Get up to 45% Off All 6-month Plans
Get up to 45% Off All 6-month Plans

SwedishPod101.com Blog

Learn Swedish with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Speak Like a Native: 30 Swedish Proverbs and Idioms

Thumbnail

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

A Fairytale City Escape: Visit Stockholm’s Top Destinations

Thumbnail

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

English Words in Swedish: Do You Know Swenglish?

Thumbnail

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

What Swedish Culture Really Means

Thumbnail

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! 

Try out SwedishPod101, the number-one online platform for learning the Swedish language. With cultural notes in practically every lesson, you’ll get both a language and cultural education at the same time in a seamless package. The Swedish language and culture really do complement one another, as you’ll naturally pick up both just from watching and listening to the language materials online.

Sign up today and bring your Swedish skills way past just the next level!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

Walpurgis in Sweden: Ready to Have a Witchin’ Time?

Witches, sorcerers, costumes, tricks, and superstition…no, it’s not Halloween! We’re talking about Valborgsmässoafton (Valborg or Walpurgis Night) in Sweden.

While you might not associate the beginning of spring with witchcraft and sorcery, this correlation has some interesting roots in numerous European countries. In this article, you’ll learn about the origins of this mystical holiday and how it’s celebrated today. 

Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

1. What is Walpurgis Night in Sweden?

A Green Field with Springtime Flowers

In Sweden, Walpurgis and May Day take place each year on the night of April 30 and day of May 1 respectively. This festival is also common in a number of other European countries, including Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia. 

Walpurgis Night is named after an eighth-century abbess named Saint Walpurgis (also known as Saint Walpurga). She was known for her effectiveness in spreading Christianity, as well as her supposed abilities to deflect witchcraft and heal a variety of ailments. People would invoke her in their prayers in the hope that she would keep the witches at bay.

You see, it was believed that witches and sorcerers would hold a Witches’ Sabbath each year on the night of April 30. They were thought to engage in crazy dances and conspire with demons—or even Satan himself—to harm Christians and cause other sorts of trouble. 

In addition to invocations of Saint Walpurga, people would light bonfires on the hillsides and create as much noise as possible to scare away witches.

Over time, Walpurgis Day became less associated with actual witchcraft, and more and more people perceived this day as a time to reflect on the charms of such superstitions. Today, the holiday is mainly celebrated just for the fun of it, though the superstitions behind it are still strong in some places. 


2. Traditions and Celebrations for Walpurgis

A Walpurgis Bonfire

Walpurgis and May Day celebrations in Sweden vary from region to region, but there’s a large focus on enjoying the spring and the coming of summer. In the morning, some Swedes indulge in a delightful breakfast of champagne and strawberries. Later in the day, people often gather with friends, family, and loved ones in local parks and indulge in BBQ and alcoholic beverages.

Walpurgis Day in Sweden is particularly popular among university students, who engage in activities such as the donning of the student cap in Gothenburg and rafting on Fyris River. Uppsala University is particularly lively during Valborg. 

People of all ages enjoy participating in the bål (bonfire)! Due to the historical background of this holiday, lighting these large fires on which to brinna (burn) an effigy of a witch is a common activity. Some bonfire festivities will have various stalls set up that offer tasty foods and drinks. Music and dancing also play a large role in the holiday, especially around the bonfire. 

Finally, though this is less common nowadays, there are often left-wing demonstrations that take place following Walpurgis night in Sweden. 

3. Beltane

While the Valborg holiday likely originated from a pagan Norse holiday linked to the dead, there’s another holiday that seems to share roots with it: Beltane

This is a pagan holiday still celebrated today in Wiccan and Neopagan circles, and it shares many of the same tenets as Valborg. In times past, there were four important festivals celebrated throughout the year, Beltane one of them. It marked the end of the winter and the beginning of summer, and bonfires were popular on this day. 

The main purpose of Beltane was to protect cattle herds, crops, and dairy products from harm. This was done by appeasing the aos sí, a type of fairy or other supernatural race in Irish/Scottish mythology.

4. Vocabulary You Need to Know for Walpurgis in Sweden

A Match Burning against a Dark Background with Smoke Tendrils

Ready to impress your Swedish friends or hosts with some new vocabulary? Here are some of the words and phrases from this article, plus a few more! 

  • Vår / Spring
    • Noun, common
  • Eld / Fire
    • Noun, common
  • Valborgsmässoafton / Walpurgis Night
    • Phrase, common
  • Fyrverkeri / Firework
    • Noun, neutral
  • Fira / Celebrate
    • Verb 
  • Bål / Bonfire
    • Noun, neutral
  • Brinna / Burn
    • Verb 
  • Brasa / Campfire
    • Noun, common
  • Smällare / Firecracker
    • Noun, common
  • Ved / Firewood
    • Noun, common

To hear and practice the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to head over to our Walpurgis Night vocabulary list

Final Thoughts

Valborg is a fascinating, whimsical holiday with some unclear origins, though its celebrations today are still popular in Sweden. 

How do you celebrate the arrival of warmer weather in your country? Is there a special holiday involved? We look forward to hearing from you! 

If you would like to continue learning about Swedish culture and the language, make sure you continue to explore SwedishPod101. Here are some fun pages to get you started: 

Happy learning! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

The Best Swedish Foods For Your Study Breaks

Thumbnail

Would you say that you’re the adventurous type? One for tall waves on high seas, long journeys, and tough challenges?

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert in Swedish, you know that the Swedish language can have its rough spots. Why not anchor yourself with something nice and tasty, something closely connected to Swedish culture?

