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◀️ At the doctor's — Previous Lesson Next Lesson — Definite and indefinite nouns ▶️

Swedish Grammar → Swedish Nouns → Gender of nouns

As a learner of Swedish, it is important to understand the gender of nouns. Unlike English, Swedish nouns have a grammatical gender (each noun is either en-word or ett-word) which affects the articles used before them, as well as the forms of certain adjectives and pronouns used with them.

As a general rule, there are two genders in Swedish: common (or masculine) gender and neuter gender. Nouns belonging to the common gender generally have the indefinite article en, while those belonging to the neuter gender have the indefinite article ett.

However, there are many exceptions to this rule, and some nouns can be either en-words or ett-words depending on the dialect or region in which they are used. In some cases, the gender of the noun is simply arbitrary and must be memorized.

Here are some general guidelines to help you understand which gender nouns belong to:

Take some time to dive into these other pages after completing this lesson: How to express our feelings & How to Talk About the Weather.

Common Gender (en-words)[edit | edit source]

Nouns that denote male humans, animals or objects are usually en-words in Swedish, for example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
pojke ['pɔkːɛ] boy
man [manː] man
hund [hɵnd] dog
dator [daˈtuːr] computer

Neuter Gender (ett-words)[edit | edit source]

Nouns that denote female humans, animals, objects, and abstract concepts are usually ett-words, for example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
barn [bɑːɳ] child
äpple ['ɛpːlɛ] apple
vatten ['vatːɛn] water
modernat [moˈdɛrˌnat] modernity

Some nouns can be either en-words or ett-words depending on different factors such as regional dialects, the noun's meaning or context it is used.

It is important to get familiar with the gender of frequently used nouns by memorizing them as you learn them, as there is no definitive way to determine the grammatical gender of all nouns in the Swedish language.

Definite Forms[edit | edit source]

In Swedish, definite nouns are formed by adding -en, -n or -et to the end of the noun depending on their gender.

For Example:

Swedish Indefinite Form Definite form
en bok a book boken, the book
ett barn a child barnet, the child

Note that, unlike in English, Swedish nouns always take a definite form when they are referred to in a specific sense, hence the need for the words "the" or "a" in English.

Plural Forms[edit | edit source]

In order to form the plural of Swedish nouns, there are several rules depending on the endings; some nouns get an "-ar" at the end, some get an "-or" and some nouns get other types of plural endings, such as "-n", "-er" or "-r".

Here are some examples:

Swedish Indefinite singular form Plural form
en bok a book böcker, books
en pojke a boy pojkar, boys
en kvinna a woman kvinnor, women
ett äpple an apple äpplen, apples

Note that some nouns don't have an "n" at the end to indicate the plural form.

As with any other aspect of Swedish grammar, mastering the gender of nouns takes practice, so keep practicing with examples until you get a hold of it. It is a fundamental concept in Swedish grammar and could make the difference between sounding proficient and like a beginner.

Don't forget to memorize the gender of nouns as you learn them, keep practicing with examples and you will soon have a good grasp of this fundamental concept in Swedish grammar.

Sources[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

En and Ett words (Swedish genders) - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Other Lessons[edit | edit source]


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