Scandinavian language challenge day 5

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

  • the verbs to be and to have
  • subject pronouns
  • articles and nouns
  • plurals of nouns
  • numbers from zero to ten
  • question forms
  • everyday expressions
  • other words

The verbs to be and to have

The infinitive of the verb to be is att vara (Danish is at være) and its present tense is är (Danish is er). är is usually pronounced like English ay. The infinitive of the verb to have is att ha (Danish is at have) and its present tense is har (same in Danish).

For all Swedish 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: jag (I, Danish jeg), du (you, familiar), ni (you, polite, Danish De), han (he), hon (she, Danish hun), den (it, common gender), det (neuter gender).

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

Swedish uses the 3rd person singular pronoun man as the equivalent of people, or one, presumably in a similar way to German Man and French on.

The pronoun De is almost always pronounced ‘dom’.

Articles and nouns

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

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

en man
en kvinna
ett 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 a vowel, the definite article suffix is only -n (common) or -t (neuter).

Common gender (en) nouns ending in -el or -er add only -n as the definitive article suffix, for example nycklen (the key), dottern (the daughter).

Neuter nouns ending in -el or -er and nouns of both genders ending in -en drop the -e before adding the article.

Common gender (en) nouns include:

  • most nouns denoting days, months, seasons and festivals. Examples: måndag; höst (autumn); jul (Christmas); januari.
  • most nouns that end in -ad, -are, -dom, else, -het, -ing, -ion, -ism, -lek. Examples: lärare (teacher); sjukdom (illness); rörelse (movement); svaghet (weakness); station

Neuter nouns include:

  • most nouns that end in -ek, -em,-iv, -um. Examples: apotek; bibliotek; motive, museum.
  • nouns of towns, provinces, countries and continents.

Plurals of nouns

There are 5 plural endings in Swedish: -or, -ar, -er, -n and – (no ending).

  1. Common gender nouns ending in -a replace the -a with -or. Example: kvinna, kvinnor (women).
  2. Many nouns add -ar. Example: bil, bilar (cars). This group includes common gender nouns ending in -dom, ing -lek, -e, -el, er,-en. Example: sjukdom, sjukdomar (illnesses) Nouns ending in -e, -el, er,-en drop that final e before adding -ar. Examples: pojke, pojkar (boys), fågel, faglar (birds)
  3. Many nouns add -er, including common gender and neuter nouns ending in -nad, -skap, -är, -het, else, -ion, -ism. Examples: katter (cats), månader (months), svagheter (weaknesses), rörelser (movements, from singular rörelse), stationer (stations), nationer (nations).
    A few nouns in this group also change the vowel in the stem. examples: stad, städer (towns), bok, böcker (books).
  4. Neuter nouns ending in a vowel just add -n. Examples: äpple, äpplen (apples), hjärta, hjärtan (hearts).
  5. Some nouns add no suffix. This group includes mainly neuter nouns, as well as some common gender nouns that denote people and end in -are, -er, ande or ende: examples: barn (child, children), hus (house, houses), rum (rooms), problem (problems), lärare (teachers), apotek (pharmacy), system (systems), motiv (motives) and bibliotek (library).

Numbers from zero to ten

0 noll
1 en / ett
2 två
3 tre
4 fyra
5 fem

6 sex
7 sju
8 åtta
9 nio
10 tio

Question forms

Simple questions are formed by putting the verb before the subject

Har du ett äpple?
Har du många äpplen?
Hur många äpplen har du?
Är Jan Har?

Do you have an apple?
Do you have many apples?
How many apples do you have?
Is Jan here?

Everyday expressions

Hej då
Vi ses
Tack så mycket
Nej, tack
Jag bor
Jag heter

hello, hi
cheerio, bye
good day
see you soon [we’ll see each other]
thank you
thank you very much
no, thanks
I live
I am called

Some of the other words in this chapter

Verbs (like English or German): arbeta work; heta be called

Verbs (other): bo, (live); tala (speak)

Prepositions: med (with); på (on)

Adjectives (like English or German): ny (new); ung (young)

Adjectives (other): bra (good); gammal (old); ful (ugly); vacker (beautiful [cognate of German wacker?]

Other: men (but); mycket (much); många (many); och (and); också (also); som (who, whom, which} vad (what); hur (how); här (here); inte (not)

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