The national language of Denmark is Danish (Dansk). It is primarily spoken by about 6 million in Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and parts of Germany, especially Schleswig-Holstein. When you visit Denmark, you’ll see that most people are excellent communicators in English, so you do not have to learn the language. However, since you are visiting a different country, knowing the elemental parts of the native tongue can help you converse better. Furthermore, it enhances your experience as they say, language shapes the culture and mindset of those who speak it.
So, if you are planning to visit Denmark in the near future, here’s a quick language guide. Our Danish or Dansk guide will help you learn a few words and find your way around the country. But before we get to that, let us also understand why you should learn Danish.
Danish Language Guide
Why Should You Learn Danish While In Denmark?
- It helps you understand the culture, history, and traditions.
- You can communicate with the locals with ease and confidence.
- If you’re staying for long you could get a job in the local shop.
- In case of emergencies knowing the national language comes in handy.
- Learning Danish also helps you understand its sister languages, Norwegian and Swedish.
Things To Know Before You Learn Danish
- The Danish alphabet has standard English letters and three additional vowels, å (aa), æ (ae), and ø (oe).
- You might be fascinated by the fact that the language has 32 different dialects but there is no word for “please.”
The basic Danish sentence pattern (word order) is the same as an English sentence: Subject+Verb+Object. But this order changes when the sentence starts with something other than the subject.
I am in Copenhagen (S+V+O) – Jeg er i København (S+V+O)
Today I am in Copenhagen (Ad+S+V+O) – I dag er jeg i København (Ad+V+S+O)
Pronunciation of Letters
The pronunciation of the letters is different from the English language, which makes it challenging for newbies to speak and understand. For example, G (ge), H (ho), J (yol), K (ko), W (double v), and Y (ew).
Remember that you mostly don’t pronounce all the letters in a Danish word.
Danish has two nominal genders similar to English – common (masculine and feminine) and neutral.
Eg. He – Han, She – Hun, It – Den / Det
Most Commonly Used Words And Phrases
If you want to travel like a local and immerse yourself in the local experience, it is important to know the basics. These phrases are useful when you want to start a conversation with a stranger or ask about elementary needs.
- Hello – Hej (Hi)
Bye Bye – Hej Hej (Hi Hi)
Goodbye – Farvel (Farvel)
When you wish to say hi or hello in a friendly way, it is the same as in English. Bye, Bye is mostly used when you know the person before.
- Good day – God dag (Go day)
Good morning – God morgen (Go moren)
Good evening – God aften (Go aften)
When you want to greet someone in the morning, Danes usually prefer to say good day instead of good morning. But you can also say good morning.
- Do you speak English? – Taler du engelsk? (Taler du engelsk?)
I don’t speak Danish – Jeg taler ikke dansk (Yigh taler ikke dansk)
One of the first things people do as tourists are ask the natives if they speak a common language. Alternatively, one might also want to say that they do not know the local language. So, these two sentences will be quite helpful to you.
- Thank you – Tak (Tak)
The most common way to say thanks or thank you is by saying tak. If you wish to say many thanks or thanks a lot, use “mange tak.”
- You’re welcome – Selv tak (Selv tak)
This is generally used in response to thank you and showing gratitude.
- How are you? – Hvordan har du det? (Hvordan har du det?) or Hvordan går det? (hvordan gor det)
The literal translation of these phrases means “how are you feeling?” or “how is it going?.” There is no exact translation of “how are you?” in Danish.
- I am fine – Jeg har det godt (Yigh har det got) or Det går godt (Det gor got)
These phrases literally translate to “I feel good” or “It is going good.” Depending on how the previous question (How are you?) is asked, you must respond accordingly.
- Excuse me – Undskyld mig (Unskul my)
Sorry – Undskyld (Unskul)
Mostly used when you want to apologize to someone.
- Wait – Vente (Vente)
Stop – Hold op (Hol op)
When you want to ask someone to wait or for the taxi to stop, these words will do the trick.
