Swedish - interesting facts


Approximately nine million people, accounting for about 0.14% of the world's population, natively speak Swedish. This places Swedish 91st in terms of the number of native speakers worldwide.

Swedish (Svenska) is the official language of Sweden and Finland, where it shares official status with Finnish. It belongs to the Germanic group of languages, specifically the North Germanic subgroup. As a distinct language (or dialect), Swedish began to form during the Viking Age (around the turn of the first and second millennia). Initially, it was written in the Runic alphabet, which was superseded by the Latin alphabet in the early 13th century. The development of modern Swedish spanned from the beginning of the 16th century (initiated by a translation of the Bible) to the end of the 19th century. The royal court played a significant role in standardising the language. Today, the Swedish Language Council handles regulatory matters concerning the language.

One characteristic of the Swedish language is its considerable dialectal diversity. There are six major groups of regional dialects. Some dialects are unique to small local communities (e.g., parish communities, known as "sockenmål"). A Finnish variant of Swedish is spoken by about 300,000 Finnish citizens (approximately 5% of the country's population) living in small regions in western and southern Finland.

Due to genetic similarities, Swedish closely resembles Danish and Norwegian (Bokmål). These three languages are considered mutually intelligible, as evidenced by Swedes effectively communicating in their native language with people from Denmark and Norway.

Swedish is one of the official languages of both the European Union and the Nordic Council.

A distinguishing feature of Swedish pronunciation is the high number of vowels. There are nine in total, each of which can be pronounced either long or short.

Definite articles (equivalent to 'the' in English) are attached to the end of the noun in Swedish, e.g., hund (dog) → hunden.

Swedish, like German, employs long compound nouns, for instance, regionutvecklingssekretariatet, which translates to 'regional development secretariat' in English.

The longest word in Swedish is the 36-letter noun "ursprungsbefolkningsorganisationerna", which translates to 'native population organisations' in English.

In Swedish, there are distinct terms for paternal and maternal grandparents. A paternal grandfather is 'farfar' (literally 'father's father'), and a maternal grandfather is 'morfar' ('mother's father'). A grandmother is 'mormor' (on the mother's side) or 'farmor' (on the father's side).


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Scandinavian similarities

Swedish, which belongs to the Germanic language family, is one of the Scandinavian languages, alongside Norwegian and Danish. Interestingly, Poles learning Swedish may be surprised by its similarity to these two languages. Many words and phrases are common or very similar, which means that a person speaking Swedish can understand speakers from Norway, Denmark, or even Iceland, although to a limited extent. For Poles who have experience learning other Scandinavian languages, learning Swedish may be easier than starting from scratch.

Swedish melody

A distinctive feature of the Swedish language is its melodiousness. Swedish pronunciation is based on a phenomenon called "tonic accent" (seam tonaccent), which involves differences in the tone and length of vowels in words. For Poles, this can be a bit difficult to master, because the Polish language does not use such tonal differences. However, it is worth learning the correct pronunciation, because it is an important element of communication in Swedish.

Swedish verbs

Swedish has far fewer verb variations than Polish. In Swedish, there are only two verb conjugation forms, which makes learning their variations relatively simple. For Poles, learning Swedish may be less complicated than learning other languages with more verb forms.

Swedish numerals

The numerals in Swedish are extremely interesting due to the number writing system. In contrast to the Polish language, double-digit numbers are written inversely in Swedish. For example, the number 21 is written as "tjugoett" (literally "twenty-one"), and the number 56 as "femtiosex" (literally "fifty-six").

Swedish idioms

The Swedish language is rich in interesting idioms and phrases that may interest Poles. For example, the popular Polish saying “to hold someone in hand” has the Swedish equivalent of “ha någon i gillrarna”, which means “to hold someone in an iron”. Knowledge of such idioms can be useful when learning a language, as it allows for a better understanding of Swedes' culture and way of thinking.

The Swedish Internet culture

Swedes are some of the most active Internet users in the world, and their language is widely present on the web. Poles learning Swedish can take advantage of this fact by using many available resources, such as online forums, blogs, movies or music. Knowledge of the Swedish language also facilitates using various social networks, which allows you to gain new acquaintances and cultural exchange.

Swedish literature

Swedish literature, with a history dating back to the Middle Ages, has had a profound impact on the cultural landscape of Sweden and beyond. From folk sagas to Nobel laureates, the literature is as diverse as it is rich.

One of the earliest significant works of Swedish literature is the 'Elder Edda,' a collection of Old Norse poems from the 13th century. The tradition of storytelling continued with the popular folk sagas, which preserved the oral traditions and myths of the Nordic people.

The modern period of Swedish literature began in the 19th century with authors like August Strindberg and Selma Lagerlöf, the latter the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 20th century saw the emergence of globally renowned authors such as Astrid Lindgren, famous for her children's series 'Pippi Longstocking', and Henning Mankell, known for his crime novels featuring detective Kurt Wallander. Swedish literature is internationally recognised for its diversity and quality, from crime thrillers to philosophical novels.


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Your Essential Swedish


wyrażenie polskie

wyrażenie szwedzkie

yes ja (jɑː)
no nej (neɪ)
please varsågod (vɑrˈsoːˌɡuːd)
thank you tack (tɑk)
I'm sorry ursäkta (ɵrˈseːkˌta)
good morning god morgon (ɡuːd ˈmɔrˌɡuːn)
good evening god kväll (ɡuːd ˈɕvɛl)
goodbye god natt (ɡuːd ˈnat)
good night hejdå (hɛjˈdo)
hi hej (hɛj)
how are you?  Hur mår du? (hɵr ˈmoːr dɵ)
well Tack, jag mår bra  (tɑk jɑːɡ moːr brɑː)
My name is... Jag heter  (jɑːɡ ˈheːˌtɛr)
I don't understand Jag förstår inte (jɑːɡ fœrˈstɔr ˈɪnˌtɛ)



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