Tycka, tänka, tro and how to use them

TRICKY CONCEPTS

Today in our Tricky Concepts series, we’ll be discussing something many Swedish learners find difficult. If you find the 3 Swedish verbs tycker, tänker and tror difficult to separate, you are NOT alone. At the end of this post, there is also a free cheat sheet that you can download and use as a reminder. 

To think in Swedish

The English word think corresponds to three Swedish verbs: tycka, tänka, and tro, something that likely causes confusion for non-native speakers. It can be tricky because the translation of the verbs can sometimes overlap each other. However, it’s not as complex as it might sound, but takes time and practice to get used to. In this post, we will look at when and how to use these words.

Sweden winter

Tycka (inf.):

Use this verb when you want to express your personal opinion about something.

Example: Jag tycker choklad smakar gott.  I think chocolate tastes good. (Your opinion is that chocolate tastes good.)

Example 2: Jag tycker du ska komma hem.  I think you should come home. (Your opinion is that the person should come home.)

If the preposition om is added, the word then simply refers to the state of liking something.

Example: Jag tycker om choklad. I like chocolate.

Tänka (inf.):

Use this verb when you want to express that you are thinking, or a specific action you intend to take.

Example: Tyst! Jag försöker tänka. Quiet! I’m trying to think.

Example 2: Jag tänker åka utomlands.  I intend to go abroad.

Example 3: Jag tänker ta en dush nu.  I’m going to take a shower now.

Similar to tycka, adding a preposition changes the expression. I’ve used the preposition om here, which then gives tänka a meaning similar to the English word “imagine”.

Example: Tänk om vi vinner på lotto. Imagine if we win the lottery.

Another preposition you can use is . In this case it means to think about someone or something.

Example: Jag tänker på dig. I’m thinking about you.

Tro (inf.):

Tro is related to the English believe, suppose, presume, and guess, depending on context. A hint of opinion is involved, but it’s mainly a belief or a guess in regards to something you are not sure about (or have never experienced). Imagine a scenario in which you are going to the cinema with a friend. You have read reviews, watched the trailers, but you can’t have an opinion about the film until you have watched it.

Example: Jag tror filmen är bra.  I think the film is good.

Once you’ve watched the film, you will have an opinion (and an experience of the film) and therefore use the verb tycker instead.

Swedes love to talk about the weather, so you could also think of this verb as the “weather word”, as it’s always used to predict the weather in a conversation.

Example 2: Jag tror det blir vackert väder i morgon. I think (believe) the weather will be beautiful tomorrow.

Once the next day arrives, you will have an opinion on the weather when you look out the window, and therefore use tycker.

The most common preposition to use with tro is , and is always followed by the object you believe in.

Example: Jag tror på dig.  I believe in you.

Hopefully this has clarified some confusions about how to use these words. But remember to not get too frustrated with them, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the distinction between them. And make sure to download our FREE Tycker-Tror-Tänker Cheat Sheet (button below) and keep somewhere handy, to remind yourself of the difference between these three verbs. 

Is Swedish hard to learn?

Is Swedish hard to learn?

Well, it depends, of course. It depends on what your native language is, and whether it is close to Swedish. So for example, if your native language is German, then Swedish will be quite easy to learn. It also depends on the complexity of the language. For an English speaker, Swedish is not that complex, compared to many other languages. Compared to English, the pronunciation may be a bit of a challenge.

Swedish pronunciation and grammar

Swedish has a lot of vowels, in fact 9: a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, and ö. If you want to practice the vowel sounds, check out our Sound Like a Swede series on Youtube.

Swedish also has some particular sounds that do not sound quite like they are spelled (for ex: sj-, stj-, skj-). If you are not used to grammatical genders, the idea of using ‘en’ and ‘ett’ in front of the nouns seem weird to start with. And when you learn more about the grammar, you will find out that the concept of en and ett can also be seen on other words in the language – they kind of ‘rub off’ on other words (adjectives and possessive pronouns, typically).

It of course also depends on how much time you devote per week to studying Swedish (the more often you study, the quicker you will learn), what resources you have available and your motivation for studying.

Swedish IS (relatively) easy

According to The Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, Swedish is in fact on of the easier languages to learn. Good news! If you are a native English speaker, it should take you approximately 575-600 class hours to learn Swedish to a proficient level. This is relatively easy, compared to some of the hardest languages – for example Japanese, Arabic and Chinese will take approximately 2,200 class hours to learn!

