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List of nouns with vowel change (umlaut) in the plural.

Some of you might have encountered plurals such as bok böcker, similar to English goose geese, so I thought I’d post this list I made a while back. I think it’s near-complete. For historical reasons, all these words are en-words, except for land and stånd. Beware of that some of these words are very uncommon so you will likely never encounter them, however, many are extremely common.

For those of you who can’t see the table, it’s available here: http://i.imgur.com/Zvstdz9.png

December 10, 2014



Nice! Also note that the pronunciation of the G in "gås" and "gäss" is different. "Gås" is pronounced with a hard G, while the G in "gäss" is pronounced like the Swedish J.


Yes, very good point!


Also note that in general we can say G is pronounced as Y in words starting with: GE, GI, GY, GÄ, GÖ. On the other hand in general again, we can say there are cases where G is pronounced as G, when words kick off like: GA, GO, GU, GÅ.


Interesting! Must admit that I would never say "spänger" but "spångar" though.

By the way, you can also say "en bok - flera bokar", but then it means "one beech - several beeches" (Fagus Sylvatica).


Yes, both plural forms are given in the dictionary, so both are listed here.


Thank you so much


That's the same in German - the letter (of the alphabet) is Buchstabe and the tree is Buche. The former is derived from the latter because the first printing press used letter blocks made from beech wood.


Buche Noel???!!! My cousin makes it every year. WOW. Never know what DL will teach me next. XOXOXO We have German ancestors but I never made the link. I see in French it means Yule Log, but I like this connection with the development of language!


watch out for the "circonflex" on the u ...Bûche de Noël ... ressembling a piece cut from a log ... nothing to do with "Beech" or "Buche" the type of tree with hard wood to make letters from for printing....

I happen to be family of 3 generations of editors/printers ...and first commercial printing (many copies) started in my town Antwerp ... see Plantyn Moretus and the museum about him and his work...

My family are in the Press business, and as a child we used to play with those single letters to compose words and phrases. The letters were cast in lead, and you had them in 2 sets: the minuscules were in one letterbox, the majuscules in the other letterbox. The boxes were on the shelf one above the other, and tilted towards the "letter-zetter" man for easy working. Minuscules were on the lower shelf, majuscules on the upper shelf...hence, you must have guessed is by now, lowercase and uppercase. (onderkast en bovenkast) ...although there is discussion whether these come from "lower cast" and "upper cast", with cast like in "cast iron" ...When it came to making typewriters they simulated this by having the SHIFT key...

Today, children often get a letterbox, new or vintage, as a present, so they can keep various little things in it, and hang it on the wall for display. Such letterbox has smaller and larger areas, for the simple reason that one needed more e's, t's, s's and o's than say z's ...to compose an average line or sentence in English...

regards - hugo_vd_abeele


resembles Dutch words and pluriels...


Wow! this one is very helpful since I just started to learn basic Swedish, Tack!


Swedish native speaker here. It's a great list. Just a few comments:

  • "Spänner" and "spänger" are not used anymore (apart from possibly in some dialects). Use "spannar" and "spångar" instead!

  • "Ständer" feels very old fashioned even though you can still happen upon it in expressions or old songs. "Stånd" in plural feels more natural. (Also note that the most used meaning of "stånd" is a stand, as on a market.)

  • "Stav" also means staff (typically of wood or metal) but with the plural "stavar". I would say a lot of Swedes wouldn't even know the meaning listed here. It's very uncommon.


Tack för dina svenska ord De är vad jag söker.


This is a great collection, thanks for sharing it!


Great! Really helpful!

Tack så mycket!


Tack så mycket!


Thanks for the effort! However, I cannot see the embedded picture and cannot reach the page as the link is blocked in my country! Any other way to help me with the list? Thanks!


Is this link broken for everyone else?


It’s an embedded picture. Perhaps it doesn’t work on mobile. In that case, try this: http://i.imgur.com/Zvstdz9.png


Swedish is so nice, I just love it! Tusen tack


jag tycker om svenska också.


Me too, I'm totally in love with it!!


Does anyone know the linguist reason for these vowel changes?


I think it’s a relic of a feature of Proto Indo-European??


Does "u" umlaut to "y"? "y" seems to be the equivalent of German "ü".


This is very interesting, considering letter (like in the alphabet, not the other one) in German is called "Buchstabe" (literally book-staff, like the Swedish one), while staff/stick is called Stab. However when they turn to plural:

Buchstabe - Buchstaben

Stab - Stäbe

Funny that German does the vowel change in only one of these and Swedish in both.


Seems like some DE sites use Buchstäbe (T-shirts with letters on it...)

... and what to think of vowel changes for diminutives ... Buchstäbchen ... Mädchen ...

I have a "feeling" that plural Buchstäbe (DE) is a valid word...such as in Wir haben viele Buchstäbe in unsere Kollektion

Shall we ask Google ? Buchstab DE=>SE Brev (because google goes via EN which is letter ...)
Buchstaben DE=>SE Brev (wrong)
Eine Buchstabe DE=>SE en bokstav (OK)
Zwei Buchstaben DE=>SE två bokstäver (OK)
Zwei Buchstäbe DE=> SE två bokstäver (OK)

Können Sie mal buchstabieren bitte DE=>SE Kan du stava det snälla

Wir haben viele Buchstäbe in unsere Kollektion
Vi har många brev i vår samling (wrong)

Wir haben 200 Buchstabe in unsere Kollektion
Vi har 200 bokstäver i vår samling (OK)
(and why is it not 200 Buchstaben...)

Wir haben 200 Buchstabe verloren
Vi förlorade 200 brev (wrong)

Wir haben alle Buchstabe verloren (missing n)
Vi tappade alla brev (wrong)

Wir haben alle Buchstaben verloren (with n)
Vi förlorade alla bokstäver (OK)

... that's why "tryckeriet är stängt" ... ;-)

... so watch out for too simple and shortsighted Google translations ...

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