Dialogue - Swedish


Vocabulary (Review)

heter to be called, named
tack thank you
hej hello
god morgon. good morning
kul att träffas nice to meet you
ja yes
hejdå bye

Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of this Lesson is Using Heter in Simple Present Tense
Hej, jag heter James. Vad heter du?
"Hi, I'm called James. What's your name?

The grammar for this lesson consists mainly of the usage of the word heter (heta) in simple present tense. It thus provides a glimpse at the tense and paves the way for some more simple verbs in lesson 2.

Swedish has a number of different verb groups. We will start with the ones like heter (heta) that drop the infinitive a and add an er at the end. They are relatively simple in terms of pronunciation. Giving your name and asking for the other person's name are probably the most common things to do when meeting for the first time. Swedish is no exception here.

There are at least two ways to give your name, the more common of which Vad heter du? Jag heter... we are presenting and practicing here. The other, slightly more formal variant will be introduced in one of the next lessons, so not to worry. It will all be covered shortly.

Swedish Writing System

The Swedish alphabet is very easy to learn because it uses the same alphabet as English, except for the last three: å, ä, ö.
Knowing the basics of the Swedish alphabet is a huge step in learning Swedish because it's a "phonetic" language. That means if you know the letters, then you can read the words and people will understand you. In fact, the writing system is so exact that when you ask someone to spell a word, they usually just say it slower. We'll go over the pronunciation of each letter and the rules for spelling in our pronunciation series.


The Swedish alphabet consists of nine vowels and twenty consonants. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, and ö. This is similar to the English vowels, apart from å, ä, ö and y.
You also form words the same as in English by putting letters together in certain orders. Swedish is a Germanic-based language, so it shares many words with English and German. Cognates are similar-looking words with similar meanings. For example, "electricity" (elektricitet) and "traditional" (traditionell) are English-Swedish cognates.

Key Vocabulary & Phrases

Kul att träffas ("Nice to meet you")
This is not in the vocabulary list for a reason. The phrase is best learnt, for now, as it is on its own. The initial word is still considered fairly casual and spoken language rather than written. The construction that follows will be dealt with as a structure at a later stage. Here and now we will only address the phrase's pronunciation.

Tack ("Thanks")
Without a doubt, the most important word in the Swedish language. Swedes say "thanks" for everything and anywhere; it is an omnipresent piece of vocab. This point will be picked up in many a later session, but some mention of the word's importance will naturally be given here, too.

Cultural Insights

Important Introductory Swedish Words


The most common and basic greeting in Swedish is hej. It can be used in emails (even addressing unknown addressees) and sometimes letters—with certain limitations—and is used all the time in spoken Swedish. It is always usable and there is no stigma attached to it. It may freely be used even in contexts where perhaps individual Swedes would choose slightly more formal options. Swedes are by and large very casual and also like to be seen that way, especially when communicating with foreigners.

Equivalent to the phrase "nice to meet you" in English, Swedes, probably as a consequence of close contact with the English language, often use kul att träffas even when not being properly introduced. It is, so to speak, like in English an expression of exchanging niceties rather than a sincere comment.

To say good-bye in Swedish is equally simple and casual. You just use the word hejdå. There are other alternatives (hejhej etc), but we shall limit ourselves to the commonest way for now. What was said about the usability of hej is also true for hejdå. It can be used without inhibition anytime and anywhere.

Just to get an idea about slightly more formal way of greeting and saying good-bye, two other forms (god morgon and adjö) will also be introduced in brief. Upon leaving, as the English "see you," Swedes often use vi ses, to mark the ultimate end of the conversation.

Other than the immediate greeting and good-bye phrases a word of utmost importance is the word for "thanks," tack. Swedes use it even more frequently than it is being used in the English language. They use it when ordering, instead of "please." They confirm the order with it, they confirm the sum payable with it and they definitely use it again when receiving the order. Although, the word itself will only feature briefly here, its importance will be hinted at and it will feature again at least a few more times in later lessons.

