Swedish Language Blog

Pronunciation of the Swedish å, ä and ö Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 in Swedish Language

The Swedish alphabet consists of 29 letters. The last three are å,ä and ö. These are the only ones that differ from the English alphabet.

The Swedish å-sound can either be a long sound or a short one. When being long it is pronounced like the English word fore. The short sound as in yonder.

Listen to the pronunciation of the different sounds through the links below.

Example (long): språk (language)

Example (short): ålder (age)

In the county Blekinge you’ll find that a lot of people don’t pronounce the r-sound hardly at all. For example: Korv (sausage) is pronounced kåååv. (with a very long å-sound). The Swedish o-sound can often sound a lot like the å-sound making spelling a little difficult at times. In Göteborg (Gothenburg) people don’t say korv or kåååv, instead they say körv.

Continuing, the ä-sound can also be pronounced a long and a short way. The long way sounds much like the ai in fair. The short ä-sound as the e in best.

Example (long): bära (carry)

Example (short): vän (friend)

Lastly to the ö-sound. There are three different pronunciations for ö, two long and one short. The first long sounds like eu in the french word deux.

Example (long nr.1): röd (red – the color)

The second long sound mostly found before the letter r, sounds like the u in fur.

Example (long nr. 2): köra (drive)

The short ö-sound is like the e in her.

Example (short): sönder (broken)


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  1. Rutger:

    I live in Sweden now for nearly a year and it still strikes me everytime you call those a’s and o’s with an accent on them a different letter.
    In Holland we use them same letters, ok maybe not the å, we just write it as ao.
    The sounds for ö and ä whenever they are not written as o + ¨or a + ¨ are usually written down as eu (as in deur, door) and eh (as in beh, sound of sheep) respectively.

    Looking forward to the day the main part of Sweden realizes putting dots on letters doesn’t make them new letters 😉
    (no offence meant, just kidding, please don’t shoot me)

    • Lizzie:

      @Rutger I didn’t know that this language was Swedish. I thought it was Norwegian. Oops…

  2. fikafikafika:

  3. ej:

    but these are still the other letters. like in polish: you can say that ę is like en in french or polish cz like ć in czech but actually there are some differences between them. Also a letter is a graphic sign (i’m not sure if it’s translated to english like that) so if they look different they are other ‘new’ letters.

  4. TheSwede:

    Bära is carry not bäre.