Swedish Language Blog

Long and short vowels in Swedish: The a-sound Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 in Swedish Language, Vocabulary

“Long or short vowel sound, does it really matter? I bet it doesn’t” I’m sure you’re thinking. But oh how wrong that would be. Because Swedish is full of tricky words that become completely different words if you mispronounce them.

In this post I’ll just take up what you will be saying if you mispronounce it words, and putting them into sentences so you can recognize spelling with context.

Lets start off with “lada”, which means barn in English. You pronounce it with a long a-sound like in the English word dart. If you were to however say “ladda” you would be saying “to charge”. This a-sound is the same as the English word another. The pronunciation is the same for all the following words. If there are two consonants after the vowel then it is generally pronounced as a short vowel.

“Ska vi gå till ladan?” (“Should we go to the barn?”)

“Ok, men jag måste ladda min mobil först” (“Ok, but I have to charge my mobile first”)

The next example is “tak” which means roof. “Tack” as most of you know means thank you.”

“En katt sitter på taket” (“There is a cat on the roof”)

Tack för hjälpen” (“Thank you for the help”)

“Baka” means to bake, and “backa” is to backspace/reverse.

“Ska vi baka tillsammans på fredag?” (Should we bake together on friday?”)

“Se upp för bilen som backar” (“Watch out for the car thats backing up”)


“Gran” is fir tree and “granne” is neighbor.

“Skogen är full av granar och tallar” (“The woods are full of firs and pine trees”)

“Har du träffat den nya grannen” (“Have you met the new neighbor?”)

“Tal” is speech as well as number and “tall” is pine tree in Swedish.

“Vilket tal står det på tavlan?” (“What number is written on the black board?”)

“Han ska hålla tal om några minuter” (“He is going to give a speech in a couple of minutes”)

“Hon talar väl om dig” (“She speaks well of you”)


baka – backa

tak – tack

lada -ladda

tal – tall

granen – grannen


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  1. Eva-Maria Rosengren:

    Tal also means number/figure when counting.

  2. Pam:

    The pair of words that I used to confuse was “grattis” which is roughly equivalent to “congrats” in American and “gratis” which means “free of charge.”