Orthography in Swedish

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This lesson is about writing small and capital letters in Swedish.

Orthography. What is that? To be honest with you I have not known this term until several minutes ago. It is about conventions for writing (for instance writing small and capital letters). And this is today’s topic.

We have all been there — should I put a capital or a small one here? Let me shed a light on it.

Capital letters are used in the same way as in English in the following cases

  1. At the beginning of a sentence.
  2. After a colon in a direct speech: Herren sade: “Varde Ljus.”
  3. In proper names: Malmö, Kungsgatan, Danmark …
  4. In order to show respect: Gud, Herre, Hans Majestät Konungen …

Now you know how to write to a Swedish King and that may for sure come in handy.

However, small letters are used in Swedish in many cases where English has a capital

  1. In the names of weekdays, months, seasons and festivals: måndagen den 6:e juli, jul, påsk, midsommar …
  2. In nouns and adjectives denoting nationality, language, religion, political affiliation and those deriving from a place name: Han är tysk men talar svenska. | Karl läser en dansk roman. |Sven är socialdemokrat. | Lars är stockholmare.
  3. In titles with names: Jag har träffat herr Lind, fru Lind, doktor Olsson och ingenjör Ek.

Swedish has a capital only in the first word in names consisting of two or more words (but sometimes it is a bit difficult)

Den helige ande — the Holy Spirit
Peter den store — Peter the Great
Svarte Rudolf — Black Rudolf
Förenta staterna — the United States
Republiken Sydafrika — the Republic of South Africa

There are exceptions: Kungliga Biblioteket— the Royal Library or Sveriges Radio — Swedish Radio.

This is all for today’s lesson. I hope that it is more clear how and where to write a capital letter in Swedish. See you soon.


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