (x).

  • Klockan är inte fem än. (It’s not five yet.)
  • Klockan är inte fem ännu. (It’s not five yet.)

No one / Ingen

Ingen can be used to say “no,” as in: 

  • Jag har ingen bil. (I have no car.)

Or as a pronoun that means “no one,” “nobody,” or “none.”

  • Ingen har någonsin sprungit 100 meter på under nio sekunder! (No one has ever run 100 meters in under nine seconds!)

The form inget, which is neuter, can also be used in the same way to talk about inanimate objects.

Never / Aldrig

  • Jag har aldrig sett det förr. (I’ve never seen that before.)
  • Mauro ljuger aldrig. (Mauro never lies.)

As you can see in the examples above, this word behaves like inte when it comes to word order. It goes after the verb in simple sentences, and in between the auxiliary and main verb when using compound verbs.

An Old Man Shrugging His Shoulders

I don’t know!

And, before we wrap up, here are some more negative sentences you might find useful if you’re learning Swedish! Don’t be scared of using them whenever you need them. 

  • We do not understand.
    Vi förstår inte.
  • I can’t remember the word.
    Jag kan inte komma ihåg ordet.
  • No problem!
    Inga problem!
  • Don’t worry!
    Oroa dig inte!
  • I don’t know!
    Jag vet inte!
  • I’m not fluent in Swedish yet.
    Jag pratar inte flytande svenska ännu.
  • I do not speak Swedish.
    Jag pratar inte svenska.

4. How Our Website Can Help

If you’re interested in learning more Swedish grammar and vocab, check out all the great content available on SwedishPod101.com. Here, you’ll have access to all the resources you need to make your language-learning adventure as interesting and motivating as possible. 

You’ll be able to: improve your listening skills with podcasts and audio lessons; work on gradually building your vocabulary with word lists, dictionaries, and phrasebooks; and learn great strategies from language experts on how to best approach the study of the Swedish language.

If you’re learning Swedish with plans of traveling in Scandinavia, don’t miss our travel Survival Course. Being able to understand and communicate in Swedish will not only help you be safe during your stay abroad, but it will also give you amazing and unique opportunities to connect with the locals, making your adventure even more unforgettable. 

We surely hope that you’ll be able to say yes to all the invitations and opportunities you’ll encounter… But, well, at least now you can negate sentences and say “no” correctly and politely in Swedish, just in case. 

And, if you’re learning Swedish for work or study reasons, make the commitment and start using our website with all its incredible resources designed to help you practice and improve every day. Our content will help you keep your motivation up so that you can reach your Swedish learning goals as quickly as possible!

Before you go, we would love to hear from you. Do you feel confident in your ability to use negation in Swedish, or do you still have questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you!

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Why learn Swedish? Here are 10 great reasons.

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Are you wondering why so many people now choose to study Swedish? Or maybe you’ve started studying this beautiful language yourself, and need some extra motivation to keep you going on your language-learning journey…

Either way, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll answer the question, “Why learn Swedish?” and discover all the benefits and advantages learning Swedish can bring into your everyday life.

Gotland, Sweden

Did you know, for example, that Swedish is the key to having easier access to all Scandinavian languages? This is because Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian are mutually intelligible, which means speakers of one language have little trouble understanding speakers of the others

If you’re a language-lover (or an admirer of all things Scandinavian), learning Swedish is the best way to start! 

So, let’s look at the main reasons to learn Swedish and discuss how speaking a foreign language will bring amazing benefits to your life.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
  2. Personal and Professional Benefits
  3. Is it Easy?
  4. The Fastest Way to Learn Swedish

1. Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

In today’s world, it’s becoming more and more common to study a foreign language. Further, science is proving that doing so will not only impact your life on a personal and professional level, but it can also improve your health and general wellbeing.

In this light, let’s look at our first three reasons to learn Swedish (or any other foreign language, for that matter!). 

Reason 1: It will open your mind.

Spending time studying an unfamiliar alphabet, practicing different sounds, and generally striving to master a foreign language like Swedish has proven to have a positive effect on the learner’s mind.

People who are bilingual are often more open-minded, creative, and approachable compared to those who only speak one language. This is because, by learning a new language, one not only picks up new skills and abilities, but also develops new tastes and sensibilities that will change the way they see and interact with the world. 

Being able to speak more than one language will make you more aware of other cultures and customs as well as more open to understanding different lifestyles and ideas. 

Basically, studying Swedish (or another language!) will make you a better version of yourself, and add new layers and nuances to your personality and the way you experience life. Sounds like a good personal investment, doesn’t it?

Reason 2: You’ll gain access to a whole new world.

Not many people realize that speaking another language not only allows one to communicate with a whole new portion of the world population, but it also opens up new content in all fields. 

Knowing Swedish, you’ll be able to enjoy a whole new world of movies, books, recipes, and anything else that you’re interested in!

Diving into your hobbies in the language you’re learning is also a great way to practice and keep your motivation high for reaching your language learning goals. 

Are you a literature-lover? Reading books in their original version will be priceless! 

Do you love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen? Just head to a Swedish food blog and surprise your friends with a Scandinavian-inspired dinner…all while practicing and learning about the Swedish language and culture! 

And the list is endless, so go on and explore all the new content that’s now available to you thanks to your new language skills!

Reason 3: It will improve your brain health.

As we mentioned above, learning a foreign language improves creativity and can make you more approachable and open-minded…but it doesn’t end there! Many studies are now showing that it also enhances problem-solving abilities and multitasking skills, and being multilingual can go as far as delaying the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia by years.

White Sketch of a Brain against a Black Background

If you want your brain to be healthy, just choose a foreign language you’d like to study and get on with it. It’s really that simple. 

Bilingual people have proven to be more logical, perceptive, and aware of their surroundings, and science is now proving that thinking in more than one language may increase our number of neural pathways. This means that we’ll be able to process information better and more efficiently.

What are you still waiting for? Learning Swedish will actually improve your brain health and function!

2. Personal and Professional Benefits

If you’re looking for more concrete, short-term reasons to learn Swedish, don’t fret: There are many more coming. In fact, learning a foreign language like Swedish will give you great advantages after just a few months of studying… Here’s how!

Reason 4: Learning Swedish will give you more travel opportunities.

Of course, many people want to be able to communicate in Swedish to travel to…well, Sweden.

Sure, Swedes usually speak good English and you can get by visiting their country without knowing a word of Swedish. However, personal experience has taught me that being able to communicate with the locals in their native language is always better.

Helsingborg, Sweden

Not only will you be able to travel safely and without misunderstandings, but you’ll also delight in unique experiences and adventures that you would probably miss out on only knowing English. Trust me, if you’re planning to travel in or move to Sweden, knowing even just some words in the language will make your trip even more unforgettable. 

Plus, remember that knowing Swedish will make it easier to travel around Scandinavia in general, and not just in Sweden!

Reason 5: It will come in handy for life and business.

Sweden is one of the world’s top-rated places to live. And with free healthcare, free (and great!) education for all ages, and high salaries, it’s no wonder why. 

In the past few years, many expats have decided to call Stockholm home and have no regrets. It goes without saying that, if you’re thinking of joining their ranks, learning Swedish is a must.

Business People Discussing Something in a Business Meeting

If you’re not quite ready to move to Sweden just yet, but would like to start a business here (or anywhere in Northern Europe), it’s still important to be able to communicate with the local communities in their native language. 