Also, have a look at the blog post we have written previously about how many hours it takes to learn Swedish.

Hard-Languages-To-Learn

Best way to start learning Swedish

New Year. New Swedish you! 

Would you like to start (or re-start) learning Swedish, but don’t know where to start? Are you wondering what the best way is to learn Swedish? Do you feel overwhelmed with all the different websites, books, apps, courses and online resources? If this is you, then read on. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different ways of learning Swedish and the resources you may want to consider, so you can choose what works best for you. We also have a free Resource Checklist that you can download below, to set yourself up for a great year of Swedish language learning. 

children-skiing

Self-studying vs lessons

The first thing you should think about is if you want to study on your own, or take lessons with a teacher.

Having lessons will make you learn faster, as you get feedback from your teacher and get more speaking practice. In other words, this is the best way to learn how to speak Swedish. You can do a course at a language school, or do a private lesson (on Skype for example).

But if you are on a tight budget, you can also self-study. Just make sure to get some speaking practice with an actual Swede at some point (in person or via Skype). 

4 important resources

There are many resources you can use, and today with all the technology available, more than ever can be found online. But there are 4 categories of resources that you should make sure you have access to. 

1. Guiding resources

These are course books that take you from one level to the next. They will have a combination of grammar, texts and vocab, and will allow you to practice reading comprehension,  vocab learning and grammar understanding, and probably also listening comprehension (if it has audio support). If you study with a teacher, they will usually guide you through the books and give feedback on pronunciation and discuss grammar with you. The course books often include writing exercises as well, which your teacher can give you feedback on. If you are studying on your own, you won’t get any feedback on speaking and writing, and it is crucial that you make sure to find ways to get this elsewhere.

The guiding resources we use with our students are: 

Rivstart series (A1+A2, B1+B2, B2+C1) – This series is great for going through the levels, but all the instructions are in Swedish, so you will need a teacher to take you through it (at least in the beginning). If you buy them, remember that you need to get both the text book and the exercise book for each level.

Teach Yourself Complete Swedish – We also use this book in some of our lessons. As it is a self study book and all the grammar explanations are in English, this is a great book if you are learning Swedish on your own. It is also a good complement to Rivstart (because of the English grammar explanations). 

2. Practice Resources

Make sure you choose a good practice resource that works for you. It could just be as simple as a book where you write new words down, but there are also many apps and online programmes that you might want to explore. Practising programmes like Duolingo, BabbelClozemaster, or flashcard apps like Quizlet, Memrise, Anki, to name a few. All of these are very good for practising, but will not work as a guiding resource on their own. We therefore recommend to combine these with some of the guiding resources above. If you want to get started straight away, we have a free Quizlet lesson for total beginners (100 items) that you can access here

3. Input resources

Anything online can be an input resource! Videos on Youtube, radio programmes, movies, newspapers online, blogs, Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, Pinterest, etc. Physical easy to read books and other similar things are of course also good input sources when you are learning Swedish.  

4. Reference resources

These are usually dictionaries, phrase books, grammar books, and so on. A few good ones that we often use are:

There you have it! Make sure you have resources from all 4 categories. We also have a handy Resource Checklist that you can download for free here, to keep your resources organised. 

Make 2019 the year you progress your Swedish significantly, wherever you are. You can do it! 🙂

And if you know someone else who would find this useful, make sure to share this article with them.  

The Plate Spinner

The Plate Spinner

When we talk about the process of language learning with our learners, we often refer to the concept of a plate spinner. We use this metaphor because we think it captures very well the process of language learning.

The problem with the house metaphor

Some think of the process as building a house (laying a solid foundation, adding brick upon brick, adding new floors on top of each other). The problem with this notion, is that it assumes that you need a solid and sturdy foundation before you can add any more on to it (to prevent it from coming crashing down). And what this usually means, in practical terms for language learners, is a sense that they must remember everything they have learnt so far, in order to move onto something new. “I don’t dare to start a new chapter, because I cannot immediately recall everything I learnt in the previous chapter.” This, we believe, is not a useful language learning strategy, as the learner will develop unnecessary anxieties relating to short-term memory failure, and an impossible ambition to be able to recall every single word in the new language vocabulary (often without any context). A bit like a computer.

