Swedish Language Blog

Celebrate the New Year in Swedish Posted by on Jan 3, 2017 in Grammar, Swedish Language

Hej, kära läsare!

It’s that time of year again – the New Year! Some people will have New Year’s resolutions, which to them mean a lot and are a great way to get motivated to try something new or get back to something old, whereas other people prefer to carry on as usual without any such planning. Either way, the New Year, just like any holiday, is a great opportunity to practice your Swedish skills.

The New Year, as in the holiday, is known as nyår in Swedish. This is what you say when you’re talking about the holiday in general. If you’re talking about this particular New Year, you’ll probably want to use the form nyåret, where the definite ending -et makes it clear that you’re talking about a specific one.

It’s important to differentiate between nyår[et] “[the] New Year” and ett nytt år “a new year” – not only do they have separate meanings; they even have different grammar. Ny-, in this case, is part of the word nyår and isn’t declined to nytt, even though år is neuter; the reason is that it is a component in a compound noun, not an adjective making up its own word. Ett nytt år or det nya året just mean “a new year” or “the new year” in general – not referring to the holiday.

That being said, “Happy New Year!” is expressed as Gott nytt år!. My suggestion is to learn this as a greeting phrase only, and learn nyår as the name for the holiday in all other cases.

Back to those resolutions – “a New Year’s resolution” in Swedish is ett nyårslöfte. The word is a compound noun (where two or more distinct parts make up one word), and it is neuter because -löfte – i.e., the final component of the word – is neuter. Ett löfte is “a promise”. If you do the math, ett nyårslöfte literally means “a New Year’s promise”. Several “New Year’s promises” are nyårslöften.

To make a nyårslöfte, you can use the verb att lova, “to promise”. Just fill in the blanks:

Jag lovar att börja _____ i år. – I promise to start _____-ing this year.

I år lovar jag att _____. – This year, I promise to _____.

The blanks should be filled in with infinitive verb forms only. That means the “to” form of the verb, for example, [att] träna – “to work out, to train”. Here are some easy examples:

Jag lovar att börja simma i år. – I promise to start swimming this year.

I år lovar jag att vara snäll mot min syster. – This year, I promise to be nice to my sister.


What are your nyårslöften? Share in the comments! 🙂


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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.