Swedish is a Scandinavian language, closely related to Norwegian and Danish (and through them, related to Icelandic). Spoken by over 9 million people, Swedish is the national language of Sweden and the official language of the Åland Islands. It is also an official language of Finland (along with Finnish), though only the mother tongue for about 6 percent of Finns.
Swedish is notorious for its extra vowel sounds, giving Swedish nine (!) different vowels. Most are pronounced differently than English, and some don't even have a true English equivalent; some may be close, but sound like a combination of two vowel sounds. This can be very confusing, but you probably won't hear enough Swedish to know the difference, as they can be very slight. If you don't get it exactly, you may still be understood. All vowels can be pronounced short or long which means that Swedish has 17 different vowel sounds (short e and short ä is the same).
Please note: in Swedish 'y' is a vowel and not a consonant.
like 'a' in "father."
short: like 'e' in "bed" or "pen." long: like 'ey' in "hey," but longer. Can sometimes sound slightly like "Ay-uh;" because the Swedish pronounciation is longer. E's are usually pronounced at the end of a word, such as in "kaffe" (pronounced kaff-eh, meaning coffee), unlike English where e's at the end of a word are usually silent.
short: like 'i' in "India" long: like 'i' in "machine." Fairly straightforward.
like 'u' in "put," but not exactly. It's somewhere between that and the 'o' in "broken" in actuality.
like 'ou' in "you."
like 'y' in "Nitroglycerin." This is one of the harder ones to learn. Easiest way is to round your lips (important) and say "bee." It may sound closer to an English short 'i' sound to some people.
like 'au' in "Paul" generally speaking.
like 'a' in "rare," similar to an English 'a' in apple. Pronounced with more bass if preceding r.
like 'i' in "Sir," sort of. Very close to 'eu' in Fleur. Pronounced with more bass if preceding r.
Consonants are closer to English, but some combinations can be downright tricky, i.e. 'sj' in "sjutton." Some pronunciations depend on the vowel following it, and so the vowels are divided into "soft" and "hard" vowels. A, o, u, and å are the hard vowels, and e, i, y, ä, and ö are the soft vowels.
like 'b' in "bed"
like 'c' in "cat", but a 'ch' combination is pronounced like English 'sh.' Sometimes 's' like the first c in circus.
like 'd' in "dog"
like 'f' in "for"
like 'g' in "go", when preceding a hard vowel, like 'y' in "yellow" when preceding a soft vowel. A 'gn' pronunciation is pronounced like an English 'g', except for when it follows a vowel, in which case it is pronounced 'ngn.'
like 'h' in "help"
like 'y' in "yell," and if there is a d, g, or h before a 'j' then that letter is silent.
like 'k' in "king" before a hard vowel, like 'sh' before a soft one. 'Kj' is pronounced 'sh' as well
like 'l' in "love," but 'lj' is pronounced like a 'y'
like 'm' in "mother"
like 'n' in "nice"
like 'p' in "pig"
like 'q' in "quest" (with "u", almost always)
like 'r' in "row", and like 'r' in "feather." Swedes tend to roll their r's in certain words. 'Rs' is pronounced 'sh'.
like 'ss' in "hiss," but 'skj' and 'stj' are pronounced 'sh.' 'Sj' is hard for non-native speakers - try rounding your lips and saying "hwoo" to get the gist of it. 'Sk' is also pronounced this way before soft vowels.
like 't' in "top," but 'tj' is pronounced 'sh'
like 'v' in "victory"
like 'v' in "victor," but w's in Swedish are uncommon.
like 'cks' in "kicks", like 'ehcks' at beginning of a word.
like 's' in "saw"
Please note that the Swedish language has no exact match for the English word "please". This means that English-speaking visitors can be offended since Swedes in general tend to leave out the word in question when they speak English. This does not, however, mean that Swedes are rude, but the significance of the word "please" is usually put differently, either through a different sentence or by the tone of the voice. An example: An English-speaking person walks into a pub and says "May I have a pint of beer, please". A Swede in the same situation would use the phrase "Jag skulle vilja ha en öl, tack", i.e. "I would like to have a beer, thanks".
