When planning your trip to Denmark, it's important to understand that although many of its citizens speak English, Danish is the official language of the country. As a result, it will greatly improve your trip to learn a few Danish words and phrases to help you get around this foreign land.
If you've traveled in Scandinavia before, it might also be helpful to review all the differences and similarities between the Scandinavian languages to get a sense of how Danish fits in.
The first step to speaking Danish is getting your accent right. Many Danish letters are similar to the English language, but here are a few exceptions.
- a sounds are pronounced like the letter e in "egg"
- i sounds are pronounced like a combination of e in "egg" and i in "ill"
- o sounds are pronounced like e in "see"
- æ is pronounced like a short version of a in "ache"
- w is pronounced like v in "van"
- y sounds like ew in "few" but with the lips more rounded
- r sounds at the beginning of a word or after a consonant, sound like a strong guttural h like the Spanish j in "Jose"
- r sounds between vowels or before a consonant becomes part of the vowel sound or is lost entirely
Danish Greetings and Basic Expressions
Here are some ways to greet people in Denmark, plus common expressions that may come in handy.
- Goddag. - Good day.
- Hej. - Hello.
- Farvel. - Goodbye.
- Ja. - Yes.
- Nej. - No.
- Tak. - Thank you.
- Undskyld. - Excuse me.
- Hvad hedder du? - What's your name?
- Jeg hedder... - My name is...
- Hvorfra kommer du? - Where are you from?
- Jeg kommer fre de Forenede Stater. - I am from the United States.
- Hvor gammel er du? - How old are you?
- Jeg gammel... - I am .... years old.
- Jeg leder efter... - I'm looking for...
- Hvor meget koster? - How much is it?
Danish Signs and Establishment Names
When you're out in public, you might need to identify these common words and phrases for directions around town. From identifying entrances and exits to knowing what the police station is called, these words can become extremely important in your travels.
- Indgang - entrance
- Udgang - exit
- Å¢en - open
- Lukket - closed
- Toiletter - bathroom
- Herrer - men
- Damer - women
- En bank - a bank
- Centrum - city center
- Mit hotel - my hotel
- Den Forenede State Ambassade - The United States Embassy
- Markedet - the market
- Museet - the museum
- Politiet - the police
- Politistation - police station
- Postkontoret - the post office
- Et offentligt toilet - a public toilet
- Telefoncentralen - telephone center
- Turist-informationen - tourist office
- Domkirke - cathedral
- Kirke - church
- Torvet - main square
- Boghandel - bookstore
- Fotohandel - photo store
- Delikatesse - delicatessen
- Vaskeri - laundry
- Aviskiosk - newspaper stand
Words for Time and Numbers in Danish
Although you might feel like a vacation is the perfect moment to forget about time, chances are you'll have a dinner reservation or play to catch and might need to ask someone to let you know what day or what time it is.
- I dag/I morgen - tomorrow
- Tidlig - early
- Mandag - Monday
- Tirsdag - Tuesday
- Onsdag - Wednesday
- Torsdag - Thursday
- Fredag - Friday
- Lordag - Saturday
- Sondag - Sunday
- Hvad er klokken? - What time is it?
- Klockken....er. - It's....o'clock.
- 0 - nul
- 1 - en
- 2 - to
- 3 - tre
- 4 - fire
- 5 - fem
- 6 - seks
- 7 - syv
- 8 - otte
- 9 - ni
- 10 - ti
- 11 - elleve
- 12 - tolve