Aside from language, cuisine is one of the most tangible aspects of culture. Go down any main street in any town and you’ll see restaurants serving local and foreign foods right alongside each other. But what about Swedish food?

You may be lucky enough to have Swedish restaurants nearby, or perhaps you have Swedish relatives who can cook nice meals for you.

None of the above? Well in that case, it looks like a trip to Sweden is in order. Start with the stomach, and the head will follow. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the tastiest Swedish food staples for Swedes both inside and outside of Sweden.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. What is Swedish Food Like?
  2. Authentic Swedish Food vs. Overseas Swedish Food
  3. Unique Swedish Food
  4. Food-Related Vocabulary
  5. The Top Five Must-Try Dishes in Swedish Restaurants
  6. Conclusion

1. What is Swedish Food Like?

Jonkoping, Sweden

Unless you live in a very international city or a place with a large population of Swedish immigrants, you probably don’t have a particularly clear idea of Swedish cuisine. Aside from “meatballs,” most people would vaguely guess at fish and bread if they had to imagine what Swedes eat.

There’s some truth to that, but that’s far from the only staple food!

Traditional Swedish foods have a rustic flavor because of Sweden’s relatively poor recent history. A lot of people lived off of their own farms, and so they ended up cooking with preserved meat, bread, and vegetables. Cabbage, or kål, is a particularly common ingredient, as you’ll see in this article!

A lot of Swedish food can be described as quite hearty, with rich meats and sauces as well as desserts made with syrupy preserved fruits.

Later on, Sweden began attracting more immigrants. If you walk around a Swedish city today, you’ll see restaurants from places like the Middle East, India, and Asia.

Speaking of restaurants, cafe culture is very important in Sweden and there are lots of pastries and cakes to choose from. The concept of fika, or a coffee break, is one of the most “typically Swedish” things that most Swedes themselves can think of.

Many Swedes treat a fika as a natural break in the work day, as well as a way to meet up with friends or even go on dates. It’s not unheard of for a single fika to last more than an hour and a half on a weekend!

2. Authentic Swedish Food vs. Overseas Swedish Food

Swedish Lingonberry Jam

Many authentic Swedish cuisine dishes have made their way into other countries, but with regional twists.

Sweden’s most popular cultural export by far is the Swedish meatball, a mixture of ground beef and pork baked in a thick gravy for close to an hour before being served. However, in the U.S. at least, meatballs are more of a finger food served with cheese—no doubt due to Italian influence. In Sweden, they’re a main course served with mashed potatoes or with pasta.

The word gravlax (literally, “buried salmon”) might be somewhat familiar to people who enjoy cured salmon and bread. Indeed, it’s quite similar to smoked salmon on a bagel, a classic dish for New Yorkers. Gravlax, though, is not smoked; instead, it’s dry-cured through a mix of sugar, salt, and white pepper. Then instead of cream cheese, the typical topping is a light mustard sauce.

Why “buried,” then? Traditionally, the curing agents are mixed together in a jar with the salmon and it’s literally buried in the ground.

If you had to think of a berry associated with Sweden, you’d probably come up with the word lingonberry. It’s a small, red berry often made into jams and jellies in Scandinavia. In the United States, though, people tend to pair meat with cranberry sauce, not lingonberries. Lingonberries are a little bit smaller and a shade sweeter than cranberries, making them a bit more suitable for desserts.

And speaking of desserts, remember all the pastries in Swedish cafes? A classic one is smulpaj (“crumb pie”). Most pastries in English-speaking countries have a crust and a topping, but not smulpaj. This dessert has a topping of oats and flour and little else—it’s baked directly with the fruit filling on the baking dish.

3. Unique Swedish Food

A Head of Cabbage

It’s tough to find foods other than the meatballs and lingonberry jam mentioned above when you’re outside of Sweden. In this section, we’ll introduce some typical Swedish dishes that rarely make it across the border.

First up is a sort of street snack known as tunnbrödsrulle. From the name, you can see that this has something to do with tunnbröd, or flatbread. Indeed, these are flatbread hot dogs! You take an ordinary sausage as bought from a street cart and lay it in a piece of flatbread before drizzling it with the topping of your choice.

The concept of eating fruit or roses in soup is a bit alien to some cultures. However, wild roses and their fruit grow all over Sweden. Therefore, nyponsoppa is a classic rosehip soup served as an appetizer or as a dessert.

Finally, brunkål (“fried cabbage”) is something that virtually every Swede had growing up at one point. Fast and easy to make, this is cabbage seasoned with meat or vegetable broth and vinegar before being rapidly stir-fried in a pan. It’s often eaten at Christmas to complement a Christmas ham.

4. Food-Related Vocabulary

Cinnamon Buns and a Mug of Coffee

Now it’s time to put down the dictionary and pick up a fork—let’s learn some Swedish phrases for the café or restaurant!

  • Har ni någon lokal specialitet? / “Do you have a local specialty?”
  • Har ni vegetarisk mat? / “Do you have vegetarian food?”

Perhaps you’re lucky enough to be invited for a fika, that luxurious time for coffee and pastries.

  • En kopp kaffe, tack! / “A cup of coffee, please!”

When you’re satisfied with the meal, it’s good manners to pass on your compliments to the chef.

  • Maten var utsökt! / “The food was delicious!”

Of course, that’s far from all the phrases you might need in a Swedish restaurant. Why not check out our vocabulary list of Swedish Words and Phrases for the Restaurant?

5. The Top Five Must-Try Dishes in Swedish Restaurants

Some Bread with Strömming on It

To round it off, here are some of the most beloved dishes in the entire Swedish cooking lexicon.