It will not only make things easier, but it will also show your drive and willingness to learn in order to make your business take off. 

Reason 6: You’ll be better able to dive into the culture.

If you visit or live in Sweden, not speaking the language will always leave you feeling somehow left out. 

Only by learning how to understand and speak Swedish will you really be able to dive into the culture and become part of the local community. Your life will literally change once you start learning Swedish, and for the better!

As they say, language is a window into culture. Speaking Swedish will certainly help you understand the people who speak it natively, their history, and their customs on a deeper level—knowledge that would not be accessible to you if you only spoke English! 

Reason 7: It will help you be a bridge between cultures.

If, like many of us, you want to work towards creating a more connected and understanding world, being able to speak Swedish will allow you to use your skills as a bridge between cultures

Nowadays, the world is in great need of people who can help others understand different ways of life and habits, and being bilingual is the perfect way to help fill that missing connection.

3. Is it Easy?

Actually, the answer is yes! You didn’t expect this, did you? 

If you still aren’t sure why to learn Swedish, consider the fact that doing so will be a great investment of your time and your efforts will be rewarded quickly.

Reason 8: It’s easy to pick up.

If you’re a native English speaker (or a non-native speaker who knows the language quite well), you’re in luck. Swedish is quite an easy language to pick up for us Anglophones.  

The two languages share a similar structure, grammar, and even a good percentage of vocabulary from the same roots. After all, both Swedish and English are Germanic languages, and so are Norwegian and Danish. Which brings up our next reason… 

Reason 9: It will make learning other languages easier.

As we already mentioned, Swedish will open the doors to a much easier experience learning Norwegian and Danish. If you’re planning to learn any other Scandinavian languages, Swedish is a great place to start. 

However, the benefits of studying Swedish don’t end there: The skills you learn when learning a foreign language can easily be applied to any other language, even if it’s a completely different one.

Reason 10: The internet and technology make it so easy.

A Laptop and Several Tablets

Imagine deciding to learn Swedish even just 30 years ago. You would have to go look for a bookshop specialized in language learning and buy at least a few pounds worth of books. 

Nowadays, things are different. The internet and technology have revolutionized how we study and practice foreign languages, and it’s now easier than ever to access all kinds of content, wherever you are in the world. 

So, take advantage of the amazing times we live in and start learning Swedish today!

4. The Fastest Way to Learn Swedish

Speaking of high-quality and accessible language learning content, make sure you visit SwedishPod101.com if you’re studying Swedish. 

Here, you’ll find audio and video lessons for all levels, incredibly useful vocabulary lists, and all kinds of resources to help you become fluent faster. 

If your plan is to travel around Sweden, don’t miss our travel survival course, which will allow you to make the most of your trip and remain safe while abroad.

On the other hand, if you’re committed and want to become an advanced Swedish speaker—whether for professional or personal reasons—make the commitment and start studying and practicing with us every day for excellent resources and expert language learning tips and strategies. 

Before you go, we would love to hear from you. How close are you to a decision about Swedish? Do you still have any questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out!

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Verb Tenses in Swedish: All You Need to Know

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Ever thought to yourself: What is a verb? 

In addition to nouns, verbs are one of the most important parts of any sentence. They are the words we use to talk about actions (sjunga – sing), states of being (existera – exist), or occurrences (utveckla – develop), and they have to agree with the subject, which is who or what performs the action described. 

Basically, all sentences need a verb to be complete, and this is why it’s so important to get them right when studying a foreign language! 

Gothenburg in Sweden

Verbs and tenses in Swedish are actually not as complicated to learn as those of other languages—and in this article, you’ll find out why. We’ll look at how to form the main tenses in Swedish and discuss when to use each one; by the end, you’ll be able to use Swedish verbs with no problems!

This lesson is not going to be complicated or grammar-heavy at all, and we’ll explain each concept thoroughly so that you can easily grasp them and put them to good use throughout your Swedish language-learning journey.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. The Use of Tenses in Swedish
  2. Presens
  3. Past
  4. I futurum
  5. Hjälpverb
  6. Swedish Tenses: A Summary

1. The Use of Tenses in Swedish

Verb tenses are used to express when an action takes place. As you know, there are three main concepts involved here: the present, the past, and the future

In Swedish, there are five main tenses: one to express events in the present, three for the past (the past perfect, the past imperfect, the pluperfect), and different ways to express actions and occurrences that have not yet happened in the future.

Let’s have a look at these Swedish-language tenses in detail.

A Timer against a White Background

2. Presens 

The present tense (presens in Swedish) is used to talk about events that are happening at the moment of speaking, routines, and events in the near future. In Swedish, there’s only one present tense form, which corresponds to both the simple present (I eat) and the present continuous (I am eating) in English.

The Swedish present tense is formed by taking the stem of the verb (which is also the imperative form) and adding -r to it: 

  • tala (speak)
    STEM: tala 
    PRESENT: talar 

If the stem of the verb ends in a consonant, then we add -er to it: 

  • stänga (close)
    STEM: stäng 
    PRESENT: stänger 

There is no extra -r after stems that end in -r:

  • lära (learn)
    STEM: lär 
    PRESENT: lär

Note that Swedish verbs only have one ending, which remains the same for all personal pronouns: Regardless of whether the subject is jag (I), hon (she), or de (they), the ending remains -r!

Personal PronounTala (Speak)Stänga (Close)
Jag (I)talarstänger
Du (You) [s]talarstänger
Han / Hon (He / She)talarstänger
Vi (We)talarstänger
Ni (You) [p]talarstänger
De (They)talarstänger

3. Past

There are three Swedish past tenses: the preteritum (past imperfect), the perfekt (present perfect), and the pluskvamperfekt (past perfect). Let’s have a look at when to use each one and how to form them!

A- Preteritum

The preterite (or imperfect) tense is used to talk about an event that happened in the past and is now over. 

Often, but not always, Swedes specify this by using an expression of time: igår (yesterday), förra veckan (last week), under 1702 (in 1702), på 1600-talet (in the seventeenth century), etc. 

Let’s learn the rules for forming the preterite (remember, Swedish verbs take the same ending for each person/subject):

  • For stems (imperatives) that end in a vowel or in most consonants, we just need to add a -de. Imperative + -de = Preteritum. If the stem ends with double -nn or -mm, we remove one and add -de (e.g. känna – feel).

Sluta → Slutade (Stop Stopped)
Krama → Kramade (Hug Hugged)
Stanna → Stannade (Stay Stayed)
Ring → Ringde (Call Called)
Känn → Kände (Feel Felt)
Följ → Följde (Follow Followed)

  • If the stem ends in a k, p, s, or t, we add a -te instead of a -de.
    Imperative + -te = Preteritum.

Tänk → Tänkte (Think Thought)
Köp → Köpte (Buy Bought)
Läs → Läste (Read Read)
Byt → Bytte (Change Changed)

  • With short verbs, we add -dde. For example: Imperative + -dde = Preteritum.

Tro → Trodde (Believe Believed)
Bo → Bodde (Live Lived)
Klä → Klädde (Dress Dressed)

  • And finally, there are irregular verbs. At least you’ll only have to remember one form!  

