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Swedish Grammar - Nouns

Hi Swedish learners! 😊
In this lesson, we will explore one of the fundamental aspects of the Swedish language: nouns. Knowing how to correctly use and decline nouns is crucial for mastering the Swedish language. By the end of this lesson, you will have a solid foundation in the basic concepts of noun declension and a better understanding of how to use them correctly in your speech and writing.

Consider exploring these related pages after completing this lesson: Future Tense, Learn Swedish Sentense Structure. Subject, Verb and object., Past tense & How to Use Be.

Understanding Nouns in Swedish[edit | edit source]

Nouns are among the most essential elements of any language, and Swedish is no exception. In Swedish, nouns are classified into two gender categories: common and neuter. Common nouns can be further divided into two groups: en-words and ett-words. Ett-words are often categorised depending on if they end with a vowel or not.

Swedish nouns are declined in a similar fashion to other Germanic languages, like German or English. However, the patterns in Swedish are more predictable and consistent than in English.

In Swedish, the modifications are more apparent in the definite suffix that attaches to a noun to make it definite rather than in the pluralization. A definite noun in Swedish is formed by adding -en, -t or -n to the end of the noun.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en bok en buk a book
boken buk-en the book

In the above example, the suffix -en is added to the end of the noun bok (book) to make it definite.

Gender of Swedish Nouns[edit | edit source]

As mentioned before, Swedish nouns are divided into two categories, common and neuter. Understanding the gender of a Swedish noun is essential as it affects the declension of the noun. The gender of a noun is usually determined by its meaning, as is the case in many languages.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en sjö en sho a lake (common gender)
ett berg ett bairg a mountain (neuter gender)
boken buk-en the book (common gender)

In the above example, sjö (lake) is classified as a common noun and berg (mountain) is classified as a neuter noun. Because of the gender distinction, sjö is declined differently from berg.

Nouns can be categorised even further as either en-words or ett-words. While there isn't a hard and fast rule to categorise them, most en-words are male or female organisms, and many ett-words are more abstract things or concepts. Some ett-words that refer to buildings, fruit or vegetables are also neuter.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en flicka en flicka a girl (en-word)
ett äpple ett epp-le an apple (ett-word)
en häst en hest a horse (en-word)
en frukt en frukt a fruit (en-word)

In the above example, flicka (girl) and häst (horse) are classified as en-words, while äpple (apple) and frukt (fruit) are classified as ett-words. It is essential to know the gender and type of a noun to be able to decline it correctly.

Declension of Swedish Nouns[edit | edit source]

Now let's look at the various declensions of Swedish nouns. Declining a noun means modifying the ending or adding a suffix to the noun to indicate its grammatical function. In Swedish, nouns are declined to show number (singular or plural) and definiteness.

Definite Forms[edit | edit source]

In Swedish, the definite article is used to refer to or identify a specific noun. Unlike in English where the definite article "the" is used, in Swedish, the noun itself is modified, and a suffix is added according to the gender of the noun. The most common suffixes are -en, -et, or -n, but other suffixes might apply.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en cykel en sykehl a bicycle
cykeln sykel-n the bicycle
Swedish Pronunciation English
ett hus ett hus a house
huset hus-et the house

Indefinite Forms[edit | edit source]

Unlike the definite article, Swedish does not use an indefinite article but instead uses the absence of a definite suffix as the indefinite form of a noun. All singular nouns follow this pattern, regardless of gender or whether they are en-words or ett-words.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en cykel en sykehl a bicycle
cykel sykel Bicycle
Swedish Pronunciation English
ett hus ett hus a house
hus hus House

Plural Forms[edit | edit source]

Plural nouns in Swedish are formed by adding -ar or -er to the noun. The form of the plural suffix can depend on the gender of a noun or whether the noun is an en-word or ett-word. A noun with -er as its plural form is usually an ett-word that ends in a consonant, while an en-word more commonly ends in -ar.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en kamera en kam-eh-ra a camera
kameror kam-eh-ror cameras
Swedish Pronunciation English
ett fönster ett funster a window
fönster funster windows

Noun Exceptions[edit | edit source]

While Swedish noun declensions generally follow simple rules, there are always exceptions. One major exception to watch out for is irregular plurals. Some nouns do not follow the general pattern of adding -ar or -er to become plural, instead changing their vowel sound.

For example:

Swedish Pronunciation English
en fot en fot a foot
fötter fuh-tter feet

There are also many borrowed words in Swedish that cannot be declined like native Swedish nouns. Many borrowed words from English, such as "internet" or "email," can use both Swedish plural forms interchangeably.

Dialogue[edit | edit source]

  • Person 1: Hej, har du cyklar? (Hi, do you have bicycles?)
  • Person 2: Ja, jag har två cyklar. (Yes, I have two bicycles.)
  • Person 1: Var är böckerna? (Where are the books?)
  • Person 2: Böckerna ligger på hyllan. (The books are on the shelf.)

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Congratulations, you have completed the lesson on Swedish nouns! Understanding the basics of Swedish nouns is a significant step in mastering the language. By following the guidelines provided here, you can master Swedish noun declensions and use them confidently in everyday conversation. Don't forget to practice and find native speakers on Polyglot Club if you have any questions or concerns. Tack för idag! (Thank you for today!)

➡ If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below.
➡ Feel free to edit this wiki page if you think it can be improved. 😎

Sources[edit | edit source]

Impressive work on finishing this lesson! Explore these additional pages to enhance your understanding: Swedish Grammar → Swedish Nouns → Plural nouns, Swedish Grammar: Definite and indefinite nouns lesson, How to Use Have & How to Get Someone's Attention.

Videos[edit | edit source]

Swedish nouns (ett) (in English) - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Learn Swedish, Lesson 4: Nouns - YouTube[edit | edit source]

Learn Swedish Grammar - Swedish Pronouns 1 - YouTube[edit | edit source]

2000+ Common Swedish Nouns with Pronunciation · Vocabulary ...[edit | edit source]

Other Lessons[edit | edit source]



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