Learning Danish: “Den Lille” – and a little giveaway! [CLOSED]

Learning Danish: “Den Lille” – and a little giveaway! [CLOSED]

As an expat in Denmark, I have devoted a not insignificant amount of time to learning Danish. Luckily, languages come relatively easy to me, and I definitely benefited from Danish being closely related to my native language, German, so I was done with Danish school relatively quickly. I’ve written more about my experiences with learning Danish here and shared my best tips and helpful resources here.

But of course, everyone struggles now and then, and sometimes I can’t find a word, which means I either try my best Danish pronunciation of the appropriate German word (sometimes works, mostly totally fails!), or I start speaking a weird sort Denglish, which usually does the trick, but I always feel like it makes me sound like an obnoxious douche (“kan vi prøve og sætte en timeline for det her?” – just nope!).

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And don’t get me started on grammar! Danish grammar is – again, luckily for me! – very close to German, so I’m often intuitively doing the right thing. But when I started learning Danish, they put me straight into module 4 (you Danish learners will know what that means!), so I had almost no grammar education at all. This means, I have no idea about grammar rules, and sometimes, I want to look something up – and this is where Den Lille (the small one) comes in handy!

"Den Lille" Danish grammar book | The Copenhagen Tales

Den Lille is a small, but comprehensive guide to the basic essentials of Danish grammar, so it’s perfect to have with you during language class or when doing exercises. What really sets this little book apart from other grammar guides is the elegant and minimalist design. You’ll be searching for Danish flags or stock photos of ethnically diverse language learners, engaged in spirited discussion, in vain!

Here’s a short video introduction from the author of the book, Mika Sun Black:

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The book is a slender 60 pages, smaller than an A4 page, and very light, so it’s easy to take along in your bag or purse, and the elegant design won’t immediately “out” you as a language learner if you want to read on the bus or train. I don’t know about you, but those huge, colorful books with comics and animals were always a bit off-putting to me and sort of made me feel like a child!

"Den Lille" Danish grammar book | The Copenhagen Tales

Inside, the book is just as pretty. The content is displayed neatly in boxes, and everything is kept in black, grey, and hues of blue. The color coding makes it easy to distinguish between the explanation of rules, references to other chapters, examples, and special cases. To the great pleasure of my aesthetic eye, there are no photos, drawings, or comics whatsoever!

As for the content, Den Lille deals with all the basics in a structured manner, starting with word types (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns), and moves on to sentence construction, signs, dates and times, and other classics.

The book also has a section on hverdagssprog, colloquial language, which goes through some key words sentences you’ll need in your everyday life. And since the best way to learn Danish is to use it, there are free sound files available for all hverdagssprog words and sentences in the book on this website.

"Den Lille" Danish grammar book | The Copenhagen Tales

"Den Lille" Danish grammar book | The Copenhagen Tales

And now it’s your turn – you can win this little gem!

Together with the author, Mika Sun Black, I’m giving away one copy of this little life saver, and all you need to do is post a comment below, sharing your funniest Danish experience, like a misunderstanding, “lost in translation” situation, or that one word you just cannot seem to pronounce correctly. If you share this post on Facebook, that’ll give you an extra entry in the draw!

The giveaway is closed, but feel free to continue sharing fun Danish experiences in the comments – I love reading them!

"Den Lille" Danish grammar book | The Copenhagen Tales

Good luck – or as we say in Danish: “held og lykke”!


The books for this post and give-away were kindly sponsored by the author and Alfabeta Forlag. All opinions are my own. The book is available through Saxo for DKK 125 (plus shipping).

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34 thoughts on “Learning Danish: “Den Lille” – and a little giveaway! [CLOSED]”

  • When in the supermarket cashier, I asked for a shopping bag (in danish “pose”), but I pronounced as sausage (in danish “pølse”). The lady said she did not had any there and needed to go to the specific section, which I did not understand since I could see them right there… So pointing at things makes life easier!!

    • Being in Denmark, asking for sausages probably sounded perfectly reasonable to the cashier! :) But I agree, pointing at things does help!

  • When I arrived here, in my first day, I asked for “Andersboulevard”. The problem was that I didn’t pronounce “Anders” right, AT ALL!!! And no one could understand what I was asking for :(
    So I was lost with 45kg of luggages and walked a loooong time to find my new accomodation. But I finally did it :)

    • Ouch, that doesn’t sound fun! Street names can be extremely challenging – I always mispronounce “Nørre Farimagsgade”, I just can’t remember where to put the stress… is it “FArimagsgade” or “FaRImagsgade” or “FariMAGsgade”?? It’s a mystery!

