Swedes aren’t known for being romantic types. At least not on the global front. But there are plenty of ways of saying “I love you” in Swedish, and not all of them require maximum commitment á la ABBA. That said, if you’re ready to learn how to get your Man After Midnight or a Dancing Queen, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you’ll learn how to say your sweet nothings, common pet names and vocabulary associated with romance in Swedish. We’ll even chuck in a few idioms and common phrases used to describe being in love. And if you need to know how to ask a Swede out on a date, we’ll cover that too. Ready? Let’s go!
Basic vocabulary and grammar for “love” in Swedish
First, a very quick grammar lesson. The verb ‘to love’ in Swedish is älska (pronounced ell-skah). Here’s a table to demonstrate how “älska” can be conjugated.
|Conjugations of “älska”||Active||Passive|
However, the noun for “love” in Swedish is “kärlek”. The word “kär” is pronounced the same as the English word “share”, and is sometimes used intermittently with forms of “älska“.
For example, if a friend seems smitten with a new partner, you could ask them är du kär i honom/henne/hen? or älskar du honom/henne/hen?. Both sentences mean “do you love him/her/them?” but I would say that the latter indicates the questioner is being more hesitant.
Moreover, many terms of endearment or romantic phrases in Swedish use “kär” or “älska” to indicate romance, as you’ll soon find out. To sum up, the two key words to know when learning about romance in Swedish is “älska” and “kär“.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s find out how to say “I love you” in Swedish!
How to say “I love you” in Swedish
I love you – Jag älskar dig (“yarg ell-scar day”):
You can say this to your partner, mom, dog, morning coffee, you name it. As long as you mean it, of course. Jokes aside, this is a pretty emotionally charged phrase. So, unless things are going exceptionally well, maybe don’t say it on a first date.
I love you too – Jag älskar dig med (yarg ell-scar day meer-d):
If someone hits you with the “jag älskar dig” and you feel the same, you’ll want to say “I love you too”. In that case, you can simply reply with the same phrase with the addition of “med” on the end. You can also use “också” to mean “too”, pronounced “ox-soar”, instead of “med“.
I love you more – Jag älskar dig mer (yarg ell-scar day meer):
When you feel particularly sappy, all you need to do is say “jag älskar dig mer“. Word of caution: some Swedish accents conflate the sounds of the words “med” and “mer” because not everyone pronounces the “d” in “med“. Listen out for the rolled “r” to identify “mer” instead of “med“.
More options! Both phrases mean the same thing. Both indicate powerful infatuation, but “förälskad” is seen as a little old-school romantic these days. Still, it’s super romantic!
I miss you – Jag saknar dig (yarg sark-nar day):
Long-distance lovers, you can’t go wrong with this one! It simply means “I miss you”, or literally translated, you are missing from me. Aww.
Cute phrases for “I like you” in Swedish
When you’re not ready to drop the L-bomb on someone, these will come in handy.
I like you – Jag gillar dig (yarg yill-arr day):
Just as in English, this is a little ambiguous. It can both be friendly and suggest underlying passion, so tone is everything.
You are so attractive – Du är så snygg (do air soar snigg):
Not sure whether “jag gillar dig” made enough of an impression? Time to whip out some compliments! In Swedish, “snygg” can be used to describe any gender. It’s a polite way of saying “hot”, and it’s less old-fashioned than “beautiful” (Vacker “vack-air) or “handsome” (Stilig “stee-ligg”).
You make me happy – Du gör mig glad (do yuhr may glar-d):
A self-explanatory, stock phrase. Add a “så” (pronounced ‘soar’) between “mig” and “glad” to ramp it up to ‘you make me so happy’.
Romantic phrases in Swedish
Writing a Valentine’s Day card to a special someone? Here are some things you can add on to your I love you’s in Swedish to really give a Swede butterflies in their belly!
You mean everything to me – Du betyder allt för mig (Do bee-tee-der allt fur may):
An adorable way of letting someone know just how special they are to you.
I love you with all my heart – Jag älskar dig med hela mitt hjärta (yarg ell-scar day meerd hear-la mitt yairta):
In case you’re the sort of person who likes measuring their love.
