Danish Language Blog

How Hard Is Danish? Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

(Free image from OpenClipart.)

(Free image from OpenClipart.)

How hard is Danish actually? I’d say it depends a lot on your native language (in addition to your tongue-twisting skills, of course!) If you’re an English-speaker – good on you. Both languages come from the same Germanic roots, and there are loads of similarities, grammar-wise and vocabulary-wise:

De har en kniv. (They have a knife.)
Naboens ko giver god mælk. (The neighbour’s cow gives [some] good milk.)

Some things are even easier than in English, such as the present tense of verbs:

Jeg løber. (I’m running.)
Du løber. (You’re running.)
Han løber hver onsdag. (He runs every Wednesday.)

…or such as the way questions are made:

Løber du? (Are you running?)
Løber du tit? (Do you often run?)

Other things, of course, are harder. For example, Danish nouns have got two different genders, and for each new noun learnt you have to memorize whether it’s an en or et word – and modify any adjective accordingly:

Solen er rød. (The sun is red.)
Huset er rødt. (The house is red.)

Here are a couple of things that Danes themselves struggle with:

• final -er. Like in British English, final Rs are rarely pronounced in Danish. They do, however, ”colour” the vowel next to them – compare tale [tal-uh] (speech) and taler [tal-oʳ] (speeches). The problem is when there’s already a ”colouring” R before the final -er! You just cannot hear the difference between lære ([to] learn) and lærer (learns) or between køre ([to] drive) and kører (drives). Many Danes mix such words up all the time! 🙂

sin. In theory, han tog hans hat means ”he took someone else’s hat”. ”He took his own hat” would be han tog sin hat. The distinction between hans/hendes (his/her) and sin (his/her own) has disappeared in many dialects, and some people are simply making wild guesses! 🙂

During the next couple of months, I’d like to help you overcome some of your Danish struggles. To that end, this blog needs your help! So, please take some time to drop a comment answering the following: In your experience, what is the most difficult part of learning Danish? What really makes YOU fret, sweat and despair?

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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.


  1. Stephen:

    I struggle a lot trying to distinguish and saying rød.

    I also have trouble knowing how to break up the sentence when speaking out loud so that I don’t get tongue twisted.


    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Stephen Thanks for your feedback! I’ll stretch my brain and see what I can do. 🙂 Cheers, Bjørn

  2. SG:

    Hi Bjørn,

    I enjoy your blog and writing very much, many thanks for doing it.

    As for your question, I personally find it hard to memorize the word order in sentences to the extent that it would come out naturally when I speak. It becomes especially confusing with longer sentences consisting of several parts.

    Do you have an idea how to obtain that feeling of the language, so that the words could be placed in the proper order without too much thinking about it?


    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @SG Thanks for your feedback! I’ll take a look at your question and see if I can make it into a post somehow. Cheers, Bjørn

  3. Angel:

    The difference and to remember the words that sound similar… Ex. 4, 40, 80
    Sometimes I can’t find the right number…

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Angel @Angel Thank you for the feedback. I’ll see whether I can help. 🙂

  4. Chani:

    Your blog is great! It’s definitely been a great resource as I learn Danish. I would love to see a post on possessive pronouns, I’m sure you’d make it easier to understand!

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Chani @Chani Thanks for the feedback – and the compliment. 🙂 It’s much appreciated, and the post you wish for is now in the pipeline!