Simple Svenska!

I’m definitely not an expert, I might not be qualified to give lessons but hopefully I can explain the basics in a way that makes sense to English speakers.

When I first began, I was overwhelmed by how the letters looked. Here is a passage of Swedish:

“Sitter med en kaffe och kom precis in från en morgonpromenad…Det regnade snöslask på mig! Uhh! Kan nog inte beskriva hur glad jag är att jag har min resa bokad och idag är det exakt en månad kvar tills jag åker!”

I know what you you’re thinking… what the heck does that say!

The only thing that is different about that than the English alphabet is that they have 3 extra letters:

1) å       (pronounced “Ohhaa” but keep your lips rounded when you say it)

2) ä      (pronounced like “eeh” as in bed)

3) ö     (pronounced like “urr”)

Next, another main thing that is different from English is that all the J’s sound like English Y’s. And the Y sounds like Y so an English J sound doesn’t exist.

For example, the name Johan is  pronounced Yohan.


SO, FOR THE BASICS: (just skim.. I will explain more after this)

God morgon
Good Morning
Hej / Goddag
Hello / Good Day
God kväll 
Good Evening
God natt
Good Night
Hej då / Adjö (more formal)
Tack (så mycket)
Thank you (very much)
Ingen orsak / Varsågod
Don’t mention it / You’re welcome
Ja / Nej
Yes / No
Herr / Fru / Fröken
Mister / Misses / Miss
Hur är det? / Hur har du det?
How are you?
Hur mår du?
How are you? (How are you feeling?)
Good / Fine
Inte så bra.
Not so good
Vad heter du?
What’s your name?
Jag heter…
I am called…
Mitt namn är…
My name is…
Trevligt att träffas!
Pleased to meet you!
Jag förstår.
I understand.
Varifrån kommer du?
Where are you from?
Jag kommer från…
I’m from…
Var bor du?
Where do you live?
Jag bor i…
I live in…
Hur gammal är du?
How old are you?
Jag är ___ år (gammal).
I am ____ years old.
Talar du svenska?
Do you speak Swedish?
Jag talar [inte] engelska.
I [don’t] speak English.
Ja, lite grann.
Yes, a little bit.
Nej, inte alls.
No, not at all.
Jag förstår [inte.]
I [don’t] understand.
Jag vet [inte.]
I [don’t] know.
Ursäkta / Förlåt
Excuse me / Pardon me
Ha det så bra!
Take care!
Vi ses senare / snart
See you later / soon
Hej / Hej då
Hi / Bye
Jag älskar dig.
I love you.
Jag saknar dig.
I miss you.

Hello  –    Hej (sounds just like hey)
How are you  –   Hur mår du?
(*Hur means how, du means you, BUT mår doesn’t mean are, it’s just this specific context where it basically means ‘feel’ )
Good  –  Bra
Welcome  –  Valkömmen  (A step further till means to, so… “Valkömmen till Kanada”)
Thank you  –  Tack
Thanks so much – Tack så mycket ( så = so (soa) , mycket = much)
Yes  –   Ja (Yaw)
No   –   Nej  (Nay)
Help  –  Hjälp  (Hyelp)
I   –   Jag  (Yawg)
My name is  –   Jag heter ________ ( heter is like “called” which sounds strange in English but is most common in Sweden to introduce yourself as)
My name is – Mitt namn är  ________
I am good, thanks   –   Jag mår bra, tack (yawg moor bra, tack)

*the letter “i” alone means in. So if I want to say… ” I am in Canada” it is – Jag är i Kanada. Or, jag är i mitt hus ( I am in my house… okay maybe a bit too much) sounds like (yawg ar ee mitt hoos)

So let’s review. If you want to say: “Hey, how are you? I am good, thanks.”  – Hej, hur mår du? Jag mår bra, tack”

Okay now moving into you, we, she, he etc.

I – Jag
You – Du  (do)
He – Han
She – Hon   (huugh-n)
We – Vi  (Vee)
They – Dom

In English we say, ‘He IS’ or ‘I AM’ or ‘You ARE’. Those words (is, am, are) are all the same in Swedish. They just use är for present tense.

I am = Jag är
You are = Du är
He is = Han är
She is = Hon är


Now some verbs that might be useful are :

Tired –  Trött   (think trodden path or something)
Hungry – Hungrig  (Hungyary)
Happy – Glad
Thirsty – Törstig (think of when you were a kid and said I’m tursty haha, but this is  ‘torsty’)
Weird – Konstig


You are happy   = Du är glad
Are you happy?  = är du glad?
I am tired = Jag är trött

Easy? Yes. Very good. Now to end this I will put a list of words that are very similar to English, to prove that this language is not so difficult! 🙂

ägg — egg
hjärta — heart
måste — must (sounds like musta)
avokado — avocado
basketboll — basketball
stol — chair (like a stool)
bord — table
familj — family
kamera — camera
komma — come
musik — music
snö — snow
romantiskt — romantic
telefon — telephone
kan — can
kaffe — coffee
promenad — walk
precis — precisely (In English we hardly ever say this, but its very common in Swedish to say ‘ja, precis’ like ya precisely after everything haha)
absolut — absolutely
sitter — sitting
exakt — exactly

Three important words that are not similar to English but very important to know are..

MEN = but

MED = with

OCH = and 

Those never change I don’t think and are important to use if you want to structure sentences. 

men, med, och *remember those*

Finally, here is a sentence: ( see if you can guess what it means)

Hej! Kan du hjälpa mig? Jag måste gå till skolan, men jag kan inte – Jag är så trött.

(hey! Can you help me? I must go to school, but I can not – I am so tired.)


if you found that easy, the next step is learning how to say “not”, which is inte

so: du är inte så bra.  ( you are not so good)
hon är inte glad.
du är inte trott.

Great job!

(Bra jobb) 😉

PS. If you read this whole thing…. scroll back up to the top and read that first Swedish paragraph that was so confusing. The first bit “Sitter med en kaffe och..” = Sitting with a coffee and….   😉

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