Useful Words and Phrases for Travelers in Swedish

Nightfall on Stortorget Square in Stockholm's Old Town

Daniel Haug/Getty Images

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 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.

Letter Pronunciation in English
a "aw" sound in claw
e "e" sound in fell
i "ee" sound in fleece
o the pronunciation falls between that of "o" in "close" and "oo" in "moose"
u "oo" sound in "moose"
y the 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")
å the pronunciation falls between that of "o" in "close" and "o" in "pot"
ä pronounced like the "a" in "apple"
ö pronounced like the "u" in "full"
j "y" sound in yellow
g pronounced 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
k pronounced 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/Phrase Swedish Word/Phrase
Yes Ja
No Nej
Thank you Tack
That's fine Det är bra
You're welcome Varsågod
Please Snälla/Vänligen
Excuse me Ursäkta mig/Förlåt
Hello Hej
Goodbye Adjö/Hej då
I do not understand Jag 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

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/Phrase Swedish Word/Phrase
Where is ...? Var finns …?
What time does the ... leave/arrive Nar avgar/kommer?
Train Tåget
Bus Bussen
Boat Båten
Tram Spårvagnen
Tram stop Spårvagnshållplatsen
Train station Tågstationen
Bus stop Busshållplatsen
Rooms available? Lediga rum?
No vacancies Fullt

Spending Money

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/Phrase Swedish Word/Phrase
How much is it? Hur mycket kostar den?
Zero noll
One ett
Two två
Three tre
Four fyra
Five fem
Six sex
Seven sju
Eight åtta
Nine nio
Ten tio

Tourist Essentials

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/Phrase Swedish Word/Phrase
Tourist Information Turistinformation
My hotel Mitt hotell
Bank Bank
Police Station Polisstation
Post Office Postkontoret
Embassy Ambassaden
Public telephone Offentlig telefon
Market Marknaden
City center centrum
News agency Nyhetsbyrå
Restrooms Toalett
Entrance Ingång
Exit Utgång
Open öppen
Closed Stängd
Men Herrar
Women Damer
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/Phrase Swedish Word/Phrase
Monday Måndag
Tuesday Tisdag
Wednesday Onsdag
Thursday Torsdag
Friday Fredag
Saturday Lördag
Sunday Söndag
Today Idag
Yesterday igår
Tomorrow Imorgon
morning Morgonen
Afternoon Eftermiddagen
What time is it? Vad ar klockan?