Danish Language Blog

The little words you always need Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Vocabulary

communicationAre you listening?

No matter how much grammar you studied, no matter how perfect your pronunciation is… If you don’t know how to say uh-huh in the right way, you’re lost. Why should the one who’s entertaining you keep on talking, if you don’t provide any feedback?

Here are some words to help make your conversations run smoother:

ja, jo, nej. Yes and no. Both ja and jo mean yes. Jo is used to answer a negatively phrased question (”Isn’t she lovely?”)
okay is one of the most common words in Danish. It is pronounced and used more or less as in English – but even more extensively, I think! 🙂 (For example, ”o-kay?” with a rising intonation often means really?!)
m(-m). ”uh-huh”. Take care with this one! Depending on how it’s pronounced, it might mean either ”yes” or ”no”. The only way to really learn it is to keep listening to Danes talking…
nå? means ”all right?” or ”okay, really?”. It’s very common. Without the question mark, means ”okay, I got it” (in a sober way, without too much risky enthusiasm!)
fint and fedt can be translated as ”(that’s) fine”, ”excellent”, ”all right”… Fint is the traditional word, while fedt is newer and more ”slangy” (it literally means ”fat”).
super! [soober] is another way of saying ”great!” Some people use it a lot. 🙂
okay, lige præcis [lee prehSEEce], aha, jeg forstår (”I understand”) are just some of the words you can use to say ”I see.”
wauw (or wow), det må jeg nok sige (”that I must indeed say”), hold da op! (”stop it!”), sejt! (”tough”!), vildt! (”wild”!). These are just some of the words that can be used to express admiration or surprise (”wow…” etc.)
spændende means ”exciting” and is used quite a lot
ej!, det er løgn! [dehLOYN] (it’s a lie!) cover various situations of disbelief
ej!, ej, hvor ærgerligt (what a pity), øv! (d@mn it!), shit!, din stakkel! (poor you!) show that you sympathize with the other person’s difficulties
øh… and tja… indicate hesitation or doubt. Use tjo in response to negative statements (”Wouldn’t you lend me some money?”)
cool! means ”cool!”

And now, a little dialogue:

Altså, det er første gang jeg er på ferie i København. Well, it’s the first time I’m on holiday in Copenhagen.
Jeg bor sammen med mine venner i et lille hotel tæt på Rådhuspladsen. I live together with my friends in a little hotel close to Rådhuspladsen.
Der er bare en fantastisk udsigt! The view there is just amazing!
I går var en af mine veninder ved at falde ud af vinduet. Yesterday, one of my female friends almost fell out of the window.
Hun sagde der var en ufo på himmelen. She said there was a UFO in the sky.
Ej, det er løgn!
Men så var det bare det bare en luftballon. But then it was only a hot-air balloon.
Ret vildt, ikke? Quite ”wild”, isn’t it?
Min veninde kom desværre til at tabe sine briller ud af vinduet. My friend unfortunately lost her glasses through the window.
Ja, det er ret ærgerligt. Men ved du hvad? I aften skal vi op at flyve med luftballonen! Yes, it sucks. But you know what? Tonight we’re going on a trip with the balloon!

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.