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Lesson 3


Numbers 10-100
Nouns 3 - Plural indefinite

The plural form of Swedish nouns isn't as easy as that of an English noun, where you just add an s. Swedish nouns are more like German nouns. We attach different suffixes for different nouns. In some cases, you could tell what suffix be added just by looking at the noun, and in some cases you just have to memorize the suffix for each noun.

Here are the endings:

Common genders -

  • Almost all com.g. ending with an a and some others as well attach -or.
  • en flick|a - flera flickor
    en gat|a - flera gator (=street)
    en ros - flera rosor (=rose)

  • The majority of com.g. not ending with an a attach -ar.
  • en pojk|e - flera pojkar
    en dag - flera dagar (=day)

  • Quite a lot of com.g add -er.
  • en rad - flera rader (=row, not quarrel)
    en doktor - flera doktorer (=doctor)

  • A few com.g. are irregular and have umlaut (marked with a cross) a gets ä, o gets ö, ä gets å. Some just add an r
  • en bok - flera böcker
    en stad - flera städer
    en sko - flera skor (=shoe)
    en man - flera män


Those were the common genders, the neuters are much easier.

  • Almost all neuters ending with a vowel add -n.
  • ett äpple - flera äpplen (=apple)

  • Almost all neuters ending with a consonant don't add anything. (Not those ending with -um)
  • ett fönster - flera fönster
    ett träd - flera träd

  • A few add -r
  • ett fängelse - flera fängelser (=prison)

  • Those ending with -um substitute that for an a.
  • ett fakt|um - flera fakta (=fact)

  • Two common, irregular neuters are:
  • ett ög|a - flera ögon (=eye)
    ett ör|a - flera öron (=ear)

Plural definite

Well, that was the plural indefinite, and now we're coming to the plural definite! How do you think that is formed? You're right, by adding a suffix of course! But don't worry. It is not very complicated at all.

  • All nouns attach -na except those having attached no plural indefinite suffix. They get -en. (Very few exceptions to this rule if any.
    sing. indefinite sing. definite plur. indefinite plur. definite
    en flicka flickan flickor flickorna
    en pojke pojken pojkar pojkarna
    en sak saken saker sakerna
    ett barn barnet barn barnen
    ett öga (irregular) ögat ögon ögonen
    ett äpple äpplet äpplen äpplena
    ett rum rummet rum rummen


The pronunciation could in some cases be more important than you think. For example such a small difference as *anden and 'anden completely changes the meaning of the word. *Anden means the spirit and 'anden means the duck. Quite embarrassing for a priest to say the holy duck instead of the holy spirit, isn't it?

The pronunciation of the plural isn't very difficult. All words having to syllables after having added the plural suffix employ the grave accent. (Not the irregular ones with umlaut - they employ the accute accent).

    *flicka - *flickor
    'dag - *dagar
    'bok - 'böcker
All others, those with more than two syllables keep the stress as it is in the singular.
    filoso'fi - filoso'fier (=philosophy)
The definite suffixes -na and -en don't change the pronunciation.

Some more nouns:

As in German and French, the adjectives inflect depending on the number and gendrer of the noun they describe. There are also, as in German, a weak and strong inflection. The weak inflection is used after Denna / Det här etc. The strong inflection is used after en, ett and after words that don't tell the gender of the noun.

Weak inflection:

    stor (=big) Singular: Plural:
    com.g: Den här stora bollen De här stora bollarna
    neuter: Det här stora huset De här stora husen
Very easy! You just add an a after the adjective and pronounce it with the grave accent on the syllable preceding the a. Note that you have to use the pronoun den / det / de if you want to put a noun in the definite form which is preceded by an adjective.
    The big boy = Den stora pojken (Not juststora pojken)
    The big house = Det stora huset (Not just stora huset)

Strong inflection:

    stor (=big) Singular: Plural:
    com.g: en stor boll. två stora bollar
    neuter: ett stort hus två stora hus

Not very difficult either. You add a t on neu. sing. and a on all plurals. A few irregular forms do exist however.
  • Adjectives ending with -d or -dd substitute these letters for -tt in the neuter form, unstressed -n is substituted for -t.
  • en röd boll - ett rött hus(röd=red)
    en liten boll - ett litet hus

  • Adjectives ending with -ad attach an e instead of an a.
  • en intresserad kvinna - den intresserade kvinnan - två intresserade kvinnor (intresserad=interesting)

  • The adjective bra (=good / well) doesn't inflect at all
  • en bra bok - ett bra hus

Some adjectives
Exercise - Translate the following sentences into Swedish
    He has a big head.
    I see many yellow shirts.
    We live in a red house.
    Why do you have 52 blue hands.
    The nice girls are very beautiful.
    I would like to pay for this nice dinner.

    Click here for answers

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Last updated the 27th of March

Copyright Björn Engdahl 2008