Lesson Transcript

Jasmine: Hej och god morgon.
Morten: Hello and good morning. My name is Morten. Welcome to SwedishPod101.com - Absolute Beginner Season 1, Lesson 1 - How to Introduce Yourself in Excellent Swedish. I am here with Jasmine.
Jasmine: I'm a Swedish native speaker, and we'll be helping out with dialogs and explaining things so that you get the most out of our new and fresh lesson series.
Morten: You'll see you'll be able to speak a lot of Swedish in a very short time.
Jasmine: In this lesson, we will look at how to introduce ourselves. The conversation takes place at a university welcome meeting.
Morten: Our main characters are James from England and Anders, a Swede studying at Gothenburg University.
Jasmine: And this meeting for exchange students is relatively formal since people don't really know each other yet. Let's listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

Anders: Hej och god morgon. Välkomna till Göteborg.
Chorus reply: God morgon.
Anders: Hej!
James: Hej, jag heter James. Vad heter du?
Anders: Jag heter Anders. Kul att träffas.
James: Ja, kul att träffas. Det är fest ikväll här, eller?
Anders: Ja, just det. Vi ses på festen.
James: Ja, absolut.
Anders: Tack allihopa och adjö!
Chorus reply: Hejdå!
James "to Anders": Hejdå, vi ses!
Anders: Vi ses!
English Host: Let’s listen to the slow version.
Female: "Låt oss lyssna på den långsamma versionen."
Anders: Hej och god morgon. Välkomna till Göteborg.
Chorus reply: God morgon.
Anders: Hej!
James: Hej, jag heter James. Vad heter du?
Anders: Jag heter Anders. Kul att träffas.
James: Ja, kul att träffas. Det är fest ikväll här, eller?
Anders: Ja, just det. Vi ses på festen.
James: Ja, absolut.
Anders: Tack allihopa och adjö!
Chorus reply: Hejdå!
James "to Anders": Hejdå, vi ses!
Anders: Vi ses!
English Host: And now with the English translation.
Female: "Och nu med den engelska översättningen."
Anders: Hej och god morgon. Välkomna till Göteborg.
Morten: Hello and good morning. Welcome to Gothenburg.
Chorus reply: God morgon.
Morten: Good morning.
Anders: Hej!
Morten: Hi.
James: Hej, jag heter James. Vad heter du?
Morten: Hi, I'm called James. What's your name?
Anders: Jag heter Anders. Kul att träffas.
Morten: Hi, I'm Anders. Nice to meet you.
James: Ja, kul att träffas. Det är fest ikväll här, eller?
Morten: Yes, nice to meet you. There is a party here tonight, right?
Anders: Ja, just det. Vi ses på festen.
Morten: Yes, exactly. See you at the party.
James: Ja, absolut.
Morten: Yes, of course.
Anders: Tack allihopa och adjö!
Morten: Thanks, everyone, and Goodbye.
Chorus reply: Hejdå!
Morten: Bye!
James "to Anders": Hejdå, vi ses!
Morten "to Anders": Bye, see you.
Anders: Vi ses!
Morten: See you.
Morten: Alright, greeting in Swedish is fairly easy, isn't it?
Jasmine: Yes, it is. Swedes are in, most context, fairly casual in their attitude, especially when they're with foreigners. More often than not, they want to show their casual side.
Morten: So, hej and "Hejdå" are okay in most contexts?
Jasmine: Absolutely. Swedes will appreciate you making an effort to speak their language.
Morten: Are Swedes as open and relaxed as, say, Americans?
Jasmine: Well, perhaps not quite. But they are definitely friendly. And first encounters tend to be easy going.
Morten: But it can be a bit harder to get to know people better. Is that what you mean?
Jasmine: Det är sant. Swedes weren't always as relaxed as young people are these days. But a lot has changed.
Morten: And spending time abroad always takes some effort and initiative.
Jasmine: To get to know the locals you mean?
Morten: You took the word out of my mouth.
Moren: Let's now take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Morten: First we have:
Jasmine: Hej "natural native speed"
Morten: Hello
Jasmine: Hej "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: Hej "natural native speed"
Morten: Next:
Jasmine: Heter "natural native speed"
Morten: To be called
Jasmine: Heter "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: Heter "natural native speed"
Morten: And next we have:
Jasmine: God morgon. "natural native speed"
Morten: “Good morning.”
Jasmine: God morgon. "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: God morgon. "natural native speed"
Morten: And next:
Jasmine: Ja "natural native speed"
Morten: Yes
Jasmine: Ja "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: Ja "natural native speed"
Morten: Next we have:
Jasmine: Hejdå "natural native speed"
Morten: Bye
Jasmine: Hejdå "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: Hejdå "natural native speed"
Morten: And next we have:
Jasmine: Kul att träffas "natural native speed"
Morten: Nice to meet you
Jasmine: Kul att träffas "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: Kul att träffas "natural native speed"
Morten: And finally we have:
Jasmine: Tack "natural native speed"
Morten: Thank you
Jasmine: Tack "slowly - broken down by syllable"
Jasmine: Tack "natural native speed"
Morten: Let's now take a closer look at the vocabulary and phrases for this lesson. Tack seems to be the single most vital vocab word in Swedish. Swedes love their short little words for "thank you" and they use it almost to exhaustion.
Jasmine: That's right. We use it even more often than it's used in English.
Morten: You used it when ordering instead of saying please, right?
Jasmine: Yes. And we confirm the order with it, pay with it, and receive food with it.
Morten: What would that sound like?
Jasmine: "till exempel" for example. "En kopp kaffe tack.".
Morten: A cup of black coffee please.
Jasmine: "Ja, med mjölk tack."
Morten: Yes, with milk please.
Jasmine: "Jag kommer att betala kontant, tack."
Morten: Sure, I'll be paying in cash, thanks.
Jasmine: "Tack så mycket"
Morten: Thanks a lot. Wow, that's an impressive array of “thank you”s. Let's look at another phrase that was used in the dialog.
Jasmine: "kul att träffas"
Morten: Can you give us that in context, Jasmine?
Jasmine: Absolute! "Hej, kul att träffas.” I haven't met him before.
Morten: Greeting someone casually using "hej, kul att träffas" is pretty common in modern Swedish, isn't it?
Jasmine: Yes, it's usually used for people you haven't met before. The influence of the English language has made the phrase more popular.
Morten: Using the Swedish equivalent of "nice to meet you" used to be much rarer even 20 or 30 years ago, isn't that right?
Jasmine: Yeah, you would have been more likely to hear more literal translation of nice, "trevligt att träffas".
Morten: "kul" actually means a fun or exciting rather than nice.
Jasmine: Even so, it's a very common word.
Morten: But most text books on the Swedish language barely mention it.
Jasmine: Well, "kul" is still considered colloquial. But you will hear people use it all the time.
Morten: Thanks so much for that, Jasmine. Tack. Let's take a look at the grammar section for this lesson.

