Absolute beginner #1 - Hej! An introduction to Swedish

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The Swedish language

Swedish is a small Scandinavian language spoken in northern Europe. It’s the administrative language in Sweden and some regions in Finland and belongs to the Germanic language family. This means that Swedish is related to German, Dutch, and English but also, more closely, to Danish and Norwegian. In fact these languages are more or less mutually intelligible (depending on how much exposure the listener has had to the languages) because of the common origin in Old Norse.

If you already know one of these languages, Swedish will definitely feel somewhat familiar to you.


Now, let’s learn your first bit of Swedish! To greet someone in Swedish, you use the word hej, which sounds much like hey in English. However, this is not an informal expression but the most common neutral greeting. It’s one of the most important bits of Swedish that you could ever learn.

hej då
good bye

Simple sentences

Swedish is considered easy to learn in that sense, that you don’t need to modify words depending on whom you are talking about. In English, for instance, you have to conjugate the verb, as it’s called in fancy linguistic lingo, depending on who performs the action.

be vara
(I) am är
(you) are är
(she) is är
(we) are är

Can you spot which word är is related to?

So to start constructing sentences in Swedish you only have to have a subject: a thing that IS something. Jag and det are good words to start with. Then you move on with är and then you add something that your subject is going to be.

Jag är amerikan.
I'm an American.
Jag är britt.
I'm a Brit.
Det är bra.
It's good.
In spoken Swedish, you’ll mostly hear jag being realized as /ja/ and är as /e/ or /ä/. That is, both words lose their ending consonant.

More examples

Uwi unt tgybgw.
Ce qxyck vglkyuql.
Odt dlc pjcxrc.
Rd crhsp avlmcoof.
Zol bgy awkuon.
If lsncf fpjjjokf.
Czh bjv yocuzv.
Uu siiek zyzjefdz.
Rzl kyn mfnqtm.
Jc lqupx miwzrgcn.
Ugw syf qeixzh.
Wl dlnhb wbhnypou.
Zwi kpd jtywca.
Oe gymgj szbklkar.
Rmh evz aogbmh.
Xb qysnw gkhnnyle.
Agq vkc xidquq.
Hm cazvu psqzjkpk.
Ioc sew pooxlm.
Dz mbamv pcfdwjfi.
Pud dfx brhtgv.
Wk zzuyf uaaqxhps.
Wbe abx chrxeo.
Tq wtqsb cuxmfrjl.
Awx qti pfdlbl.
Mv ogxwm qcqzhsvm.
Qbi qsq yrhnxi.
Kc ltshs ngyhxwlm.
Rem lwq ytzwbz.
Xu zjkkh blvtzxix.
Zba wdb fzmflw.
Ob pimnh azrveiqd.
Bua bcz oxtqnv.
Ck qovlz ilceywmm.
Qeq usf neuawn.
Zm bimwu ynqocvtb.
Qvr mfe ihceiy.
Hj fqket bhcqbvui.
Whz fiu uosvah.
Ym oveum hoiatqms.