Introduction to Danish

In this article I explain how Danish is as a language. It’s not a comprehensive description of all the features of Danish, but rather an overview of the main features and how to approach learning them. Whenever I study a language I always wish for something like this so now I’m making it in case other people feel the same way.

 

Sentence Structures
As you may have guessed, the sentences structure is mostly similar to its other Western European bretheren, following the famous SVO structure (Subject + Verb + Object). It’s obviously not always like this, for instance a question is VSO (as in English), but most of the time you can trust the SVO (untill you hit intermediate level. There’s some weird stuff going on there).

 

Negation is (almost) just like in English
Negation is for the most part fairly straight forward (for main clauses at least). For example: I do not drink tea = Jeg drikker ikke te
Okay, I admit it, it’s not super similar to English, but at least it’s straightforward.

 

Nouns has a gender
Unlike English, but like most of the other Western European languages the nouns has genders in Danish. For example:

  • A house = Et hus
  • A car = En bil

This impacts a wide range of grammars (fx conjugating adjectives), but you’ll get to that later. For now, it suffice to know that this is a thing. There’s not much of a pattern when it comes to which words have which gender. I think about 70% of nouns are ‘en’, especially living things, but aside from that I really don’t know.

A lot of schools and programs will put emphasis on learning the genders of the nouns, but I do not recommend doing that. It’s important to know the concept and when time comes you’ll learn them, but especially in the beginning there are much more important things to spend your mental energy on!

 

Verb conjugates only according to time, not person
This will be quite a relief if you’ve tried to learn another Western European language. But …

 

Everything’s irregular
Danish generally gets a lot of flag for being super irregular… And it totally is !! Sorry guys, you’ll have to spot the patterns in all the irregularities (from learning German I know it’s possible to pick up on observable irregularities, but it’s not a beginner’s task. All things in good time).

 

Pronunciation is hard
It’s super hard! Danish is generally a fairly easy language to learn if you already know English… Except for the pronunciation. We have a host of little nuances in the sounds we use that not a lot of foreigners hear, because they aren’t represented in a lot of languages. (Fun fact, I’ve noticed one in Korean that I haven’t spotted in any other languages). Good news: I’m planning to make a course teaching this later this year.

But to help you with this, I’ve made a short video course in the pronunciation of ÆØÅ. Sign-up to my newsletter and I’ll send it straight to your inbox:

 

Words are pronunced as they are written
This may seem obvious as they aren’t in English either, but in some languages you actually pronounce words exactly how you write them. However in Danish the difference is quite big, adding to the aldready difficult pronunciation.

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