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20 Swedish Quotes To Brighten Your Day

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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!

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