A- Strömming 

Herring is the small fish strongly associated with Scandinavia. There are actually two different types: the sill in the North Sea and the strömming caught in the Baltic Sea. Typically, Swedes pickle their herring in a sweet curing agent with plenty of salt and sugar. A couple of other popular Swedish herring recipes include nysekt strömming (fried and eaten in sandwiches) and a variety that’s served in sandwiches with senap (“mustard”). 

B- Glögg 

Even in the southernmost parts of Sweden, winter can get extremely cold. That’s a perfect time for a steaming cup of glögg, or Swedish mulled wine. Although other European countries have mulled wine traditions, in Sweden the glasses have raisins and almonds placed at the bottom. Additionally, the glasses are kept small as people tend to add vodka or cognac in the mix—giving the drink a bit of a kick!

C- Kåldolmar 

One more appearance of cabbage here before the end. The word dolmar in the second half of the word actually comes from Turkish, similar to the English word dolmas. These cabbage rolls are stuffed with beef and pork before being baked in a thick broth in the oven. They’re super-rich and hearty, especially when served with a dash of lingonberry jam.

D- Kanelbulle 

While they’re called ‘cinnamon rolls’ in English, the word bulle means “bun” in Swedish. This is probably Sweden’s most popular pastry—on average, each Swede consumes about six of them per week! The secret ingredient separating them from other cinnamon rolls (for those in the know) is cardamom, a spice from India.

E- Prinsesstårta 

Legend has it that this delicate multi-layered cake was named in honor of Swedish princesses who adored baking and eating such a flavorful thing. It has three layers of cake separated by jam, custard, and cream, and the whole thing is topped with green marzipan. Lately, a few cakes with pink marzipan have made an appearance too. 

6. Conclusion    

Did this article whet your appetite? Hopefully not just for eating, but for learning as well. At SwedishPod101.com, you can get a whole lot more than just this sampler platter.

From our flagship podcast series to our YouTube videos and our longform articles, there’s something to suit any palate. The best part is, learning about interesting things like Swedish cooking actually helps you remember vocabulary! You’re going to see the word kanelbulle quite a few more times before your Swedish learning journey is over; you’re pretty much guaranteed to never forget its meaning.

Connecting a new word to something meaningful and emotional is absolutely the best way to learn a language. Sign up for an account at SwedishPod101.com and find out just how tasty the whole journey can be!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Swedish

Swedish Waffle Day: A Sweet Start to Spring

What if I told you there was one day a year when you could eat all the waffles you could possibly want? Yes, I’m talking about Waffle Day (formerly known as Our Lady Day) in Sweden. 

If you have a mighty sweet tooth on you (or just love pastries a lot), it’s your lucky day! We’ll discuss the origins of this holiday, get your mouth watering with some info on Swedish waffles, and cover some key vocabulary. 

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

1. What is Waffle Day?

a waffle with heart-shaped pieces

In Sweden, Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) is a springtime holiday during which the general population can indulge in a feast of waffles! But despite the holiday’s festive and indulgent nature, it was originally celebrated as a solemn feast called Vårfrudagen (Our Lady’s Day). A quick look at the two names is all you need to understand how a serious religious holiday came to be associated with this favorite Swedish pastry! 

Our Lady’s Day is a holiday observed in numerous majority-Christian countries. It’s considered one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar, because it marks the supposed date on which the Angel Gabriel visited the Jungfru Maria (Virgin Mary) and told her she would give birth to Jesus Christ. 

Nowadays, Swedish National Waffle Day is of a less religious nature and the focus is on making and consuming waffles! 

  • Even though this Swedish holiday has largely left its religious roots behind, you’ll still find it useful to learn some Religion vocabulary. 

2. When is Waffle Day in Sweden? 

Waffle Day takes place on March 25 every year, setting it apart from many other Catholic holidays, which are moveable. While this date is associated with Gabriel’s visit to Mary, its association with the springtime is also significant. 

In the past, food was scarce during the winter months and people would have very few perishable items (such as eggs or milk) on hand. The arrival of spring meant the beginning of soil preparation for farms, and people once again had access to two of the most important ingredients in waffles. It was indeed a time for celebration. 😉 

3. Swedish Waffles… <3

A Waffle with Cream and Jam on It

For most of the population, Waffle Day in Sweden means just one thing: plate after plate of waffles! Typically, Swedish waffles are eaten with grädde (cream), sylt (jam), and sometimes even fresh fruit or berries. For this annual waffle festival, some restaurants will have special deals and many Swedish households will be filled with the aroma of waffles on the iron. 

It’s interesting to note that waffles were not introduced to Sweden until the 1600s, and began as a savory dish rather than the sweet and decadent pastries we think of today. In the nineteenth century, Swedish waffles took on a distinctive shape and design with the introduction of the “Swedish waffle iron” which makes waffles with heart-shaped pieces. Prior to adopting this unique shape, they were square and cooked over a fire. 

4. Another Interesting Tradition… 

In times past, there was another interesting tradition associated with Waffle Day. As we mentioned, this holiday takes place near the beginning of spring, when farmers begin their new crop season. To help the crops grow better, children were encouraged to run barefoot around the house or through a manure pile. This act was also thought to prevent the children’s feet from cracking during the hot summer months! 

That doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? I think I prefer the waffles… 

5. Essential Swedish Vocabulary for Waffle Day

A Waffle Iron

If learning about this holiday has made you drool, it’s a good sign that you should learn some waffle-related vocabulary! Let’s review some of the Swedish vocabulary words from this article, plus a few more.

