Say hej – How to be Swedish

Swedish for hello - hej
Swedish for hellohej

Hej is the probably the first word you hear when you come to Sweden. The stewardess, the cashier at the gas station or the receptionist will most likely greet you with a very friendly and slightly high pitched hej.

Also, if you are in a good mood (or want to pretend you are) you say a double hej: hej, hej.

The best way to learn how to correctly pronounce the Swedish word hej, is to go to a fashion or makeup store, where an over-ambitious young woman (in her forties) will welcome you with an exaggerated  hej, hejjj.

How to say good bye in Swedish

Swedes haven’t come up with a proper good bye phrase, yet. They use hejdå when someone is leaving.

The laziest Swedes will just go for hej instead of hejdå. This is usual among efficient shop assistants. When one customer is leaving and a new steps in, the assistant has to say hej only once. Smart.

Ways to greet a Swedish person

Actually, you only need the phrase hej. But keep in mind the following phrases and words Swedes might use depending on the depth of their relationship with each other.

  • Formal: God morgon/dag/kvällGood morning/day/evening
  • Formal person trying to be funny: GoddagensGood day/hello
  • Normal: HejHello
  • Alternative: HallåHello
  • Buddy-level: TjenareHi
  • Close buddy (or colleague who drinks a lot of beer): Tja (short form of tjenare) – Yo
  • Buddy who is fed up saying tjenare or tja too often: TjabbaYooo

Phrases to know before you go into a Swedish shop

  • Hejjj, behöver du hjälp?Hellooo, do you need help?
  • Jag pratar inte svenska. – I don’t speak Swedish.
  • Engelska?English?

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