Useful Words and Phrases in Swedish

Swedish for Travelers

Two young businessmen having meeting in cafe
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Most Swedes are fluent in English and running business meetings with foreigners in English is common. However, if you are a business professional, you can build your relationship with Swedish partners by using some key Swedish phrases. A ‘hej’, ‘tack’ or ‘Trevligt att träffas’ can open a few doors.

If someone is speaking to you in Swedish, ask them to repeat phrases slowly if you do not understand by saying, "Var snäll och tala långsammare." A good way to learn Swedish is to listen to Swedish podcasts and watch Swedish YouTube videos.

About the Swedish Language

Swedish is a Germanic language spoken natively by more than 10 million people predominantly living in Sweden. It is largely understood by people who speak Norwegian and Danish. Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the people living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. Swedish is also related to Icelandic, German, Dutch, and English.

Pronunciation Guide

When trying to pronounce words in Swedish, some knowledge of a Scandinavian language is useful, while knowledge of German or Dutch can also be helpful in understanding written Swedish. Compared to English, the vowels are different, however, most consonants are pronounced similar to English. Below are a few exceptions.

LetterPronunciation in English
a"aw" sound in claw
e"e" sound in fell
i"ee" sound in fleece
othe pronunciation falls between that of "o" in "close" and "oo" in "moose"
u"oo" sound in "moose"
ythe pronunciation falls between that of "oo" in "moose" and "y" in "any" (the trick: shape your mouth as if you were going to say "y" but then try to say "oo")
åthe pronunciation falls between that of "o" in "close" and "o" in "pot"
äpronounced like the "a" in "apple"
öpronounced like the "u" in "full"
j"y" sound in yellow
gpronounced like the English "g" if it is followed by an a, o, or å; pronounced like the "y" in "yellow" if followed by an e, i, ä, or ö
kpronounced like the English "k" if it is followed by an a, o, or å; pronounced like "sh" if followed by an e, i, ä, or ö
rs"sh" sound as in shop

Common Words and Greetings

When you are meeting and greeting Swedes for the first time, usually eye contact and a handshake are the norm. Hugs and kisses are usually reserved for intimate friends, and even then, public displays of affection are kept to a bare minimum in most cases.

English Word/PhraseSwedish Word/Phrase
YesJa
NoNej
Thank youTack
That's fineDet är bra
You're welcomeVarsågod
PleaseSnälla/Vänligen
Excuse meUrsäkta mig/Förlåt
HelloHej
GoodbyeAdjö/Hej då
I do not understandJag förstår inte
Do you speak English?Talar du engelska?
What is your name?Vad heter du?
My name is...Jag heter …

Words for Getting Around Sweden

Exploring Sweden by car is easy—the roads are well maintained and traffic jams are rare—with the exception of the occasional elk or moose in the road. Taxis are expensive compared with other countries so public transportation is often a better option. There is an extensive network of trains, coaches, and buses. With 150 destinations throughout the country, Swebus Express is the largest bus operator.

English Word/PhraseSwedish Word/Phrase
Where is ...?Var finns …?
What time does the ... leave/arriveNar avgar/kommer?
TrainTåget
BusBussen
BoatBåten
TramSpårvagnen
Tram stopSpårvagnshållplatsen
Train stationTågstationen
Bus stopBusshållplatsen
Rooms available?Lediga rum?
No vacanciesFullt

Spending Money in Sweden

If you feel like bringing a piece of Sweden back home, but are beyond cliche wooden clogs and a Viking helmet, there are some other items that scream, "Sweden." These include toy-sized, wooden Dala horses, indigenous Sami handicrafts, and jewelry, such as reindeer leather bracelets and buttons carved from reindeer antlers.

English Word/PhraseSwedish Word/Phrase
How much is it?Hur mycket kostar den?
Zeronoll
Oneett
Twotvå
Threetre
Fourfyra
Fivefem
Sixsex
Sevensju
Eightåtta
Ninenio
Tentio

Tourist Essentials in Sweden

Outside of Stockholm, the Swedish archipelago is made up of a staggering 24,000 islands, islets and rocks; it is a summer paradise for holidaying city dwellers. While traveling the country it helps to know words for facilities in and around the towns.

English Word/PhraseSwedish Word/Phrase
Tourist InformationTuristinformation
My hotelMitt hotell
BankBank
Police StationPolisstation
Post OfficePostkontoret
EmbassyAmbassaden
Public telephoneOffentlig telefon
MarketMarknaden
City centercentrum
News agencyNyhetsbyrå
RestroomsToalett
EntranceIngång
ExitUtgång
Openöppen
ClosedStängd
MenHerrar
WomenDamer
What time does ... open/close?När öppnar/stänger de?

Time and Days of the Week

It can be helpful to know your days of the week especially if you are handling your flights and hotel booking, scheduling some guided tours, or amending your itinerary.

English Word/PhraseSwedish Word/Phrase
MondayMåndag
TuesdayTisdag
WednesdayOnsdag
ThursdayTorsdag
FridayFredag
SaturdayLördag
SundaySöndag
TodayIdag
Yesterdayigår
TomorrowImorgon
morningMorgonen
AfternoonEftermiddagen
What time is it?Vad ar klockan?