Exceptions:

Skriv → Skrev (Write Wrote)
Drick → Drack (Drink Drank)
Var → Var (Be Was)
Gör → Gjorde (Do Did)Ha → Hade (Have Had)

A Man on His Laptop on the Bus

To write

B- Perfekt 

In Swedish, the present perfect tense is similar to its English equivalent. It’s used to talk about actions and events that started sometime in the past and might or might not still be happening now.  

With this tense, we can use an expression of time that does not refer to a specific moment in the past—redan (already), tidigare (earlier), nyss (recently)—or one that refers to a time that isn’t over yet, like i dag (today), den här veckan (this week), or i år (this year).

This tense consists of two parts: the verb har (have) and the past participle of the verb you’re using. 

To form the past participle, just add a -t to the verb stem (imperative form).

For example:

Sluta → Slutat (Stop Stopped)
Krama → Kramat (Hug Hugged)
Stanna → Stannat (Stay Stayed)
Ring → Ringt (Call Called)

Of course, there are irregular verbs that you’ll have to learn by heart (just as there are in English!).

Once you have the past participle, you can form the perfect tense with the verb har:

  • Jag har talat…
    I have spoken… 
  • Du har slutat…
    You have stopped…

C- Pluskvamperfekt 

This tense is used to talk about an action that was completed before another event or action in the past, just like the past perfect in English: He had gone when I arrived.

To form it, we simply take the past participle of the verb and add the past tense form of the verb har: hade (to have, had). 

  • Jag hade talat…
    I had spoken… 
  • Du hade slutat…
    You had stopped…

Have a look at the table below, where you’ll find examples of the perfekt and pluskvamperfekt.

Personal PronounPresent Perfect: Har Past Perfect: HadeTala (To speak)
Jag (I)harhadetalat
Du (You) [s]harhadetalat
Han / Hon (He / She)harhadetalat
Vi (We)harhadetalat
Ni (You) [p]harhadetalat
De (They)harhadetalat

A Woman Speaking in Front of People

I had spoken.

4. I futurum

As we already mentioned, it’s quite common to use the present tense (usually together with an expression of time indicating the future) to talk about future actions or events.

That said, there are also other ways of expressing it: 

  • tänker (implies the intention of the subject) + INFINITIVE

    Vi tänker flyga hem.
    We’re intending to fly home.
  • ska (implies a stronger intention of the subject or someone else) + INFINITIVE

    Jag ska resa till Amerika i höst.
    I’m going to America in the fall.
  • kommer att (used for prediction, no intention implied) + INFINITIVE

    Du kommer att tycka om min vän.
    You will like my friend.

5. Hjälpverb

Auxiliary verbs, or “helping verbs,” are used a lot in the Swedish language. They “help” the main verb describe an action or a state in a particular aspect. In English, the main auxiliary verbs are “to be,” “to do,” and “to have,” but there are also “will,” “shall,” “can,” etc. 

In Swedish, these verbs are often irregular, so here’s a table with their conjugations!

 InfinitivImperativPresensPreterirumSupinum
 INFINITIVEIMPERATIVEPRESENTPAST TENSEPAST PARTICIPLE
OUGHT TOAtt böra. . .BörBordeBort
MAYAtt få. . .FårFickFått
HAVEAtt ha. . .HarHadeHaft
CANAtt kunna. . . KanKundeKunnat
WILL, SHALLAtt skola. . .SkaSkulleSkolat
WILL, WANTAtt vilja. . .VillVilleVelat
MUST. . .. . .MåsteMåste. . .
NEED Att behövaBehövBehöverBehövdeBehövt
USED TOAtt brukaBrukaBrukarBrukadeBrukat
STARTAtt börjaBörjaBörjarBörjadeBörjat

Remember, these verbs are used with the infinitive form of the main verb:

  • Jag kan tala.
    I can speak.
  • Hon ska tala.            
    She will speak.
  • Han vill inte tala.      
    He does not want to speak. 
  • Vi behöver tala.       
    We need to speak.

A Couple Talking about Something Serious

We need to speak.

6. Swedish Tenses: A Summary

We hope that this short article was of help to you in gaining some insight into Swedish tenses and how to use them to talk about the past, present, and future!

As we’ve seen, learning how to use verbs and verb tenses in Swedish is actually quite simple! All you need to learn is one ending for all personal pronouns…and some irregular verbs! Not too complicated, after all!

If you want to learn more about verbs and have access to much more Swedish learning material and info, visit SwedishPod101.com. Here, you’ll find lessons for learners at every level, grammar explanations, word lists, a Swedish-English dictionary, and much more

So what are you waiting for? Start learning and practicing Swedish with us, and you’ll start to improve every day until you’ve mastered the use of Swedish verbs and tenses! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about Swedish tenses. More confident, or do you still have questions? We’d be glad to help!

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How Long Will it Take to Learn Swedish?

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Learning to understand, speak, and think in a different language is an amazing and fulfilling process. When we learn a foreign language, not only do we add a new skill to our repertoire, but we also change the very way we see and think about the world and our relationship to it. 

If you’re considering taking up Swedish, you’ve likely asked these questions at some point: How long will it take to learn Swedish? And is it worth the commitment?

We’ll get to the first question in a bit. As for the second question: Absolutely! 

Did you know, for example, that if you learn Swedish you’ll also be able to understand Norwegian and Danish? This will open up the whole Scandinavian world to you! Three languages for the price of one! 

Language lovers would all like to spend endless days learning Swedish and all its nuances… But, nowadays, time is money and the reality of our world can be quite different.

An Hourglass Against a Dark Background

We all instinctively look for the fastest and easiest ways to learn, so that we can start practicing and using our new skills early on to find a better job, travel, or communicate with a friend or loved one.  

It would be great if we could know, right from the start, exactly how long it takes to learn a language. This way, we would be able to make long-term plans and know what to expect. However, the reality is that there isn’t one best way to learn and there’s certainly no set timetable for learning Swedish! 

Everyone learns according to their experience, time, and motivation. How quickly you learn will depend on many other factors, too. 

Let’s have a look at these factors and discuss how to take advantage of this knowledge to start learning as fast as possible.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Experience
  2. Learning Style
  3. Approach
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?
  5. How Our Website Can Help

Experience

One of the most important things to take into consideration is your general experience with languages. 

The Language(s) You Speak

What’s your native language? And what other languages do you know? 

Yes, this will actually be a defining aspect of how quickly you’ll be able to pick up Swedish. 

If you’re a native or near-native English speaker, you’re in luck! Swedish and English actually share the same roots, and their grammar and sentence structure are pretty similar! It gets even better if you already speak Dutch, German, and obviously, Danish or Norwegian. 

If you’re a native speaker of a Semitic language such as Arabic, on the other hand, it might be a little trickier—but all the more challenging and rewarding! So, don’t be discouraged. Just be aware that your native English friends might just have a bit of a headstart…it doesn’t mean they’ll learn it better than you! 

Your Previous Language Learning Experience

Another essential aspect to consider is your previous experience in the field of language learning

Have you ever learned a foreign language before?

If you already speak a foreign language fluently, or were brought up bilingual, you’ll likely be able to learn Swedish faster than other people. Many studies and research have now proven that bilingual people find it easier to study and learn a third language, as they’re naturally more accustomed to being exposed to different languages. 

Even if you’re not bilingual, having studied and learned a foreign language at any point in your life will probably help. This is because your language-learning mind is already used to memorizing words and rules, as well as looking at different letters and symbols—a definite advantage!

