Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish (see especially "Classification"). Along with the other North Germanic languages, Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It is the largest of the North Germanic languages by numbers of speakers.
Standard Swedish is the national language that evolved from the Central Swedish dialects in the 19th century and was well established by the beginning of the 20th century. While distinct regional varieties descended from the older rural dialects still exist, the spoken and written language is uniform and standardized. The standard word order is, as in most Germanic languages, V2, which means that the finite verb (V) appears in second position of a declarative main clause. Swedish morphology is similar to English; that is, words have comparatively few inflections. There are two genders and no grammatical case. Nouns, adjectives, pronouns and certain numerals are inflected for number: singular and plural. The definiteness of nouns is marked primarily through suffixes, complemented with separate definite and indefinite articles. As in English, Swedish only has remnants of a case system in the personal pronouns. The genitive of nouns is replaced by a possessive pronoun, like in English. Adjectives are compared as in English, and are also inflected to mark agreement with the noun they modify.
Swedish vocabulary, with its loanwords from German, French and English, is largely international. Besides the Germanic heritage, much of the vocabulary has been influenced by Latin, particularly through the Christian church and the Renaissance. Swedish also borrowed words from other languages, more recently from Arabic and Persian.
Swedish is a V2 language, which means that the verb always comes second in a main clause. This is different from English, where the order can be V1, V2 or V3. For example, in the sentence “The boy kicks the ball”, “kicks” is V1, “the boy” is V2 and “the ball” is V3. In Swedish, the same sentence would be “pojken sparkar bollen”, with “sparkar” as V2 and “pojken” and “bollen” as V1 and V3.
Swedish has two genders: common and neuter. The common gender includes all living beings that are not considered to be male or female, such as animals and plants. The neuter gender includes everything else, such as objects, concepts and ideas. In Swedish, all nouns are inflected for gender, which means that they have different forms depending on whether they are masculine, feminine or neuter. For example, the word for “book” is “bok” (neuter), “gata” (feminine) is the word for “street” and “pojke” (masculine) is the word for “boy”.
Swedish has eight cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, instrumental, prepositional and comitative. They are used to show the grammatical function of a noun or pronoun in a sentence. The nominative case is used for the subject of a sentence, the accusative for the direct object, the dative for the indirect object and the genitive for possession. The vocative case is used when addressing someone or something directly, the instrumental for showing how something is done and the prepositional for specifying a location. The comitative case is used to show accompaniment or companionship.
Swedish has two main pronouns: “han” (he) and “hon” (she). These are inflected for case, number and gender. For example, “han” becomes “honom” in the dative case and “henne” in the accusative case. The pronoun “den” (it) is used for neuter nouns and is also inflected for case and number. There is also a reflexive pronoun, “sig”, which is used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same.
Swedish has two main verb tenses: present and past. The present tense is used for ongoing actions and states, as well as for future events that have been scheduled. The past tense is used for finished actions and states. There are also two other tenses: the perfect, which is used to talk about actions that have been completed, and the pluperfect, which is used to talk about actions that were completed before another past action. Swedish also has a number of modal verbs, such as “kan” (can), “vill” (want) and “borde” (should), which are used to express ability, necessity and obligation.
Swedish is a relatively simple language to learn, especially for speakers of other Germanic languages. However, there are a few areas that can pose difficulties, such as the use of cases and the inflection of verbs.