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Hello in Swedish: A Complete Guide to All The Important Swedish Greetings

Are you longing for that moment a cute Swede tells you: “You had me at hello”? Well, whether you’re learning Swedish for romantic reasons or not, hello is the most essential first Swedish word you should learn. If you can say hello in Swedish, you have taken the first step to starting Swedish conversations and getting to know Swedish people.

There’s a Swedish saying that goes “Kärt barn har många namn”, meaning “A beloved child has many names”. Basically, it means that someone or something popular will have many names or nicknames. In this article, you’ll find out that there is almost an endless number of Swedish greetings out there.

But don’t feel intimidated. You’ll be fine if you start by memorizing just one or two. Let’s get started with the most basic way to say hello!

Hej: The standard way to say hello in Swedish

Translation/equivalent: Hello/Hi
Pronunciation: Hey

The most basic, common, and well-known way to say hello in Swedish is, of course, hej. The Swedish hej is the safest Swedish greeting to use when you’re unsure of how to greet someone. It’s also quite easy for English speakers to pronounce, as it’s pronounced similarly to the English “hey”.

Hej used to be an interjection, but the word took off as a greeting phrase in the 1930s. At the time, hej was an informal way to say hello in Swedish. Today, however, the greeting phrase has become the standard way to greet people in Sweden.

Ways to spice up your Swedish Hej

Even though it is the most commonly used way to say hello in Swedish, you might notice that Swedes most often don’t say hej, but a version of the greeting. Especially if you’re talking to friends, you might want to learn one of these greetings to blend in with the Swedes.

Hej hej
Translation/equivalent: Hello hello
Pronunciation: Hey hey

Why not say it twice? The easiest way to spice up your hej is simply to double it: Hej hej. The double-hej sounds a bit more cheerful, so if you have a bubbly personality, it might come naturally to you.

Sometimes, you can even say goodbye in Swedish by saying hello! Yes, Swedes will, at times, use greetings such as “hej hej” to end a conversation.

Translation/equivalent: Hello there
Pronunciation: Hey-san

Another informal version of hej is hejsan. “-san” is a suffix you’ll come across in a few colloquial interjections, such as the example hoppsan (meaning “oops”). Adding the “-san” makes hej sound extra friendly. Just like with the double-hej, saying hejsan will naturally make you sound like you’re in a good mood.

Hej på dig
Translation/equivalent: Hello to you
Pronunciation: Hey-poe-day

Another version of hej you might hear in Sweden is hej på dig. The phrase literally means “hello on you” or “hello to you”. Naturally, it feels extra satisfying since “hej” and “dig” rhyme. Hej på dig is often used by the older generation, but you might also hear younger crowds using the greeting semi-ironically.

Each different version of hej will generally also have its own spin-offs. For example, people might add a fun twist to hej på dig by adding the suffix “-san” which we just talked about: Hejsan på dejsan. There is an almost endless number of ways that Swedes try to spice up the basic Swedish hej with rhymes:

  • Hejsan svejsan
  • Hejsan svejsan på dejsan, etc.

Hallå: How to say hello in Swedish on the phone

Translation/equivalent: Hello
Pronunciation: Hah-low

Hallå might be the Swedish word that sounds closest to the English “hello”, but it’s not used quite as broadly.

With a cheerful surprised intonation, it could be used to say something like “Well, hello there!” But more often, you might hear hallå with the intonation of “Hello?! What do you think you’re doing?!

One way that hallå is often used as a greeting is when Swedes answer the phone. So, if you’ve been wondering how to say hello in Swedish when answering the phone, try a hallå? Another common way to answer the phone in Sweden is by simply saying your name.

Formal ways to say hello in Swedish

In most languages, you also have greetings based on the time of day. Swedish is no different, but it’s important to know that most of these phrases sound quite formal.

You could use them when you’re talking to an elderly person you’re not close to. However, if you hear these expressions around, there’s a high chance the person using them is trying to sound a bit formal, perhaps to be funny.

God morgon
Translation/equivalent: Good morning
Pronunciation: Goo-moron

Let’s start it off with how to say good morning in Swedish: God morgon. Yes, the Swedish word for “morning” sounds a bit like “moron”. Of these four Swedish phrases based on time, god morgon is the one that sounds the least formal. You’re more likely to hear this expression around, even though it will probably be in less informal settings.

