Fun facts about Swedish

I'm desperately trying to learn Swedish (mainly to be able to order all those delicious pastries with a perfect accent) and noticed some interesting and fun facts about the language while doing so.
This post will probably be updated as I go and learn more things: min svenska är inte så bra ännu!

One form to rule them all

It doesn't matter if it's a "You", a "She" or a "They": Swedish verbs will always have the same form for a given tense. A blessing for people that hate conjugation tables!

The definite form of a word is by suffix

"Dog" is "Hund", but "The dog" is "Hunden". This can lead to pretty tricky things when combined with plural and adverbs, but I definitely like it!

Swedish has a gender neutral pronoun: hen

OK, this is actually still subject to debate as it's still considered as a neologism by most journalists and linguists, but it's still more widespread than its English counterparts. Zhim/zher/hir? Seriously?

There's a verb for "The enjoyment of coffee (or tea) as a social activity."

"Att fika"! It's also a noun, used to describe an informal pause or gathering where people drink coffee, eat some delicious pastries and cake (mmh, blåbärspaj) and curse the weather.

You don't mess with word order

There's a strict sentence structure that has to be followed when building Swedish sentences, which is far different from English where you can basically insert some words anywhere in the sentence without braking things.

Here's an example:

  • I eat cats. [that's just how cute I find them!] : "Jag äter katter"
  • Now, I eat cats. : "Nu äter jag katter"

It's like if you had to say: "Now eat I cats". Sounds weird, right?

Every extra character in the Swedish alphabet is also a word

Remember those "a"s and "o"s with funny things on top of them? Well just to make it more confusing, they're also words just by themselves!

  • ö is an island.
  • å is a river.
  • ä is a (very) informal way of writing the verb "to be" (är).