Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 2

Posted on 09. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar, Swedish Language

Tjena vänner! In my previous post, I talked about one way to say “this” in Swedish: den här. This post will talk about an alternative way to express “this”: denna.

As I explained in part one, when den här is used before a noun, the noun has to be put in definite form:

den här stolenthis chair

In other words, to say *den här stol would be incorrect. However, you also have the option of using denna to mean “this”. Unlike den här, denna does not require the noun to be in definite form. In fact, it generally isn’t used with the noun in definite form (except in certain parts of Sweden). In Standard Swedish, to say “this chair” using denna, you would say:

denna stolthis chair

As you can see, I did not pot the noun in definite form. The form denna is used with nouns of common or “n-gender”. With nouns of neuter or “t-gender”, the form detta is used:

detta piano – this piano

Makes sense, right? Denna corresponds to den här and detta corresponds to det här. Just like det här, detta can also be used to refer to a state of affairs. For example:

Kalle tyckte inte om detta, så han gick därifrån. – Kalle didn’t like this, so he walked away.

Great! Moving on. For plural nouns, you say dessa, which corresponds to de här:

dessa stolarthese chairs
dessa pianonthese pianos

As you can see, dessa is used in plural regardless of the gender of the noun that follows it. Easy enough, right?

Just like the three forms of den här, dennadettadessa can stand independently:

Han vill ge honom denna. – He wants to give this to him.
Vi märkte inte detta. – We didn’t notice this.
Dessa var ganska starka.These (ones) were rather strong.

Both versions of “this”, den här and denna (as well as their declined forms), are correct and accepted and can be used in all situations and contexts. However, den här is typically seen as more colloquial and less formal than denna. Even so, which one you choose to use is really a matter of personal taste.

So, now you can say “this” in two different ways in Swedish. Najs! Now that I’ve taken you through “this”, it’s time to take you through “that”. Stay tuned for part 3!

Indeclinable Swedish Adjectives

Posted on 06. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar

We’ve talked about adjectives quite a bit here. How to use them with en words, how to use them with ett words, how to use them with plural words. You can check out some of those posts here:

So, a quick recap of the main rule about declinable adjectives using the word stor (big):

If it is an en word, you don’t change the adjective:
En stor man. A big man. See? No change

If it is an ett word, you add a –t:
Ett stort lejon. A big lion. Stor + t = stort.

If it a plural word, you add an –a.:
Två stora män. Two big men. Plural en word? Stor + a = stora.
Två stora lejon. Two big lions. Plural ett word? Stor + a = stora.

Of course, there are also adjectives that you can’t decline at all. Which means you’re not going to be adding a –t or an –a. But how do you know which adjectives can be declined and which can’t?

It’s actually surprisingly simple. If the adjective ends with an –a, –e, or –s, chances are you’re not going to decline the word. Then there are words like kul or fel that you also don’t decline. (And don’t forget about exceptions to the –a, –e, or –s rule. The word arbetslös (unemployed), for example, is declined. It is declined because even though it ends in –s, there’s an –ö before it.) We’re going to ignore the exceptions for right now to make things just a bit easier.

With our new rules in mind, that adjectives are (generally) not declined if they end in –a, –e, or –s, let’s take a look at some examples. I’ve listed four words for each rule, but there are plenty more to choose from.

Annorlunda (Different)

  • En annorlunda kvinna.
  • Ett annorlunda barn.
  • Två annorlunda bebisar.

Bra (Good)
Udda (Odd)
Äkta (Authentic)

I know. It's not the best meme you've ever seen. But you learned something.

I know. It’s not the best meme you’ve ever seen. But you learned something.

Leende (Smiling)

  • En leende man.
  • Ett leende barn.
  • Två leende bebisar.

Ordinarie (Regular)
Spännande (Exciting)
Öde (Desert/Desolate)


  • En gratis bok.
  • Ett gratis SMS.
  • Två gratis böcker.

Gammaldags (Old-Fashioned)
Inrikes (Domestic)
Utrikes (Foreign)

Good luck!

Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 1

Posted on 29. Sep, 2014 by in Grammar, Swedish Language

Hej allihopa! :D

This is the first part in a series of three (3) posts that will tell you all about how to say “this” and “that” in Swedish. In this first part, I will talk about how to say “this”.

So, how do you say “this” in Swedish? There are two ways: den här and denna. Both have the same meaning but grammatically they are used slightly differently. In this first post, I will talk about den här.

When used before a noun, den här must be accompanied by the definite form of the noun specified. For example:

den här stolenthis chair

First, you have den här, “this”, and then stolen, which could be translated literally as “the chair”. “This the chair” may not make any sense in English, but that is exactly how you express “this chair” in Swedish. In other words, it would be incorrect to say:

*den här stol

In this construction, the noun must be in definite form. It might help to think of the definite form not as literally the “the”-form, but as a form that confirms that it is a certain stol you are referring to. In this way, it makes total sense to use the definite form with a pronoun such as “this”.

The form den här is used with nouns of common gender, or “n-gender”. For nouns of neuter gender, or “t-gender”den här must be substituted for det här. As an example:

det här pianotthis piano

Note that pianot, like stolen, is and must be in definite form.

Finally, for plural nouns, regardless of gender, the form you use is de här, literally meaning “these”:

de här stolarnathese chairs
de här pianonathese pianos

Since we are talking about several chairs and several pianos, and we are specifying which particular chairs and pianos, the plural definite form is used here. It’s not just stol (“chair”) or stolar (“chairs”), but stolarna “the chairs”. And it’s not just piano (“piano”) or pianon (“pianos”), but pianona (“the pianos”).

All three forms, den här, det här and de här, can also be used independently. If you are referring to a specific thing of common gender, you can simply say den här:

Jag vill ha den här. – I want this (one).

If you are referring to something of neuter gender, you can simply say det här. Imagine pointing at two different houses on the street:

Jag vill köpa det här huset, men han vill köpa det här. – I want to buy this house, but he wants to buy this one.

The neuter det här can also be used to refer to the current general state of affairs:

Jag älskar det här! – I love this!
Det här suger!This sucks!

And, of course, de här can also be used independently:

De här kvinnorna sprang förbi tidigare.These women ran by earlier.

Hope I was able to teach you something! Next time I will talk about how to use denna, another word meaning “this”. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3! ;)