Plate Spinning

Instead, a much more constructive analogy is that of a plate spinner. The plates can represent the different language skills (speaking, reading, listening, writing, grammatical knowledge), and the spinner is the learner. The goal is to spin all the plates as evenly as possible, at the same time. Of course, sometimes a plate spinner may focus on one or two particular plates, which results in another plate beginning to slow down and wobble. But the plate spinner turns their attention to that plate, gives it a little bit of a spin to stabilise it, and things are ok again. And it is ok for plates to be a bit wobbly sometimes. It may just be because you have focused hard on something else for a while. All you have to do is to identify the plate (speaking, listening, or whatever it may be), give it a bit of a spin, and just keep on going. As long as all the plates are spinning in some shape or form, then things are going just fine.

 

plate spinner

Andrew Van Buren, a famous plate spinner

 

PS.

GOD JUL in advance from Swedish Made Easy! We’ll be taking a little break over Christmas but will be back soon as usual, with lots of new tips and tricks for your Swedish journey during 2019!

 

Sexy in Swedish – 44 romantic Swedish phrases

All I want for Christmas is you!

When you are learning Swedish, chances are that the course books include everyday language that is very helpful for getting by in Sweden in general. However, you will probably not find intimate and sexy phrases in these types of books.

It can be difficult to chat up Swedes, as we can be a little more reserved to strangers than some other nationalities. However, according to statistics Swedes can be very flirty too, especially on dating apps.

Here are 44 phrases that you can use when getting to know someone, either face-to-face or via a dating app. So let’s get festive and romantic with some useful Swedish phrases for these situations!

The first steps

Are you dating anyone at the moment?

Dejtar du någon just nu?

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Har du pojkvän/flickvän?

Do you want to dance?

Vill du dansa?

Do you want anything to drink?

Vill du ha något att dricka?

I would like to get to know you better.

Jag skulle vilja lära känna dig bättre.

Do you want to meet again? Maybe we can meet again?

Vill du ses igen? Vi kanske kan ses igen?

Can I get your phone number?

Kan jag få ditt telefonnummer?

Asking someone out

Now that you’ve taken the first step and got acquainted, it’s time to ask them out.

Do you want to meet tonight/tomorrow/this weekend/next week?

Vill du ses ikväll/imorgon/i helgen/nästa vecka?

What would you like to do?

Vad skulle du vilja göra?

How about…?

Vad sägs om…?

We could maybe go for a coffee?

Vi kanske kan ta en fika?

Where do you want to meet?

Var vill du ses?

What time?

Vilken tid?

I’ll get in touch/I’ll call you.

Jag hör av mig.

Stay in touch/call me.

Hör av dig.

Compliments in Swedish

Giving compliments in Swedish can be a bit tricky. Swedes are not great at giving compliments, and many Swedes dislike crude comments about someone’s body.

So stay away from comments like ‘You have a sexy ass’. Giving criticism after a compliment should also be avoided (ex: ‘I love your hair, but you should wear it down more often’). Instead, use some of these phrases…

You look nice.

Vad fin du är.

You are funny.

Du är rolig.

I love your laughter/smile.

Jag älskar ditt skratt/leende.

You have such beautiful eyes.

Du har så vackra ögon.

You’re smart.

Du är smart.

I like your way of thinking.

Jag gillar ditt sätt att tänka.

I like hanging out with/talking to you, you inspire me.

Jag gillar att hänga/prata med dig, du inspirerar mig.

Getting closer

If you have been successful with the previous phrases, the following phrases may come in handy.

May I kiss you?

Får jag kyssa dig?

I (don’t) want to.

Jag vill (inte).

Hold me.

Håll om mig.

Kiss me.

Kyss mig.

I want you.

Jag vill ha dig.

You feel so nice.

Du är så skön.

You are so sexy.

Du är så sexig.

Do you like this?

Gillar du det här?

Don’t stop!

Sluta inte.

Slower.

Långsammare.

Faster.

Snabbare.

That was totally amazing.

Det var helt underbart.

Saying goodbye

After all that passion, unfortunately it’s time to say goodbye.

It’s late.

Det är sent.

I should go home.

Jag borde gå hem.

I’ll call you.

Jag ringer dig.

I don’t want to go.

Jag vill inte gå.

See you tomorrow.

Vi ses imorgon.

Thanks for this evening.

Tack för ikväll.

Goodbye.

Hejdå.

Goodnight.

Godnatt.

I’ll miss you.

Jag kommer att sakna dig.

