Shortcuts for lazy Swedish learners

Photo: Alexander Hall/

It takes a lot of dedication and motivation to study a new language. Some languages seem hard in the beginning and gradually get easier along the way, whereas some actually seem super easy but get very overwhelming once you’ve gotten into it. If you feel that your motivation is decreasing and the risk of stop learning Swedish is high, then this article is for you. These tips and shortcuts might help you to see things differently and get that motivation back.

Ta det lugnt – Take it easy

A lot of people think that learning a language is a sprint and are trying to learn everything at the same time. It’s true that immersing yourself and getting a lot of practice is important to learn quickly, however people try to cram grammar and vocabulary that they might not need right away, thus exhausting their minds and getting demotivated. Start small, immerse yourself but go easy on the cramming. Try to learn small chunks methodically and a little every day, instead of a lot once a week. Understand a piece of grammar and learn how to use it before moving on to the next topic. Why is this listed as a shortcut for lazy learners? Overdoing it will in a way make you lazy and eventually you will stop because you will feel bad for not studying. In the end Swedish will give you nightmares and won’t make you happy. So take it easy!

Stop obsessing over grammatical genders

Two or more grammatical genders might seem daunting at first but in the case of Swedish it’s easier than you think. To use Swedish you don’t need to get these right. Sure, there are a few words that sound the same and use different genders but the context will probably tell us Swedes what you want to say. Of course it’s important to learn these right, when learning Swedish but in the case you don’t know, we won’t skin you for it.

Did you know that most Swedish words, as many as around 70-80%, are utrum words. Utrum is also called the “en” gender, from the article “en” that it takes in its indefinite form. There are additional rules of thumb that help you determine the gender but if you’re lazy, this is an awesome tip for you, since you’ll mostly get it right.

Make up your own Swedish words

Beginners and fluent speakers alike, you will have gaps in your vocabulary and instead of switching back to English completely as a beginner, let me suggest you make your own loan words. This is particularly useful for verbs that you don’t know, since you can easily create a Swedish verb by adding an -a to it and conjugate it like one from the first conjugation group. With this you don’t need to stop what you’re doing and check a dictionary. Particularly good is this for maintaining Swedish as your current language, however, you should make sure to fill in the gap.

To conjugate an English verb like a Swedish verb, you just add an -a in the infinite form, -ar in present tense, -ade in simple past, and -at in perfect/plusquamperfect. Let’s take the English verb “sleep”. In theory we would then get: sleepa, sleepar, sleepade, sleepat. Easy, right?

Find words that are the same in your native language

This one is very straightforward and if you just search the internet a little bit, you will definitely quickly find lists of words that are the same in English (or, if not English, your native language) and Swedish. Contemporary Swedish is riddled with French, German and English loans, so why not give it a shot? You’ll see how much you can already say.

There are quite the few direct loans or derivations of English words in Swedish, many making use of the way of constructing your own verbs I talked about. But there are other words that are very similar, if not the same, like: polis (police), chilla (coll.) (to chill), sport (sport), turist (tourist), starta (to start), jobb (job), film (film).

Focus on complete Swedish phrases

Learning how to use the building blocks of a language is, of course, important but when starting out, maybe try to learn complete phrases for situations that matter to you. You will learn the words along with the correct way to express yourself, which makes you sound more fluent faster.

Learn to talk about things that make you happy

To actually start to say useful stuff, you need to know words and phrases about whatever it is you want to talk about. Now, instead of cramming general vocabulary, try to learn complete phrases that you can use in situations that are useful to you or that you can use to talk about your interests. I know I just told you this but I wanted to stress how important it is to learn how to talk about things that matter to you. Why should you learn a bunch of words related to, let’s say, emergencies, when you can focus your time on learning to talk about something you love. That will increase your motivation and get those epiphanies coming. In an actual emergency, you will probably automatically revert to the language you are most comfortable speaking in.

Hopefully these points will help you look at Swedish a bit differently, making you more motivated to learn more and take away that lazyness or dullness of learning, that might come from time to time. Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint, and to master it might take time, but a few steps every day will be enough for your brain to handle and do more for your way to fluency than you think.