  • On Christmas, the CEO gave some nice present to all the employees and I wanted to show off my danish skills : “Tak for gave”. He is joking saying in Danish that “You did not like it, no ?” (I realized later that)…and then am I answering “Ja Ja”..:)

    But on another note, please let me know where can I buy the book. It seems like a good idea and I would like to buy it on my own.
    Thank you !

    • Hi Iulian, you can order the book online through Saxo – there’s a link all the way at the bottom of the post :)
      And that’s a funny story – I’m sure your boss knew not to take it seriously!

  • I was assigned to make a research project within a group where all the other students were danes. They first asked me where I was living, so I tried my best with the pronuntiation of “Frederiksberg”, but it seems I failed. They thought I was saying near “Frederiksborg”!
    Afterwards I told them I enjoyed biking everyday to Copenhagen city center. Their faces were AMAZING!I couln’t believe I impressed some danes just for biking a few kilometers. It was when we were discussing about the distance to the city center that we all realised we spent 30 minutes talking abobut different places!

    • Wow, now THAT would be something of a commute – no wonder your classmates were impressed! It’s funny when you have a long discussion and at some point you realize you’ve been talking about totally different things! :)

  • We were playing with words with a friend and came up with a funny sentace – “I took 2 sips of tea at the train yesterday.” Try to say it fast in Danish. :)

  • For me it wasn’t so much the language, as the cultural culinary differences that led to this awkward situation: I was proudly showing my best friend Copenhagen and we found a stall at Christiania christmas market selling home-made spicy sauce. We like spicy and I’ve struggled to come to terms with the lack of it in Denmark. I inquired into the level of spice (I might have been a little insensitive and asked if it was spicy or Danish spicy) and they proudly announced that this would blow our socks off. I gleefully tucked into a full tester spoon of their spiciest concoction as did my friend. The guys were being friendly and jovial up to this point but when we looked at each other and without thinking much, my friend announced ‘it tastes like ketchup’ they stopped talking to us and basically pretended we didn’t exist until we left. Denmark doesn’t do spicy.

    • Oops, yeah I can imagine that that would’ve been a bit awkward! I have to say that I’m not a super spicy eater myself, so that sauce would’ve probably blown my socks off! :)

  • “Viking flirt lesson 1”
    Once when I was at the party and I told I am a foreigner, the guy said to me:
    ‘You know, in Denmark we don’t say “Hi”. We say ” Gode bryster”.
    Good I was not too drunk to use it further :D

  • I guy my Danish class used to hear Tak for mad all the time so he was convinced it was they way to say thanks and went around for a year saying tak for mad instead of tak without realizing and with a lot of people with weird stares back 😉

  • What a cool little grammar book! Well I moved to the country from finland with a good background in swedish but not really knowing any danish. One of the first things that threw me off in a conversation when I’m asking how are you, and the other one ends their response with a “hvad med dig?” And for a stranger like me, it sounds pretty close the same as the swedish “vem är dig?” -Who are you? Made no sense in my head at first. Now I’ve picked up some and a new grammar book would nicely speed up my daily studies..

    • Hi Ulriikka – yes, there are some “false friends” between Danish and Swedish for sure! I often run into the situation where Swedes think that because I speak Danish, I’ll understand Swedish as well, but I am just completely lost!

  • A gem of a book and thanks for bringing to my attention. I was born in Copenhagen but left at 6 months to live all over the world. Danish was my first language and visited a lot – but I only spoke to my family really. Make that Mormor and Oldemor. It turns out my Danish is “old-fahioned” and fairly recently Danes my age mentioned that – and said that when they talk to me they feel a need to sit up straight since I speak from another time. I think this book will help….too bad I can’t play since I am on the coast north of Boston, Massachusetts.

    • Hi Kathrine, thanks so much for your comment – I think it’s lovely that you took on some language “quirks” from your grandma and great grandma! And don’t people always complain that nobody speaks “properly” anymore? :)
      Unfortunately, I can only ship the book to a Danish address this time (but if you have one that the book could be sent to, maybe a friend or family member, you can participate in the draw!).