  • Smör (Butter) – noun, neutral
  • Mjöl (Flour) – noun, neutral
  • Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) – proper noun
  • Jesus (Jesus) – proper noun
  • Grädde (Cream) – noun, common
  • Våffeljärn (Waffle iron) – noun, neutral
  • Våffla (Waffle) – noun, common
  • Jungfru Maria (Virgin Mary) – proper noun, common
  • Vårfrudagen (Our Lady’s Day) – proper noun
  • Sylt (Jam) – noun, common

Also make sure to check out our Waffle Day vocabulary list. Here, you can listen to the pronunciation of each word and practice along with the audio recording.

Final Thoughts

Who’s ready to bring out the waffle iron and get cooking? *raises hand* 

Seriously though, we hope you enjoyed our lesson on this March 25 holiday and that you’re even more curious about Swedish culture after reading! If you would like to expand your knowledge even further, you can visit the following pages on SwedishPod101.com: 

If you like what we have to offer, please consider creating your free lifetime account today. Doing so will give you access to even more Swedish-language content and lessons! 

Before you go: Do you prefer waffles or pancakes? (We won’t judge…) 😉

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

Studying Swedish Grammar? Here’s What to Expect.

Thumbnail

A quick glance at some photos of Swedish cities, and you may realize that Sweden doesn’t look all that different from English-speaking countries. And didn’t the Vikings end up living in the British Isles for a while?

Similarly, Swedish grammar isn’t too far off from English grammar. Whether you look at the vocabulary, word order, or verb conjugation, you’re likely to see some major similarities.

Of course, when you’re learning a language, you’re probably a bit more concerned with the differences. That’s why we’ve created this page: to give you a broad overview of some of the grammatical features of Swedish and how they differ from English. The more you know now, the better-prepared you’ll be in the future!

In this Swedish grammar overview, you’ll learn all the basics you need to get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Swedish Nouns
  3. Swedish Verbs
  4. Swedish Adjectives and Adverbs
  5. Swedish Word Order
  6. Conclusion

1. General Rules

A Stack of Books

In general, Swedish grammar is very similar to English grammar, and English speakers won’t have much trouble dissecting the sentences.

But this doesn’t mean that the whole language is easy! Pronunciation and spelling, for instance, have their own challenges—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Native English speakers can learn to read basic Swedish after a couple of weeks or months of regular study, and that’s cut way down if you have any experience at all with German, Dutch, or another Scandinavian language. 

So what makes Swedish grammar relatively accessible? Well, to start with, you don’t have any long conjugation patterns to memorize. Swedish verbs don’t change at all for first, second, or third person, and the past and future tenses are formed similarly to how they are in English.

Word order is another area where you’ll be able to easily make connections between Swedish and English. Though there are some sentence structures with “reversed” word order from English, you can count on being able to express your thoughts in the same order as you would in English.

You’ll run into some rough spots with grammatical gender, though. Swedish has two word genders and it’s not always clear which one to use with which word. They just have to be memorized separately, and this extends to which form of adjectives you’ll need to use.

In fact, let’s explore Swedish nouns a bit more right now.

2. Swedish Nouns

Piano

In Swedish grammar, gender dictates which article is used with a noun as well as the form of any adjectives describing that noun. Unlike Old English or German, Swedish has not three but two word genders for nouns: common and neuter.

For example, the words katt (“cat”), tomat (“tomato”), and flicka (“girl”) are all common gender, while lokomotiv (“locomotive”), hus (“house”), and piano (“piano”) are all neuter gender. Common nouns take the indefinite article en while neuter nouns take ett. Therefore, you’ll often see nouns simply described as en-words and ett-words in Swedish grammar lessons.

If you’ve never learned a language with grammatical gender before, you may be wondering what exactly makes a locomotive more neutral or less common than a tomato. Well, you’re better off not looking for logic in the system, as it really developed on the basis of words sounding naturally easier to say with one article over the other. Over time, these sounds shifted and new words were adopted, and at this point it’s just something that has to be memorized.

As you learn Swedish vocabulary, you should try and memorize each noun with its gender so that you always know the correct article to use. At the beginning, it’ll be confusing, but as you learn more and more words, your brain will get used to adding that extra little detail in its mental dictionary.

Another typical Scandinavian grammatical feature present in Swedish is how the definite article attaches to nouns. Unlike in most European languages, the definite article in Swedish is directly attached to the noun.

This suffix generally takes the form of the suffix –en or –et (sometimes shortened to –n or –t). For example: ett piano (“a piano”) becomes pianot (“the piano”).

    → Do you want to get a head start? Then check out our vocabulary list of the Most Common Nouns!

3. Swedish Verbs

A Woman Holding a Blue Telephone to Her Ear

A huge chunk of understanding Swedish grammar is getting a grasp of how verbs work.

On the whole, you can think of Swedish verbs as being just about as difficult as English verbs. However, Swedish is a little bit more regular when it comes to identifying which words are verbs in the first place.

In the present tense, Swedish verbs always end in the suffix -r.

  • Jag ringer dig ikväll. / “I’ll call you tonight.”

From this example, you can see that Swedish expresses “I’ll call” with the present tense (Jag ringer), instead of English’s compound future. This is because the present tense in Swedish can indicate future events if the time is specified, in this case ikväll (“tonight”). It also covers English’s present progressive (“I am calling”) and present habitual (“I call”).

