Swedish is spoken by about 8.000.000 people. The vast majority of the speakers live in Sweden. However, a significant minority of 300.000 Swedish speakers lives in Finland.
Swedish belongs together with Danish to the eastern subgroup of the North Germanic languages. The Germanic languages form a top-level constituent of the Indo-European language family.
There is some dialect diversity in Swedish. Major regional varieties are Northern Swedish, Eastern Swedish (Finland, Estonia), the dialect of Svealand, the dialect of Gotland, Southern Swedish (Skåne, Halland, Blekinge), and Dalecarlian. The dialect of Skåne and Dalecarlian are considered as separate languages by some. However, both have been heavily influenced by Swedish.
The variety of the Stockholm area is used as supra-regional norm. There are also regional norms, for instance in the South (Skåne, Halland, Blekinge) and in Finland.
Swedish is the national language of Sweden.
The vowels of Swedish differ in vowel height or openness (close, close-mid, open-mid, open), frontness (front vs. back) and quantity (short vs. long). Native words have no diphtongs.
Swedish consonants differn in manner of articulation (stops, fricatives, nasals, vibrants and laterals) and place of articulation (labials, labio-dentals, dentals, palatals, velars and a laryngeal). There is also a contrast between voiced and voiceless consonants. Voiceless consonants are aspirated.
Syllables with primary or secondary stress have to be long. No syllable can be double long (long vowel and closed coda).
All Swedish varieties except Finnish Swedish have a tonal word accent. In underived native words the first syllable is stressed. Derivational suffixes of derived words are often stressed. Foreign words have the stres on the penultimate or ultimate syylable.
New words are formed by derivation and compounding. Swedish mostly has derivational suffixes, but also some prefixes. Compounds can be classified into two types: a) copulative compounds consists of two or more coordinate components; b) endocentric compounds consists of two component of which one modifies the other.
Swedish nouns are inflected for number (singular and plural), definiteness, case (basic form and genitive) and gender (common and neuter). Nouns are sub-classified into seven declension classes according to their plural endings.
Adjectives and past participles agree with the head noun phrase in number, definiteness and gender, but not for case. Adjectives are sub-classified into three comparation classes according to their comparative and superlative endings.
Personal pronouns have an accusative case for the direct object.
The verb is inflected for tense (present, past), mood (indicative, subjunctive, imperative)and voice (active, passive). Verbs are classified into several declension classes.
The verb has four infinite forms: infinitive, supine, past participle and present participle.
The definite article and the indefinite article precede the head noun phrase. Genitives and adjectives precede the head noun. Prepositional and adverbial attributive complements, and sentential complements follow the head noun.
The subject has always an overt expression except in imperative and elliptical clauses.
Swedish is a verb-second language: no more than one constituent may precede the verb in main clauses. Word order is freer in main clauses than in subordinate clauses.
Swedish vocabulary has adopted Greek and Latin loan words as a result of the christianization. During the Middle ages the Swedish lexicon received many Middle Low German words. Afterwards mostly High German and French loan words have been accepted, whereas in the 20th century loans from English prevailed. Native and foreign words are phonotactically distinct in Swedish. The major part of the lexical inventory of Modern Swedish consists of loan words.