I’ve been living in Sweden for a few months now and while I am far from fluent I have heard more than my fair share of Swedish and have begun stumbling through pronouncing a few sentences of my own. While Swedish bears remarkable similarities to English, German and the other Scandinavian languages, it is a thing all of its own. With the three extra vowels, different grammar and two-tone pronunciation, it can take a while to get the hang of.
That being said, understanding English is a great head start to getting the hang of Swedish. You already have breakfast-table conversation pretty much mastered – and you didn’t even know it!
Start off with a greeting
- God Morgon – Good Morning
And a hot drink
- Kaffe – Coffee
- Te – Tea
- Mjölk och socker – Milk and sugar
Hungry? Grab some food
- Bröd – Bread
- Knäckebröd- Swedish hard bread
- Äpple – Apple
- Yoghurt – Yogurt
Congratulations, you’ve begun your day like a true Swede.
When in doubt, just say it twice! There are several Swedish words that are often said two times, making it sound twice as friendly.
- Hej hej – Hello!
- Tack tack – Thank you!
- Puss puss – Kiss kiss (a goodbye for close family and significant others)
Hilarious Swedish words – for an English speaker anyway:-)
Now that you have a great grasp on the basics, here is the bonus round, only for the most serious Swedish students. Treat yourself to a fika if you can say them with a straight face.
- Fart – Speed
- Farthinder- Speed bump
- Kissa – Pee
- Slut – End
- Sluta – Stop
- Sex – six
The non-translatable Swedish words
Finally, there are some Swedish words that you will learn, only to realize that there is no direct translation. Here are the words that you will learn and need to share with the folks back home, as they are missing out:
- Fika – an afternoon coffee with a snack and good company
- Mysa- to be cozy
- Lagom – neither too much or too little; just right.
These terms are enough to get you started, but to get a better grasp on the language consider signing up for SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) and check out the Newbie Guide’s “Swedish” page. There are more details about how, why and where to sign up there! As always, feel free to reach out to me via my blog Vagabond beyond.
Hej Då ! (Goodbye)
Written by: Lily Kaufmann
Hi, I’m Lily! I’m 21 and originally from Canada, although more recently I have been backpacking the world. I was an athlete most of my life and a Diver (or, if translated directly from Swedish, a swim-jumper) for the university I attended in Miami, USA. I’m excited to be in Sweden to settle down and to explore my passions and hobbies which include writing, reading and cooking. I am living in Nykoping with my boyfriend, a native Swede.