Absolute beginner #3 - Swedish letters and numbers

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Swedish letters

Like most written languages, modern Swedish uses the latin script. In addition to the 26 letters used in English, the Swedish alphabet ends on the three letters Å, Ä, and Ö. This is usually confusing to learners, because they see them as variants of A and O. This is not the case here. They are individual letters with their own distinct sounds.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Å Ä Ö

When using a physical dictionary, you’ll find any words beginning with an Å, Ä, or Ö at the end of the book and not, like in German for instance, under A and O. Check out our first pronunciation lesson to learn more details about the alphabet.

You might know that Danish and Norwegian also have these letters, but they look different and are placed in a different order: Æ, Ø, Å.

Swedish number

Let’s take a look at the Swedish numbers. If you speak any Germanic language or even an Indo-European language, the numbers will look somewhat familiar to you. You can definitely recognize the heritage.

1. en/ett 11. elva
2. två 12. tolv
3. tre 13. tretton
4. fyra 14. fjorton
5. fem 15. femton
6. sex 16. sexton
7. sju 17. sjutton
8. åtta 18. arton
9. nio 19. nitton
10. tio 20. tjugo

To create bigger numbers, we stack them – just like in English. Taking the word tjugo and adding, for instance, fem, we thus get tjugofem.

30. trettio 100. (ett) hundra
40. fyrtio 1000. (ett) tusen
50. femtio 1 000 000. (en) miljon
60. sextio 1 000 000 000. (en) miljard
70. sjuttio 1 000 000 000 000. (en) biljon
80. åttio 1 000 000 000 000 000. (en) biljard
90. nittio

As described above, we just continue stacking until we get the number we want. As an example, stacking the following words gets us 51432: fem (five) + tusen (thousand) + fyra (four) + hundra (hundred) + trettio (thirty) + två (two).

One can be both en or ett due to the two grammatical genders in Swedish – something we talk about in the beginner course.
In spoken Swedish, the words for 30 through 90 lose their ending -o: trettio /tretti/ (thirty), sextio /sexti/ (sixty). 20 loses half of itself (-go) when stacked: tjugofem /tjufem/ (twentyfive). Furthermore, fyrtio (fourty) is usually pronounced as /förti/ or /furti/.