Basically, having skills in one language will help you gain fluency in another language (even if the two languages are totally different)!

Your Previous Grammar Knowledge

One of the first steps to take when you’re learning a foreign language is to discover and study how it’s built and how it works. This usually means learning and understanding its structure and grammar. 

If you have some previous experience studying grammar and syntax, even if only in your own language, it will be much easier and faster for you to study the syntax and grammar of a foreign language. 

So, if you’re planning to start learning Swedish, it’s a good idea to have some grammar foundations to build your knowledge on! 

Learning Style

The way you study and learn is another essential factor in how long it takes to learn Swedish.

A Man Who Aced His Essay

Your Methods

If you limit your learning to a classroom setting, it will surely take you a little longer to learn and start using your language skills with confidence in the real world. Here’s how to learn the Swedish language faster: Expose yourself to Swedish outside the classroom! This will shave quite a few hours off your required learning time.

Pick up the habit of reading Swedish newspapers, watching films and series in Swedish, and listening to Swedish podcasts while you drive or cook. It will help. Of course, finding a conversation partner to practice with will also go a long way toward achieving fluency faster.

Your Time

There’s another aspect we haven’t mentioned yet, even though it’s actually the most important determining factor in how long it takes to learn Swedish: The time you put into it!

If you want to learn quickly, you should dedicate as much time to studying as you possibly can. 

Ideally, you’ll want to practice daily. Research has shown that students who dedicate at least an hour a day to language learning—whether studying grammar, memorizing words, watching a series, or reading a book—end up learning significantly faster than those who don’t stick to a daily schedule.

And if it’s an option for you, full-immersion learning is the best method. If you can travel to Sweden and live there for a short (or long) while, that will change everything!

Approach

Learning to speak Swedish will be a much easier, more fluid process if you take the right approach. Here’s what I mean…

Your Motivation

It’s no secret: Staying motivated is an essential aspect of learning a new language. What are your reasons for learning Swedish?

Have these reasons clear in your mind, and set weekly (or even daily) goals for maximum efficiency. Keeping your reasons in mind will help you stay motivated and interested in learning this beautiful language every day! 

Your Attitude

Keeping your spirits and motivation up will make your language learning more effective, and it will help you get through the tough times with a positive attitude

The secret is to see studying as a fun and interesting activity…something you’re choosing to do, rather than something you’re forced to do. 

A Woman Lifting Her Arms in Joy

Remember: Knowing a foreign language will open your mind and your horizons, and it will give you a great set of skills to use in your daily and professional life. 

When you think about it this way, you’ll always be motivated to learn something new every day. This will make the process not only more enjoyable, but also much faster! 

How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?

So, let’s get to the point. 

How long does it take an English speaker to learn Swedish?

Following is a quick guide on how long it might take to reach a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level of Swedish. Keep in mind that these numbers are just estimates, and exact times will vary based on the factors we described above. 

Beginner

As a Swedish beginner, you’ll be able to introduce yourself, understand slow spoken language, and ask basic questions (probably making some mistakes along the way). 

If your goal is to be able to greet people, order a meal at the restaurant, have some basic reading skills, and understand sentences pronounced slowly and carefully, this level is probably sufficient.

You’ll be able to do all these things with just about 180-200 hours of Swedish classes (to reach levels B1-B2). This means that if you’re motivated and willing to put in 10-15 hours a week, you could travel to Sweden without any worries in just over 3 months.

So get studying and you’ll soon be having some basic conversations!

The City of Gotland in Sweden

Intermediate

Once you reach an intermediate level, you’ll be able to understand everyday conversations (when spoken clearly), even if you have to ask some questions to keep up. This level will also allow you to read and watch the news and other videos with few problems. If you’re traveling, you’ll be able to ask for and follow directions with no problem and you’ll also be able to enjoy basic interactions with locals about familiar subjects. 

We estimate that, to achieve an intermediate level of Swedish, you’ll need about 350 hours of study. This means that, if you dedicate around 15 hours a week to practicing your Swedish, you’ll be able to get to this level in just 6 months! 

Advanced

If you’re setting out to achieve fluency, this is what you’re aiming for. Once you have advanced language skills, you’ll be able to deal with any kind of situation that may arise in your daily life abroad or while traveling. You should also be able to have long and detailed conversations with native speakers. You’ll be able to enjoy watching movies and reading books in Swedish with no problem. 

In other words, you’ll be fluent. (Even if there’s always something new to learn about this intricate and beautifully complex language!)

A Woman Reading a Book Outside

According to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI), you’ll need about 750 hours of study to become fluent in Swedish. This means that if you dedicate 12-15 hours a week to studying, you’ll be able to speak like a pro in just a year! 

If this seems like a long time, take into account that harder languages like Japanese or Arabic may take up to 2200 hours—three times as long as Swedish! 

How Our Website Can Help

So, what are you waiting for? The perfect time to start learning a foreign language is now! 

The sooner you start learning, the faster you’ll achieve your language goals and start speaking Swedish.

If you want to keep motivated and make your language learning adventure as easy as possible, check out the content on SwedishPod101.com. Here, you’ll find all kinds of language learning materials: vocabulary lists, lessons for all levels, dictionaries, blog posts, and more.

As we explained, how long it takes to learn Swedish really just depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in learning. Our online Swedish courses and resources are designed specifically to give you all the right tools to learn the language as quickly and easily as possible. Make sure that your precious time is well-spent!

Whether you’re a beginner learner who wants a survival course or an advanced speaker who’s looking to refine your skills, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Before you go, we’re curious: How likely are you to start learning Swedish after reading this article? Feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns—we’ll be glad to help you out the best we can!

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Speak Like a Native: 30 Swedish Proverbs and Idioms

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Proverbs are popular sayings that provide a little dose of wisdom, a truth that is sometimes so obvious it’s overlooked. 

Can you think of a proverb in your native language that touched you in an important moment of your life?

Well, I can think of one: “There is no time like the present.” So let’s get to it!

Proverbs add versatility and color to our spoken language, so today we’ll introduce you to the thirty most common Swedish proverbs. Using any one of these at just the right moment is sure to impress native speakers!

If you really want your language skills to shine, knowing proverbs in the Swedish language is a great way to start. And of course, it will also help you better fit in with Swedes and gain a deeper understanding of their culture!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Funny Swedish Proverbs
  2. Swedish Proverbs About Life
  3. Practical Swedish Proverbs
  4. Swedish Proverbs Shared with English
  5. Conclusion

1. Funny Swedish Proverbs

As they say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” How true! So let’s start by having a look at some humorous Swedish proverbs and sayings that Swedes often use to express their wisdom (and their wit)… Surprise native speakers with these funny axioms! 

1. Ingen ko på isen.

  • Literal translation: There’s no cow on the ice.

A cow on the ice would definitely be something to worry about! This one doesn’t really have an English equivalent, but it’s simply a way of saying “Don’t worry.” 

2. Sitta med skägget i brevlådan

  • Literal translation: To sit with your beard in the letterbox
  • English equivalent: To be caught with your hands in the cookie jar

Change “hands” to “beard,” and “cookie jar” to “letter box,” and there you have it. In either case, you’ve been caught doing something dishonest.

3. Det ligger en hund begraven.

  • Literal translation: There’s a dog buried.
  • English equivalent: Something smells fishy.

This one just means that there’s something fishy going on. 