I am crazy in love with you – Jag är tokkär I dig (yarg air too-k-share ee day):
A colloquial phrase often assigned to new or young couples.
I am head over heels for you – Jag är upp över öronen kär i dig (yarg air oop er-ver er-on-en share ee day):
Why be head over heels when you could be ‘up over your ears’?
You are my soulmate – Du är min själsfrände (do air min sh-airls-friend-e):
Literally translated, “själsfrände” means soul-kinsman.
Things to know when dating a Swede
In my experience, most Swedes gravitate towards people they meet either by chance, or through another person. With dating apps of course, you can be a bit more picky. Or less. That’s your business. But if you’ve found a Swede you’d like to go on a date with, how do you ask them out? How do you know if they’re asking you out?
As a general rule, I’d say it’s unlikely a Swede will ask you: vill du gå med på en dejt? (do you want to go on a date?). You could ask this, but that’ll definitely give you away as a non-native or potentially shock the other person. Swedes tend to be shy and more reserved. It’s better to suggest an actual meeting place or activity. Here’s how.
Asking Swedes out on dates
Do you want to hang out with me? – Vill du hänga med mig? (vill do heng-a meerd may?):
This is a basic “do you wanna hang out with me?” question. It might seem childish, but it does imply that this isn’t a pressured situation. Most applicable if you want to get to know another person a little better, like for a first date.
Do you wanna… – “Är du sugen på…” (air do soogen pour…):
Translates as “do you want to…). It’s a great one to try if you already have a “date” destination in mind. For instance, if you want to ask someone out to the movies, you could say: är du sugen på att gå på bio med mig?
Do you feel like… – “Har du lust att…” (har do loost att…):
Don’t be fooled by the word “lust”. It translates into Swedish as “craving” or “wanting”. So this question basically means “do you feel like/want to…”. If dinner’s what you had in mind, you could say: har du lust att äta hos mig ikväll? (Do you feel like eating dinner at mine tonight?).
Pet names in Swedish
Let someone know you cherish them by nicknaming them one of these pet names. Or fist bump yourself if someone calls you one of these things!
Älskling: translates to my dearest, darling, my love, etc. It’s not always romantic, parents often call their kids “älskling” too.
Min kära: translates to my love, my beloved, my dear, etc. This one is definitely romantic, however.
Gumman (f) / Gubben (m): Literally translated, these mean “old lady” and “old man”. But in the context of pet names, they basically mean “my dear”. Parents soothing a child will often use either gumman (for girls) or gubben (for boys), but couples use it with each other too! (I know, it’s a bit strange).
Raring: another word for darling (nothing to do with being rare, unfortunately).
Käresta: translates to dearest.
Swedish love sayings
To finish off our lovey-dovey article, here are some Swedish idioms relating to love. Remember I said we’re not the most romantic nation on Earth? Well, we can be sometimes. Other times, our love-related idioms are about bread, barrels of cabbage and farts.
Hur kan jag säga om din röst är vacker. Jag vet ju bara, att den genomtränger mig och kommer mig att darra som ett löv, och trasar sönder mig och spränger mig.
How can I say if your voice is beautiful? I just know, that it goes right through me, and makes me tremble like a leaf, and breaks me, and makes me explode. – Karin Boye, Poem: The Seven Sins
Kärlek, liksom smör, smakar bäst med bröd.
Love, like butter, tastes best with bread. – Unknown origin
Bättre ett fat kål med kärlek än en gödd oxe med hat.
Better a barrel of cabbage with love than a fattened ox with hatred. – Unknown origin
Förälskade sjunger av samma anledning som barn visslar i mörkret.
Lovers sing for the same reason that children whistle in the dark. – August Strindberg, Poet
And if you’re really cynical…this one’s for you:
Kärlek är som en fis. Om du måste anstränga dig är det förmodligen skit.
Love is like a fart. If you have to make too much effort, then it’s probably poop.
We hope you learned a thing or two about saying I love you in Swedish – let us know in the comments below if you did, or if you know any other Swedish idioms about love. For more help on pronunciation, check out Say It In Swedish, a YouTube channel to help you get fluent in no time.