Make sure to practice these, perhaps make them into flashcards to memorize them. Have fun with them, and good luck!

 

Lucia and her buns

What is Lucia?

In this blog post, we’ll look at the Swedish lucia tradition, why Swedes celebrate an Italian saint, and we’ll also look at the traditional Lucia buns that are served at this time of the year. You’ll also get a free Lucia bun recipe, both in Swedish AND in English (so you can learn some new baking vocab while making your own!

The Swedish Lucia Tradition

Next week, on the 13 December, Sweden celebrates Lucia. The annual candlelit Lucia procession is maybe one of the more exotic-looking Swedish customs, with girls and boys clad in white full-length gowns singing songs together.

The tradition is that Lucia wears ‘light in her hair’, which means a crown of candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle, too. Many people nowadays taking part, especially younger children, use battery-powered candles. But there is still a special atmosphere when the lights are dimmed and the sound of singing grows as they enter the room. Parents gather in the dark with their mobile cameras ready. The star boys carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads, and are also dressed in white gowns.

The History of Lucia

The Lucia tradition can be traced back to Saint Lucia of Syracuse, Italy. Saint Lucia was a Christian martyr who died in 304. But the tradition can also be traced to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. According to the legend, she consorted with the Devil and her children were invisible devils. The name Lucia can be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and it’s difficult to know the exact origins. What you can see in Sweden today is a mixture of traditions.

In the old calendar, Lucia Night was the longest night of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak (yep, we did really believe this). By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were told to eat seven or nine (!) large breakfasts.

Before industrial times, young people used to dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) that night and wander from house to house singing songs and scrounging for food and schnapps.

The first recorded appearance of a Lucia dressed in white in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The tradition did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 1900s, when schools and local associations in particular began promoting it. The old lussegubbar-custom disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful shenanigans of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The tradition of a Lucia serving coffee and buns (lussekatter) dates back to the 1880s, although the buns were around long before that.

The Lucia Buns

Lussebullar, or Lussekatter, are traditional saffron buns that Swedes eat during this time of the year. Each bun is shaped into an S-shape, which is supposed to resemble a curled up cat (hence why some call them Lussekatter), and then two raisins are added to represent the eyes. Nobody knows for sure the origins of the shape and the connection with Saint Lucia, but it seems likely that they were originally called djävulskatter (the devil’s cats).

Would you like to have a go at making your own Lucia Buns? Click here to download a free recipe.

Here are some other useful tips about the Lucia Buns

• Always freeze the buns as soon as they are cold and defrost only what you will use on the same day.

• Lussekatter are best eaten when freshly baked, so if you want them freshly made on the day, you could prepare the dough the night before, cover with clingfilm (food wrap) and store in a fridge overnight.

• For a little more flavour, add half a teaspoon of ground cardamom to the flour. Although cardamom was not traditionally added to lussekatter, many modern bakers in Sweden add a little to enhance the flavour of the buns.

• As saffron buns can dry out very easily take them out of the oven as soon as they are just the right colour, put them on a wire rack and cover them with a cloth. Another thing that you can add to the dough to make the buns less dry, is Quark or Greek Yoghurt.

• Lussekatter are best served slightly warm. If necessary, they can be reheated in a microwave for about 30 seconds on a medium setting (but be very careful not to overheat them). You can also warm them in the oven on low heat (but again, be careful they don’t dry out too much).

• Many Swedes like to drink glögg with their Lucia Buns. There is glögg with alcohol available to buy from Systembolaget, but also alcohol free in most food shops.

Download a free recipe for Lussebullar here

Swedish sayings t-shirts and more

Swedish sayings are crazy. There is no cow on the ice, owls in the bog, and gnomes in the attic… But they are fun, and always trigger laughs and discussions.

We now have a little shop on Redbubble where you can buy t-shirts, cups, note books, mobile skins, bags and more with some of these sayings. We have started with the following Swedish sayings (click on the links to view):

There is no cow on the ice (on Redbubble)

I suspect owls in the bog (on Redbubble)

Now there shall be other buns (on Redbubble)

In case you are looking for a Swedish-related Christmas gift, some of these might be fun. 🙂

 

Here we are in London, showing some of these t-shirts off. You definitely get looks and comments when you wear these!

 

Tala inte svenska med mig är du snäll

We also have another range for Swedish learners in particular – Tala inte engelska med mig är du snäll (Don’t speak English with me please). The perfect thing if you want to discourage Swedes to speak English to you, so you can practice your Swedish.