4. Att ana ugglor i mossen

  • Literal translation: To suspect there are owls in the bog
  • English equivalent: To smell a rat

This is another way to describe the sensation of knowing something’s wrong. Even fishier than a buried dog!

A Brown-and-white Speckled Owl

5. Finns det hjärterum så finns det stjärterum.

  • Literal translation: If there’s room in the heart, there’s room for the arse.

Where there’s friendship, there’s always space for one more. You can also use it to mean, “Move over, I wanna fit on the sofa!”

6. Inte skottat ända fram

If you’re “not shoveled all the way,” it means you’re really not the smartest.

Someone Clearing Snow from Their Driveway

7. Göra en höna av en fjäder

  • Literal translation: To make a chicken out of a feather
  • English equivalent: To make a mountain out of a molehill

This idiom refers to the act of making something unimportant seem very important. 

8. Köp inte grisen i säcken.

  • Literal translation: Don’t buy the pig in the bag.
  • English equivalent: To buy a pig in a poke 

Don’t buy something without having inspected it first. This proverb is also a warning against rash decisions.

2. Swedish Proverbs About Life

You know those sayings that make you feel all fuzzy inside, and leave you with a lovely feeling of knowing what life’s all about? Well, Swedes have quite a few of those! 

These Swedish proverbs about life will make your heart melt like an icicle in front of a fire.  

9. Rädsla mindre, hoppas mer; Ät mindre, tugga mer; Gnälla mindre, andas mer; Prata mindre, säg mer, Älska mer, och alla goda ting kommer att bli din.

  • Literal translation: “Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more; and all good things are yours.”

This one is pretty self-explanatory, if a bit long! Basically, it says that a great life boils down to relaxing, not worrying, and not being greedy.

10. Älska mig mest när jag förtjänar det minst för då behöver jag det bäst.

  • Literal translation: “Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.”

Again, pretty clear, yet poetic. Use this phrase if you’re dating a Swede and they’ll be impressed!

A Couple Having a Disagreement

11. De som önskar att sjunga hittar alltid en låt.

  • Literal translation: Those who wish to sing, always find a song.
  • English equivalent: To make one’s own luck

If you really want something, you’ll find a way to get it. 

12. Ett liv utan kärlek är som ett år utan sommar.

  • Literal translation: A life without love is like a year without summer.

I mean, imagine a year in Sweden with no summer. That’s how important love is in life. You can definitely see how much Swedes love their summers!

13. Oro ger små saker en stor skugga.

  • Literal translation: Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.

This is a beautiful way of saying, “Don’t worry.” Much more poetic than the cow on ice, if you ask me. 😉

Two People Walking in the Dark, Casting Shadows

14. Borta bra, men hemma bäst.

  • Literal translation: Away is good, but home is best.
  • English equivalent: Home sweet home. 

This phrase is usually said after spending some time away from home

15. Ibland kan man inte se skogen på grund av alla träd.

  • Literal translation: Sometimes you cannot see the forest because of all the trees.

This is something along the lines of a certain Zen proverb: “When the sage points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.” Look beyond, and see the bigger picture!

A Forest with Many Trees

16. Delad glädje är dubbel glädje; delad sorg är halverad sorg.

  • Literal translation: Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

Always share with your loved ones, both in joy and in sorrow. 

3. Practical Swedish Proverbs

There are sentimental truths about life, like the ones we just looked at. And then there are practical truths, like “a watched pot never boils” (I’ve tried, it’s a real thing!). 

So let’s dive into some practical Swedish sayings that will make our lives easier!

17. Det bästa stället att hitta en hjälpande hand är i slutet av din egen arm.

  • Literal translation: The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm.
  • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.

This has basically the same meaning as the English version. If you want a better life, just make it happen.

18. Dra inte alla över en kam.

  • Literal translation: Don’t pull everybody over the same comb.
  • English equivalent: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This proverb just means that you shouldn’t generalize people.

19. Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.

  • Literal translation: There is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes.

This one is widely used in the winter months, and for a reason! But if you think there’s something wrong with the Swedish winter, think again: you’re probably just wearing the wrong clothes.

A Woman Shivering in the Snow

20. Den enes bröd är den andres död.

  • Literal translation: One man’s bread is another’s death.

One person’s fortune is another’s misfortune. This one is often said in a philosophical manner to describe a situation where one prospers from the misfortune of another.

21. Den som köper det han inte behöver stjäl från sig själv.

  • Literal translation: He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.

This is a great anti-consumerist Swedish proverb. If you don’t need something, just don’t buy it! 

22. När den blinde bär den lame går båda framåt.

  • Literal translation: When the blind man carries the lame man, both go forward.
  • English equivalent: Unity is strength.

It’s a weird way of saying it, but it basically promotes collaboration to overcome problems… The Blind Man and the Lame is actually a Greek fable!

23. Lycka ger aldrig; den lånar bara ut.

  • Literal translation: Luck never gives; it only lends.
  • English equivalent: Luck is loaned, not owned.

You may have a lucky strike, but rest assured it won’t last! 

4. Swedish Proverbs Shared with English

Some proverbs are, let’s say…international! They appear in many different languages, probably as a result of early travelers sharing their wisdom with different people in different places.

Here are some Swedish proverbs that also exist in English (and in many other languages, too!). 

24. Gräset är alltid grönare på andra sidan.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

A Fence Separating Two Plots of Grass

25. Gråt inte över spilld mjölk.

Don’t cry over spilled milk.

26. Den som spar han har.

Savers, keepers.

27. Andra tider andra seder.

Other times, other customs.

28. Betala med samma mynt.

To pay back with the same coin.

29. Affär är affär.

Business is business.

30. Allting går igen.

What goes around comes around.

5. Conclusion

“All good things must come to an end…” But it’s not really the end, is it? There’s so much more to learn about the Swedish language! 

As they say, “Practice makes perfect,” so continue practicing your Swedish language skills on SwedishPod101.com. Using all the features we offer (audio podcasts, videos with transcriptions, word lists, a dictionary, and more), you’ll pick up this beautiful and interesting language in no time. 

And remember, if someone you know feels down one day, cheer them up with one of the humorous Swedish proverbs from this list and make them laugh… We already know what the best medicine is, right?

Which of these Swedish proverbs is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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A Fairytale City Escape: Visit Stockholm’s Top Destinations

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Imagine a summer’s day spent strolling along waterfront promenades and harbors, surrounded by pencil-colored historical buildings and leafy parks… 

But wait, you don’t need to imagine it. Just visit Stockholm!

The capital of Sweden is made up of fourteen islands, through which the freshwater Lake Mälaren flows out into the Baltic Sea. Sounds like an idyllic place, doesn’t it? And that’s not all: Outside of the city, the Stockholm Archipelago continues with over 30,000 more islands.

The Swedish City of Stockholm

In this travel guide, you’ll discover Stockholm’s top eleven destinations as well as some extra tips and hints. 

As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” And I assure you, the pages of this wonderful and original city are definitely worth reading.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Swedish Survival Phrases for Travelers
  5. Conclusion

Before You Go

Have we given you enough reasons to visit Stockholm yet? Perfect. That means it’s time to organize your trip. Let us help you out with that! 

When to Visit Stockholm

You’ve probably heard that winters in Sweden are tough. Lots of snow, freezing temperatures, only a few hours of light a day… Not ideal conditions for discovering the city! 

