Learn Swedish A1-level Basic Grammar Lesson 3! Basic Swedish is aimed at beginners and learners seeking to improve their skills in Swedish. While, Ask-scholars.com offers free course to learn Swedish & German Languages. While, After working systematically through the lessons, the user should be able to read, write and understand Swedish, and, with a little practice and confidence, hold a simple conversation in Swedish.
For simplicity’s sake, grammatical explanations are deliberately kept brief. While, Swedish is a living language reflecting a vibrant and distinctive culture and history, one that is often relatively unfamiliar to many English-speakers.
While, Swedish is spoken by around 10 million people, which means that it is not a major world language. Nevertheless, it is still a language spoken by a relatively large number of people, coming 85th out of about 6,000 languages spoken in the world.
English & Swedish are very similar languages, It is easy to learn Swedish, if someone is comfortable with English.
Meanwhile, Swedish is spoken in a geographically clearly distinct and restricted area; it is the language of more than 90% of people living in Sweden and about 5% of those living in Finland, where it is also an official language.
So, Let’s start today’s lesson:
Table of Contents
Articles in Swedish
An Article is word that define a noun as specific or unspecific. While there are two types of article, Definite Article & Indefinite Article. While, We use indefinite to mean non-specific. Therefore, Indefinite is general. Meanwhile, We use definite to mean specific. Therefore, Definite is particular.
So,There are two indefinite articles (corresponding to a and an) in Swedish: en and ett.
Examples of indefinite articles:
- ett bord – a table
- en stol – a chair
- ett hus – a house
- ett barn – a child
- en bil – a car
- ett äpple – an apple
- en regering – a government
- en båt – a boat
So, If you’re unsure, just use “en” or ”ett” with the noun. Than just use ”en”, Because majority of words are en ords (en words) in Swedish. While, There are very few ett ords.
While, You would need to learn articles by heart! Because, There is no specific rule to remember the article.
The definite article (the) in Swedish is not a separate word like in English language. So, It is simply a form of the indefinite article attached to the end of the noun.
Note that en words ending in a vowel retain that vowel and add an -n instead of adding -en. And ett words ending in -e just add a -t.
So, Examples for definite article:
- bordet – the table
- stolen – the chair
- huset – the house
- barnet – the child
- bilen – the car
- äpplet – the apple
- regeringen – the government
- båten – the boat
Gender in Swedish
First of all, in Standard Swedish all nouns belong to one of two genders or sexes: the en-word group (in which we find approximately 80% of all nouns) or the ett-word group (around 20%).
Meanwhile, English nouns have biological gender, ‘the house – it; the girl – she; the boy – he’.
While, Swedish nouns have grammatical gender, which shows in their indefinite and definite (or end) articles. There are two genders, non-neuter (en gender) and neuter (ett gender), a system that therefore requires two words corresponding to ‘it’:
So, The indefinite or definite articles associated with the noun are as follows:
- en kvinna: ‘a woman’ – kvinnan: ‘the woman’
- en man: ‘a man’ – mannen: ‘the man’
- en skog: ‘a forest’ – skogen: ‘the forest’
- ett fjäll: ‘a mountain’ – fjället: ‘the mountain’
- en familj: ‘a family’ – familjen: ‘the family’
- en väg: ‘a road’ – vägen: ‘the road’
- en dator: ‘a computer’ – datorn: ‘the computer’
- ett brev: ‘a letter’ – brevet: ‘the letter’
- ett område: ‘an area’ – området: ‘the area’
Basic Sentence Structure in Swedish
While, In Swedish, the sentence structure is built with SUBJECT-VERB-OBJECT. So, We call it “simple word order.
Han läser en bok. (He is reading a book.)
While in this example, ” Han” is Subject, ”läser” is verb and ”en bok” is an object.
Swedish also has something called “reversed word order” which means that if something else than the subject comes first in a sentence, we have to move the verb to the second position.
Ibland läser han en bok. (Sometimes he reads a book.)
Notice that in the second example, where a non-subject (Ibland) begins the sentence, the finite verb (läser) comes immediately after the non-subject in the second position in Swedish and is followed by the subject, so-called inversion.
While, A good tip is to think that the verb always should be in the second position in a sentence.
So, Here are more examples for you:
Jag dricker vatten. (I am drinking water.)
Idag, äter jag bröd. (Today, I am eating bread.)
