Useful Swedish Phrases and Words – A beginners guide

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  • Swedish Phrases

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There is really no need to learn Swedish phrases and words while traveling to Sweden since 99% of the people speaks English. But learning a few words and useful phrases in Swedish will definitely make your trip more fun and memorable.

Swedes are generally not known for being outgoing or to speak with strangers. This is a cultural thing where people want to respect the privacy of others in the public space. However, if you approach a Swede in the street, they will politely stop and help you 9/10 times. 

Swedes usually never approach each other in the street or talk with strangers. For some reason, people get uncomfortable or think it’s weird that a stranger talks to them on the bus or other public spaces.

With that said, Swedes won’t find it weird if a tourist approaches them. It might be slightly awkward if the Swede doesn’t know what to say, but this is where the Swedish phrases will come to good use. As soon as a foreigner speaks Swedish, almost every Swede will smile and loosen up a bit.

Basically, there is a short barrier one has to get through the first time you meet a Swede, and some Swedish phrases and words will definitely be the perfect icebreaker. Don’t worry if you don’t pronounce it correctly, we will try our best to understand what you mean!

How to say hello in Swedish

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The Swedish word for Hello is Hej or Hejsan. You could also say “Hallå” but it’s more informal. 

HelloHej/Hejsan

The Swedish phrase for I love you is “Jag Älskar Dig”.

I love YouJag älskar dig

The Swedish translation of Thank you is “Tack” but normally you would use the more formal version “Tack så mycket” meaning thank you very much.

Thank you very muchTack så mycket

The Swedish phrase for how are you? is “Hur mår du?” but friends could also say “Läget?” which is more laid back. 

How are you?Hur mår du? / Läget? 

A handshake is the most common greeting in Sweden, but friends and families usually hug each other. If you’re an acquaintance or stranger, you would likely shake hands.

The greeting solely depends on your relationship and circumstances. 

Colleagues could hug each other too, but if the working space has a formal atmosphere, a handshake would be the most appropriate.

Useful Swedish Phrases

Below you can see the translation of some common phrases in Swedish from English.

EnglishSwedish
My name is…Mitt namn är…
I’m from…Jag kommer ifrån…
Pleased to meet youTrevligt att träffas
Do you speak English?Pratar du engelska?
Do you speak Swedish?Pratar du svenska?
Yes, a little bit.Ja, lite grann.
How are you?Hur mår du?
I’m fineJag mår bra
Excuse meUrsäkta mig
Have a nice dayHa en trevlig dag
Good luck!Lycka till!
Happy BirthdayGrattis på födelsedagen
I love youJag älskar dig
How do you get to …? Hur tar man sig till…?
Have a good tripTrevlig Resa
Where do you live?Var bor du?
How old are you?Hur gammal är du?
I am __ years oldJag är __ år (gammal)
What does this mean?Vad betyder detta?
Can you translate this for me?Kan du översätta det här åt mig?
I don’t understandJag förstår inte
I don’t knowJag vet inte
Where is the toilet?Vart är toaletten?
How much does it cost?Hur mycket kostar den/det?
Leave me alone!Lämna mig ifred!
Call the police!Ring polisen!
One beer, pleaseEn öl, tack
Can I pay by card?Kan jag betala med kort?
Can I see the menu?Kan jag få se menyn?
Bon AppétitSmaklig Måltid!
I’m vegetarianJag är vegetarian
I want to pay, can I have the bill?Skulle jag kunna få notan? 
Would you like to dance with me?Vill du dansa med mig?

Swedish Words for everyday use

Below you have the words written in English to the left, and how to write them in Swedish to the right.

EnglishSwedish
HelloHej
GoodbyeHejdå
Good morningGodmorgon
Good day Goddag
GoodnightGodnatt
Thank youTack
PleaseSnälla
Yes/NoJa/Nej
WelcomeVälkommen
You’re welcomeVarsågod!
Cheers!Skål!
BeerÖl
WineVin
Wine listVinlista
SugarSocker
CoffeeKaffe
MilkMjölk
TeaTe
WaterVatten
MeatKött
ChickenKyckling
FishFisk
HamSkinka
FoodMat
BreakfastFrukost
LunchLunch
DinnerMiddag
Evening mealKvällsmat
RestaurantRestaurang
SupermarketMataffär

Funny phrases in Swedish

Släng dig i väggen

The English translation would be something like “take a hike”, but the literal meaning is “throw yourself in the wall”.

