Learning a few useful danish phrases or words can go a long way to making your stay or visit in Denmark more enjoyable. Since Danish is not an easy language to master, you can easily get discouraged. I have gathered some common words and phrases below to help you get a handle on some Danish. The more you hear the words being spoken by Danes and also the more you try to pronounce the phrases, the easier it will become.
One of the experiences that always gave us trouble was at the store, when the cashier would say "på beløbet" (read explanation below) and we kept wondering want she said. We always said "ja", but really did not know what it meant. The reason is that Danes often leave out syllables when saying Danish words or run them together so it can be hard to figure out what they are saying.
Note: Some of the words and phrases have an asterisk next to them. Those phrases are explained in more detail below, so you will know when they are most commonly used and why.
Now here are some common Danish phrases and words you will hear in daily conversations in Denmark.
See you later (informal)
See you later. (a little more formal)
Have a good day.
Hello / Hi
How do you say ... in Danish?
What is your name?
My name is John
How are you?
Not much. (response to above)
I'm fine, thanks. And you?
Where are you from?
Here you go (this often used as an invitation to do something like sitting down, join us, please take this, etc.)
Thank you / Thank you very much
1000 thanks / thanks for ..
You're welcome (when someone says "tak", you can respond with "selv tak")
That is awesome
That was really enjoyable
Sorry /Excuse Me
Do you speak English?
I don't understand
I don't understand Danish.
Can you speak a little slower.
Hej Hej (just say Hej twice)
Værsgo (this often used as an invitation to do something like sitting down, join us, please take this, etc.)
Det var så lidt. (that was so little)*
Selv tak (when someone says "tak" to you, you can respond with "selv tak")
Those last 4 Danish phrases will probably be the most important ones you will be using when visiting Denmark, because after saying them, the Danes will proudly show you their grasp of the English language. And most speak it better than some natives.
Can you write it down.
How much is this?
What time is it?
May I ask for?
Can I help you?
Can you help me?
Sorry (for a mistake or error)
I have no idea.
Don't fret /worry. Calm down.
Entrance , Exit
Turn Left, Turn Right
I need a doctor
Where is the main train station?
...a post office?
... the bus stop?
...the train station?
...the metro station?
I am lost.
I am looking for
Get better (to someone who is ill)
I am feeling ill / sick.
Have a good meal (bon appetit)*
Would you like something to drink?
Would you like something to eat?
I do not eat ..
The bill, please
I love you
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Have a nice vacation
Have a nice weekend.*
Enjoy your evening (said to coworkers when they go home)
Do you want a receipt?*
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Numbers 1 through 10
Numbers 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100
Days of the week - monday, tuesday, wed, tors-, fri-, sat-, sunday
God arbejdslyst ( literally means "job satisfaction ") see comment below.
Here are a couple more Danish phrases and some clarification of some of the unusual phrases mentioned above, so you will know when you might hear them or want to use them.
When you go shopping and pay with a credit card or Dan Kort, the cashier will ask you.
Pa beløbet?, which means do you just want the amount you bought for charged on your card or do you want cash back. This is usually only done if shopping with a DanKort, but have seen it done when someone presents a credit card.
If you just want to charge your purchases, you answer by saying "på beløbet". If you want cash back. You say much you want back. "Fem hundred." That would give you 500 kroner in cash back. There is no additional charge for this service, but of course your DanKort will be charged an extra 500 kroner or whatever amount you asked for.
Along the line of shopping phrases, you will also hear Vil du have bonen med?, which means would you like the printed receipt with you. Just answer Ja or Nej, depending on what you want.
The next Danish phrase is one you will hear whenever someone is eating and another person walks in or by. They will say "velbekomme", which is the same as saying "bon apetite" in French. It just means enjoy your meal.
People say "velbekomme" when they enter break rooms, the office cafeteria or come across friends eating out. It is a cute tradition, but it can often get on your nerves. Because you naturally have to say something back like "tak" or "mange tak".
When you are trying to enjoy a break, you are constantly interrupted by "velbekomme". Hard to read the paper or have a conversation. And of course you are expected to say "velbekomme", when you enter the room where someone is eating.
When you leave work, the Danes also have a few phrases that they love to use. Tak for i dag!, (Thank you for a nice time together) or God arbejdslyst, which means job satisfaction and in this context it means enjoy yourself. Which is why it's said when people leave the work place for the day and there are still coworkers there working or to someone that has to get back to work or do some chores etc. It's said in a way to keep the person left behind at work with their spirits up. Sometimes in a little bit of a teasing sarcastic way. If you know the person really well and know that the person really hates what they have to do. (thanks to Kristina from Baltimore for the clarification)
Godt weekend means good weekend and is a common thing to say on Friday afternoon when heading home for the weekend.
Prosit (bless you) is for when someone sneezes.
At work or when someone does something for you or vice versa, you will hear Det var så lidt in repsonse to tak. It means "Don't mention it" or literally "it was so little". It would seem natural to say "you're welcome" or velbekomme, but that is not the case. And my all time favorite is Tak for sidst, which means thanks for the last time. People say this to other people they met at a party or an event. Even if they did not throw the event. If they were just there, you greet them with Tak for sidst, when you first meet again after the event. This can be hilarious when you come back from an office party and several hundred people meet up. All you hear is Tak for sidst, Tak for sidst, Tak for sidst ... a cacophony of noise. Even if the event was 6 months ago, it is the same greeting.
Below you can listen to some actual Danish phrases being spoken in a classroom teaching environment. See how much you can understand.
Hope this helps you integrate a little better into Danish society and at least you will know what to say in response to those who say Pa beløbet? (has thrown many expats for a loop) Continue your learning by checking out more danish phrases and vocabulary here.
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