Barnet äter frukt. (The child is eating fruit.)
Jag älskar glass. (I love ice cream.)
Hunden äter ett äpple. (The dog is eating an apple,)
Sällen, är Soppan god. (Rarely, The soup is good.)
How to predict gender from the meaning of the noun?
So, we know, There are two genders, non-neuter (en gender) and neuter (ett gender). But how can we predict gender every time?
Well, There are few ways to get prediction of gender in Swedish!
Non- neuter (en gender):
While, You can predict the gender from the meaning of noun!
In newspaper texts, about 75% of all nouns are non-neuter (en gender).
Human beings: Most, but not all, nouns denoting human beings are non-neuter (en gender):
en kille ‘a boy’; en kvinna ‘a woman’; en polis ‘a police officer’; en dotter ‘a daughter’; en son ‘a son’; en syster ‘a sister’; en kusin ‘a cousin’;
There are just a few common exceptions: ett barn ‘a child’ is among the most frequent, and there are a few others, including ett syskon ‘a sibling’ and ett biträde ‘an assistant’.
Animals: Most higher animals are non-neuter (en gender):
en katt ‘a cat’; en råtta ‘a rat’; en häst ‘a horse’; en ånsa ‘a donkey’; en hund ‘a dog’; en kanin ‘a rabbit’; en mus ‘a mouse’; en elefant ‘an elephant’; en fågel ‘a bird’; en anka ‘a duck’; en delfin ‘a dolphin’; en björn ‘a bear’; en varg ‘a wolf’; en spindel ‘a spider’; en orm ‘a snake’; en kamel ‘a camel’; en get ‘a goat’; en höna ‘a chicken’; en ko ‘a cow’.
There are rather more exceptions here: ett svin ‘a pig’; ett får ‘a sheep’; ett lejon ‘a lion’; ett bi ‘a bee’; ett djur ‘an animal’.
Periods of time: Words for periods of time such as days, parts of the day, months and seasons are nearly always non-neuter (en gender):
en minut ‘a minute’; en dag ‘a day’; en vecka ‘a week’; en vår ‘a spring’
But there are a few exceptions: ett dygn ‘a day’ (24-hour period); ett år ‘a year’.
Plants: Trees, flowers and shrubs are usually non-neuter (en gender):
en ek ‘an oak tree’; en ros ‘a rose’
But notice: ett träd ‘a tree’.
Neuter (ett gender)
While, Names of continents, countries, regions and towns: The names of continents and many countries, regions and towns are neuter by gender. However, as these names rarely have articles or plurals, their neuter gender is only usually shown by the adjectives that are used with them. So, This is called ‘hidden agreement’:
Europa var splittrat i många små kungariken.
Europe was divided into many small kingdoms.
Norge var chanslöst mot Finland.
Norway had no chance against Finland.
Göteborg är underbart i solen.
Gothenburg is wonderful in the sunshine.
How to predict gender from the form of the noun?
Non-neuter (en gender)
So, Most words ending in following categories, will be in en ords:
en flicka ‘a girl’; en krona ‘a crown’; en resa ‘a journey’; en skola ‘a school’
en läkare ‘a doctor’; en göteborgare ‘a Gothenburger’
en berättelse ‘a story’; en betydelse ‘a meaning’
en lägenhet ‘an apartment’; en möjlighet ‘an opportunity’
en tidning ‘a newspaper’; en tävling ‘a competition’
Neuter (ett gender)
Most words (except those denoting people) ending in:
ett avgörande ‘a decision’; ett bemötande ‘a reception’; ett uppträdande ‘a performance’
ett ärende ‘a task’; ett leende ‘a smile’
Exceptions: Words denoting people: en studerande ‘a student’; en gående ‘a pedestrian’
ett museum ‘a museum’; ett faktum ‘a fact’
So, From the rules given above, predict the gender by adding the indefinite article en or ett:
——— album (album), ————-stockholmare (Stockholmer)
———bakelse (pastry), ———–lidande (suffering)
———regering (government), ——– lärare (teacher)
———förhållande (relationship), ———- nyhet (piece of news)
———gymnasium (upper secondary school), ————påstående (assertion)
———rörelse (movement),———- jubileum (anniversary)
———-svårighet (difficulty), ——–kappa (woman’s coat)
Grattis! (Congratulations!) So, You’re now prepared to tackle articles, genders & basic sentence structure in Swedish language.
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