Of course, tourists can be found all year round, but most people choose to visit Stockholm during the summer months of June through August. This is definitely the best time to visit Stockholm weather-wise, as you’ll be able to truly enjoy being outdoors (as do the Swedes) and take in all the city has to offer! 

Visa

If you’re from Europe or North America, you’ll not need a visa to enter Sweden as a tourist; you’ll be allowed to stay for up to three months without problems. If you’re from somewhere else, you’ll need to check the requirements for entering Sweden. 

Interesting Facts & Tips

  • Sweden rejected the euro and continues to use Swedish krona as the national currency. (1 USD will get you SEK9.00.)
  • Many places have a CARD ONLY policy, so be sure to have a working credit or debit card. 
  • Traveling by taxi can get quite expensive, so we recommend you make use of Sweden’s perfectly functioning public transportation system. Inside any metro station, you can buy daily and weekly passes as well as single tickets which include unlimited metro, tram, and bus journeys.

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

Once you have all the basic info on how to be safe and organized on your trip, and have picked out your travel dates, you can start looking into the best places to see in Stockholm. 

If you’re visiting Stockholm for the first time, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed with all the options. To give you a hand, we’ve outlined five places you can’t miss! 

Gamla Stan 

First on our list is Gamla Stan, the Old Town where you can take in the tranquil atmosphere of Stockholm. 

This is one of the most well-preserved medieval city centers in Europe, and walking around it will feel like being in an open-air museum full of sights, attractions, restaurants, cafés, and shops. 

In this pedestrian-friendly area paved with cobblestones, you’ll find both the oldest street in Stockholm (Köpmangatan) and the narrowest (Mårten Trotzigs Gränd).

Stortorget

This is the main square in the Old Town. Once you arrive here and have a look around, you’ll easily understand why these colorful facades are the most photographed in Sweden. Here’s where it all started for Stockholm, back in the thirteenth century.

Stortorget Buildings in Stockholm

Every stone and every corner here is filled with history. Our advice is to just sit on one of the benches and soak it all in. 

If you visit around Christmastime, you’ll find a traditional market in the square. 

The Stockholm subway

After you’ve explored the beautiful city center, we recommend you head to your next destination via the Stockholm tunnelbana, the city’s subway. If you have the time, you might even want to spend a while exploring it…we bet you won’t even feel the need to leave! This metro system is truly one of a kind. 

The system comprises one hundred stations, each with unique art on its platform, walls, or waiting hall. The most beautiful ones include: 

  • T-Centralen
  • Stadion
  • Morby Centrum
  • Kungstradgarden
  • Solna Centrum 

Stadshuset

The City Hall, which features the golden Three Crowns on its spire, is one of the most well-known silhouettes in Stockholm. 

Made of eight million bricks and designed by architect Ragnar Östberg, this building houses offices and session halls for politicians and officials, as well as splendid rooms and unique works of art.

The great Nobel banquet is also held at City Hall, while Stockholm’s municipal council meets in Rådssalen, the Council Chamber.

Skinnarviksberget

If you want to step out of the bustle for an afternoon and enjoy wonderful views over the city and archipelago, head to the highest natural point in central Stockholm: Skinnarviksberget. The name literally means “the mountain bay of leather” because of its history of leather manufacturing and tanning.

Nowadays, of course, there’s no leather involved. Tourists and locals alike climb up here to enjoy a picnic with a view, or to marvel at the sunset over the city. 

Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

If you still have some time to spend in the beautiful capital of Sweden, there are a few more gems to visit around Stockholm! 

Stockholm Archipelago 

Just twenty minutes from the city starts a whole new world made up of over 30,000 small islands. It’s the Stockholm skärgård, the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea.

Stockholm Archipelago

The most popular way to see it is by ferry, with boats departing from central Stockholm multiple times a day. That said, you can also decide to boat, hike, sea kayak, bike, and swim in this wonderful setting! Whichever activity you pick, the experience of visiting the Stockholm archipelago will be unforgettable!

Skansen Museum

Skansen is an open-air museum that can be described as a “miniature Sweden.” Here, you’ll find farms and dwellings from all parts of the country that were disassembled and transported here. 

If you’re curious about other parts of Sweden, but don’t have the time to visit the whole country, this is the perfect place to visit! It’s also a great family outing and is wonderfully located on Royal Djurgården, which offers spectacular views over Stockholm. 

Fotografiska Museum

If you like photography at all, you can’t skip this. Fotografiska is one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary photography, and it periodically hosts four large exhibitions and up to twenty smaller ones. 

On the top floor, you’ll find a café with one of the best views over Stockholm. Oh, and the restaurant serves fresh, seasonal dishes and focuses on sustainable gastronomy. What’s not to like about that?

Parks

Autumn Leaves in Djurgården

If you spend a week or more in Stockholm, you’ll surely realize how green this city actually is.

You’ll find all kinds of parks, such as…

  • Millesgården, with sculptures created by artists Carl and Olga Milles.
  • Aspuddsparken, which offers entertainment for families and kids.
  • Kungsträdgården, the city’s oldest park featuring perfect lawns and tranquil cafés.

Djurgården is also a lovely park close to museums, galleries, and other attractions. 

I bet you could spend an entire week visiting Stockholm and still not see all of the parks, so go and find your favorite!

Vasa Museum

The Vasamuseet brings you the exciting history of the Vasa ship. This 69-meter-long warship sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of the Archipelago in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961—a whopping 333 years later.

The Vasa Museum in Stockholm

In the museum, you can see the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world (around 95% of which is original!). It’s been restored to its former glory and, through ten different exhibitions, you can get a glimpse of what life was like aboard the ship. 

Stadsbiblioteket

Stockholm’s stadsbibliotek is the public library of Stockholm, designed by celebrated Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund. It’s one of the city’s most notable icons. 

While you probably won’t stay long, it’s definitely worth visiting, even if only to take refuge on a windy morning. Step in and discover the real masterpiece—an incredible collection of books all around the cylindrical walls.

Swedish Survival Phrases for Travelers

Of course, most people in Sweden will understand and speak some English, but knowing some basic phrases in Swedish will be helpful (and it will certainly please the locals!). 

Here are the phrases you might need:

  • Hejsan. / Hello. 
  • Tack! / Thank you!
  • Hejdå. / Goodbye. 
  • Förlåt. / Sorry. 
  • Mycket bra. / Very good. 
  • Jag förstår inte. / I don’t understand. 
  • Var ligger…? / Where is…? 
  • Hur mycket kostar…? / How much is …? 
  • Skulle jag kunna få…? / My I please have…?
  • Hjälp! / Help!

Conclusion

So, have you decided to add some Swedish pages to your world travel book? If you’re planning to visit Stockholm and experience its fairytale atmosphere for yourself, take a look at SwedishPod101.com

Here, with the help of highly qualified teachers, audio podcasts, word lists, and more, you’ll be able to finally start adding another language to your repertoire! 

Start now, and you’ll realize that picking up a language is easier than you think. Not to mention it will make your experience in the country even more unforgettable! 

Before you go: Which of these Stockholm travel destinations do you want to visit most, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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English Words in Swedish: Do You Know Swenglish?

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It’s no secret that Swedes speak English well.

But if you dropped in unexpectedly on a Swedish company’s conference call, you might be a little surprised to hear everyone speaking in English despite the fact that everyone working there was born and raised in-country.

What gives?

Shouldn’t they be speaking…Swedish?

