Speak Swedish – How to be Swedish

Not many people in the world speak Swedish in their daily lives. Well, the Swedes and a few Finns. In total about 10 million people.

Character of the Swedish language

The Swedish language sounds to many foreigners very pleasant, as if someone is singing, like a bird on sunny spring day. It’s very melodic and, unless you meet Swedes from the very south of Sweden, almost free of unpleasant ch-sounds [x], which you find plentiful in for example the German or Dutch language.

Easy to learn

If you already speak English, then Swedish isn’t the most difficult language to learn. The grammar is rather simple, once you understood that there is no way to understand the rule whether the article of a noun is en or ett. In 80% of the cases you are right saying it’s “en” though.

There is no rule. Apart from that you’ll be fine understanding the language after a short period, say a year. Speaking it fluently certainly takes a bit longer. And if you are from a country with a less melodic language, adjusting to those Swedish singing sounds will reveal your foreign accent even after many years of living in Sweden.

Swedes understand immediately I’m originally from Germany when I say for example: “Jag gillar älgar och Drottning Silvia“, “I like moose and Queen Silvia“.

Expressions and weird Swedish words

  • Läderlappen – Batman
  • farthinderspeed bump
  • fackförening(trade) union
  • bra –  not a part of the female wardrobe, it simply means good
  • knullruffs – messy hair after intercourse
  • olla – no, you shall not say it when you meet a Swede – it means “touching an objekt with the tip of a penis”, who was in demand of coming up with that word, please?!

Speak English

If this is all too much for you and you rather don’t want these words ever to come out of your mouth, you can easily survive in Sweden without ever talking Swedish. Of course, integration in Sweden is much easier understanding and communicating with Swedes in their mother tongue, but you can actually get along rather well with English. About 90% of all Swedes speak English. Not just a little, you might be surprised how good it is. Just go to any café and order a Cappuccino in English, every servant will understand you and not only that, they’ll not even role their eyes when you don’t try speaking Swedish, as it might happen in other countries in Europe, you know which I’m talking about.

Compliments about English skills

When Swedes get told their English is very good, they usually reply saying that most movies and TV programs mostly not synchronized and only have Swedish subtitles. Therefore they are exposed to the English language since an early age.


So, dear new-Swede, speak Swedish (or at least English)!

10 tipps – how to learn Swedish

All ‘How to be Swedish‘ posts, here

Book release

You can now sign up for the newsletter to get an email notification as soon as the book is released, sign up here!

Leave a Comment