The other verb forms in Swedish are: 

  • The Imperative 
    • “Call!” 
    • telling someone to do something
  • The Preterite 
    • “I called.” 
    • the simple past tense
  • The Perfect 
    • “I have called.” 
    • compound past
  • The Infinitive 
    • “I plan to call.” 
    • used with modal verbs

Here are a couple more examples:

  • Hon tänker ringa till Lina. / “She plans to call Lina.”
  • Ringde Lars? / “Did Lars call?”

This terminology may be new to you, but remember that it’s quite similar to the set of tenses that English has. The only difference is that the present perfect (“had done”) is used more commonly in speech than the preterite is.

Swedish also has quite a few irregular verbs, just like English and other Germanic languages. In these cases, the verb stem itself will often change.

As in most languages, the verbs you see the most tend to be the ones that are irregular. This is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have to learn so many irregular verbs to communicate on a basic level. On the other hand, though, these verbs crop up so frequently that they’re naturally absorbed into your mind without you having to spend extra time reviewing them!

    → See our vocabulary list of the 50 Most Common Verbs to get a head start in your vocabulary learning!

4. Swedish Adjectives and Adverbs

Purple Lilacs

In Swedish, adjectives have different forms related to word gender, just like nouns do.

When we put an adjective after a word (called a predicate adjective), we always use the base form with no endings.

  • William är snäll. / “William is kind.”

How about when you place the adjective in front of the noun? That’s where the complexity arises.

For en-words, we use the base form of the adjective. If “nice” is fin and “flower” is blomma:

  • Det här är en fin blomma. / “This is a nice flower.”

Ett-words add a -t.

  • Det här är ett fint piano. / “This is a nice piano.”

These basic Swedish grammar rules will take you far, though there are other rules to follow based on the final sound in the adjective. If you first encounter an adjective in the ett-form, you may not be able to perfectly guess the en-form in every case.

If you feel that the gender aspect of Swedish nouns is challenging, then you’re also likely to find Swedish adjectives challenging. The best advice is to learn words in context.

Adverbs, on the other hand, shouldn’t pose a lot of trouble. They’re formed quite regularly, almost always ending in -t.

  • Jag hoppar högt. / “I jump high.”

Don’t forget to view our vocabulary list of the Most Common Adjectives to learn some useful words in context! 

5. Swedish Word Order

A Bunch of Bananas

Swedish can be described as a verb-second language, where the verb always takes the second place in the sentence. In English, the verb tends to simply follow the subject except in especially formal writing.

  • Nu går jag hem. / “Now I am going home.”

Note the use of the simple present tense to refer to an ongoing action in this example!

Apart from the verb-second rule, in normal main clauses the word order tends to be subject-verb-object, just like in English.

  • Jag köpte en banan i affären. / “I bought a banana in the store.”

Pay attention to where you place adverbs of time in a sentence. In English, they go between the subject and verb, but Swedish is very strict about that verb-second rule.

  • Jag köper alltid bananer. / “I always buy bananas.”

Another slight difference from English is the treatment of yes/no questions. In Swedish, these always begin with the verb, but there’s no helping word (do) as in English. It’s exactly like reversing the word order.

  • Kommer du från Sverige? / “Do you come from Sweden?”

The direct translation, “Come you from Sweden?” sounds archaic to modern English ears, but the best part is that it still sounds like good English. This means that this aspect of Swedish grammar is super-easy to pick up.

6. Conclusion

Do you still have some questions about Swedish grammar? Of course you do!

Since Swedish is so close to English, you can pick up a lot of the nuances automatically by doing a lot of reading and listening to authentic Swedish material, like the stuff on SwedishPod101.com.

And our resources don’t stop there. In addition to explainer videos and special podcast episodes, SwedishPod101 has a whole series of articles letting you know exactly what to pay attention to as you move onto more advanced grammar topics.

The best way to learn a language is to balance direct study of the language’s complicated features with regular consumption of high-quality content. SwedishPod101 is simply the best place for both.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

20 Swedish Quotes To Brighten Your Day

Thumbnail

People are, it seems, primed to enjoy quoting others. In Western culture at least, quoting something well-known is a sign to others that you belong, that you’re part of the in-crowd that knows the book, movie, or TV show in question. 

For that reason, quotes have existed long before books, movies, and TV shows, and they’ll certainly persist into the distant future. 

In this list of Swedish quotes, you’ll find some old favorites that everyone in the world knows, as well as some classic Scandinavian sayings that you probably haven’t heard before. 

Ready to impress your friends with these Swedish quotes?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Food
  5. Quotes About Love
  6. Quotes About Family
  7. Quotes About Friendship
  8. Quotes About Health
  9. Quotes About Language Learning
  10. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Success

These inspirational quotes in Swedish have English counterparts with nearly the same meaning. It’s interesting, though, to see how Swedes express the same concepts in different ways.

  • Bättre en fågel i handen än tio i skogen. / “Better a bird in the hand than ten in the forest.”

You’re probably familiar with the equivalent English expression that ends with “than two in the bush.” In Swedish, the “bush” is extended to a whole forest—which may be better for some learners who associate birds with forests rather than bushes.

  • Man ska inte köpa grisen i säcken. / “One shouldn’t buy a pig in a sack.”

Here you can see the “impersonal man” in Swedish. It means “one” or “people,” and that’s how it’s translated here. That said, you should know that in Swedish, it’s used in a common, conversational way. In English, we’d use “you” in the same informal context.

By the way, this quote advises you to take good care in examining your decisions from all angles before following through with them—you don’t want to make a big purchase blind!


2. Quotes About Life

An Unassuming Man with a Chalk Drawing of a Strong Man Behind Him

Are you feeling stuck or unsatisfied with your life? Maybe you just need these quotes about life in Swedish to get back on the right path. 

