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The currency of Sweden is “spänn”?! Posted by on Aug 3, 2016 in Living in Sweden, Swedish Language

The Swedish “crown”, as some English-speakers refer to it, is called den svenska kronan in Swedish. The international currency code for the Swedish krona is SEK.

 

When you start spending a lot of time with Swedes, you’ll notice that they don’t always call their currency by its proper name (krona/kronor [plural]).

In the Western Hemisphere, Americans are prone to refer to their dollar as a “buck” or a few “bucks”. “Dollar” is the official name (international code USD), but in everyday language, people often talk about “bucks”.

The Swedish krona has a similar thing going on, and that is: spänn. Yes, the slang word for kronor (plural) is spänn. As a result, you’ll hear a lot of people talk about how a book cost them hundra spänn “(one) hundred crowns” and how their vacation in Turkey was a bargain at sextusen spänn “six-thousand crowns”. Just like you’d hear an American say “twelve bucks” or “seven-hundred bucks”.

Sometimes, Swedes even leave out a currency word completely when it’s clear that you’re referring to money. For example:

Lars: Fan, vilken snygg skjorta! – Damn, what a nice shirt!
Anders: Tack! Den kostade bara hundrafemtio. – Thanks! It cost just 150 [crowns].

Anders could also have added kronor or spänn to his sentence after the number hundrafemtio, but it was clear from the context that he was referring to currency.

Similarly, if you’re checking out at the supermarket, your cashier might tell you the total is nittio och trettio “ninety and thirty”. Do they actually mean 120? No, of course not! That’s 90,30 = 90 crowns and 30 öre. (One öre is a 1/100 of a krona. It’s like the “cent” to the “dollar”.) Yet again, the currency name is left out.

Context is key! Cheers 😉

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About the Author: Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


Comments:

  1. Simon:

    Thanks – that’s new to me!

  2. Zen at www.newindanderyd.com:

    I’d not thought of ‘spänn’ as an actual word before! Great article. Are öre still in use now or have they gone for good?

  3. Kevin:

    Hmmm. Interesting. That’s new to me