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How to Say Please in Swedish

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If you decide to learn Swedish, you may find that phrasebooks and lessons for beginners leave out any explanation of the seemingly easy and important word "please". This is not because Swedish doesn't know how to be polite, but because it uses different words and sentence constructions in different contexts. In Swedish, your choice of phrase will indicate the degree of politeness. Here is how to say please in many different situations.

Steps

  1. 1

    Place an order in a restaurant. A simple but slightly informal option is to use "tack" (the same word that also means "thanks"). It basically offers your thanks in advance, and as such it can also be used after other instructions.
    • En kaffe, tack. ("A coffee, please.")
    • Stäng dörren. Tack! ("Close the door. Thanks!")
  2. 2

    A more polite option is to use the construction "Skulle jag kunna få ..." possibly in addition to the final "tack". This might for example be used to request something a little out of the ordinary, like changing parts of a restaurant order.
    • Skulle jag kunna få prova de där skorna också innan jag bestämmer mig? ("Could I please try those shoes on too, before I make up my mind?")
    • Skulle vi kunna få ris istället för potatis till varmrätten? ("Could we please have rice instead of potatoes with the entrée?")
  3. 3

    Ask someone to do something for you. Use "kan du..." (or "kan ni...", if you're talking to more than one person), followed by the infinitive of the verb.
    • "Kan du skicka saltet." ("Please send the salt" or "Could you please pass the salt.".)
    • A second option, which sounds either quite a bit more formal, or as if you were asking something major, is to use the expression "Skulle du kunna..." (followed by an infinitive. Replace "du" with "ni" when you're talking to more than one person).
  4. 4

    Invite someone to do something, or offer to let them do something, for their own sake. Use Var så god och..." followed by the imperative.
    • "Var så god och sitt" ("Please, have a seat", speaking to one person.)
    • If you're speaking to more than one person, replace "god" with "goda".
    • In English, this construction would translate roughly as, "be so good as to sit down", but the Swedish expression is fairly idiomatic.
    • "Var så god" is often used as English would use "feel free" or "help yourself".
  5. 5

    Accept an offer. When one in English says "Yes, please", one would in Swedish say either "Ja, tack" or "Ja, gärna". The second is more emphatic, and used if you're genuinely happy about it. Something on the lines of "Yes, please, I'd love that!"

  6. 6

    Request someone to do something. This is for when you're not really asking them if they would like to do something, but telling them to do it. In this case, use "Var snäll och ..." followed by the imperative. Or, if you talk to more than one person, use "Var snälla och ..." .
    • Var snäll och ta ner fötterna från bordet. ("Kindly get your feet off the table.")
  7. 7

    Beg for something. Do you want to borrow mum's car, and need to convince her to let you? The begging or pleading "please" in contexts such as "Please, let me do ..." would be translated as "snälla", as in "Snälla, låt mig låna bilen." ("Please, let me borrow the car").

  8. 8

    Write signs. Usually, the language on signs is more formal, and more importantly, more distant. "Vänligen" (followed by an imperative) is quite common here.
    • Vänligen gå ej på gräset. ("Please don't walk on the grass.")
    • You will more frequently encounter it in writing, than in speech.
    • The word "vänligen" occasionally appears in some dictionaries (including Google translate) as the translation of "please". Do not take that as an excuse to use it as a catch-all translation — it most emphatically is not. In fact, you'll most likely never use it in speech. Also, be careful with it in writing, as it is likely to make the text appear machine-translated if it's used in the wrong spot.
  9. 9

    Write official instructions. The expression "Var god" (followed by an imperative) is basically only used in a few constructions, all quite formal.
    • You may hear "Var god dröj" ("Please hold") if you're being put on hold on the telephone.
    • "Var god vänd." (or abbreviated "V.G.V."; "Please turn over") appears on forms to draw your attention to the fact that there is more to fill in on the back of the sheet.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question

    How do I say "I want to be your wife"?

    "Jag vill vara din fru." Pronounce the letter "a" like the a in "ah," pronounce the "i" roughly like the letter "e" and pronounce the letter "u" like the u in "use" with no hard "j" sound.

  • Question

    How do I say, Swedish meatballs, in the Swedish language?

    If you ask for meatballs in Swedish, you'll get Swedish meatballs. The word is köttbullar, which is plural. Note that the 'k' has a "sh" sound.

    Dvortygirl

    Community Answer

  • Question

    How do I say goodbye in Swedish?

    The words are ''hej då.'' The first word sounds a lot like the English word "hey" and the second sounds a little like "dough." Try to find an audio recording so you can get the pronunciation and intonation right.

    Dvortygirl

    Community Answer

  • Question

    How do I say "hello"?

    You can say "hej", "hejsan", "hello", "tjenare", "tja", "tjo bror", "tjena", "hej hej", or "hallå hallå". There are very many options, but the most formal out of these is either "hej" or "hallå".

  • Question

    How do I say "Swedish" in Swedish?

    You would say "Svenska," pronounced like swehn-ska.

  • Question

    How do I say "to the family" in Swedish?

    "Till familjen" ('til fam-eel-yen). "Till familjen Johansson" means "to the Johanssons". "Familjen är hemma" means "the family is at home".

  • Question

    What does "ej" mean? How it is used?

    It means "not" or "don't". It is a fairly archaic word in speech, but is often used on traffic signs or in texts since it is shorter than the more common "inte". So, "rök ej" means "don't smoke" (literally: smoke not), and "ej ingång" means "not entrance".

  • Question

    How would one express "please" alone in Swedish, as in begging, for example (which would just be "Please!" in English)?

    You have to use different words depending on context, as the word "please" doesn't cover the same linguistic area as for example "tack" or "snälla". But, "snälla" is please, like a kid begging for candy. But if you say "en kaffe snälla", it does not just mean "a coffee please".

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Tips

  • You may not need any word for "please" at all. Swedish is often an informal language. Nobody would think it at all strange simply to leave out the "please" from a sentence such as "Can you please do this for me?" "Kan du göra detta åt mig?" is considered polite enough in many cases.