Danish Language Blog

Matching words to make them stick Posted by on Aug 27, 2017 in Grammar, Vocabulary

Fuglen flyver. (The bird is flying. Free photo from Pixabay.)

Which is most important when learning a new language – grammar or words (vocabulary)? Well, most native speakers will forgive you if you make a grammatical mistake or two. Without  basic words, however, you can only point and smile. Here is a neat trick to increase your vocabulary: Learn micro-phrases with two or three words that naturally belong together! In that way you’ll also train your grammar sensibility without even thinking about it.

Some phrases make an ”echo”: You think a thought in English. In Danish, you tænker en tanke. You also drømmer en drøm (dream a dream), synger en sang (sing a song), and spiller et spil (play a game). Maybe you even drikker en drik (drink a drink), lugter en lugt (smell a smell), smager en smag (taste a taste), løber et løb (”run a run”) or digter et digt (compose a poem).

Other phrases are ”echoes” with a slight variation:

• at bygge en bygning (to build a building)

at tegne en tegning (to draw a drawing)

at male et maleri (to paint a painting)

at bo i en bolig (to live in a home)

Some ”word couples” were simply meant to be – for example, you can’t eat without food. Throw in a jeg [yay] (I) in front to make simple phrases to memorize:

Jeg spiser mad. (I eat food.)

Jeg skriver et brev. (I write [a] letter.)

Jeg kører bil. (I drive [a] car.)

Jeg sover i en seng. (I sleep in a bed.)

Vi går en tur. (We go for a walk.)

Solen skinner. (The sun is shining. [This is what it does!])

Katten mjaver. (The cat is mewing. [Who else could it be?])

Rhyming words are also very useful for learners:

Spis is! (Eat ice-cream!)

bog – klog (book – clever)

bage – kage – smage (bake – cake – taste)

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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. Bodil Bojesen:

    Morsomt og selvfølgelig. Tænkte på Storm P