God dag. (Good dahg)
Hej. (HAY) also Tjena (Schenah - soft e)
How are you?
Hur mår du? (Hoor mor doo?)
Fine, thank you.
Tack, jag mår bra. (Tack, yag moor brah)
What is your name?
Vad heter du? (Vaad HAY-tehr doo?)
My name is ______ .
Jag heter ______ . (Yag HAY-tehr _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
Trevligt att träffa dig (TRAYV-leet at TREH-fa day)
Var så god (VAHR saw good)
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Förlåt (Fur lowt)
Jag är ledsen (Yaag air lessen)
Hej då. (Hay doe)
I can't speak 'Swedish' [well].
Jag kan inte tala 'svenska' [så bra] (Yaag can eenteh taahla 'svenskah' [sooh brah])
Do you speak English?
Talar du engelska? (Taahlar doo engelskah)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Finns det någon här som talar engelska (Feens day noegon hair som talar engelskah)
Se upp (Say oop)
God morgon (Good Morron)
God eftermiddag (Good eftermeedag)
God kväll (Good kvell)
Good night (to sleep)
God natt (Good natt)
I don't understand.
Jag förstår inte (Yag fur stor eenta)
Where is the toilet?
Var är toaletten? (Vahr ay twa-LETT-en)
Leave me alone.
Lämna mig ifred (Lehm-na may ee-frehd)
Don't touch me!
Rör mig inte (Rerr may in-teh)
I'll call the police.
Jag ringer polisen (Yahg reenger poolee-sen)
Stopp! Tjuv! (Stop! Schoove!)
I need your help.
Jag behöver din hjälp. (Yahg behoever deen yelp)
It's an emergency.
Det är ett nödläge. (Dat ehr ett noedleh-ge)
Jag är vilse (Yahg ehr veel-seh)
I lost my bag.
Jag har tappat bort min väska (Yahg haar tapp-att boort meen vess-ka)
I lost my wallet.
Jag har förlorat min plånbok. (Yag haar furlooratt meen plohnbook)
Jag är sjuk. (Yag aer chook)
I've been injured.
Jag är skadad. (Yahg ehr skaadaad)
I need a doctor.
Jag behöver en doktor (Yahg behoever en dock-toor)
Can I use your phone?
Får jag låna din telefon? (Fohr yahg lohna deen telle-fohn)
trettio (thra tee)
fyrtio (fur tee)
femtio (fam tee)
sextio (sax tee)
sjuttio (hwoo tee)
åttio (oo tee)
nittio (nee tee)
ett hundra(at hoondrah)
ett hundra sjuttiofem (at hoondrah shoo tee fam)
två hundra(tfoo hoondrah)
tre hundra (trah hoondrah)
ett tusen (at toosan)
två tusen (tfoo toosan)
Tre tusen sju hundra femtioåtta (trah toosan hwoo hoondrah famtee otha)
En miljon (Ahn millyoon)
En miljard (Ahn millyard)
En biljon (Ahn billyoon)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
nummer _____ (noomer)
mindre/mindre än (meendrah/meendrah ehn)
mer/mer än (mehr/mehr ehna)
AM and PM are not used in Swedish, but rather the 24-hour clock.
If you want to say 1 AM you should say "klockan ett", which means "the clock one". And "It is 1 AM" is "Klockan är ett" which literally means "The clock is one".
Consequently, if you want to express 1 PM you should say "Klockan tretton" which means "Clock thirteen". "It is 1 PM" is "Klockan är tretton", meaning "The clock is thirteen". However, most Swedes take the easy way out and say "Klockan är ett" assuming that the person they talk to understands if they're referring to AM or PM.
What time is it?
Vad är klockan? (Vahd ahr clockan)
one o'clock AM
Klockan 1 (Clockan ett)
two o'clock AM
Klockan 2 (Clockan tfoo)
eftermiddag (after meedagh)
one o'clock PM
Klockan 13 (Clockan traahtoon)
two o'clock PM
Klockan 14 (Clockan fioortoon)
Midnatt (Meed nat)
quarter to _____
Kvart i _____(qvahrt ee)
"Half past" is not used in Swedish. Instead, the half hours expressed are halves of the coming hour, so 1:30 becomes "half two".