Sweden is a polite society but not a casually chatty one – strangers typically won’t make idle conversation while waiting in queues or riding buses, and attempts to do so may be greeted with confusion. Once the ice is broken, Swedes are helpful and happy to show off their English. You’ll be asked your thoughts on their country and about current events in your own; don’t be surprised if they’re better-informed than you.

  • Thanks The most commonly uttered word in Swedish is tack – it means thanks, but also please, and it’s applied liberally in all situations. When in doubt, throw it out there.
  • Excuse Me To get someone’s attention, say ursäkta mig (excuse me). If you step on their foot, say förlåt (forgive me) instead.
  • Greetings The catch-all greeting is hej. For someone you know well, say tjena (sheh-na).