Scandinavian language challenge day 4

Today I worked through the first chapter of Danish in three months. This chapter introduces:

  • the verbs to be and to have
  • subject pronouns
  • definite and indefinite articles
  • plurals of nouns
  • definite plural
  • greetings
  • other words

The verbs to be and to have

The infinitive of the verb to be is at være and its present tense is er. The infinitive of the verb to have is at have and its present tense is har.

For all Danish verbs, the same form is used for all persons (1st, 2nd and 3rd) in both singular and plural.

Subject pronouns

The subject pronouns in the singular are: jeg (I), du (you, familiar), De (you, polite), han (he), hun (she), den (it, common gender), det (neuter gender).

The subject pronouns in the plural are: vi (we), I (you, familiar), De (you, polite), de (they)

Articles and nouns

There are two genders: common and neuter (so no distinction between masculine and feminine).

The indefinite article is en (common) or et (neuter), placed before the noun.

en mand
en kvinde
et hus

a man
a woman
a house

The definite article is the same en or et, but suffixed to the end of the noun.


the man
the woman
the house

As shown above for kvinde, if the noun ends in an unstressed -e, the definite article suffix is only -n (common) or -t (neuter). But if the noun ends in a stressed e, the full -en or -et is added. So, for example, en ske (the spoon), skeen (the spoon).

The -e of the definitive article suffix must or may also be dropped after some nouns ending in unstressed -el, er or -en, for example cyklen (the cykel), himmeln or himlen (the sky), teatret or teateret (the theatre), frøkeneen or frøknen (unmarried woman).

If a noun ends in a stressed vowel followed by a single consonant, that consonant is often doubled before adding the suffix.

en kop

a cup
the cup

The article is often not included when referring to professions or nationalities, eg

Hun er fotograf
Jeg er dansker (note lower case on nationality)

She is a photographer
I am a Dane

Plurals of nouns

Most Danish nouns add -er to form the plural, or just -r if the noun already ends in an unstressed -e. For example, kvinder (women).

Most nouns ending in a final single consonant after a stressed vowel double the consonant before adding the plural suffix, for example busser (busses).

Many nouns ending in -el, er or -en drop that final e before adding the plural suffix. If so, any double consonant immediately preceding the ending is reduced to a single consonant. For example: gaffel (fork), plural: gaflen.

Some nouns form the plural by adding -e. Examples: , knive (knives), sparve (sparrows), blade (leaves), borde (tables). In some cases, the final consonant needs to be double, for example:

A third group of nouns add no suffix to form the plural. Examples are: ben (leg, legs), dyr (animal, animals), tog (train, trains), mus (mouse, mice), glas (glass, glasses).

Some nouns change the stem vowel to form the plural, regardless of whether they also add -en, -er or nothing. Examples:



cow, cows
farmer, farmers
child, children
man, men
goose, geese

Some kinship names base the singular on a shortened form and the plural on a longer form, with a change of vowel in the plural:




One irregular plural is et øje (eye), plural øjne.

Definite plural

The definitive article suffixed to the plural is -ne or, if no plural suffix was added, -ene. Examples: kvinderne (the women), husene (the houses), benene (the legs).

One irregular form from et menneske (human being). Its indefinite plural is mennesker but the definite plural is menneskene (not the expected menneskerne).

Examples of nouns which are singular in English but plural in Danish: penge (money), møbler (furniture, møbel = a piece of furniture).


På gensyn (until again seeing)
Dav, Davs [pronounced dows, dows]
Går det godt?/ Har du det godt?

good day
good morning
good evening
good night
see you again
hello (casual)

Are you well?

Hvordan har du det? (how are you) is not just a ritual question but expcts an answer. Suitable answers might be Godt, Tak (good, thank yuou), or faktisk ikke så godt (actually, not so good).

other common phrases:

  • tusind tak = thank you very much (1,000 thanks)
  • til Dem = for you
  • hvad hedder du? what is your name?
  • ikke sandt = isn’t it, isn’t that true [tag question]
  • du må gerne = you are welcome to

Some of the other words in this chapter

Words that are easy to recognise but need to be memorised:

  • en mand = man
  • en frøken = unmarried woman [German: Fräulein]
  • et knæ = knee
  • et træ = tree
  • et tog (tog) = train [German: Zug]
  • et ben = leg [German: Bein]
  • en himmel = sky / heaven [German: Himmel]
  • et menneske = human being [German: Mensch]
  • et forsøg = attempt -German: Versuch]
  • et tæppe = carpet [German: Teppich]

Words common to the Scandinavian languages:

  • kvinde = woman
  • pige = girl
  • dreng = boy
  • et barn (børn) = child
  • penge (plural only) = money
  • en bonde (bønder) = farmer
  • by = town (ending in many English place names, especially in the old Danelaw regions in the East)
  • tror = believe
  • kun = only
  • og = and
  • mange = many
  • til = to, until, for
  • hos = at the house of


  • søster = sister


  • en kniv = knife
  • en gaffel (plural: gafler)
  • en ske= spoon (skeer)

Words that may be hard to remember:

  • et møde (plural: møder) = meeting
  • en have (haver) = garden
  • et gulv = floor
  • et fængsel (fænsgler)= prison
  • en kø = queue
  • et loft = loft, ceiling
  • et hold = team

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