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12 Variations of Thanks in Swedish Posted by on Nov 25, 2020 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language, The Swedish blog team, Tourism, Travel, Vocabulary

Photo: Felix Odell, “Wine Tasting” / Image Bank Sweden


I know that discussing 12 different usages of “tack” for Thanksgiving week is not a very original idea. But when I started compiling this list, I was quite impressed by the variety. Below, I’ll review a tiny bit of Thanksgiving history, and then get into our list of thanks!

Thanksgiving is the American Holiday meant to commemorate the first Pilgrim-American Indian dinner together. We now know from historians that this gathering is better served as a historical benchmark for the beginnings of painful conflict between colonial and tribal societies. We tend to favor a rosier portrayal of a cross-cultural gathering, where sharing and camaraderie were the focus. It sounds really nice, right? That’s why most of us celebrate it still today, sharing the table with loved ones and eating our fill of gräddsås (cream sauce or gravy), potatismos (mashed potatoes), and kalkon (turkey).

Although I find Thanksgiving to be flawed, I am partial preparing and sharing food with others. This year, I am making fiskgratäng, a Swedish fish, shrimp, and potato dish baked in creamy lemon dill sauce, quite an uncommon addition to the Thanksgiving table. But the fact is that my mormor (mother’s mother) adores this dish, and because we cannot gather this year to celebrate, I am preparing an ode to her Swedish roots and delivering it to her. Want the recipe? It’s here!

Is Thanksgiving a Thing in Sweden?

Photo: Wikipedia. “Skördegudstjänst, Fjärestad kyrka.”

The Swedes actually have a lesser known holiday called tacksägelsedagen, essentially translated to “giving thanks day.” According to Svenska kyrkan (The Swedish Church), it is celebrated on the andra söndagen i oktober (the second Sunday in October). Folks would traditionally gather at the church with sacks of harvested produce and tackar Gud (thank God) for a bountiful skörd (harvest). Apparently, there are still harvest days at churches in a few places in Sweden. I don’t know anyone who celebrates tacksägelsedagen specifically but maybe you do?

Okay, now to our list of 12 different ways to say “thanks”! Marcus Cederström already wrote a great blog entry “Saying Thank You in Swedish” a few years back, but I thought I’d expand on it. 

1. tack  →    thanks
This tiny word is gold. It’s sprinkled generously into everyday interactions. Most of you who have been studying Swedish for a while know that tack doesn’t only mean thanks. It’s also used as “please” as in:

En kopp kaffe, tack   A cup of coffee please.

You can also say tack twice, “tack, tack!”
Oftentimes, if you say tack, someone may respond with tack tack as a sort of “you’re welcome.”

The verb tackar on its own can also be used to express a quick “thanks”.

2. tack så mycket  → thanks so much  

3. tack ska du ha     → thanks you shall have
This can be a little formal sounding, but you can use it when you’d really like to emphasize your thanks. It’s common when someone does a favor or something kind that was unexpected.

4. Tusen tack! →  A thousand thanks!
This phrase is also popularly used in Danish and Norwegian

5. Ett stort tack till… → A big thanks to… 

6. Tack för + bestämd form substantiv
Thanks for + definite noun

Tack för maten → Thanks for the food

Tack för hjälpen → Thanks for the help

Tack för idag 
  → Thanks for today

Tack för ikväll   → Thanks for this evening
*tack + a time frame is a really nice way to thank someone for a nice day, or nice evening, etc. After a really great day at work, you can part from your colleagues with a “Tack för idag!” 

Tack för sist/senast → Thanks for “last time”
Use this one as a follow-up to a gathering or event that you’ve shared with someone.

7. Tack för att ni kom! → Thanks for coming!
Using tack för att, is the best way to thank someone for an action that they’ve done.

Tack för att du lyssnade → Thanks for listening.

8. tack snälla → thanks kindly
Use if someone does something extra sweet for you.
Also common when you are asking for something special or a favor.

9. tack vare dig  → thanks to you
Tack vare bättre vård har antalet COVID patienter minskats.
Thanks for better care, the number of COVID patients have decreased.

10. Jag ska tacka för mig. → I’m going to thank for me.
…is what that literally means but it is used in Swedish as a phrase that means “thanks, and I better get going.”
Vi ska tacka för oss → “Thanks, we’re going to head out.”

11. tack som fan → thanks like hell.
*using fan in Swedish is swearing. Say this phrase only when you want to snap back with a sarcastic, “thanks for nothing” but with a little oomph!

12. tack och lov → thank goodness


…and then list continues! Can you think of more ways to say thanks? Include them below in the comments!

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About the Author: Chelsea B

Chelsea is a Swedish language instructor and translator living in Minnesota, U.S. She has a degree in Scandinavian Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and has experience living and working in Sweden from north to south! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, listening to music, and practicing slöjd, the Swedish word for handcraft.


Comments:

  1. Eva Du Barra:

    Excellent explanations! For me, being of Greek origin and learning Swedish out of curiosity, it would be interesting to see how even this language is closely connected to both Greek and Latin.

    • Chelsea B:

      @Eva Du Barra Hej Eva! I’m glad that you found this post helpful. There are lots of greek and latin words in Swedish so that’s a great suggestion for a future post. Tack!


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