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Awesomely easy Swedish grammar: Singular articles Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Grammar, Swedish Language

Articles are words that are used to show whether a noun (person, place, or thing) is a specific one (previously metioned in conversation with a particular person) or an unspecific one.

In English, we have three articles: a, an, and the. A and an have the same function: to show that the dog in the phrase “a dog” is not a specific dog. A and an are known as indefinite articles. The is used to show that the dog in the phrase “the dog” is a specific dog. The is known as the definite article in English.

The Swedish article system is much more interesting. Check it out:

a dog” – en hund
the dog” – hunden

Whoa! The “the” got tacked onto the end of the noun! That’s cray.

And it all makes sense: the preceding standalone en is the common gender indefinite article and the suffix -en is the common gender definite article! They look the same; they just show up in different spots in relation to the noun.

Now check out “house”, a noun of neuter gender:

a house” – ett hus
the house” – huset

Whoa! Same pattern! The only difference is that there’s only one t at the end of the definite suffix -et. But that’s easy enough to remember, right?

Then something else cool happens when a common gender noun ends in a vowel:

a person” – en människa
the person” – människan

Ok, so we have the same indefinite article, but the definite article is slightly different. More specifically, it loses its E! How could that be? The basic answer is that it would be totally weird to pronounce *människaen.

The same happens for nouns of neuter gender that end in a vowel:

a theme” – ett tema
the theme” – temat

And that’s how the most basic Swedish noun phrase is built (in singular). Have fun! ♫♪

 

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About the Author: Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


Comments:

  1. Mattias K.:

    Thank you very much for this helpful explanation!
    I hope more of grammar topics are about to be published.