If you want a more casual way to say good morning in Swedish, try one of the following slang versions:

  • Morron!
  • Mors!
  • Morsning!
God dag
Translation/equivalent: Good day
Pronunciation: Goo-dog

Next, we have good day in Swedish: God dag. It sounds formal, but if used, it would be used around noon or in the early afternoon. If you’re trying to use it to sound ironically formal, you can also double it and say: God dag, god dag.

God eftermiddag
Translation/equivalent: Good afternoon
Pronunciation: Goo-eff-tur-mid-dog

Good afternoon in Swedish is god eftermiddag. Like god dag, it sounds formal. As it’s quite long, the double treatment won’t quite work here. God eftermiddag, god eftermiddag doesn’t sound quite as catchy as god dag, god dag.

God kväll
Translation/equivalent: Good evening
Pronunciation: Goo-kvell

Finally, good evening in Swedish is god kväll. It’s formal and not commonly used. An expression that is more commonly used is good night in Swedish: God natt. This is, however, not used as a greeting, but is an expression used just before going to bed.

Informal ways to say hello in Swedish

Let’s move on from more formal ways to say hello in Swedish and look at some slang! We’ve already mentioned more informal versions of hej. Now, let’s learn some slang expressions used as Swedish greeting phrases.

Translation/equivalent: Hey/Yo
Pronunciation: Shea-nah-reh

Tjenare or the shorter tjena, is one of the more common informal greetings used to say hi in Swedish. The expression is informal and considered slang, but interestingly, it stems from an old saying which sounds very formal indeed: “Er ödmjuke tjänare” (meaning “your humble servant”).

This expression was shortened to “tjänare” and used among friends ironically as early as in the 1700s. It hung around until today and has gathered several long and short versions of the greeting:

  • Tjena mors
  • Tjena mittbena
  • Tja
  • Tjabba, etc.
Translation/equivalent: Hiya
Pronunciation: Hah-loy

A final informal greeting is halloj. You guessed it, it’s a fun version of “hallå”. If you’re looking for a new way to say hello in Swedish, you can give halloj a try.

Informal Swedish greetings that are questions

A quick mention of some greetings that come with a question mark. You might know how to ask someone how they are in Swedish: Hur mår du? Hur är det? But if you want to change things up a bit, try one of the following more informal expressions:

  • Allt bra? (Meaning: “All well?”)
  • Va’ händer? (Meaning: What’s happening?)
  • Läget? (Literally “the situation?” but is the equivalent to “what’s up?”)

Swedish greetings for specific situations

Apart from the greetings already mentioned, there are also some common greetings for specific situations.

For example, if you’re having guests over, you might want to learn how to say welcome in Swedish: Välkommen. If you’re meeting somebody for the first time, you might want to say that it’s nice to meet them: Trevligt att träffas! Or if you’re greeting a crowd, you can say “Hello everyone”: Hej allihopa!

Why are Swedish greetings important?

Learning the correct way to say hello in Swedish allows you to connect with Swedish people. The right Swedish greetings will help you make sure that your first interaction with a Swede is as smooth as possible.

A tip for the fastest way to learn Swedish is to be smart about what vocabulary you focus on. If you start with the basics you use in every conversation, you’ll learn more effectively.

Now you know how to say hello in Swedish: What’s next?

Learning Swedish greetings is the perfect starting point for you if you’re interested in learning the Swedish language. If you’re ready to improve your Swedish vocabulary and move past hej and tjena, it’s time for the next step. One of the best ways to learn Swedish is to surround yourself with Swedish.

Apart from reading Swedish books, listening to Swedish music, and watching Swedish TV, you can utilize Swedish learning apps that allow you to practice what you learn regularly. Apps like Duolingo, SwedishPod101, and Clozemaster help you to both expand your vocabulary and put it into practice.

Another great way to learn and surround yourself with Swedish is by following Swedish YouTube channels. Apart from the usual Swedish influencers and vloggers, you’ll also find many Swedish learning channels on YouTube, such as:

For example, keep learning and practicing Swedish greetings by checking out a few of their videos below:

With these videos, you’ll get to hear real Swedes say hello in Swedish! You’ll also learn tons of Swedish phrases and you might even gain a further understanding of the Swedish mentality behind the greetings.

That’s all for this article. All that remains is to say: Hej hej!

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