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Pronouncing years in Swedish Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Swedish Language

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to learn a new language and you’re practicing reading. And then you come across a clump. A clump of numbers that refers to a year. And so the question appears: How do you even say that?!

Well, lucky for you, we’ve got a Swedish year guide right here!

So, let’s start with the year we’re in right now. That’s 2015. Written out in English, two-thousand fifteen. So how do we say this in Swedish? Simple! We say it in the exact same way: tvåtusenfemton. In writing, Swedish whole numbers (including years) are written without spaces. The written-out spelling of 2015 is made up of three parts: två, tusen, and femton.

Years prior to tvåtusen (2000), though, are a little bit different. Let’s take the year 1957 for example. In English, we would say nineteen fifty-seven. The Swedish equivalent is similar, but not exactly the same. In Swedish, we mark the number of hundreds (centuries) in the year by adding the word hundra, or “hundred”, after the number of hundreds. And so, the way we say 1957 is nittonhundrafemtiosju – made up of nitton, hundra, femtio and sju – there are 19 hundreds plus 57.

But what if you want to talk about something before the year 0? Something like 3000 BC? Easy! Just as in English, the Swedes say tretusen före Kristus, where före Kristus means “before Christ”. In text, you will see this shortened as f.Kr. . Years “after Christ”, for example 359 AD, are simply written as in trehundrafemtionio efter Kristus – three fifty-nine “after Christ”. And, easily enough, this is shortened as e.Kr. in text.

So, next time you come across a year in a Swedish text, you won’t have to read it in your native language instead – now you know how to read it in Swedish! Have fun!

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About the Author:Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


Comments:

  1. Bengt Bedrup:

    I don’t quite agree with you regarding the pronounciation of 20XX years. TvåtusenXX (two-thousand XX) is common, especially for the 200X years, but so is tjugohundraXX (twenty-hundred XX). In my experience, using hundreds is far more common, but I am not sure if that is representative or not. On an additional note, some people will regard using thousands as incorrect, but those are a minority.

  2. Eva:

    Tack så mycket!
    But you mean “there are 19 hundreds plus 57” (instead of 59).


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