Well, because of many different factors, there are quite a few modern colloquial English words in Swedish. They call this phenomenon “Swenglish,” and here’s what it’s all about.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Putting Swenglish in Context
  2. Examples of Swenglish
  3. English Loanwords
  4. What a Swedish Accent Sounds Like in English
  5. English Words Originally From Swedish
  6. Conclusion

Putting Swenglish in Context

The Swedish City of Visby

First off, this name isn’t really fair. It’s taken from the German equivalent “Denglish,” which refers to German laced with far too many English loans. However, “Swenglish” is actually used to describe English with Swedish characteristics, which we’ll get to in a little bit.

But how did all this English get into the Swedish language in the first place?

Well, the Vikings invaded England in the early Middle Ages. But that’s not the whole story, as many of them stayed there and ended up influencing the English language instead.

You see, Swedish is a Northern Germanic language while English is a Western Germanic one. This means that many centuries ago, around the fifth century BC, there was one parent language that later split up due to migration patterns and natural language change.

That makes it easy to pull words from one language to the other, kind of like baking cookies from the same mold and putting them on different trays. 

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, English started becoming more and more of a world language, and Swedes began facing greater pressure to learn it. By the twenty-first century, they had achieved that goal in spades. The vast majority of Swedish youth these days gain full mastery of English while still in high school.

Because English is of such great international importance and considered trendy to learn, it’s the perfect language to pull words from, even among Swedes speaking Swedish to each other. Plus, recent immigration and English-taught higher education efforts both point to a rising use of English in Sweden.

But some Swedes are pushing back, saying that it’s unnecessarily eroding a perfectly good language and culture. However, this kind of popularity-driven language transition is quite tough to ignore, and sooner or later English words will have entered Swedish for good.

Examples of Swenglish

A Man Bodybuilding

So what does this “Swenglish” or “Svengelska” look like in real life?

‘Swenglish’ refers to English words that mean something else in Swedish, having been adopted into the language and undergoing changes over time. After all, when non-native speakers start using a foreign word in their own language, it can easily take on a life of its own. To give you an idea of what we mean, let’s look at several Swenglish examples. 

We’ll start with the word “athlete.” In English, it refers to anyone who practices a sport and uses their body to enter competitions. In Swedish, though, it typically refers to “a bodybuilder,” or someone who sculpts their muscles for aesthetic reasons. The “pure” Swedish word for “athlete” would be friidrottare.

Another example is the word sejfa, which sounds an awful lot like the English word “safe.” This one actually means “to play it safe,” or in other words, to be careful when attempting something new.

If you’ve studied any German, you may be familiar with the false friend tränar, which is also used in Swedish. It’s not “to train” as you would train a dog or cat, but “to exercise.”

Have you ever done any winter sports in Sweden? Better try to avoid peaken: the “peak of the season,” distinct from a mountain peak, which would be topp or spets.

Some words seem like they should be English words from their look and sound, and many Swedes might even swear to you that they are—but you won’t find them in an English dictionary.

Such words include legitimation (otherwise known as an ID card) and hangarounds (supporters of a political movement). Finally, if you hear a Swede complimenting your backslick, your first instinct might be to turn around and see if something’s gotten spilled on your shirt. But in reality, it just means “slicked-back hair.”

English Loanwords

A Meeting at a Large Corporate Company

Now that we’ve seen some examples of words that are slowly becoming native Swedish, we should mention that there are also plenty of words that are clearly English (for the time being, at least). Many of these English words used in Swedish are ones you’d hear in science, technology, and business meetings. This is because they’ve simply become the preferred way for experts in these fields to communicate.

Words like midquarter report, pressrelease, call center, and all time high are extremely commonplace in big Swedish business firms—remember, the official language of many Swedish businesses is English to begin with!

Note that the spacing or hyphenation of the examples above might be a little different from what English-speaking countries mandate as the norm. This is intentional, as these words have been adopted into Swedish orthographic conventions instead of maintaining the English ones.

Although Swedish verbs don’t conjugate for person or number, you can still see the Swedish verb suffix on loanwords like chillar (“to chill out”) or mailar (“to send by email”).

This is where the Swedish linguistic purists start tearing their hair out, by the way. They feel that Swedish speakers should make an effort to come up with their own native-Swedish equivalents, much like the Mandarin and Icelandic languages do.

If that were the case, you’d see loans like design replaced by formgivning and food processor replaced by matberedare. Only a serious and widespread effort to get rid of English loans could stop the process at this point, and that’s not very likely to get underway.

By the way, here is a quick fun fact before we move on to the next section: the word präst (“priest”) is actually a loanword from English, not a common Germanic word that happened to stay roughly recognizable. Scholars believe it comes from the Middle Ages and/or Renaissance!

What a Swedish Accent Sounds Like in English

Two Women Chatting Over Coffee

Unfortunately, there’s one extremely famous rendition of a “Swedish accent” permanently entrenched in the minds of Americans—the character of the Swedish Chef from the children’s show Sesame Street.

While not really crossing any line into “offensive,” this has been the basis of quite a few good-natured jokes toward Swedes living abroad, to the extent that it should probably be laid to rest at this point.

The reason why that stereotype is so enduring, though, is because there really is a distinctive rhythm to Swedish speech. This is because the Swedish language, like Norwegian, Japanese, and a handful of other European and Asian languages, has a “pitch accent.”

You can find a few other good resources about Swedish pitch accent online, but the gist of it is that each word in Swedish has either a rising or falling pitch pattern. To native speakers, pronouncing a word with a different pattern sounds understandable but odd.

And turnabout is fair play: when Swedes speak English, they often subconsciously apply the pitch rules of their own language to English, leading to that musical rhythm.

Other than that, the long exposure many Swedes have to the English language means that they tend to pick up even subtleties of the pronunciation quite well. It helps that most of the sounds in English exist in Swedish, more so than for French or German speakers!

English Words Originally From Swedish

A Map, Compass, Passport, and Travel Notes

Since Swedish has never been that big of a language, its cultural reach has always been rather small. Still, when you look carefully at English vocabulary, you can find some rather common English words from Swedish or other Scandinavian languages. 

The hobby of “orienteering” comes from the Swedish orientering, explaining why this word doesn’t quite sound like an English word even though it’s spelled like one.

Fartleks, a type of exercise training for long-distance runners, comes from the Swedish words fart (“speed”) and lek (“play”).

The metal tungsten is a combination of the Swedish words meaning “heavy” and “stone.”

Finally, the ubiquitous European moped comes from a blend of words from 1950s Swedish: motor och pedaler (“motor and pedals”).

Apart from those, many words that English speakers take for granted when discussing history and literature actually come from Old Norse, and so are Swedish by proxy if you will. These include elf, troll, and saga.

Conclusion

Even if Swedes end up using Swenglish and English in equal measure in the future, it doesn’t mean that there’s no hope for the Swedish culture as a whole.

People were probably saying the same thing when Anglo-Saxon speakers started using Norse terms on the British Isles! All languages shift and change with time, and Swedish is no exception.

Fortunately, you don’t have to get hired at a Swedish company to start picking up how the language is really used today. SwedishPod101 has got you covered.

Once you attain a strong level in Swedish thanks to our audio podcasts, videos with transcripts, word lists, and other useful resources, it’ll be easy for you to pick up and maintain a healthy balance of languages in your personal and professional Swedish lives.

