Danish Language Blog

Danish Noun Phrases for Dummies Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Grammar

Mockingbird_silhouetteFuglen synger. Bussen kører. (The bird is singing. The bus is driving.) An awful lot of phrases consist of a noun phrase + a verbal phrase. Danish verbal phrases are a piece of cake: Er, for example, means both am, is and are; snakker can be translated as talk, talks and am/is/are talking. Noun phrases are slightly more complex…

Is my noun-of-choice fælleskøn (common gender) or intetkøn (neuter)? In Danish, that’s the first thing you need to know. All the common nouns of the language have one of those two genders. Even sexless things like roads and houses!

The gender of a noun is revealed every time you translate an or a ”something” from English: an orange > en appelsin, a cat > en kat, a cap > en kasket – those words are fælleskøn; an autumn > et efterår, a tree > et træ, a life > et liv – those are intetkøn. Unfortunately, there are no good rules to tell the gender of a noun; you have to learn it by heart. Fortunately, about 80 % of all nouns are fælleskøn, so stick to en whenever you’re in doubt! 🙂

Is my noun phrase more like a general example, or is it pointing at something concrete? In English, you can easily turn an indefinite noun phrase such as ’a car’ into a definite one: the car, this car, that car, Mia’s car, my car… In Danish, there is a bit more variation: bilen, denne bil, den bil, Mias bil, min bil. With a neuter word like hus (house), it becomes: huset, dette hus, det hus, Mias hus, mit hus.

The definite-indefinite thing becomes really important when you want to throw in an adjective or two in your Danish noun phrase. Singular, neuter nouns generally infect their adjectives with a t ending: bilen er rød (the car is red) > huset er rødt (the house is red); en rød bil (a red car) > et rødt hus (a red house).

However, as soon as an indefinite noun phrase is made definite (a car > this car), any built-in adjective gets an e ending, no matter the noun’s gender: en rød bil > Susannes røde bil (Susanne’s red car), et rødt hus > mit røde hus (my red house). (Okay, I lied to you: A few adjectives, such as orange and cool and højere, higher, never get a t or an e ending.)

Please note that ”the-phrases” with and without adjectives are worlds apart in Danish: træet (the tree) – det grønne træ (the green tree).

Now you know the basics of Danish noun phrases. But how about the plurals? Most of them end in -er. As with the gender, however, the specific plural ending of each word has to be learnt separately. These are the most common ”pluralizers”:

er: træ > træer, pige (girl) > piger, demokrati (democracy) > demokratier

e: hus > huse, dreng (boy) > drenge, computer > computere

• (no ending): år > år (year)


The vast majority of adjectives receive an e ending in the plural, no matter whether they describe something definite or indefinite. Note, though, the word små, which is an irregular plural of lille (little, small): glade, vilde, små drenge (happy, wild, small boys); disse glade, vilde, små drenge (these happy, wild, small boys).

Dansk er egentlig ret nemt, ikke? (Danish is actually quite easy, isn’t it?)

Tags: , , ,
Keep learning Danish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

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.


  1. Gilberto:


    I’ve found out this blog not much time ago. One of the more fascinating blogs, as far as I know, when it comes to learning danish as a second language.

    Keep up the great work and a Happy New Year!

    Greets from Brazil,


    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Gilberto Hi Gilberto!
      Thank you very much for your comment! 🙂
      I really appreciate it.

      Have fun in Brazil! 🙂