Main Characteristics of the Danish Language Like English, Danish is a Germanic language. This means that both languages share similar characteristics that can make learning Danish a relatively easy task for English speakers. When it comes to grammar, some aspects of the Danish language are even more simple than their English equivalents. Take verb forms as an example. While English has 16 different verb forms, Danish has only 9. Intonation (the “musical tone” of a language) is another point where English and Danish differ, since Danish sounds a lot flatter than English. On the other hand, there is a significant overlap in the vocabulary of both languages, so English speakers are often able to identify several words in Danish phrases.
Basic Danish phrases
Here are some phrases that will come in handy when travelling around Denmark:
- Hello, how are you? / Hallo, hvordan går det?
- What is your name? / Hvad hedder du?
- My name is … / Jeg hedder …
- Do you speak English? / Taler du engelsk?
- How much is it? / Hvad koster den?
- Where can I find an ATM? / Hvor er der en pengeautomat?
- Can I see the menu? / Kan jeg se menuen?
- Please / Vær så venlig -Thank you / Tak -Nice to meet you / Det var rart at møde dig -Goodbye / Farvel
- Idioms / colloquialisms
As is the case with other languages, many common Danish idioms are nearly impossible to translate into English. Below you will find a list of colloquial expressions that you are likely to hear during a stay in Denmark.
- At have rotter på loftet / To be crazy (literally, “to have rats in the attic”)
- At træde i spinaten / To make a mistake (“to step in the spinach”)
- At være på spanden / To be in trouble (“to be in the bucket”)
- At lufte / To go for a walk (”to air” something or someone)
- Der er ingen ko på isen / To be simple (”no cow is on the ice”)
- Der er ugler i mosen / To be in a difficult situation (”there are owls in the marsh”)
How to learn Danish phrases
Depending on your personality, schedule and learning style, you can choose to learn Danish by taking a language course (either at a school or online), talking to native Danish speakers, organising a language exchange or tandem, reading books, newspapers, or comic books, listening to music or spending some time in Denmark doing an intensive language course.
Learning the Danish Language with Babbel
When it comes to online courses, choosing to learn Danish with Babbel has several advantages. This language platform offers special thematic courses where you can learn colloquial expressions and idioms that will help you sound like a native. Babbel also offers interactive and engaging multi-media exercises to train your listening and pronunciation skills. The exercises include voice recognition, writing and reading practices. With Babbel, you can learn Danish phrases at your own pace with the latest technology and with the help of a large online community.