Lesson focus

Morten: Our lesson focus is the most common way to give your name in Swedish.
Jasmine: It's the phrase "Jag heter".
Morten: Which literally means "I'm called". There is another way to give your a name, but we'll cover that in a later lesson. The question, however, tends to be always the same.
Jasmine: "Vad heter du?"
Morten: "What's your name?" And what about the form of the verb? "Heter" is a simple present tense form, isn't that right?
Jasmine: "Ja, det är sant.". Its infinitive is "heta". If you used it with "att" for instance, it would be "att heta".
Morten: "To be called". Ah, that's the same form as "att träffas" in one of our phrases. "att" plus the verb is the same construction as the English "to plus a verb" – "to do", "to walk", et cetera.
Jasmine: Det är sant. that's right.
Morten: Okay, thanks a lot for that.
Jasmine: One thing that you listeners will find very comforting is that Swedish verbs do not change form according to person. Whether the subject is I, you, he, she or it, the form stays the same.
Morten: Even a slight change as from "walk" to "walks" in English is not necessary in Swedish.
Jasmine: That's good. Am I right?
Morten: Well, it does make life a little easier.
Jasmine: "Heta" belongs to a group of verbs with simple pronunciations.
Morten: All you need to know for now is that the stress is on the first syllable. To get the simple present tense, replace the "A" with "ER".
Jasmine: There are a number of even simpler verbs that are only one syllable.
Morten: Yes. In those, you just add "R" to form the present tense. Then, there are verbs that are simple in form but more complex in pronunciation.
Jasmine: But they aren't on the menu just yet.
Morten: We will start introducing them in the next lesson. For now, we'll stick to "heter" the present tense of "heta".
Jasmine: Yes. Infinitive forms and other verbs can wait until the next lesson.
Morten: For now, let's recap and practice a little. To ask someone's name, you say…
Jasmine: "Vad heter du?". Well done.
Morten: And you reply with, for instance, "My name is Bjorn."
Jasmine: "Jag heter Bjorn". Excellent.
Morten: Please practice this phrase with your own name.
Jasmine: Yes, and do practice the question as well. You will be using it a lot.
Morten: Absolutely.


Morten: Well, that's all for now. Like our podcasts?
Jasmine: Then like our Facebook page too!
Morten: Get lesson updates, our Swedish word of the day, and news on Facebook.
Jasmine: Just search for SwedishPod101.com and like our fan page.
Morten: And if you like a lesson or series on SwedishPod101.com…
Jasmine: …let us know…
Morten: …by clicking the button next to the lesson or series. Thank you very much indeed.
Jasmine: "tack allihopa"
Morten: "hejdå"