Swedes aren’t world renowned for having impeccable manners, at least not from an English-speaking perspective. But there’s a reason why ABBA went all out with Thank You For The Music. We might not have a word for please, but we Swedes do love to say thank you. Want to know how to say thank you in Swedish? Of course you do! What if someone says thank you to you, what do you reply? Read on to find out.
Let’s get straight into it. Here are all the ways of saying thank you in Swedish!
How to say “thank you” in Swedish
1. “Thank you” in Swedish – Tack
A simple thank you in Swedish can be done by saying “tack”. It’s pronounced exactly the same as the English word with the same spelling. This is the go-to word for everything from someone holding a door open for you, to being handed a piece of Princess Cake.
2. “Thanks so much” in Swedish – Tack så mycket
Actually, if someone handed me a piece of Princess Cake, I’d probably say “tack så mycket“, because Princess Cake deserves serious gratitude. This is also how Swedes usually respond if you wish them a happy birthday – which can be done in just one word: “grattis!”
3. “Thank you” (colloquial) in Swedish – Tackar tackar
If for some reason you get a round of applause in Sweden, I recommend saying “tackar tackar“. Musicians will often say this after a set, and it roughly translates to “thanking, thanking”. Also, if you don’t want to say “tack så mycket” in response to birthday greetings, you can say “tackar tackar” instead.
4. Thanks for the food” in Swedish – Tack för maten
An unwritten rule in Sweden, and actually in all of Scandinavia, is that we thank whoever cooked the food for us. Whether that’s Mamma or Pappa (mom or dad) or a vän (friend), be sure to finish your meal by saying “tack för maten“. You don’t need to say this if you’re in a restaurant or cafe.
5. “Thanks for last time” in Swedish – Tack för sist
Another habit native to the chilly north is thanking others for spending time with you. “Tack för sist” is a phrase that is more common among older people, who still observe traditional pleasantries. But if you want to impress your Swedish significant other’s grandparents, this is how to do it. It really is as simple as “tack för sist“.
6. “A thousand thank you’s” in Swedish – Tusen tack
Sometimes, one thank you in Swedish isn’t enough. Say “tusen tack” to show how much you appreciate a gesture and watch the Swede beam back at you. Again, this is more common among older people, but it’s something I frequently say. Who doesn’t want to give the barman a thousand thank you’s for delivering an ice cold beer on a hot summer’s day?
7. “Thanks a lot” in Swedish – Tack ska du ha
This one requires you to pick up on the tone of the person speaking. “Tack ska du ha” in a happy voice means “thanks a lot”, but “tack ska du ha” in a sarcastic voice means “thanks a bunch”. Its versatility is what makes this phrase fun to use, though I’d recommend you use this mostly to imply you’re not actually very happy.
8. “Thank you for this time” in Swedish – Tack för den här gången
If you’ve had enough of a party and you’re ready to go home to your bed and Netflix, this is a handy phrase. Another way to say thank you in Swedish is synonymous with saying goodbye. “Tack för den här gången” is sort of like the English phrase “thanks for having me” or “thanks for your hospitality”.
How to say “you’re welcome” in Swedish
9. “You’re welcome” in Swedish – Varsågod
Maybe you’re the one handing out the Fika goodies? In that case, all you need to say is “varsågod“. Just as in English, you can say this sarcastically if someone doesn’t thank you for holding the door open for them. Swedes hate confrontation, though. So if you say this, be aware they’ll probably never forget your face or words.
If you’re saying “you’re welcome” to more than one person at the same time, just put an ‘a’ on the end: “varsågoda“.
10. “No problem” in Swedish – Ingen problem
When you’ve done someone a minor favor, just say “ingen problem“. Remember that in Swedish, “problem” is pronounced prob-lear-m”.
11. “It’s cool” in Swedish – Det är lugnt
Imagine a frantic dog-mom who can’t stop gushing her thanks because you managed to grab her pup’s leash before it could bolt away. She’s giving you all the “tusen tack“‘s and all you did was put your foot down before the sneaky doggo made a break for it. That’s the kind of situation where you’d say “det är lugnt“. Literally translated into English, this phrase becomes “it’s calm”.
12. “No worries” in Swedish – Ingen fara
Similar to “ingen problem“, you can say “ingen fara” in Swedish to say “you’re welcome”. It means “no danger”, but it’s mostly used to let someone off the hook. For instance, a friend texts you they took the wrong bus so they’ll be late. That’s when you’d reply with “ingen fara“. But if you’re Swedish, you’d say that and then look grumpy until your friends arrive. (Swedes hate lateness).
13. “It was nothing” in Swedish – Det var så lite så
“Det var så lite så” is probably said by every grandparent in Sweden at least once a day. Whether they’ve cooked you a three course meal, or washed and ironed all your clothes without being asked, they’ll always reply “det var så lite så” when you thank them. Literally translated, the phrase means “it was so little, so-“. Aww.
Basically, this is the most humble and wholesome way of saying “you’re welcome” in Swedish.
How to say “please” in Swedish
Swedes are, in general, very relaxed about pleasantries. You were paying attention when I said we didn’t have a word for please in Swedish, weren’t you? Well, that’s not strictly true. Although, it kind of is. Let’s straighten this out!
14. “Please” in Swedish – Gärna
First, let’s start with “gärna“. Comically, it’s pronounced “yeah-nah”, although it means “yes please” in some contexts. If you’re offered a cup of coffee or refreshment, then you can reply with “gärna” to imply you’d like nothing more.
In other contexts however, “gärna” can mean “like”, as in “enjoy”. For instance, a Swede might say “Jag skulle gärna åka med dig till Karlstad” (I would like to go with you to Karlstad). On its own though, “gärna” means “gladly”.
15. “Please” in Swedish – Är du snäll
“Är du snäll“ on the other hand is more of a polite way to ask something. For instance, if someone wants you to pass them an object, a Swede would ask “kan du ge mig den där boken, är du snäll?” (can you give me that book, please?). If you really want someone to do you a favor, you can sling a “snälla” at the beginning or at the end of your sentence. Small kids do this a lot. Like in this example: “Snälla pappa, får jag klappa vargen?” (Please dad, can I pet the wolf?).
A word on Swedish etiquette
Okay, so you know how to say please, you’re welcome and thank you in Swedish. But what about the unwritten rules on Swedish etiquette? What is a big no-no in Sweden, regardless of language? Don’t worry. Read on to avoid awkward situations.
- Always take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. Don’t worry about getting cold, most Swedes haves spare slippers or warm socks to lend you. Anything to keep dirt out of the home. When you leave, you can thank them by saying “tack för lånet” (thanks for the loan).
- For formal occasions, most Swedes tend to bring the host a gift. Chocolate, wine, home-baked goods. It doesn’t really matter what, just don’t turn up empty-handed to a formal event. Don’t be offended if the host leaves flowers in the wrapping paper. Die-hard traditionalists swear by leaving them there until the guest leaves. I don’t know why.
- Swedes find it very distasteful to listen to bragging. Especially if it’s about material wealth. Avoid this at all costs.
- BYOB, almost always. Alcohol is one of the most expensive commodities in Sweden, so don’t expect everyone to provide it for you. Even older people at dinner parties bring wine for themselves or to share.
- Many Swedish traditions are silly. Even ridiculous. But you might bring out someone’s inner-Viking if you refuse to jump around the maypole.