10 essential words and phrases you need to know in Swedish

Published on 7th May 2015 by Shing Yoong in Sweden

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As with all of the Nordic countries, you will find that most people in Sweden speak very good English. Despite this, we think it is always nice to know a few basics before you go, so here are our ten essential Swedish words and phrases!

1 - HEJ (pronounced hay) means hello

This is a nice easy one to start with and you can also use hejsan (pronounced haysan) as a more informal alternative. Hejdå (pronounced Hay-doe) is the word for goodbye. 

2 - TACK (pronounced tack) means thank you 

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Or if you are very grateful you could say Tack så mycket (pronounced tack so mee-kah) which means thank you very much. The Swedish language has no exact match for the English word ‘please’. Instead it is common to offer your gratitude in advance by saying ‘tack’ at the end of the sentence. For example: ‘En Kaffe, tack’ means ‘a coffee, thanks’. 

3 - PRATAR DU ENGELSKA? (prahtah du engelskah) means ‘Do you speak English? 

If you would like to be more polite then you could add in excuse me at the beginning by saying ‘ursäkta’ (pronounced Ooshehk-ta).

4 -  JA (pronounced jah) means yes and NEJ (pronounced nay) means no

Easy peasy. You won't forget these two words any time soon.

5 - VAD KOSTAR DEN? (Vahd costahr den) means ‘How much is this?’

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Scandinavia isn't the most affordable place in the world, so this phrase will surely come in handy! ;-)

6 - En kopp kaffe tack (en kopp kaf-feh, tack) means ‘A cup of coffee thanks’

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Scandinavian countries consume a lot of coffee and Sweden is no exception! In fact some studies show that Sweden has the 3rd highest per capita coffee consumption in the world. Coffee in Scandinavia tends to be served black and is usually very strong! You can ask for milk (mjölk), but if you want to look like a local then drink it black alongside a kanelbulle. 

7 - Jag skulle vilja ha en kanelbulle tack (jah skulla vill-ya hahr en kan-el-bullar tack) means ‘I would like a cinnamon bun thanks.’ 

Cinnamon bun, Swedish Cinnamon Buns, Swedish Food

Fika is a Swedish word meaning to meet up for a cup of coffee and cake. You can fika with family, friends or work colleagues, but you can’t fika alone because this is very much a social affair. It is a little bit like the British afternoon tea, accept it is much more informal. Fika is a Swedish institution and it is common for people to meet to fika once or even twice a day. Any kind of cake will do, but if you want the true fika experience then order a delicious cinnamon bun or kanelbulle. 

8 - Ett glas röd vin tack (ett glaas rurd veen tack) means ‘A glass of red wine please.’

Red wine, Visit Sweden

It is no secret that alcohol in Scandinavia is expensive and you can expect to pay double what you would in the UK. We always advise people to pick up a few bottles in duty free, but if you are venturing out to a bar then wine is probably a good bet. £7 a glass may sound expensive, but the measures are often very generous meaning you get a fair amount for your money. It is also common for wine to be served with a glass of water which your head will thank you for the following day. 

9 - Titta! Det är en ren! (teetar! dey air en ray-en) means ‘Look! It is a reindeer!’

Reindeer, Swedish lapland, Swedish Reindeer

Sweden is a beautiful country and a fantastic place to go wildlife watching. Take your camera and be ready to spot a reindeer (en ren), en varg (a  wolf), en björn (a bear),  en fjällräv (an arctic fox) or even ett lodjur (a lynx). 

10 - Jag älskar Sverige! (jah elskar sveh-ree-ye) means ‘I love Sweden!’

Stockholm city, Stockholm Sweden

We are so confident that you will fall in love with Sweden that we thought we better include this one. 

Images © Visit Sweden

Happy learning Swedish!