Nobody’s perfect: Mistakes Danes make in English

Nobody’s perfect: Mistakes Danes make in English

The other day, I came across two infographics describing classic mistakes that Danes make when they’re speaking English – some of them made me chuckle, so I thought I’d share them with you.

A disclaimer in the beginning: I’m not here to make fun of the Danes for making mistakes! Especially considering that English isn’t my native language, either… Quite the opposite, I think it’s impressive how high the general level of English knowledge is in the overall population, and with how relatively little of an accent most Danes speak English. That’s not only impressive, it’s also super helpful for tourists, expats, and immigrants who are still struggling with Danish.

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I’ve written about my experiences learning Danish before (check out my posts here and here), which by all accounts is not an easy language to learn and speak properly and accent-free. Like many immigrants and expats, I too have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Danish, even after I’ve reached fluency and speak Danish in a work environment. Therefore, I liked these graphics because all they show is that nobody’s perfect! I’m pretty sure you’ll have heard some of these mistakes being made by Danes. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of translation, sometimes it’s a weird way of expressing things that just doesn’t work the same in English.

I also have some of my own to add to the list! For one, my boyfriend often suggests that we can “follow each other” somewhere, to work, for example, when he really means that we can go together. I know that it comes from the Danish “følges ad”, but the visual of two people trying to follow each other still makes me laugh! Also, many people will tell you that a certain place is “on Vesterbro” or “on Nørrebro”, when you’d always use “in” in English – that also comes from the Danish “på Vesterbro” – and the reason why it is “på” (on) is the “-bro” ending in the word, which means that it was an area with cobblestones (“brosten”)!

Have you noticed anything yourself? Also hit me with classic mistakes that Germans make! I’d be super interested in hearing your experiences about that, too, so go ahead and share in the comments below!



These graphics were created by and are published with the permission of KXMGroup, which offers translation and copywriting services.


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5 thoughts on “Nobody’s perfect: Mistakes Danes make in English”

  • When one wishes to ask for some times, one says “Give me a minute”. Have you ever noticed that the Danes say “two seconds” :-)

    Another common mistake in writing is OF COURSE, many Danes misunderstand the concept hence use OF CAUSE.

    But it was fun to read this issue.

    • Hi Cherry, yes, that’s true with the “two seconds”! Here’s another thought: noticing these things can actually help us with our Danish – to sound more like a Dane, just say “giv mig lige to sekunder” instead of “giv mig et minut”! :)

  • What a funny collection. As a German living in Paris, I know what it means to make mistakes that put huge question marks and/or smiles onto people´s faces ;-)

    • Hi Sabine – I’ve had the same experience when I studied abroad there, and have it now in Denmark, too :) That moment when you just see that big question mark on someone’s face… Thanks for your comment!

  • Great list! I can identify with quite a few of those from my time in DK! I found Danes confused “apartment” and “department ” quite often, probably because the Danish words for these are so different, yet the English ones sound similar. It led to some interesting misunderstandings in the work environment :-)

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