- What is your name? – Hvad hedder du? (Hval heller du?)
My name is <yourname> – Jeg hedder <yourname> (Yigh heller <yourname>)
To know someone’s name and to introduce yourself, you can precede the phrase with your name.
- Yes – Ja (Ya)
No – Nej (Nigh)
I don’t know – Jeg ved ikke (Yigh vel ikke)
These words would be easy answers to any question.
- How much does this cost? – Hvor meget koster dette? (Hvor ma-al koster dette?)
When you want to enquire about the price of an item in a store, use this sentence.
- What is this? – Hvad er dette? (Hval er dette?)
Not sure what you are looking at? Interrogate with this question.
- Do you accept credit cards? – Accepterer du kreditkort? (Accepterer du kreditkort?)
Almost all stores accept credit cards. But if you are not sure, this question works like a charm.
- Where is <placename>? – Hvor er <placename>? (Hvor er <placename>?)
Searching for a specific location or place? Fill in the place name and ask this question. For instance, “Hvor er toilettet?” means “Where is the toilet?”
- I don’t understand it – Jeg forstår det ikke (Yigh forsto det ikke)
If you are not sure what the other person is talking about, then use this to let them know that you don’t understand it.
- Help – Hjælp (Hiaelp)
Call out this word when you need some guidance or assistance and in case of any emergency.
- Menu card and water, please? – Menukort og vand, tak? (Menukort o van, tak?)
When you ask for water in a restaurant, they usually give danskvand which is carbonated water. So, be specific about what you want.
- Can you take me to this address – Kan du tage mig til denne adresse? (Kan du tage mig til denne adresse?)
Need help with the address, pose this question to the taxi driver or to some local who you feel could guide you in the right direction.
- Can you take a photo of me? – Kan du tage et billede af mig? (Kan du tae et billel af my?)
It might be difficult for you to take pictures in front of beautiful monuments on your own. You can approach people with this as your request.
- Do you have vegetarian food? – Har du vegetarisk mad? (Har du vegetarisk mal?)
If you don’t eat meat and are looking for some vegetarian options, you need to know this.
- What – Hvad (Hval)
- When – Hvornår (Hvornor)
- Where – Hvor (Hvor)
- Which – Hvilken (Hvilken)
- Why – Hvorfor (Hvorfor)
- Who – Hvem (Hvem)
- Whose – Hvis (Hvis)
- How – Hvordan (Hvordan)
- How much – Hvor meget (Hvor ma-al)
- How long – Hvor Længe (Hvor Laenge)
- How many – Hvor mange (Hvor mange)
Whether you’re discussing money, time, distance, or anything that might involve numbers, the following list will help you.
1 – en (en)
2 – to (toh)
5 – fem (fem)
10 – ti (ti)
20 – tyve (tuve)
50 – halvtreds (halvtres)
100 – hundrede (hunrel)
200 – to hundrede (toh hunrel)
500 – fem hundrede (fem hunrel)
1000 – tusind (tusin)
Other Resources To Learn Danish
- Lonely Planet Fast Talk Danish
- YT channels like Danish Mastery and Learn Danish with DanishClass101.com
- Mobile applications such as Duolingo, Babbel, etc.
- Google Translate
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to learn Danish?
It might take a year or two to speak good Danish, depending on how much you indulge and practice the tongue. Remember that fluency comes with practice.
Do you have to learn Danish to live in Denmark?
If you are planning to stay for a long time, then knowing the language is good. Otherwise, you can easily survive with English.
Can I learn Danish for free in Denmark?
If you have CPR in Denmark, you can learn Danish for free in the language schools, but you need to pay a deposit which will be returned after you pass certain tests.
Now that you know the basics of the Danish language, you can either use them while visiting the country or elevate your communication skills. If you’d like to know more about the country and the different places you can visit, do subscribe to our newsletters. Just a few clicks and you’ll have all travel-related blogs, itineraries, and guides at your fingertips.