Learning Danish – useful expressions for beginners

When one starts to learn Danish, the easiest things to remember are the basic greetings on special occasions.

Farvel – Farewell Har det godt – Goodbye, literally “Have it good”, whilst   Norwegians say Har det bra in the same way.

Tilykke – Congratulations!Viking carving, Jelling, Denmark

Tillykke med fødselsdagen – Happy Birthday

Glædelig jul – Merry Christmas ( silent D)  God jul – Norwegian or Swedish for Merry Christmas

Glad Påske – Happy Easter

Undskyld – Excuse me, said in the usual circumstances one would use this expression in English. Notwithstanding the fact that in Denmark, this expression is not heard, as often,when pushing past someone in a crowded place.

Det er jeg ked af. – I’m sorry .

Ked has a soft ‘d’ so ked af it sounds a bit like ‘kil(soft d) ay!’

Some things to ponder about if you are wanting to learn Danish.


Learning Danish: forskrækket – frightened; spændende – exciting

 Haderslev, Denmark - Historic homes

Dagens chok: Går lige om hjørnet på huset, og dér står et stort rådyr – jeg ved snart ikke, hvem der blev mest forskrækket.
Today’s shock: Going around the corner of the house, and there stands a large deer – I know soon not know who was most frightened
Pronounciation tip:   lige – soft or silent ‘g’
 The next phrase comes from a danskursus online ( Danish course online) where you can hear audio links to some words and work on your pronounciation.
spændende – exciting, thrilling
spænding     –  excitement
spændstig (adj) – elastic! supple
Er det rigtigt?/ Hvor spændende!
Hvor længe har du været i Danmark?
Really? How exciting!
How long have you been in Denmark?
Spændende is very commonly used in Denmark, even for things less exciting.
Pronounciation tip: Hvor spændende!  – Hvor – silent ‘h’ ;  spændende – silent ‘d’ – so it sounds a bit like the english word ‘spinner or spanner’, pronounced with a broad Australian accent!  ” Spinning is exciting” is a good meme to remember the correct pronounciation of this adjective.
Pondering what it sounds like with other accents…
Photograph is from the Town Square, Haderslev, Denmark, with houses dating back to 16th Century


Haderslev is a market town that is more than 700 years old and which used to be a centre for trade between western and eastern Denmark. Goods were transported across land from Ribe in the west and shipped further east from the harbour in Haderslev. Even today, the roads in Haderslev – from Ribe Landevej in the west, across the town square and down to the harbour by Møllestrømmen – are the same as when the town was founded in the 12th Century.

Life in the old town

The long history has left it’s mark on the town centre of Haderslev. The old part of town with the Cathedral and square in the heart is – in spite of violent fires in 1627 and 1759 – wellpreserved and includes houses that dates all the way back to the 16th Century.