10 Essential Swedish Phrases Every Expat Should Know


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.

The Expat Hub
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