In Swedish, what is the difference between "en" and "ett", and how do you know which one to use?

7 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    That's a good question. Unfortionally I can't explain it

    so I'll just give you some examples of en/ett words:

    Ett bord - A table

    En stol - A chair

    En säng - A bed

    En banan - A banana

    Ett hus - A house

    the:

    BordET, StolEN, SängEN, BananEN, HusET

    (see how en/et(t) gets added on the end of the words?)

    den/det - that ("that the ....")

    dET huset, dEN bananen, dEN sängen, dET bordet, dEN stolen

    min/mitt - din/ditt - my/your

    MiN banan, MiTT hus, DiN banan, DiTT hus, MiN/DiN stol, säng

    A man is sitting by a table:

    En man sitter vid ett bord

    The man is sitting by the table:

    Mannen sitter vid bordet

    A cat with a ball:

    En katt med en boll

    The cat with the ball:

    Katten med bollen

    A man with a beard:

    En man med ett skägg

    The man with the beard:

    Mannen med skägget

    A girl with a smile:

    En flicka/tjej med ett leende

    The girl with the smile:

    Flickan/tjejen med leendet

    A house with a big door

    Ett hus med en stor dörr

    The house with the big door

    Huset med den stora dörren

    I hope this makes at least a little sense.

    A friend once asked me "why don't we say Ett apelsin?"

    and I was like "well, THE orange is apelsinEN... not apelsinET, right?"

    But not all words add En or Et...

    here are some exceptions (can't come up with more than 3):

    an/the angel - en ängel - just adds a n "ängeln"

    a/the shoe - en sko - just adds a n "skon"

    a/the girl - en flicka - just adds a n as well "flickan".

    This probably didn't explain much but I hope at least SOMETHING

    of it was usable and understandable :).

  • Emma
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    "En" and "ett" are different genders, and fill the same purpose as "a" and "an" in English. Though there is no rule as to when to use which, and it is not so simple as to say that "en" and "an" is the same, etc. Unfortunately you just have to learn it. As a native Swedish speaker, I can just "hear" which sounds right, even if I would come a cross a Swedish word that I've never heard of before. As a non-native, you just have to study and practice. This is one of the most common mistakes foreigners make before they have completely mastered Swedish.

    "Den" and "det" are equivalent to "that" in English. It is at least so simple as to "den" is always used for an "en"-word, while "det" is used for an "ett"-word.

    En bok - boken - den boken - de böckerna = A book - the book - that book - those books

    Ett hus - huset - det huset - de husen = A house - the house - that house - those houses

    Source(s): Native Swedish speaker
  • Lagom
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    They're different genders, just like el and la in Spanish, only in Swedish they're not masculine and femenine but neueter and common gender instead. And there's no rule for when it's ett and when it's en, although most words are en-words so if you have to guess, just go with that :)

    Source(s): I'm Swedish
  • 9 years ago

    "En" and "ett" are two different 'genders'. "En" corresponds to what was once masculine and feminie nouns, and "ett" to neuter. There is no rule for which noun belongs to which group (and there are even a few words where Swedes themselves can't decide which is right). It is something you have to learn for every new noun you learn . "En" and "ett" correspond to the definite articles "-en" and "-et".

    Source(s): I am Swedish
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  • 4 years ago

    The existing answers are great. I just want to add that missräkning is a far less common word and you'll hardly ever come across it. (Might be more common in the workplace, I wouldn't know really)

  • JJ
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Unfortunately you have to learn whether en or ett whenever you learn a new noun.

    Source(s): .
  • 9 years ago

    do you need an elementary textbook in Swedish? I recommend Scott Mellor's Beginner's Swedish -- has 2 cds with it.

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