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Welcome to the course
Welcome to a course in Swedish. When you have completed this course, you should have enough knowledge to speak, read and write the language rather well. In order to learn a language properly, you must take action, you must do something. So I suggest, after you've learnt the basics, that you look up some simple, easy Swedish literature, and start reading. Knowing what is easy is not easy if you don't know any Swedish at all though. If you know somebody who is Swedish, they might be able to help you to some nice reading. I will also try to put up some links to nice, easy articles here later.
General remarks about Swedish
While Swedish is, like most European languages, not very closely related in how it is written and how it is pronounced, it is more so than English or French. Swedish, like English, also counts a fair number of dialects, including the southern scanian which resembles Danish, the Finnish-Swedish dialect of Swedish-speaking Finns, and several dialects different enough to be considered separate languages, although not recognized as such legally or in administration.
There are nine vowels in Swedish:
and 19 consonants:
The consonants c, q, w, x and z appear mostly in words of foreign origin. à, é and ü are considered variants of a, e and y respectively. The combination kk is always written as ck in Swedish words.
Syllable division marks the natural break in a word. When you know where the syllables divide, you can divide a word into its natural sections. This makes speaking correctly easier. You also get a correct speech rhythm. The general rule for syllable division is that each syllable contains one vowel each.
Information about the language
First of all - Swedish is a North Germanic language, which is a subgroup of the Germanic Languages, containing languages as: Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese, as well as Norn, which is extinct. Swedish is considered mutually intelligible to a great extent with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish - and native speakers of these languages often intercommunicate. Also since Swedish is a Germanic Language speakers of Western Germanic Languages - e.g. English and German - shouldn't find Swedish that hard to learn, since these languages share some common traits. Swedish is also one of the official languages of Finland.
The Swedish alphabet is almost the same as in English, except for three additional letters, å/Å, ä/Ä and ö/Ö. These have no special function in sentences/words, they are normal letters, and you will see them in use nearly as much as any other letters would be in use in English.
Here's how to say the alphabet letter by letter:
A few general things to be aware of, as most beginners find them hard,
Sje- and tje-
Two quite similar consonant sounds frequently baffle beginners in Swedish. They are the sje- and tje- sounds. To someone who knows English, they are the sounds present in shear and chain, respectively. The hard part is their spelling, which varies a lot.
Speaking at the tip of your tongue
Swedish does very rarely involve making sounds at the back of your mouth. Vowels should be formed "near your front teeth". "L" and "T" are not thick as in English, and "R" always rolls.
Even native Swedes cannot explain noun gender - there isn't any. Yet, it must be followed. The simple answer is you have to learn it for each noun.
Okay, if you're ready, all you have to do is proceed to Lesson 1!