How to small talk in Swedish Posted by on Aug 14, 2012 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language

Small talking is a very important thing in many cultures, maybe not so much in Sweden as in other places but still not to be underestimated. In Sweden you often try to start up a conversation by finding something in the surrounding area that you both have in common or can see etc. For example the weather is usually always a good starter.

Example of small talk

“Vad fint väder vi har idag.”

“Ja eller hur, vi har haft rätt så fint väder på sistonde”

“Ja det stämmer”

“Vad gör du här? (plockar bär?/ väntar på bussen?/ väntar på någon?)”

“Ja precis, jag ska ta bussen hem till _namn på plats_.”

“_Samma namn på plats_? Jaha, jag har hört att det är väldigt fint där.”

“Ja det är det verkligen, jag har bott där i eg. _5_ år nu” “Var bor du?”

osv. osv.

That is just an example of what a conversation with a stranger while waiting at the bus stop can sound like.

Example of small talk english 

“What nice weather we’re having today.”

“Yes indeed, recently it has been rather nice hasn’t it.”

“Yes very”

“What are you doing here by the way? (picking berries?/ waiting for the bus?/ waiting for somebody?)”

“That’s right I’m waiting for the bus, I’m going home, to _name of place_.”

“_Same name of place_? Aha, I’ve heard it’s supposed to be really pretty there.”

“Yes it really is, I’ve lived there for about eg. _5_ years now” “Where do you live?”

etc. etc.

But small talk can be about other things as well, apart from the weather like; berries ie. if it is a good year for berries or not, if you are a young person you might ask if the person is going to any sort of music festivals like P&L (Peace and Love) or Urkult. But that might on the other hand be a little bit more into the conversation. Around summer time many people ask if you have a sommarställe to go to. For example a sommarstuga (summer cottage) or such. If they own one the conversation can often go along the lines of asking if it is a joint owned cottage with all the relatives or if it is just that persons stuga.

But usually the conversation or small talk is related to recent events. Such as in the beginning of the summer Sweden took part in the European Football championships in Poland and Ukraine (men’s football), so people, even though they are just half interested, would ask if you had seen the game etc. Then later on the Olympics began in London and so a safe conversation starter would be just that.

“Har du sett någonting på OS på sistonde?” 

“Have you been following the Olympics recently?”

These are just a few of the subject you can use to start up a conversation when you are in Sweden or talking to a Swedish person. Hope you find opportunity to use them. Good luck!

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  1. Allison Shields:

    Hi…I was curious about using the google translator and in particular how the Swedes put words together for example in this blog post she uses “hästliv” which won’t bring up anything in the translator, but I knew what “häst” (horse) was and what “liv” (life) was so I could tell what she meant. (Horse life)
    Is there a rule here I need to learn in the language to help me determine when I should put the words together and when to seperate when writing? Can you do a blog about it so we can learn this?
    “Jag bor på landet lite utanför Tenhult tillsammans med min familj. I denna blogg kommer ni få läsa om vad jag gör på dagarna och mitt hästliv!! Mina hästar är en B-ponny som är 10 år och heter Max…”

  2. Jerry Nelson:

    Ja, men hur ska man säga “small talk” på svenska? Tack för bloggen!