How hard is Danish actually? I’d say it depends a lot on your native language (in addition to your tongue-twisting skills, of course!) If you’re an English-speaker – good on you. Both languages come from the same Germanic roots, and there are loads of similarities, grammar-wise and vocabulary-wise:
De har en kniv. (They have a knife.)
Naboens ko giver god mælk. (The neighbour’s cow gives [some] good milk.)
Some things are even easier than in English, such as the present tense of verbs:
Jeg løber. (I’m running.)
Du løber. (You’re running.)
Han løber hver onsdag. (He runs every Wednesday.)
…or such as the way questions are made:
Løber du? (Are you running?)
Løber du tit? (Do you often run?)
Other things, of course, are harder. For example, Danish nouns have got two different genders, and for each new noun learnt you have to memorize whether it’s an en or et word – and modify any adjective accordingly:
Solen er rød. (The sun is red.)
Huset er rødt. (The house is red.)
Here are a couple of things that Danes themselves struggle with:
• final -er. Like in British English, final Rs are rarely pronounced in Danish. They do, however, ”colour” the vowel next to them – compare tale [tal-uh] (speech) and taler [tal-oʳ] (speeches). The problem is when there’s already a ”colouring” R before the final -er! You just cannot hear the difference between lære ([to] learn) and lærer (learns) or between køre ([to] drive) and kører (drives). Many Danes mix such words up all the time!
• sin. In theory, han tog hans hat means ”he took someone else’s hat”. ”He took his own hat” would be han tog sin hat. The distinction between hans/hendes (his/her) and sin (his/her own) has disappeared in many dialects, and some people are simply making wild guesses!
During the next couple of months, I’d like to help you overcome some of your Danish struggles. To that end, this blog needs your help! So, please take some time to drop a comment answering the following: In your experience, what is the most difficult part of learning Danish? What really makes YOU fret, sweat and despair?