  • För att lyckas i livet behöver du två saker: okunnighet och självförtroende. / “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

The word självförtroende might look totally foreign to you at first, but let’s break it down. Själv means “self” and troende means “believing.” The för prefix is a common Germanic feature, linking the other two parts of the word and giving you “self-trust.”

  • Jag har misslyckats om och om igen i livet och det är därför jag lyckas. / “I’ve failed over and over and over again in life and that is why I have succeeded.”

Look carefully at the word lyckas (“success” / “to succeed”) in this example and in the previous one. Since this example begins with Jag har (“I have”), we know that we need to use the supine form lyckats in the root misslyckas (“to fail”). Confused by the word “supine”? Take a look at our Swedish Grammar page!

  • En arbetsam människa är bättre än en hop dagdrivare. / “A hard-working man is better than a crowd of loafers.”

In a sense, this quote is rather similar to “a bird in the hand…” Both compare the positive benefits of a small amount of completed action with a huge amount of unrealized action. As long as you’re doing something, you’re better off than those who are doing nothing. 

3. Quotes About Time

A Rainbow Over a Green Field

The following life quotes in Swedish touch on the topic of time and the influence it has on our lives.

  • Den som lever får se. / “He who lives shall see.”

Don’t worry, this is not a sentence you would hear before a duel breaks out! It means, “Only time will tell,” and in fact, it makes a bit more sense than the English equivalent. Time doesn’t reveal anything, but those who live through the experience will know how things work out.

  • Efter regn kommer solsken. / “After rain comes sunshine.”

This kind of sentiment exists in lots of different languages and cultures all over the world. Bad times always come to an end, and they’re always followed by good times. Also, note the word solsken (“sunshine”) in this phrase. This is a typical sound change present in Swedish, where the “sh” in English became sk in Swedish—but recall that sk has shifted its pronunciation and is now a breathy “sh” sound as well.

4. Quotes About Food

A Smorgasbord of Different Swedish Foods

Who doesn’t enjoy sitting down to a nice meal now and then? Food is a major aspect of any culture, so it should come as no surprise that they feature in several quotes and proverbs. Take the following quotes in Swedish for example.

  • Låt maten tysta mun. / “Let the food silence the mouth.”

Confused what this quote might mean? Well, if your mouth is silenced, it means you can’t talk with your mouth full! Despite the many tasty foods available in Swedish culture, it’s not polite to speak with your mouth full or to eat loudly. Remember that before you have to endure someone quoting this to you!

  • Ratar man agnarna, kan man lätt gå miste om kärnan. / “If we reject the chaff, we may easily lose the kernel.”

This quote is an agricultural equivalent of the English saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Don’t be so keen on discounting something because of its flaws that you ignore its benefits.

  • Bränn inte dina läppar på andras soppa. / “Don’t scald your lips on another’s soup.”

To get this quote locked in your memory, try and imagine a stern Swedish grandmother saying it at the dinner table. The meaning here is beautifully metaphorical: Don’t involve yourself too much in other people’s business, and you won’t become affected by their problems. 

5. Quotes About Love

A Couple Pressing Their Foreheads Together in Understanding

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy these love quotes in Swedish. 

  • Bättre älskat och förlorat än att aldrig ha älskat. / “Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”

Here we see the verb älskar (“to love”), which is an Old Norse word quite different from the noun form kärlek (“love”). You’re about to see an example of this noun form, too!

  • Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig. / “Old love never rusts.”

Out of these four words, three of them (all but rostar) are typical Scandinavian/Norse words with no clear equivalent in English. Kärlek (“love”) is actually a compound word made up of cognates, and would be something like “care-like” in English. But that’s so far removed from modern English that it doesn’t quite count as a transparent word.


6. Quotes About Family

A Little Girl Throwing Autumn Leaves

Family is a cornerstone of any society, and there are tons of quotes and proverbs regarding the topic. Here are a couple of quotes in Swedish about familial relationships and childhood. 

  • Sådan far, sådan son. / “Like father, like son.”

The word sådan actually has several possible translations. This version of the world-famous quote means that a son becomes very similar to his father in his manners and behavior. 

  • Barnaminnet är långt. / “Childhood memories last long.”

Here we have a typical example of Swedish compound noun formation. Barn means “child” (people in Scotland may recognize this term), and minnet means “memory.” The two words connect with an a and form barnaminnet (“children’s memories”).


7. Quotes About Friendship

Friends are one of life’s greatest joys and necessities. Here are a couple of friendship quotes in Swedish to warm your heart!

  • Vänner visar sin kärlek i svåra tider, inte i tider av lycka. / “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in times of happiness.”

This quote translates almost word-for-word into English, so we’ll just focus on one point: In English, “times of trouble” is a set phrase, but in Swedish it’s actually “hard times.” 

  • Min bästa vän är den som tar fram det bästa i mig. / “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”

Here we can see the Swedish verb tar (“to draw out”) combining with the adverb fram (“forward”) to form the verb phrase “to bring out.” Also note that we don’t say “the one who” in Swedish; we just say den som (“that which”). 


8. Quotes About Health

Lots of Healthy Foods

You should always prioritize your health, because good health is required to do more important things and achieve goals. Here are a couple of quotes in Swedish on the topic.

  • Det som inte dödar, härdar. / “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

This classic quote is even more concise in Swedish. Here, we don’t have an object for either verb, and härdar is the equivalent of “to harden.” So in translation, we get: “What does not kill, hardens.”

  • Hårt bröd gör kinden röd. / “Hard bread makes the cheek red.”