  • Hi Laura,
    Thanks so much for this posting! I’m moving to Copenhagen this fall and have been both excited and apprehensive about trying to learn Danish, so your recommendation is coming at the perfect time. I’m looking forward to ordering it and trying it out. Your blog is fantastic, by the way — I’ve been following it for a while now and very much enjoying your welcoming, encouraging style.

    Best wishes,
    Carole

    • Hi Carole, thank you so much for your comment and your kind words – I’m so glad you enjoy the blog! How exciting that you’re moving to Copenhagen, I’m sure you’ll love it here as much as I do!

  • Katherine A is just like me…I learned to speak Danish from my parents almost 60 years ago and also speak the old fashioned way! I have never lived in Denmark, only visited for holidays. Please let me know if there is any way to order the book and get it sent to London.

    • Hi Linda, thanks for commenting! There’s a link to a webshop (Saxo) where you can buy the book at the bottom of the article. They ship internationally :)

  • I love the simplicity of the design!
    Usually when I am asked “What problems do you have with the Danish language?” I jokingly reply simply “Yes.” The whole language is my problem. But mainly – I think it is the strange pronunciation of words, because all of the other languages I know are a lot “harder” sounding: my native language – Bulgarian and the Hoch Deutch (I studied German for 4 years of my life. :D ) I studied are both really “harsh” sounding, while Danish is more “soft and melodic.” Am I weird? Am I the only one? :D
    I completely agree with German being close to Danish and I had a jolly good time in the region near the German border – I actually understood what the Danes were saying.
    I have a very weird interaction with an elderly danish woman in the city of Odense – I wanted to help her adjust some luggage on her bike and I wanted to ask her, in danish, if she needs help. I knew how to say it, but it still came out in German (it happens a lot to me). The elderly lady answered me in an understandable danish that she was alright on her own, and at that point she drop her things. I completely switched to German and told her that I will help and she started explaining to me where she bought the things she did, where was it, how the things were for her husband, that she had 2 dogs… all in the span of a couple of minutes. I spoke German – she spoke Danish, the whole time and we completely understood each other. At the end I bid her farewell in Danish, and she told me – in perfect German – that my German was pretty good. I just smiled and waved as she biked away.
    It was a very sweet and weird moment. And I loved it. I wished I knew more Danish at the time so I could continue on talking with her.
    PS: Laura, you have gained yourself a new fan. :3

    Best Regards,
    Lydia Vasileva

  • Hi Laura,
    I’m from England, and I have been living here in Denmark full-time since July last year. I am currently just about to take my module two tests, and even though my lovely partner is Danish, and I have wonderful Danish teachers at my sprogskole, there are a few words that I still really struggle to pronounce, and one of them is “kniv”. It doesn’t matter how I change the shape of my mouth and the position of my tongue – when I say the word “kniv”, it always sounds like I am saying “canoe”. Not good when I am trying to ask for something to cut up my food with…and most restaurants do not have any canoes, anyway.

    I must also say that your blog has been a great help to me since I moved here. It is very interesting and useful. Long may it continue!

    • Hi Katrina, thank you so much for your comment and kind words! “Kniv” is definitely a tricky word, especially for native English speakers, I can imagine!

  • Hi, I’m from Japan and living in Denmark. I’m just done with my module2 tests and Danskprøven A1. Learning Danish is really really hard for me. There are so many vowels in danish and Those are very difficult to catch or speak them…:( fx. “i” and “e”, “u” and “ø”…
    This book will really help me… Can I buy this book at bookstore??

    • Hi Kazumi, I completely understand the vowel problem… there seem to be some very subtle differences between them that are hard for foreigners to hear. My favorite example: “tandstik” (toothpick) and “tændstik” (match) sound EXACTLY the same to me! There’s a link to a webshop at the bottom of the article, where you can order the book.

  • My wife and her family come from jylland and her parents aren’t the best at English. For the first year and a half when I would listen to her father speak I thought he was saying igår. I kept hearing “yesterday” I was wondering what the hell happened yesterday?! I later discovered he was saying ikke også. A very jysk way of saying ikke at the end of a sentence.

    • Hi Nathaniel, thanks for your comment – it seems the jysk people have a very special pronunciation for “ikke også”; my boyfriend just showed me and I totally get how you would hear “i går”!

  • Absolutely LOVED to read these great stories! Thank you for the ‘platform’, Laura. You run such a cool space here. Who was announced as winner?

    • Hi Mika, Selene was the lucky one (drawn at random), and the book is on its way to her now! Thanks for your kind words and a great cooperation :)

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