8 Everyday Swedish Words & Phrases You Need to Learn


Written by Lauren

04 Dec 2018

It’s true, you definitely don’t need to learn Swedish to study here because so many people speak English really well, but my personal feeling is that I like to know at least enough Swedish to be polite in my new country (and to show off to my friends when they come to visit!).

Even if you decide not to take Swedish classes, you will probably pick up some Swedish words anyway in your everyday life. And Duolingo is great and all, but I can’t remember the last time I said “The boy eats an egg” or “Mother is wearing an orange belt” in casual conversation. In this post are 8 Swedish words/phrases I actually DO use every day!

1. Hej!

What does it mean? Hello!

When should I say it? When you greet your friend, neighbour, tutor etc.

Alternatives: Hej hej / Hejsan

2. Tack!

What does it mean? Thank you!

When should I say it? When someone holds open a door for you, gives you a cinnamon bun or does any other nice thing!

Alternatives: Tack så mycket! (Thank you so much) / Tusen tack! (Thousand thanks)

Check out Sanjay’s awesome video to learn how to say Tack så mycket!

3. Varsagod!

What does it mean? You’re welcome!

When should I say it? When someone says Tack! to you

Alternatives: Ingen orsak! (No problem!)

4. Ursäkta

What does it mean? Excuse me.

When should I say it? Trying to get off the bus during rush hour and people are blocking your way? Not looking where you’re going and accidentally walk into someone on the street? Trying to get a waiter’s attention? Ursäkta is the magic word that will make everything ok!

Alternatives: None that I know of yet!

5. Vad sa du?

What does it mean? What did you say?

When should I say it?

What did you say?

I use this when someone speaks to me in Swedish and I don’t fully understand. To be honest, my Swedish is not great so I usually still don’t understand when they repeat it… but at least it buys me a second chance!

Alternatives: You can use “Ursäkta?” here too.

6. Bra!

What does it mean? Good!

When should I say it? It’s an excellent stock response when someone asks me Hur mår du? (”How are you?”)

Alternatives: Det ar bra! / Det ar fint! / Jättebra! (‘Very good!’ – to use, for example, on days when you’ve finished all your assignments and the sun comes out)

Two people sitting together.
Me (right) with my classmate and awesome Swedish person Lotta, who checked my Swedish for this post. Photo: Stefano Conti

7. Vill du ha ditt kvitto?

What does it mean? (drumroll)………… Would you like your receipt?

When should I say it? You shouldn’t! (Unless you really are giving someone a receipt, obv.) This is something you are more likely to HEAR than say. I’ve put this in because in my first few weeks in Sweden I heard it all the time in shops, bars and restaurants and my response was always silence and a confused look on my face (this was before I learned to say Vad sa du?). A simple ja or nej, tack are both good responses.

Alternatives: Kvitto? / Ditt kvitto?

8. Talar du engelska?

What does it mean? Do you speak English?

When should I say it? If someone is speaking A LOT of Swedish to me and ‘Vad sa du?’ isn’t working, I usually ask if they speak English.

Want to know more Swedish words and phrases?

I hope this post has given you a good idea of Swedish you will use in your everyday life! If you want to know more Swedish words and phrases, let me know in the comments below!

***The Swedish in this blogpost has been verified by a genuine Swedish person, Lotta Hammar!


Written by Lauren

04 Dec 2018