Lätt som en plätt

The English translation for this is “Piece a cake”, but the literal meaning is “easy as a pancake”.

Ge tillbaka för gammal ost

This is one of the funnier phrases in Swedish. The literal meaning is “to give back for old cheese” and it’s an expression for getting revenge. 

När man talar om trollen

English translation for this is “Speaking of the devil”, but in Sweden, we speak about the trolls instead when someone enters the room that you just said something about. 

Funny phrases in Swedish

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Unique words in Swedish

Lagom

The Swedish word Lagom doesn’t have an English translation, but the meaning of the word is “Just about the right amount”, although the actual meaning is more than that. It’s a word which is very integrated into Swedish society, and we use it a lot. 

The concept of Lagom is one of many interesting facts about Sweden

Fika

Fika is another Swedish word without an English translation. It’s more of a concept where you take a break to have coffee and cakes with friends, family, colleagues, or by yourself. Swedes love to Fika, and you will find many cafes all over the country. 

How to Count to ten in Swedish

While almost all Swedes speak English, it can be fun to learn how to count to ten in Swedish. 

EnglishSwedish
ZeroNoll
OneEtt
TwoTvå
ThreeTre
FourFyra
FiveFem
SixSex
SevenSju
EightÅtta
NineNio
TenTio

More about the Swedish language

The Swedish Language is primarily spoken by Swedes and a small part of Finland. It’s a Germanic language belonging to the Indo-European language family.

The Swedish language comes from the old Norse language which was spoken by the Vikings in Scandinavia. During this time, the script was in rune form. The writing system used today is Latin and there are 3 Swedish characters which are unique to the Swedish Alphabet, Å, Ä, Ö.

Swedish Language

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The Swedish language is quite similar to Danish and Norwegian due to the Old Norse heritage, but it’s totally different from Finnish although the two countries share both history and borders.

Each region in Sweden also has a distinct dialect, whereas “Rikssvenska” is considered to be the “real” version of the Swedish language. Some of the most distinct dialects are Skånska (spoken in the south), Norrländska (spoken in the north), Göteborgska (spoken on the west coast, primarily in Gothenburg), Stockholmska (spoken in Stockholm), Småländska (spoken in the region called Småland). 

The Swedish Alphabet

LetterPronunciation
A/a/ɑː/
B/b/beː/
C/c/seː/
D/d/deː/
E/e/eː/
F/f/ɛfː/
G/g/ɡeː/
H/h/hoː/
I/i/iː/
J/j/jiː/
L/l/ɛlː/
M/m/ɛmː/
N/n/ɛnː/
O/o/uː/
P/p/peː/
Q/q/kʉː/
R/r/ærː/
S/s/ɛsː/
T/t/teː/
U/u/ʉː/
V/v/veː/
W/w/²dɵbːɛlˌveː/
X/x/ɛks/
Y/y/yː/
Z/z/²sɛːta/
Å/å/oː/
Ä/ä/ɛː/
Ö/ö/øː/

Translate from Swedish to English

Google Translate is quite reliable for single words and common Swedish phrases, but when translating sentences it will usually mess things up and make it confusing. However, unless you have a dictionary with you, Google translate will be your best option for translating Swedish into English. 

Video with Swedish Phrases

How to pronounce words and phrases in Swedish

Pronouncing Swedish is pretty straightforward. Some foreigners have difficulties with our rolling R, especially Americans and Asians. Spanish-speaking people usually pronounce Swedish phrases very well. 

My best tip is to read the phrase or word slowly in your head and pronounce it just as it looks like. There aren’t many Swedish words with silent pronunciation, so you usually include everything of the word when speaking. 

Learn Swedish Phrases online

Duolingo and similar apps are pretty good for learning some basic Swedish phrases and words online. It can be useful for travelers, but as for learning the language, it’s recommended to attend a class since the grammar is usually the hardest part to learn as a foreigner. 

Many Swedish words are a direct translation from English and French, which means that you already know a lot of words in Swedish.

Learn Swedish Phrases

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Want to learn more Swedish Phrases? Leave a comment below!

August 26th, 2019|

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Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

My vision with this blog is to inspire people to travel more and better by sharing useful travel guides and tips from my adventures around the world.

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