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List of Difficult Words to Pronounce

Hey guys!

I made this post since a lot of you have been very confused as to how to tell the difference between words such as brød and brødet.

I have suggest forvo.com to a few of you, but I have decided that quite a few of the pronunciations are terrible. Therefore I will make a list of words so you guys can compare how they are pronounced, and if I find the words too terribly pronounced on the site, then I will add my own recordings. You can request word combinations that you would like to have added to this list.

I will in my list help you guys with some legends to describe the nouns:

  • i = indefinite
  • d = definite
  • s = singular
  • p = plural

An example would be ip, which is the indefinite plural, e.g. bukser (pants), and ds would be the definite singular, e.g. æblet (the apple).

So let's start (Please remember to look for the Danish pronunciation since there are silly other languages pronouncing the words):

August 28, 2014



Very cool, thanks for this! I was one of the people asking about this, and the example I picked was "vand" vs. "vanden". I found this site and after clicking around a bit, I think I'm getting the idea.

It seems to me that you can have sort of an elongated "n" at the end of a word like "fanden" (given on that page). This strikes me as similar to what happens in conversational German with words like "finden". I've been listening to "vand" vs. "vandet" on DL, and it sounds to me like the difference between "van" and "van-n" (if there is indeed a difference in the audio). In contrast, Bjarke's pronunciation on Forvo sounds more like "van-ed" and the woman's like "van-nd".

The conclusion I'm coming to is that you can clearly pronounce that second syllable, and that sounds proper, but speakers often soften it quite a bit. Does that sound about right? In any case, the version with the ending winds up being a little longer.


Your last paragraph is spot on. There is a clear tendency in modern Danish to assimilate any last-syllable -en into the previous syllable, or become sort of nasal. If a speaker is emphasizing (or just trying to speak properly) everything will be pronounced normally.

I guess a similar thing happened in English at some point, since words like late are pronounced [laet] etc :)


I mean, I could go ahead and add the words like I would speak normally, but I think even people from Copenhagen might be able to differentiate them then. The idea behind this thread is mostly to give you guys an idea of how to properly pronounce these words. Then once you've heard the proper pronunciations, then it is also easier to fall into wrong pronunciations at some point. But if you tell a Dane to pronounce words more clearly they can most of the time pronounce words in a manner that I've done here. Obviously if you live in Denmark then these are not good enough, but seeing as most people are just looking for a start, then I think this is the best way to go. :)

I'm fairly certain that if I started speaking with my parents even Rune might struggle a bit to keep up :P


There is a definitely a difference. Could just be a case of a difference in pronunciations, like neither and neither, and either and either (no need to specify, I'm sure you read them differently anyway).


It would be great if the IPA (international phonetic alphabet) could somehow be incorporated into the notes for Danish. And all the languages, really. I understand that's a learning curve unto itself, but once you've got it down, it makes pronouncing foreign languages infinitely easier. I like to think I've got a tongue for foreign languages, but Danish is kicking my ass at the moment. I'm having a hard time differentiating the discrete pronunciation of the words from how they seem to run together in fluid speech. IPA, narrow transcription, forever and always.

  • 1893

IPA for these Danish words with definite articles would be helpful, since many examples have slurred pronunciation and dialect peculiarities.


Thanks for this, because everyone is claiming that this is the hardest thing to pronounce since my name. :P

EDIT: Comparisons? Dreng vs. Drenge vs. Drengene, especially the latter two, please!

I take offense to "silly other languages", considering you speak one of them. ;)


These have now been added :)


Thank you, Bjarke! You're awesome. <3


I would like to second a request for dreng vs drenge vs drengene because I was just dealing with that today and I'm having a hard time of it. :D


Could you add skildpadden?


You want anything to compare it to, or just skildpadden? It's there now :)


Tak! How about comparing it with skildpadderne? Oh, wow, I just listened to it and it's so much easier to understand (and pronounce)!


How about mad and maden?


Here I am pronouncing skildpadderne. How do my soft "d"s sounds?


Sorry, I just heard this. It sounds pretty good, but if I were nitpicky, then your "derne" becomes more of a "ene". But people would definitely understand you.


So, the sound for brødet is longer?

This link directly displays the Danish version instead of "silly other languages": http://www.forvo.com/word/br%C3%B8det/#da


Yeah and if you listen carefully you can hear it ending with the -et. And that link gave me the same as when I linked it.


Don't you have "e" in the end? Like in Norwegian we say "brøe".


I am very new to the course (and DL (and am loving it so far; much thanks to all who make this possible!)), so apologies if the following, which is of help to me, has already been mentioned:

I'm improving my ability to detect the differences between things like dreng/drengen/drenge/drengene by doing the following:

go to http://www.ivona.com/ and select the voice "Danish,Naja". (I believe this is the same TTS voice that the course is using.)

enter the words in question delimited by periods. e.g. "dreng. drengen. drenge. drengene." and hit "play". switch up the order after a few plays.

The periods slow it down enough for my brain to process what was different between them. After doing this for the different versions of a word, when I go back and repeat a lesson, I detect the differences better. Hopefully it helps others :)


Thanks for your tip!


Ugle, Ude, Uge and Øl are all indistinguishable to me. I don't find the sounds of Danish that hard to produce, but I have spent much of the last five years watching various crime dramas on BBC Four so I'm used to hearing it spoken even if I'm reading subtitles.


I can't distinguish between "vin" and "vinen" :(


When I go on forvo.com, the example given for "vin" (http://www.forvo.com/word/vin/#da) is very hard to hear, but I found it much more clearly pronounced in this phrase "en flaske vin" (http://www.forvo.com/word/en_flaske_vin/#da). Comparing the "vin" in this phrase to "vinen" (http://www.forvo.com/word/vinen/#da) I believe I can definitely hear the difference.

Also, I am going to guess that "en flaske vin" means "a bottle of wine." :) Ja eller nej? :D


They have both been added. I use olfine when he has pronounced things, so have a look at his when mine aren't there :)


Thank you! I find your clip of "vin" much easier to hear than the other one that was on forvo. Did you just add yours on forvo, or did I somehow overlook it?


I just added it. Basically when people request here I'll check the ones that are there, and if I don't find them good enough I'll add my own.


Tak! :) I appreciate all you and your co-contributors are doing for this course.


Great initiative, man. Are you able to try the difference between måde, møde and mode? I can never hear it.


add pige, piger, pigen, pigerne


Could you please add ur, uret, ure. It would be really nice to have 'turtle' versions of those...


Thank you so much for this! I could never distinguish between dreng and drenge, but now that I've listened to natives pronounce them, I finally understand what they are supposed to sound like!


I am revisiting this post because I have taken up learning Danish again and now I remember how difficult some of the pronunciation is! :)

Bjarke, not sure you will ever see this comment, but just thought you might like to know your work is continuing to help us Danish students.

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