Try out SwedishPod101 today and enjoy adding another language to your repertoire!

How many of these words were you surprised to find on our list? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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What Swedish Culture Really Means

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How long was it after you heard the word “IKEA” that you started studying Swedish?

IKEA, like meatballs and beautiful nature, produces a strong image of Swedish culture and the Swedish people.

When you study a language, it’s important to know about the culture of where that language is spoken. If you learn from dictionaries and textbooks alone, you’ll never get a sense of what life is like on the streets in that country; if you only watch YouTube street interviews, you’ll never know what the literature is like.

How up-to-date or complete are your mental images of Sweden?

On this page, you’ll get to know Swedish culture a bit better. This knowledge, in turn, will act as an important complement to your language studies now and in the future.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Philosophies and Religions
  3. Family and Work
  4. Art
  5. Food
  6. Traditional Holidays
  7. Conclusion

1. Values and Beliefs

A Wooded Area with Frost on the Ground and Sun Shining through the Trees

Unlike many other diverse or fractured cultures around the world, we can easily point to a “Swedish Culture” based on the general population’s values and beliefs alone—before diving into all the other things that make up what culture really is. 

One of these Swedish culture characteristics is that Swedish people feel at home in a collectivist society.

This is reflected in political and economic discussion as the “Nordic Model,” describing the social structure and economic organization offered in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The state is expected to take care of its people, and it’s only able to do so if everybody in the society contributes.

Swedes feel at home with a government that provides generous social welfare benefits such as healthcare, for instance, because they feel that they’re all paying into it for the benefit of everyone in the country.

Finally, every Swede would tell you that they have a deep love of nature in their country. Cities are built with wide bike lanes and pedestrian paths so people can enjoy the world at a natural pace, and there’s always green space to be found. In the countryside, there’s actually a law guaranteeing everyone the right to camp and hike on all land, as long as it’s done in a responsible way with all waste and garbage picked up afterwards.


2. Philosophies and Religions

Religion and mindset are two key elements of Swedish culture and traditions. 

When it comes to religion, a glance at demographics will give you a very different picture than an interview on the street would, for instance.

On official censuses, the vast majority of Swedes are Lutheran Christian, that is, following Christian teachings but not paying close attention to the Pope. However, Swedes will tell you that this is pretty much in name only. Most Swedes rarely attend church services, with fewer than 20% of the population reporting that religion is important to them.

The big numbers come from the fact that until 1996, all newborn children in Sweden were automatically members of the Svenska kyrkan (Church of Sweden), which stopped being the state church in 2000. If your parents didn’t unregister you or you haven’t gotten around to it, you’re still counted as Lutheran in the books!

Since the 1960s, immigration into Sweden has also brought with it diverse religions, including several hundred thousand followers of Islam. Because of this, it’s more common to see mosques and halal restaurants from time to time in Sweden than it was previously.

There’s also one general philosophy in Sweden that most Swedes would say is the quintessence of Swedish culture, tying in with the points made in the last section. This is lagom, a word roughly translating to “moderation.” Swedes might describe lagom as:

  • Inte för mycket, inte för lite. / “Not too much, not too little.”

This applies to physical moderation (such as with fast food and alcohol), but also to social moderation where individuals don’t want to be seen as overbearing or sticking out too much from the crowd.

3. Family and Work

A Couple and Their Two Young Children Hiking Together

The Swedish family, or familij, tends to be small. Usually, people don’t live with their extended family and instead live with both parents until they’re old enough to get a job and move from home. Many university students live independently in Sweden.

In Sweden, it’s considered normal to move out of your parents’ house as soon as you can, even if that means living by yourself in the same city where your parents live. Swedes enjoy their privacy! Stockholm, for instance, has a huge proportion of single-occupied apartments and this has contributed to a large housing crash.

There aren’t many “stay-at-home moms” in Sweden. Most families have two working parents, and this is made possible by generous family leave policies mandated by law for both father and mother to remain salaried while taking care of a new child.

Housework is divided equally among the family members, at least based on age. Everyone pitches in to cook and clean, and they take care of each other both inside the home and out.

When it comes to actual careers, Swedes work a little less than eight hours a day on average and take a little more than a month of vacation during the year, mostly during the summer. This is why it always seems like every hostel has a couple of Swedish tourists no matter where you are!

The Swedish workplace culture is rather conservative despite the emphasis on work-life balance. Men and women are expected to wear modest and formal clothing at the very least, though lately this has become more relaxed.

4. Art

A DJ Mixing Music at a Club

Sweden has actually had a bit more success than its other Scandinavian neighbors in promoting a unique type of minimalist and utilitarian design for tools, furniture, and household appliances. This is the world-famous Scandinavian Design, brought to consumers around the world by the Swedish company IKEA.

As for music, the most well-known Swedish band of all time is most likely the 1980s pop group ABBA. Folk music enthusiasts will find plenty to like in Swedish traditional music as well, from Viking Age stuff all the way up to the folk revivals of the past century.

Finally, at the turn of the twenty-first century, there were short-lived yet well-loved Swedish electronic music crazes for the likes of Swedish House Mafia and Basshunter.

5. Food

Cinnamon Rolls and a Cup of Tea

Swedish culture and food go hand in hand. We actually have an article all about Swedish food coming out soon, so stay tuned for that!

The first thing most people think about is meatballs (köttbullar). When you started learning Swedish, that might have been one of your first words!

Beyond that, though, there’s a whole world of Swedish cooking waiting to be explored. A lot of it can be considered “rustic” cooking, as many beloved dishes come from simple home cooking from the countryside. Examples of this include fried cabbage, salted fish, and thick brown bread.

Swedes are also big fans of sweet food in general. This is quite evident when you take a look behind the counter glass at a Swedish café: you’ll see a huge array of pastries ripe for the taking, usually covered in some kind of glaze or powdered sugar. Princess cake might be the most famous Swedish pastry, but cinnamon buns also trace their roots back to Nordic cuisine.

And it only makes sense that Swedish cafés have such great snacks. The fika culture of lunch breaks at work extends outside of the working day. Fika is an activity beloved by every Swede, whether they’re working or not. In fact, saying it’s “beloved” might be framing it wrong—it’s simply treated as an inseparable part of the cultural fabric.

6. Traditional Holidays

The Swedish Flag Waving Against a Semi-cloudy Sky

Few things are as central to the culture of Sweden than its holidays!

Sweden was never colonized by anybody, so you won’t find a “Swedish Independence Day” on the calendar. Instead, there’s Sveriges nationaldag (“National Day”), celebrated on June 6 every year. Interestingly enough, it commemorates the election of King Gustav Vasa from way back in 1523, but it wasn’t recognized as a holiday until the early twentieth century. On National Day, Swedes get together to wave flags, march in parades, and even visit the Stockholm Palace cost-free!

On May 1, Swedes celebrate International Workers’ Day, or May Day, with parades and a day off work.

Finally, jul (Christmas) is celebrated with Advent lights and decorated Christmas trees. In Sweden, Christmas is typically celebrated on December 24 instead of December 25, when it’s celebrated in many other countries. Families exchange gifts on Christmas Eve and then have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and annandag jul (“Boxing Day”) off to relax.

7. Conclusion

How much did you learn about Swedish culture and customs today? And more importantly, are you excited at the prospect of learning even more about Swedish culture? Let us know in the comments! 

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