1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Swedish
  4. >
  5. Swedish : "ett kaffe" or "en …


Swedish : "ett kaffe" or "en kaffe" ?

Hi everybody. I noticed that the good translation of "the coffee" is "kaffet". But surprisingly, when I ask Google translation to translate "a coffee", it says "en kaffe". Why not "ett kaffe" ? Thank you !

June 15, 2017



Simple. If you say "ett kaffe" you're referring to the type of beans, but if you say "en kaffe" it's a cup of coffe. Example. "Jag vill ha en kaffe med ett kaffe från Brasilien". If you go to a café you might say "en espresso, tack" or "en svart kaffe, tack" or "en kaffe med mjölk, tack" or "en cappucino, tack" or "en latte, tack" (depending on the degree of milk and coffe, stronger coffe in the beginning, and lots of milk toward the end of the list).


Thank you so much for this thorough explanation. It's much appreciated!


I would assume that to be because "en kaffe" would merely be a shortened form of "en kopp kaffe". "Kaffe" itself is uncountable, and thus doesn't really get used with an indefinite article in other situations. This is actually the same in English. "A coffee" usually refers to a cup of coffee.


Yes, "kaffe" is uncountable and has the t-genus. So "the coffee" translates to "kaffet". But "en kaffe" is a very common way of saying "a cup of coffee".


The same thing also goes for "öl" and possibly some other beverages. Doesn't work for wine though, for some reason.


Thanks everyone for the answers, but as soon as we get to possessive forms, kaffe goes with ert, sitt, vårt, etc. which are the forms of ett-words. Can someone explain why? Happen the same with te. Thanks in advance


Both kaffe and te are uncountable nouns with t-genus. That's why we use ert, sitt, vårt, kaffet, teet. 'En kaffe' is only a short form of 'en kopp med kaffe'.

It's possible to use 'min kaffe' if you refer to 'my cup of coffee'.

Learn Swedish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.