Swedish Language Blog

Hej Kära Peter! Posted by on Oct 19, 2008 in Culture, Vocabulary

Peter’s comment on the post below made me think. I don’t write that many letters in Swedish. In fact, I don’t write that many letters in whatever language – I’m probably the world’s worst correspondent, as my friends no doubt can tell you.

So, in order to properly answer Peter’s question I had to dig deep into my memory banks.
Of course, the most common way of starting a letter is simply by writing “hej!” but that does get old after a while. Though it hasn’t stopped my friend Karin from writing “Hej Anna!” for the past two years.

I get letters from my local clinic (vårdcentral) that start with “Hej!” and my bank also sends me stuff beginning with “Hej!” How very boring…

A different, more personal way of starting a letter would be by using “Kära + name” which is the equivalent of “Dear whoever” when writing to close friends or relatives. So, if I want to write to my sister – Maria, I’d open with “Kära Maria” – does it make sense? Some people would go an extra step and write “Hej kära Maria.

But wait, there is also another way of beginning a letter. You can use the combination of “Bäste + name.” Technically, it also means “Dear whoever” but with a slightly different feel. For example, my local BMW dealership always sends me stuff with “Bäste Anna” trying to entice me use their services. So does my insurance company.

And how do we end a letter? Of course everybody knows the standard “Med vänliga hälsningar” (sometimes abbreviated by lazy people to “mvh”) which means either “Best/kind Regards” or “Sincerely Yours.” Personally, I can’t stand getting letters signed with just “mvh” – it always makes me think of Miami Valley Hospital for some reason.

If you’re writing to somebody who’s a family member or a friend, you can finish off by saying “kramar” – hugs, or “puss och kram” – literally “kiss and hug” but normally translated as “love and kisses,” or at least that’s how I’ve seen it in a couple of books in English translated from Swedish.

Of course, if you are writing Christmas wishes, you can say that “I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” right? So, how do you write that in Swedish?
Jag vill önska Er alla en God Jul och ett Gott Nytt År!
Remember here your “en” and “ett” words – “Jul” (Christmas) is an “en” word, and “år” (year) is an “ett” word. That’s why the adjective “ny” (new) became “nytt” because it accompanies an “ett” noun.

Er” – plural “you” (“you” as an objective pronoun) is customarily capitalized to show respect. The same also happens with “Ni.” And if you want to be super polite, you would use “Ni/Er” even when talking just to a singular person. But really, I don’t think you’ll see it much these days outside of dull, official correspondence, and maybe in letters from your grandmother.

So, kära Peter, happy writing! Let me know how it went!

Image from Inspiratosa Blog

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  1. Jessica:

    Hej Anna! Or perhaps I should say “kära Anna”! I have a question for you. I did my study abroad semester in Gothenburg last year (I’m from England btw) and I have found a masters course I’m interested in studying in Stockholm after my BA degree in the UK is finished. What would you say are the main differences of the two cities? I have been to Stockholm twice to visit but of course living there is different. Do you know much about the University of Stockholm? I hope you can help, perhaps you can even write a post comparing the cities of Sweden. I think it would be very interesting!

  2. ceci:

    hej dear anna! thank you, it is so useful what you wrote! you know, on community of sweden, we are making a postcards exchange, so, we always need these clue words…thanks!

  3. Rebecca:

    Hej Anna! I thought the less formal word for “you” was “du” and had never heard “Er” – can you explain the differences? Thanks!

  4. Anna:

    Hi Rebecca!
    in everyday speech, du and dig are perfectly acceptable forms of “you”. The plural form of “du” is “ni” and its objective pronoun is “er”. They are normally used to address more than one “du”. However, sometimes, if you want to be super polite and super respectful, you can use the plural form, written with a capital letter (Ni/Er) when talking to just one person. You will see it in official correspondence, for example.

  5. Ann:

    Okay, so are you also a Daytonian living in Sweden (re: Miami Valley Hospital, where I was BORN okay?)

  6. Andrew Waddington:

    Jag fick ett brev från polisen i Karlstad med Er

    Kjäre Chef rättsenheten. Fru en. Ölvestad

    Tack sä hemskt mycket för paper brevet at jag skal copy pä e mail nedan

    Er Fru. person är så mycket vänligt ,godhjärtad och förståelse Person

    en typiskt svenska vad ! .. och jag väldigt uppskattade May Gods good fortune bestow on you.

    Gudens fortuna skänka till Er

    Jag hade skrivet till henne men kommer ingen svar

    så ska jag ge upp med hjärten värkar

    visserligen det blir bara en saga

    man kan inte till baka

    bare söt memoarer

    och pusskram och blommor till Er copyright vid Andrew Waddington

    Värmland Datum Diarie nr (ropas vid korresp)
    2007 -12 -04 AAA 609 -8353 07

    Beträffande Er skrivelse rörande en person

    Notar (ett es eller två det är viktigt för i Sverige finns det månge olycka typ namn om

    Refererar till Er skrivelse som inkom till Polismyndiugheten den 4
    december 2007 rörande en kvinna vid namn person som ni
    sökte efter.

    Polismyndigheten kan endast upplysa Er om att det bor en kvinna
    vid namn person på den adress Ni uppger i Er brev dvs. platts

    Polismyndigheten avskriver nu ärendet från vidare handläggning.





  7. Kenia:

    Hej Anna!

    Thank you for this helpful post.
    I have some questions, what if I want to write “My dear X”, can I write “Min kära X”? if not, how do I do it? or is this way not used too much?
    Also, which are the equivalent swedish phrases for “darling”,”sweetheart”,”honey”, and those terms of endearment we use so much in english? I’ve looked up in the dictionary and it says “älskling, raring, sötnos”, but you know how it is when you use dictionaries, you may start using odd phrases that nobody uses anymore and I don’t want to sound ridiculous =), can you help me out with this?

    Tack så mycket!


  8. Andrew Waddington:

    Bruke kjäre hopplös

    Du kan honing söthjärten eller blommer alting är bra kaller henne pus och kram om vad du vill svenska flickor har mycket duktig rösten så kaller dem rarröst

  9. Grizelda:

    It is nice to google ‘how to end a letter in Swedish’ and have your page come up. Thank you so much for this helpful information.