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Lesson Transcript

Hej, jag heter Elin. Hi everybody! I’m Elin.
Welcome to SwedishPod101.com’s “Svenska på tre minuter. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Swedish.
In the last lesson, we learned the most common forms of greetings in Swedish. Do you remember them?
In this lesson we’re going to learn a very useful phrase: “Do you speak English?”
If you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance in English, this phrase can be a lifesaver. And because you’re asking it in Swedish, you can be sure that everyone will understand what you’re saying, even if their answer is no.
Here's the most common way to say it.
Talar du engelska?
[slowly] Talar du engelska?
Swedish is a pretty straightforward language. We conjugate verbs based on time, which means we have past, present, and infinitive. The question talar du engelska? Translates as “are you speaking English?” As in English “speaking” is in the present tense, talar.
The second word in the sentence, du, simply means “you.” And you probably recognize “engelska” to be “English.”
Talar du engelska?
Like in English, there are a whole bunch of ways to ask this question. Let’s see another one. It literally means “do you know English?”
Kan du tala engelska?
[slowly]Kan du tala engelska?
When asking this question to someone you don’t know, begin by saying ursäkta mig, or "excuse me".
Ursäkta mig, kan du tala engelska?
[slowly] Ursäkta mig, kan du tala engelska?
As you might have noticed, the verb tala is slightly different than talar. Remember, the verb changes depending on the time it is in. We are now talking about the infinitive, since it is coupled with kan which means “can.”
The responses you will receive could be one of these three:
Ja. "Yes."
[slowly] Ja.
Lite. "A little."
[slowly] Lite.
Nej, jag talar inte engelska. "No, I don’t speak English"
[slowly] Nej, jag talar inte engelska.
Since this last one is a negative statement, we need to put inte after the verb talar. Inte means “not”. Jag talar inte engelska litterally translates “I speak not English”.
Now it’s time for Elin’s Insights.
For those of you who are not just English speakers, you can obviously use this question with any language you need. Swedish people study other European languages at school, so maybe you will get lucky! Just substitute engelska with…
Italienska for Italian.
Franska for French.
Spanska for Spanish.
Tyska for German.
In this lesson we mentioned the expression ursäkta mig. But did you know that this could also be used as an apology? In the next lesson we will learn this and other ways to apologize in Swedish.
I'll see you in our next Svenska på tre minuter lesson.
På återseende!