Here’s a unisex t-shirt but there are loads of other type of clothes and also note books, stickers, cups, mobile skins and more.

 

 

Swedish Language Advent Calendar 2018

Hej!

Christmas is nearly here, and this year Daniel and I thought it would be nice to provide a Swedish Language Advent Calendar. From 1st of December and until 24th (the Swedish Christmas day), you will learn a new word every day through the context of a festive little poem, courtesy of Daniel! You will not only learn the words, but there will also be specific notes on each word, like for example all verb tenses for the verbs, and handy little tips and tricks on how to use them.

Where? Instagram (but we’ll share it on our Facebook page too)

When? 1 Dec-24 Dec 2018

 

How to create plural endings in Swedish

Swedish plural endings

Are you confused about all the different plural endings in Swedish? In this blog post we’ll look at the different forms and groups so you can create and identify plural endings. There is also a free download of a noun plural cheat sheet, so you can print it out and put up somewhere as a reminder! But first, let’s look at all the noun forms.

The 4 noun forms

Swedish nouns have 4 forms; singular indefinite, singular definite, plural indefinite and plural definite.

singular indefinite (en hund a dog)

singular definite (hunden the dog)

plural indefinite (hundar dogs)

plural definite (hundarna the dogs)

The plural forms

The Swedish language have more plural endings than in the English language. In English, you mainly put an ‘s’ at the end of a noun to make it plural. Swedish nouns plural endings broadly group according to whether they are en or ett words and they also have sub-categories; three for en words (group 1-3) and two for ett words (group 4-5). Let’s go through the groups.

Group 1

This group contains en words that in singular indefinite ends on an ‘a’. They replace the ‘a’ with ‘or’ in plural indefinite and also add ‘na’ in plural definite.

en flicka a girl

flickan the girl

flickor girls

flickorna the girls

Group 2

In this group, we also find en words, but they will have some other endings. It’s usually short words ending on a consonant or ‘e’, or longer words that end on ‘ing’. These nouns take ‘ar’ in plural indefinite and add ‘na’ for plural definite.

en bil a car

bilen the car

bilar cars

bilarna the cars

 

en pojke a boy

pojken the boy

pojkar boys

pojkarna the boys

 

en tidning a newspaper

tidningen the newspaper

tidningar newspapers

tidningarna the newspapers

This group contains words that have a Scandinavian or Germanic origin, but that can sometimes be a little hard to tell, unless you are a language expert!

Group 3

The last of the en word groups mainly contain longer words ending on a consonant (although there are a few short ones in here too). They take ‘er’ in plural indefinite and also add ‘na’ for plural definite. Like this:

en apelsin an orange               

apelsinen the orange               

apelsiner oranges                

apelsinerna the oranges

In contrast to group 2, these words are international loan words and they often originate from English, French, Russian, Latin or other languages.

Group 4

Ett words that end on a vowel in singular indefinite belong to this group. They add ‘n’ in plural indefinite and add an ‘a’ for plural definite. For example:

ett piano a piano

pianot the piano

pianon pianos

pianona the pianos

Notice how the plural indefinite makes the word looks like a singular definite en word! This can be quite tricky, but you can look out for ’plural markers’ before the word, for example tre pianon three pianos, många pianon many pianos, några pianon some pianos.

Group 5

The fifth group contains ett words that end on a consonant in singular indefinite. These words take no ending for plural indefinite and add ‘en’ for plural definite.

ett hus a house

huset the house

hus houses

husen the houses

Can you see how the plural definite form makes the word looks a bit like a singular definite en word? This can be even harder than for group 4, so it is best to learn these words by heart.

Download our FREE Noun Plural Group Cheat Sheet for a visual model of these 5 groups, so you can remember them more easily.

Swedish vowels – Y

Y
Of all Swedish vowels, the vowel Y tends to be hard to get right, but I have found a way to describe it that seems to be helpful. Firstly, say the Swedish I (or the English ‘ee’) and analyse what your tongue is doing. Secondly, keep that tongue position absolutely still, but move your lips from a wide smile to a trumpet-like shape (i.e. push your lips forward, quite aggressively). So when going from I to Y, your tongue position should be exactly the same, and the only thing changing is your lips – going from a wide smile, to a trumpet-shape. A bit like doing duck lips. 🙂 In this video you can see me doing my very best duck lips.