Danish 101

The infinitive forms of most Danish verbs end in a vowel, which in almost all cases is the letter e. Verbs are conjugated according to tense, but otherwise do not vary according to person or number. For example the present tense form of the Danish infinitive verb spise ("to eat") is spiser; this form is the same regardless of whether the subject is in the first, second, or third person, or whether it is singular or plural. This extreme ease of conjugating verbs is made up for by the many irregular verbs in the language.

Danish nouns fall into two grammatical genders: common and neuter. While the majority of nouns (ca. 90%) have the common gender and neuter is often used for inanimate objects, the genders of nouns are not generally predictable and must in most cases be memorized. A distinctive feature of the Scandinavian languages, including Danish, is an enclitic definite article. To demonstrate: The common gender word "a man" (indefinite) is en mand but "the man" (definite) is manden. The neuter equivalent would be "a house" (indefinite) et hus, "the house" (definite) huset. Even though the definite and indefinite articles have separate origins, they have become homographs. In the plural the definite articles is -ene, whereas there is no indefinite article in the plural. The enclitic article is not used when an adjective is added to the noun; here the demonstrative pronoun is used instead: den store mand "the big man" and "the big house", det store hus.

Like most Germanic languages (but not English), Danish joins compound nouns. A clear example is kvindehåndboldlandsholdet, "the female handball national team". In some cases, these nouns are joined with an extra s, like landsmand (from land, "country", and mand, "man", meaning "compatriot"), but landmand (from same roots, meaning "farmer"). Some words are joined with an extra e, like gæstebog (from gæst and bog, meaning "guest book").

Featured Video