Swedish Plural Endings Posted by Marcus Cederström on Nov 3, 2010 in Grammar, Swedish Language
Because we give you what you want (or at least try to every now and again) we’ve decided to write another post on plural endings. Tibor has put together a great post on nouns in general including the different plural endings, so for a more encompassing look at nouns check out Swedish Nouns.
When trying to turn your average singular noun into a plural, we can’t just add an –s like we do in English. Unfortunately. It would make learning Swedish just a bit easier if that was the case. But, despite the different potential plural endings (and there are a few), there are rules that can help us get everything sorted out.
We’ll start with the potential plural endings. They are as follows:
– ______ (no ending)
We’ll start with the easy plurals, those that get no ending at all:
ETT words that end in a consonant = NO ENDING
ETT BARN = BARN
Our next plural ending is –or. Here we actually will need to do a little bit of subtraction and then addition:
EN words that end in A = OR
EN MATTA = MATTOR
All we need to do is take away the –a and add an –or.
The –ar ending is similar:
EN words that end in E = AR
EN TIMME = TIMMAR
Again, here we need to subtract the –e and this time add the –ar.
Our next ending is –er. In Swedish, most words stress the first vowel. When that stress moves to the last vowel the –er ending comes into play:
EN words with stress on last vowel = ER
EN GARDEROB = GARDEROBER
Just add the –er ending to the word here. We don’t need to subtract anything.
We’ve seen quite a few different endings for “en” words, considering that there are more “en” words than “ett” words, this isn’t all that surprising. We do have one more ending to use though, -n:
ETT words that end in a vowel = N
ETT ÄPPLE = ÄPPLEN
Just as above, there is no need to subtraction, just go ahead and add the –n ending.
And then, because there are always exceptions, the exceptions:
EN words that end in a consonant but do not have the stress on the last vowel = AR or ER
EN SÄNG = SÄNGAR
EN STOL = STOLAR
The exceptions, well, they just kind of need to be learned. Good luck!
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Definitely a good idea to bring this point up. From what I can understand, the two most difficult features of the Swedish language are (i) the ‘tones’ and (ii) plural endings.
Funnily enough, you do get used to them after a while. There is definitely a system to it all (as you pointed out) and before long forming plurals becomes one’s second nature if you use the language frequently enough.
A similar problem (for me, at least) is knowing what ending to add to the verb in the present tense, e.g.
att komma > jag kommer
att fika > jag fikar
att läsa > jag läser
Are there any rules as to whether it should be -er or -ar?
I swear, you are a life saviour!!!Thank you so much!!! I was trying to understand all this and my boyfriend, who is Swedish, bless him, tried to explain it to me but not to avail! This is very clear and will be of great help, so Tack sa micket!( no accent on my keyboard sorry).
From a lost Frenchie in the world of Swedishness!
glad this has helped a little bit, in terms of the -er -ar verbs, swedish verbs are usually classified by those endings, but the vast majority of verbs end in -er.
I have a quiz today on plurals! This is much appreciated, tack.
hope you did well on your quiz.