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!


15 Swedish Nouns for the World Cup

Posted on 13. Jun, 2014 by in Vocabulary

The World Cup started yesterday in Brazil. There have been protests in the year leading up to the start of the tournament and there are sure to be more. While there is plenty to be said about all that has gone on politically, this post is going to focus instead on the soccer being played. Or at least the Swedish nouns describing the soccer being played.

The FIFA World Cup is known in Sweden as Världsmästerskapet i fotboll or Fotbolls-VM. That translates as the World Championship of Soccer/Football. The Swedish men’s team has never won the World Cup, although, the last time Sweden hosted the World Cup back in 1958 Sweden came in second to Brazil.
Swedish squad at the 1958 FIFA World Cup (2)Sweden did not qualify this year for the World Cup,so you’ll have to cheer for someone else. But while you’re doing that, here are a few new words for you to learn:



en anfallare

a forward

en avbytare

a substitute

en back

a defender

en försvarare

a defender

en fotbollsplan

a soccer field or pitch

en målvakt

a goalie

en mittfältare

a midfielder

en supporter

a fan

en tränare

a coach

en utvisning

a dismissal or ejection

en varning

a caution or warning

ett gult kort

a yellow card

ett mål

a goal

ett rött kort

a red card


the offsides rule