When written with a space, hårt bröd simply means “hard bread.” This hard bread refers to the Swedish knäckebröd, a specific type of hard flatbread eaten in Scandinavia as a staple for centuries. This quote is similar to, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Even if apples or crispbread aren’t the most exciting foods, a steady and nourishing diet keeps you healthy. 

9. Quotes About Language Learning

Finally, let’s look at a couple of quotes about language learning. What better way to inspire you in your studies? 

  • Ett nytt språk är ett nytt liv. / “A new language is a new life.”

This one has a perfect one-to-one translation in English! This quote may resound particularly well with the many immigrants coming to Sweden to seek a better life—for them, learning Swedish well is an important step to take in their new lives in Sweden.

  • Gränserna för mitt språk är gränserna för min värld. / “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

Now that you’ve finished this list of Swedish quotes, do you feel your gränserna (“borders” / “limits”) expanding a bit?


10. Conclusion

As you can see, Swedish is such an accessible language for English speakers that you don’t even have to try that hard to see the links between the example sentences. 

The fact that learning these examples will make you sound like an educated, worldly person is just a bonus!

By the way, if you want to continue learning Swedish in a relaxed and easy way, sign up now for SwedishPod101! You’ll find tons of content in Swedish that will help you bridge the gap from total beginner to comfortable Swedish speaker. Enjoy our videos, podcasts, and articles just like this one, and start taking your Swedish to the next level today!

Before you go, let us know in the comments which of these Swedish quotes is your favorite, and why. We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish

10 Common Questions in Swedish and How to Answer Them

Thumbnail

Many say that conversation is an art. And more than that, conversations are our primary way of getting to know other people. There are conversations for every situation, and a good one should address topics that are of interest to both people. 

The best way to start a conversation is by asking a question. But asking questions in a foreign language can feel intimidating, especially when you’re not sure what kinds of questions to ask in the first place.

Learning how to ask questions in Swedish is one of the first steps that students of the language must take, after basic greeting phrases. This is mainly because questions are such a good way to start a conversation, and the trick to learning any new language is to practice as much as possible. 

When you’re a beginner, it might feel a bit scary to start speaking. But remember that practice makes perfect, and that Swedes are kind and forgiving when it comes to language mistakes. The fact is, they’ll probably be impressed that you know any Swedish at all!

 
    → In this article, we’re going to focus mainly on common Swedish questions and answers. If you want more information on what an introductory conversation would look like, read our relevant article!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish Table of Contents
  1. The Basics
  2. The Top Swedish Questions and Answers
  3. Ending the Conversation
  4. Conclusion

1. The Basics

Before we move on to our guide on the top Swedish questions for beginners, there are a few things you need to know. Namely, the Swedish question structure and question words. Let’s take a look.

Swedish Question Words

Common English Questions Words in Colorful Bubbles

A question in Swedish will usually start with a question word. Here’s a quick table for you: 

WhatVad
Which (singular)Vilken
WhereVar
WhenNär
WhoVem
WhoseVems
WhyVarför
Which (plural)Vilka
From whereVarifrån
HowHur

Swedish Question Word Order

Learning the Swedish question structure can be difficult for new learners, especially those who speak English as their first language. But there’s a simple pattern for you to memorize: 

Question Word + Verb + Subject

Here are some examples:

  • Where are you from?
Question WordVerbSubjectComplement
Varkommerduifrån?
Wherecomeyoufrom?
  • What is Lisa doing?
Question WordVerbSubject
VadgörLisa?
WhatdoingLisa?


2. The Top Swedish Questions and Answers

Without further ado, here are the basic Swedish questions every new Swedish learner should know, and how to answer them yourself! 

1 – What’s your name?

First Encounter

In Sweden, it’s important to introduce yourself properly before diving into the questions. Keep in mind that in Sweden, you don’t need to use titles such as “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Dr.” when addressing someone. In addition, you needn’t worry about using a person’s last name either. You can and should use first names only, regardless of whether you’re speaking with a new friend, a manager, or a colleague.

Introducing yourself in Swedish is pretty straightforward. Here’s an example of how you can begin the conversation:

  • Hej jag heter ___. Vad heter du? 
    “Hello, my name is ___.” What is your name?”

The person you’re talking to will respond with:

  • Hej, jag heter ___, trevligt att träffas! 
    “Hello, my name is ___, nice to meet you!”

And you should respond:

  • Trevligt att träffa dig också! 
    “Nice to meet you too!”

 2 – How are you?

Two Women Having a Chat Over Coffee

In British and American culture, a “How are you?” can be thrown into a greeting with no expectation of an answer. But the importance of this question in Swedish can’t be overstated. 

When Swedes ask this, they really want to know. They’re not asking just to be polite! 

In Swedish culture, asking how someone is signifies that you care about that person, and it plays an important role in the conversation. Asking this question can establish the status of the day, and maybe even give you or your friend the opportunity to complain a little or talk about your fantastic day.

Here’s an example conversation:

A: Hur mår du? (“How are you?”)

B: Jag mår bra, tack! Hur mår du själv? (“I am well, thanks! How are you?”)

A: Inte så illa. (“Not too bad.”)

However, life’s not always so perfect. What if your friend says something like this?

  • Inte så bra. 
    “Not so good.”

Well, you can expect your friend to add an explanation to this answer. Here are examples:

  • Jag är trött. 
    “I am tired.”
  • Jag har haft mycket att göra idag. 
    “I had a lot to do today.”
  • Jag hade en stressig morgon. 
    “I had a stressful morning.”

