English Words in Swedish

Posted on 31. Jul, 2014 by in Swedish Language, Vocabulary

Languages change. There’s phonetic change and morphological change and lexical change. Sometimes they’re obvious and other times maybe a bit less so. But, for the most part, these changes do not mean that the language is dying or disappearing. You hear that a lot when people start wondering about the number of foreign words making their way into a language. Like English words in Swedish, for example.

There are a whole host of English loanwords that appear in Swedish. And that’s ok. Especially because the vast majority of people in Sweden are still speaking Swedish. Surprising, I know. Språkrådet, the organization that kind of watches over the Swedish language, even came out and reminded everyone that it’s ok to use some English words in Swedish and that it is not the downfall of Swedish. Loanwords come from all kinds of language. Swedish has loanwords from English, German, French, Spanish, Arabic, and the list goes on.

Plus, from a language-learning standpoint, loanwords can be very helpful. They can often act as cognates, those helpful words that have a similar etymology and make them easy to recognize. Because I speak English, I’ve put together a short list of words that have been borrowed into Swedish. They appear somewhat regularly and can be very useful in everyday speech. While it may seem silly to put together a list of cognates, it can be helpful in adding them in to your working vocabulary.

I’ve included 20 verbs below and you’ll notice many of them are related to technology. Some of them are more common in the speech of younger Swedes, others you’ll hear from Swedes of all ages. Hopefully, they’re all helpful.

Svenska English
googla to google
blogga to blog
klicka to click
skanna to scan
twittra to tweet on Twitter
skypa to skype
printa ut to print out something
uppdatera to update
kontakta to contact
facebooka to use Facebook
attacha to attach
logga in/ut to log in/out
starta to start
dejta to date
flirta to flirt
dumpa to dump someone
stressa to stress
chilla to chill out
studera to study
parkera to park

In the comments below, please add some more of the loan words and cognates you’ve come across.

Dogs and houses: Swedish gender and articles

Posted on 30. Jun, 2014 by in Grammar, Swedish Language, Video

Hej! In today’s episode of Swedish with Steve, I discuss the two Swedish genders (common and neuter) and their respective articles, both indefinite and indefinite.

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In Swedish, there are two genders, or genus: common and neuter. The Swedes call these two genders utrum and neutrum, respectively. Many second-language students of Swedish, however, prefer to call them “-n-gender” and “-t-gender”, due to the standard declensions they take on.

An example of a word of common gender or utrum is hund, which means “dog”. An example of a word of neuter gender or neutrum is hus, which means “house”.

Words of common gender take on the indefinite article en:

Det här är en hund. – This is a dog.

Words of neuter gender, on the other hand, take on the indefinite article ett:

Det här är ett hus. – This is a house.

As you can see, Swedish uses indefinite articles in basically the same way as English. Definite articles, on the other hand, are used slightly differently.

In definite form, common gender nouns take on the definite suffix -en.

Det här är hunden. – This is the dog.

As you see here, rather than preceding “dog” in the simple noun phrase “the dog”, Swedish tacks on the definite article to the end of the noun. Hund becomes hunden. In the case of hus, the word becomes huset:

Det här är huset. – This is the house.

Not that hard, right? It gets a little more complicated when you’ve got an adjective in a definite noun phrase. For example:

den snälla hundenthe friendly dog

As you can see, the phrase contains two instances of the definite article: one at the end of the noun, and one before the adjective. Don’t let this scare you away; it’s actually a very simple rule: When you have anything within a definite noun phrase that precedes the noun itself, you add another instance of the definite article to the beginning of the phrase. This is a way to mark where the phrase begins and ends. For common gender noun phrases, the initial definite article is den, as in the example. For neuter gender words, it’s det, as in:

det gula husetthe yellow house

So, that’s all about Swedish gender and articles. Before I go, I would like to emphasize that the two Swedish genders DO NOT correspond to masculine and feminine in the Romance languages. The Swedish language originally had three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter; but the first two have since been meshed together to form the common gender. That’s why, for example, man and kvinna, “man” and “woman”, have the same grammatical gender, namely utrum.

Hope you’ve learned something today! Glad sommar! ;)


One of the most important Swedish verbs: vara, “to be”

Posted on 20. Jun, 2014 by in Grammar, Swedish Language, Vocabulary

Hey guys!

There are important verbs in every language. One of them is almost always some sort of copula verb, as in the case of Swedish. Vara is a verb you simply cannot go without!

In this video I explain how to express “to be” in Swedish.

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The verb vara, “to be”, has many uses. For example, it can be used to give a subject an identity or a property.

Rolf är lärare. – Rolf is a teacher.
Äpplena är röda. – The apples are red.

As you can see in the examples, the present tense of vara is är. While English has three present tense forms of “to be” – “am”, “are”, and “is” – the Swedish language only has one: är. In other words, whether it’s jag, du, hon, vi, ni or de, the present tense conjugation is always är.

Vara can be used to indicate when something is to occur or has occurred.

Proven var igår. – The tests were yesterday.
Hans födelsedag var tre månader senare. – His birthday was three months later.

The aforementioned rule also applies here: the simple past tense of vara is always var.

Vara can also indicate the location of someone or something.

Vi har varit hos min syster. – We have been at my sister’s.
Din papegoja har varit i sin bur. – Your parrot has been in its cage.

Vara can also be used to indicate that something is equal to something else.

En meter är hundra centimeter. – A meter is 100 centimeters. → (I made a mistake in the video: a meter is not 1000 centimeters! Thanks to those who pointed out the mistake!)
Låda är ”box” på engelska. – Låda is ”box” in English.

Finally, vara can be used to tell time.

Vad är klockan? – What time is it?
Hon är kvart i fem. – It’s a quarter to five (4:45/16:45).

As you can see, the Swedish verb vara, “to be”, has many uses, just as in English. Though several of them are mentioned here, you will likely come across even more ways to use the word as you study Swedish.

Lycka till! – Good luck!