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"Ett" Versus "En" in Swedish
When use ett or en in Swedish polyglot club wiki.jpg

Hej everyone 😀!

In today's lesson, we will be exploring the proper use of "Ett" and "En" in the Swedish language.

These two articles both translate to "a" in English, but it can be challenging to determine when to use which one. In this lesson, we will cover the grammatical rules and patterns that govern the use of "Ett" and "En" in Swedish.

Let's get started! LÄt oss börja!

  • Other lessons: After mastering this topic, you might also be interested in learning about the Conditional Tense and Swedish Grammar - Time References.
  • Please feel free to add to this page if you have any suggestions or additional information to share. We hope you enjoy this lesson and find it helpful in your language learning journey!

NOUN FORMS[edit | edit source]

DEFINITE FORM[edit | edit source]

When we want a noun to be in definite form we add a suffix to the noun; -en, -n or -et.

For example:

  • Ett bord = Bordet
  • En hund = Hunden
  • Ett Ă€pple = Äpplet
  • En skola = Skolan

Here we just add -n since the word already ends with a vowel.

As you might have noticed, you can know which suffix to use by looking at the indefinite article.

  • If it's an "En-word", the suffix is -en or -n.
  • If it's an "Ett-word", the suffix is -et.

INDEFINITE FORM[edit | edit source]

In Swedish, we have two words to choose when we want to write about nouns in an indefinite form: En or Ett.


  • Ett bord = A table
  • En hund = A dog
  • Ett Ă€pple = An apple
  • En skola = A school

IS THERE A GRAMMATICAL RULE?[edit | edit source]

Native English speakers often make the following mistake:

  • En (Swedish article) = An (English article)
  • Ett (Swedish article) = A (English article)

⚠ This rule is wrong!

→ There is no grammatical rule to know when to use En or Ett, you just simply have to learn them.


Human beings and animals:[edit | edit source]

Most human beings and animals are classified as "en" nouns, with a few exceptions.

  • Exceptions: "ett barn" (a child), "ett djur" (an animal), "ett bi" (a bee), and "ett lejon" (a lion).

Noun endings:[edit | edit source]

Certain noun endings are more commonly associated with either "en" or "ett" genders.

  • "En" nouns: Nouns ending in -ad, -are, -dom, -else, -het, -ing, -ning, -ion, -ism, -lek, -nad, and -or.
  • "Ett" nouns: Nouns ending in -ande, -ende, -ek, -em, -iv, and -um.

Exceptions:[edit | edit source]

Names of continents, countries, provinces, and towns are typically classified as "ett" nouns.

Days, months, and seasons are usually "en" nouns, with "ett dygn" (a day/24-hour period) being an exception.

Here are some additional examples of exceptions:

Some common 'en' nouns that do not follow the general guidelines:[edit | edit source]

  • En bok (book)
  • En bil (car)
  • En hund (dog)
  • En katt (cat)
  • En cykel (bicycle)

Some common 'ett' nouns that do not follow the general guidelines:[edit | edit source]

  • Ett fönster (window)
  • Ett bord (table)
  • Ett hjĂ€rta (heart)
  • Ett trĂ€d (tree)
  • Ett brev (letter)

Summary Table[edit | edit source]

Category Common Gender Examples Exceptions
Human beings En Ett barn (child)
Animals En Ett djur (animal), ett bi (bee), ett lejon (lion)
Noun endings En -ad, -are, -dom, -else, -het, -ing, -ning, -ion, -ism, -lek, -nad, -or En bok (book), en bil (car), en hund (dog), en katt (cat), en cykel (bicycle)
Ett -ande, -ende, -ek, -em, -iv, -um Ett fönster (window), ett bord (table), ett hjÀrta (heart), ett trÀd (tree), ett brev (letter)
Geographical names Ett Continents, countries, provinces, towns
Time En Days, months, seasons Ett dygn (day/24-hour period)

Remember that learning the exceptions to the general guidelines for 'en' and 'ett' is a crucial part of mastering Swedish. As you continue to study and practice the language, you will become more familiar with the patterns and exceptions, making it easier to predict the gender of new nouns.

Examples of Nouns with En and Ett[edit | edit source]

  • En bil (masculine): A car
  • Ett hus (neuter): A house
  • En bok (feminine): A book
  • Ett barn (neuter): A child
  • En hund (masculine): A dog
  • Ett Ă€pple (neuter): An apple
  • En skola (feminine): A school
  • Ett bibliotek (neuter): A library
  • En stol (feminine): A chair
  • Ett fönster (neuter): A window
  • En cykel (masculine): A bicycle
  • Ett trĂ€d (neuter): A tree
  • En blomma (feminine): A flower
  • Ett bord (neuter): A table
  • En biljett (feminine): A ticket
  • Ett kort (neuter): A card
  • En dag (masculine): A day
  • Ett Ă„r (neuter): A year
  • En film (feminine): A movie
  • Ett spel (neuter): A game
  • En gata (feminine): A street
  • Ett museum (neuter): A museum
  • En kopp (feminine): A cup
  • Ett husdjur (neuter): A pet
  • En vĂ€n (feminine): A friend

Practice with this Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Here is a dialogue in Swedish with the use of "En" and "Ett" and its English translation:

Swedish Dialogue:[edit | edit source]

  • Person 1: Hej! Har du en bok jag kan lĂ„na?
  • Person 2: Ja, jag har ett par böcker som jag kan lĂ„na ut. Vilken typ av bok letar du efter?
  • Person 1: En skönlitterĂ€r bok skulle vara bra. Vilken bok skulle du rekommendera?
  • Person 2: Jag har en spĂ€nnande thriller som jag tyckte var bra. Den heter "Ensam varg". Vill du lĂ„na den?
  • Person 1: Ja, det lĂ„ter perfekt. Tack sĂ„ mycket! Har du en penna ocksĂ„? Jag behöver skriva nĂ„gra anteckningar.
  • Person 2: Absolut, hĂ€r Ă€r en penna. Men jag har bara en blĂ€ckpatron kvar, sĂ„ om du vill ha en till penna mĂ„ste du köpa ett par nya blĂ€ckpatroner ocksĂ„.
  • Person 1: Tack för varningen. En penna Ă€r allt jag behöver just nu. Tack för all hjĂ€lp!
  • Person 2: Ingen orsak. Jag hoppas att du gillar boken och att pennan fungerar bra för dig.

English Translation:[edit | edit source]

  • Person 1: Hi! Do you have a book I can borrow?
  • Person 2: Yes, I have a couple of books I can lend out. What kind of book are you looking for?
  • Person 1: A fiction book would be great. What book would you recommend?
  • Person 2: I have an exciting thriller that I thought was good. It's called "Lone Wolf". Do you want to borrow it?
  • Person 1: Yes, that sounds perfect. Thank you so much! Do you have a pen too? I need to write some notes.
  • Person 2: Absolutely, here's a pencil. But I only have one ink cartridge left, so if you want another pencil, you'll need to buy a couple of new ink cartridges too.
  • Person 1: Thanks for the warning. One pencil is all I need right now. Thank you for all your help!
  • Person 2: No problem. I hope you enjoy the book and that the pencil works well for you.

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