5 things you get confused about after learning Swedish

1. Pronounciation

This may apply when speaking English (or other foreign language) in any country. I’ve noticed that I adjust to the way Swedes pronounce when speaking English. As many Swedish words are close to English, but pronounced differently it often feels like you’re mixing the two even when you’re not.

2. Word order

It differs from English and my native language: Finnish. This is one of the difficult parts when learning the language and once you’ve learned it, speaking English gets sometimes confusing. Independent clause and dependent clause have different word orders, so often when you speak you start thinking which one is which and what is the correct order.

3. Clock

“Half two” means 1:30, when speaking English you have to think the other way around and say “one thirty” or “half past one”. And in Sweden 1:30 means 1:30 AM, 1:30 PM would be written 13:30. Swedes also would say it “thirteen thirty”.

4. Words that don’t exist in other languages

Lagom: it means just right. It can be used as an adjective for almost anything: amount, size, difficulty, temperature…

Hinna: to make it (on time).

Fika: probably the best known one. It means to have coffee or tea and often some kind of pastries or cake. ️?

Slut. Right, it is a word in English, but doesn’t mean the same as in Swedish. It’s pronounced [slu:t]. It means gone, finished, something being over.  I often struggle to find the right word in English, as “slut” can be used in so many different contexts.

5. Spelling:

I’ve started to notice that it often takes longer and longer to figure out the correct form of spelling. And I’m not the only one, I frequently spot spelling errors made by people who know both, Swedish and English. Here are a few examples:

Months: augusti, september, januari, april, maj… Some are exactly the same as in English, though written with a lower case letter. So they get mixed very easily.

Weekdays: Måndag, tisdag… Also a bit too close to English to be easily distinguished.

Jobb, or job?

Adress. I’m never sure whether to spell it with double d’s and s’s or just one of each. I often accidentally use the English spelling “address” when writing Swedish.

Skål or skol? The Swedish Å is often pronounced in a way similar to O.

Litterature is literature in English.

Fotboll? I prefer calling it soccer.


Klocka (just used this in the previous point, luckily we have spell check).

Also, compound words are really common and in Swedish they’re written together, meaning that some words can be super long! And it feels really strange that”compound word” consists of two separate words. ?

As a bonus: The longest word in the Swedish language is:



Written by Leonilla

31 Aug 2017