10 Essential Swedish Phrases Every Expat Should Know
The experience of living in a foreign nation can be greatly enhanced if you’re able to speak the native tongue, so if you’re moving to Sweden try and learn at least these basic phrases before you go.
But first, a brief introduction to Swedish…
Standard Swedish, as is spoken by the majority of the Swedish population, is a Germanic language which came into being in the 19th century with the blending of central Swedish dialects.
Although some distinct regional varieties of Swedish remain, standard Swedish is spoken by over 8 million people.
As Swedish words have comparatively few inflections their morphology is similar to English, but as with French and Spanish the language has two genders.
Whist not the most difficult language to learn, Swedish isn’t exactly the easiest and becoming fluent will require some hard work and determination, but it’s well worth persevering with!
Of all common phrases these are some of the most used:
Hello – Hej
Goodbye – Hej å
Yes – Ja
No – Nej
Please – Vänligen
Thank you – Tack
My name is… – Jag heter
Nice to meet you – Trevligt att tråffa dig
How are you? – Hur mår du?
Does anyone here speak English? – Talar någon engelska här?
If you feel like you’ve got a handle on those terms you may want to start learning these other basic Swedish words and phrases…
Good Morning – God morgon
Maybe – Kanske
Where is the? – Var är
How do I get to? – Hur krommer jag till?
How much is it? – Hur mycket är det?
I don’t understand – Jag förstår inte
Car – Bil
Train – Tåg
Plane – Plan
Train Station – Tågstationen
Airport – Flygplats
Left – Vänster
Right – Höger
Bread – Bröd
Beer – öl
Wine – Vin
Juice – Juice (pronounced yoos)
Waiter – Servitör
Waitress – Servitris
And then, of course, there are always Swedish numbers to learn!
One – En/Ett
Two – Tvä
Three – Tre
Four – Fyra
Five – Fem
Six – Sex
Seven – Sju
Eight – ätta
Nine – Nio
Ten – Tio
These basics may help you a little as you adjust to life in Sweden, but the more of the language you know the more quickly you’ll be able to acclimatise and enjoy your new surroundings.
For that reason here are two top tips for learning a foreign language while living abroad!
Talk to/befriend locals
While listening to language recordings and completing online activities are great when it comes to improving your linguistic skills, talking to locals on a regular basis will help you considerably more when it comes to getting your pronunciation correct, understanding inflection and learning colloquial or slang terminology. Genuine interaction is also much more satisfying then engineered and automated discussions about how to order a meal in a restaurant!
Keep a diary in the native language
You might not have kept a diary since you were ickle but making yourself write about your day in the language of your host nation is a fantastic way of picking up everyday terms and phrases. While being able to speak a foreign language is often more useful than being literate in it, if you can understand the street signs, newspapers, and posters which surround you, you’re bound to get more out of the experience. But when writing your diary try to not use Google Translate! (As good as it is, the software doesn’t always take into account the subtle nuances of language and some of what you’re trying to get across is bound to get lost in translation).
For more top tips check out our next essential expat phrases post. The next language we’ll be discussing is Polish.