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10 Danish Phrases You Need To Know

Hasmark Beach, Denmark | © Leon Bovenkerk/Flickr
Hasmark Beach, Denmark | © Leon Bovenkerk/Flickr
It’s always fun to learn several phrases before visiting a country—unless this country is Denmark where the language can be so tricky that locals suggest expats put a pencil horizontally in their mouth while saying the words out loud in order to achieve a proper accent. But worry not because this article presents 10 expressions that are easy for non-Danish-speaking visitors to pronounce on their trip.

Hej Hej (Bye-bye)

One of the easiest phrases to pronounce and remember is ‘Hej Hej’. Used when someone leaves, take one ‘Hej’ out, and you’ll know how to greet someone when entering. It is pronounced like ‘hi’, so it’s easy to remember.

Går det godt? (How is it going?)

‘Går det godt’ is similar to ‘How are you’ or ‘What’s up’ in English. Seems easy, right? The accent however, is a bit more tricky. Går is pronounced (gor) but with a light r, totally ignore the ‘t’ from ‘det’ so it sounds like (de), and keep only the ‘t’ from the ‘dt’ at ‘godt’.

Taler du engelsk/dansk? (Do you speak English/Danish?)

When tourists ask Danes if they speak English, they usually get that ‘Duh, of course I do’ look. However, it’s always useful to know the above expression. Plus, if someone asks something that sounds like ‘tele du densk’, non-Danish speakers now know that the answer is ‘Nej’.

Locals hanging out at Superkilen Park © Aliki Seferou

Det er fedt (It is awesome, cool)

Fedt means fat, but ‘Det er fedt’ or just ‘Fedt’ is a slang phrase used quite often by Danes when they want to point out that something is cool or great.

Det var rigtigt hyggeligt (It was very hygge)

For those who’ve never heard of the Danish term hygge, the expression is used by Danes in order to describe a cozy nice evening with friends.

Må jeg have en øl?/Jeg vil gerne have en øl (Could I have a beer?/I would like to have a beer)

These are the most commons expressions Danes use when they want to order a beer. Just saying ‘en øl’ is also fine, especially in the late hours when not even Danes bother using ‘formalities’.

Science and Cocktails Courtesy of Aliki Seferou

Tak skal du have/Tusind tak (Thank you/1000 thanks for)

It’s always nice to be polite and luckily ‘Thank you’ in Danish is easy to pronounce. If you forget the whole phrase, you can always just say ‘Tak’ and Danish speakers get the message.

Hvod er..? (Where is..? )

Even though Danes of every age speak English almost in the same level as their mother tongue, it’s good to have ‘Where is..’ in your notebook. Fill in the gap with names of the country’s museums, art galleries, and attractions and impress locals with your language skills. Tip: don’t pronounce the ‘d’ at the end of ‘Hvod’.

Nørrebro Lakes © Aliki Seferou

Det forstår jeg ikke/Jeg kan ikke forstår (I don’t understand)

‘Det forstår jeg ikke’ is maybe the most useful phrase of the article. It translates to ‘I don’t understand’ and is probably the expression most travelers learn before heading to their next destination.

Jeg kommer fra.. (I come from..)

Find out how your country is pronounced in Danish, add it at the end of the sentence ‘Jeg kommer fra…’, and impress locals with your language skills.