You should then reply with something empathetic, such as:

  • Vad tråkigt att höra. 
    “I am sorry to hear that.”

Other ways of responding to the question Hur mår du? (“How are you?”) are:

Mycket bra, tack! 
“Very well, thank you!”

Helt okej! 
“It’s okay!”

Det är bra! 
“All good!”

Regardless of the answer, it’s very important to listen and show empathy and interest when replying. Otherwise, the Swede you’re talking with might think you’re rude.



3 – Where are you from?

Flags of Many Different Countries

A good way to continue a conversation is by telling your interlocutor where you’re from:

  • Jag är från England, var kommer du ifrån? 
    “I am from England, where are you from?”

Of course, you can replace “England” with any other country. Just remember to look up what your country is called in Swedish!

If you’re quite sure that the person you’re talking to is from Sweden, you can say:

  • Jag är från England, är du från Sverige? 
    “I am from England, are you from Sweden?”

The response to this question could be either a ja (“yes”) or a nej (“no”). If it’s the latter, you can always add:

  • Var kommer du ifrån? 
    “Where are you from?”

Find your home country in our Nationalities vocabulary list

4 – Where do you live?

In Sweden, finding out where someone lives is also a way to get clued in on that person’s social status. Sweden has no official class system, but unofficially, people will classify you and themselves according to where you live. What street do you live on? Do you live in a house, a building with flats? Which floor? 

All of these things have meaning, which is why it’s so important for Swedes to ask this question:

  • Var bor du?
    “Where do you live?”

If you live in a city, such as Stockholm, always add the name of the street that you live on as well:

  • Jag bor i Stockholm på Hornsgatan. 
    “I live in Stockholm on Hornsgatan.”

If you live in a smaller town or village, it’s enough to say:

  • Jag bor i ___. 
    “I live in ___.”

5 – Which languages do you speak?

Introducing Yourself

Many Swedes speak at least two languages. The most common are Swedish and English, but many Swedes also speak French, Spanish, or German since it’s mandatory for students to add a language for most high school and college level courses. Another reason for this is that Sweden is a relatively small country and Swedes don’t expect people from other countries to know their language. 

Here’s a dialogue that uses a relevant question and answer in Swedish.

A: Vilka språk talar du? (“Which languages do you speak?”)

B: Jag talar svenska, engelska och franska. Vilka språk talar du? (“I speak Swedish, English, and French. Which languages do you speak?”

A: Jag talar engelska och lär mig svenska. (“I speak English and am learning Swedish.”)

6 – Where did you study Swedish?

Swedes are almost always surprised when they find out that a foreigner is learning their language. It’s a small country, and as mentioned, most people speak at least one language in addition to Swedish, usually English. They’ll be curious and ask you where you learned Swedish:

  • Var lärde du dig svenska? 
    “Where did you learn Swedish?”

Here are two possible ways you can answer:

  • I språkskolan ___. 
    “In the language school ___.”
  • På onlinekursen ___
    “In the online course ___.”

7 – Why did you study Swedish?

You’re very likely to receive this follow-up question:

  • Varför ville du lära dig svenska? 
    “Why did you want to learn Swedish?”

Of course, your answer will vary depending on your personal reasons for wanting to learn. But if you don’t have a particular reason, you can always reply with:

  • Jag är intresserad av Sverige och svensk kultur
    “I am interested in Sweden and Swedish culture.”


8 – Have you been to Sweden?

Swedish City of Lund

If you meet a Swede outside of Sweden, they might want to know if you’ve ever been to their home country. They may ask:

  • Har du varit i Sverige? 
    “Have you been to Sweden?”

To this, you can reply with a ja (“yes”) or nej (“no”). 

9 – Where in Sweden have you been to?

If you reply with a ja (“yes”), they might want to know where in Sweden you’ve been.

  • Var i Sverige har du varit? 
    “Where in Sweden have you been to?”

You can then reply:

  • Jag har varit i ___. 
    “I have been to ___.”

Simply fill in the blank with the place you’ve been to. 



10 – Which other countries have you traveled to?

If your interlocutor happens to be a huge travel buff, they may also want to know where else you’ve been.

  • Vilka andra länder har du rest till? 
    “Which other countries have you traveled to?”

You can then reply:

  • Jag har varit i ___ och ___. 
    “I have been to ___ and ___.”

3. Ending the Conversation

Woman Waving Goodbye to Friends on Campus

In Swedish, there’s mainly one way to say goodbye: Hej då. However, Swedes will often add to this when ending a conversation.

  • Hej då! Vi ses! (“Bye! See you!”)
  • Hej då! Vi hörs! (“Bye! Keep in touch!”)

To reply, you can simply say:

  • Vi ses! (“See you!”)
  • Vi hörs! (“Keep in touch!”)

When a Swede says to “keep in touch,” this should not be taken as a promise or indication that the person wants to actually keep in touch—but they might want to! Depending on the tone, you can determine if they really want to see you again or keep in touch.

If you’re not sure what they mean and you liked the person, don’t be afraid to reach out and invite him/her for a Swedish Fika. This simply means having a cup of coffee, something sweet, and another conversation.

4. Conclusion

By now, you should have a better understanding of what kinds of questions you should expect to hear when visiting Sweden (and how to answer them). Are there any question patterns we didn’t cover in this article that you want to know? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

Learning questions in Swedish is a major step forward in your language-learning journey, but there’s still so much more. SwedishPod101.com has tons of lessons for beginners, intermediate learners, and more advanced students—this means that there really is something for everyone! 

For more information on the Swedish language, check out the following pages:

Until next time, happy Swedish learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Swedish