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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: precis

Precis translates as "precisely", but it is used much more often and more flexibly than the English equivalent.

Swedish word of the day: precis
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

It’s one of those words that will help you sound more Swedish in an instant.

Hear how it’s pronounced below, and start using it as much as possible to pass for a native:

You can use precis on its own to say “yes, exactly/that’s right”. You can also say ja precis (yes, exactly) or nej precis when responding to a negated statement:

Det är en fin dag! Ja, precis (It’s a lovely day! – Yes, it is) but Vi vill inte vara för sena – Nej, precis (We don’t want to be too late – No [we don’t], exactly).

Want to make it more emphatic? Say just precis to really stress the confirmation.

Precis can also be used in most of the same ways as English “exactly”.

For example, du låter precis som min pappa (you sound exactly like my dad), det var precis vad jag sa (that’s exactly what I said), or nej, det är precis tvärtom (no, it’s exactly the opposite).

You can also use it to mean “just” in the sense of “just now/very recently” for example jag hade precis kommit hem när han ringde (I had just got home when he rang), han ringde precis (he just rang) or jag har precis flyttat hit (I’ve just moved here), as well as in the sense of “with a slim margin”, for example: precis i tid (just in time), hon hann precis med sista tåget (she just made the last train). 

Examples

Har du flyttat till Skåne? Precis

Have you moved to Skåne? Yes, that’s right

En stor kopp kaffe är precis vad jag behöver

A large cup of coffee is exactly what I need

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to pre-order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it, and use the discount code VOVVELOVE (valid until October 27th) to get a 10% discount on all pre-orders.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: skärgård

You don't have to spend long in Sweden to hear the word skärgård, especially if you live in cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg where the population relocate to the nearby skärgård every summer. Where does the word come from?

Swedish word of the day: skärgård

Skärgård is, like many Swedish words, a compound word made up of the word skär, describing a small rocky outcrop and gård, which has a number of meanings such as “courtyard”, “farm” or “garden”.

Although skärgård is often translated to English as “archipelago” – a group of islands – the word officially refers to an archipelago made up primarily of small islands, close to the coast of a larger island or landmass, such as the rocky archipelagos near Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Other kinds of archipelago – such as those which are not close to other landmasses, or those made up of larger islands – can be referred to as an arkipelag or ögrupp. However, many Swedes will just use skärgård for any kind of archipelago.

Although the word skärgård doesn’t exist in English, a variant of skär has made its way into the language. The English term for this type of small rocky outcrop is “skerry”.

Skerry has an interesting etymology in English – it comes from the Old Norse term sker, which refers to a rock in the sea. This is related to the Swedish word skära, meaning “cut” – a skerry is a rock cut off from land.

Sker came into English via Scots, where it is spelled skerry or skerrie. Other languages also have this word, such as Norwegian skjær/skjer, Estonian skäär, Finnish kari and Russian шхеры (shkhery). It can also be found in Scottish Gaelic sgeir, Irish sceir and Welsh sgeri.

This also reflects the geographic area where skerries are found – there are skerries or skärgårdar along the northernmost part of the Swedish west coast near Bohuslän and Gothenburg, as well as on the east coast near Stockholm. The Norwegian coast also has a large number of skerries, and Skärgårdshavet or “the Archipelago Sea” lies off the southwestern coast of Finland.

In Russia, the Minina Skerries (Shkhery Minina) are one example of a skärgård, and in Scotland, Skerryvore and Dubh Artach in the Hebrides are also made up of skerries. Northern Ireland is home to The Skerries, off the Antrim coast, and Skerries is also the name of a coastal area of Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

You may be wondering if the surname of the famous Swedish Skarsgård family of actors – Stellan, Gustaf, Bill, Valter and Alexander Skarsgård, among others – comes from the word skärgård. Although the spelling is similar, this name actually comes from the town of Skärlöv on the island of Öland, and means “Skar’s farm” (Skares gård, in Swedish).

Example sentences

Jag ser redan fram emot sommarsemestern – vi har hyrt en stuga ute i Stockholms skärgård.

I’m already looking forwards to summer – we’ve rented a cottage out in the Stockholm archipelago.

Sverige har många skärgårdar, fast Skärgårdshavet vid Finlands västkust är störst i världen med över 50 000 öar och skär.

Sweden has a lot of archipelagos, but the Archipelago Sea off Finland’s west coast is the biggest in the world has over 50,000 islands and skerries.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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