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5 Things to watch out for when learning Swedish

5 Things to watch out for when learning Swedish

20 Aug, 2018

Using the definite article in Swedish

To say the apple or the tree, you use one word in Swedish Using the definite article in Swedish or ”the” means you add a suffix to the end of the noun.

I have to admit, this took a bit of getting used to, as with other languages I learned - saying ”the apple” or ”the tree” already resulted in two words, not one word.

Verbs are not conjugated based on the subject

In Swedish, verbs are only conjugated based on the tense you are using (whether that is past tense, present tense, future tense etc.)

Here are some examples: I eat the cake - Jag äter tårtan. You eat the cake - Du äter tårtan. We eat the cake - Vi äter tårtan.

You (plural) play football - Ni spelar fotball. She plays football - Hon spelar fotboll. We play football - Vi spelar fotboll.

Different accents

When I was learning Swedish online, listening to podcasts and watching TV, I found the accent was often Stockholm(ish) or rather similar - so I had to go through a readjustment period when we moved down to Skåne.

People pronounce certain words differently, depending on where you are in Sweden - so keep in mind that just because you understand everyone in Stockholm, doesn’t mean you’ll find it as easy to communicate in Trelleborg!

Actually being able to practice your Swedish in real life

It took me a long time to actually be able to practice my Swedish in real life, after I started learning . Often, in my first year, when I tried to speak in Swedish, the Swede would detect my accent, then switch to English - presumably in an effort to help or be nice.

I found there’s a difference between being good enough to speak Swedish and being good enough for a Swede to speak Swedish back to you. That 2-3 month transition period was rather annoying, but once that was behind me, now I try to practice practice practice.

The difference between giving time indications in the past and the present

It took me almost 3 years to realize this - which is a bit embarrassing, but saying ”On Monday” as in ”On Monday I went to the cinema.” is different to ”I will go to the cinema on Monday”. The term for ”On Monday” changes depending if it’s in the future or past.

For almost 3 years I was saying: “På Måndag gick jag till bio.” Wrong. should be: I måndags gick jag på bio. (Edit: corrected)

for the future: På måndag ska jag gå till bio. (you can use ”på måndag” here because it hasn’t happened yet)

Learning Swedish
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Written by Nicola Owen