5 good-to-know danish words and phrases in Copenhagen

1) Hej & Hej Hej

Saying ‘hej’ is the most common way to say hello in Copenhagen. Luckily, the pronunciation of the Danish greeting is exactly the same as the pronunciation of ‘hi’ in English. And, even better, ‘hej’ is also how you say goodbye in Danish (you can also say ‘hej hej’ for goodbye).

2) Tak, Nej Tak, Mange Tak

The Danes don’t have a word for ‘please,’ so it’s important to know how to say thank you. To say thanks, just say ‘tak’ (pronounced like the English word ‘talk’, rhymes with ‘chalk’). To say ‘no thank you’ just add the word ‘nej’ (rhymes with ‘rye’) before ‘tak,’ and you get ‘nej tak’. To express ‘many thanks’, you can say ‘mange tak’, (pronounced ‘mang-a talk’).

3) Jeg kan ikke tale Dansk

Since pretty much everyone in Denmark speaks English, chances are you won’t have to learn many Danish phrases, but if you want to try and impress the locals, you can respond to their Danish greetings or questions by saying, ‘I don’t speak Danish’ (pronounced ‘y-aye can ikka tailor dance-k’), which will be their cue to switch over to English. This one is a challenge, but give it a try and you’re certain to make a local smile.

4) Det er meget hyggeligt

The concept of ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’), or cosiness, is very important during the cold, dark, Danish winters. But, luckily, you can find hygge in Copenhagen year-round, and when you experience a cosy cafe, an afternoon in the park, or day at the beach with friends, the right phrase to express your feelings is, ‘Det er meget hyggeligt’ (‘this is so cosy’), pronounced ‘day er mal hoo gleet’.

5) Hav en god dag

‘Have a good day, have a good evening, or have a good night’ are all very cordial ways to say farewell to your new Danish friends. The key part of all three phrases is the first two thirds, ‘hav en god...’ (pronounced ‘ha ang go...’). Then you just add on which time of day you’d like to specify: ‘dag’ for day (pronounced like the English word ‘day’), evening is ‘aften’ (pronounced ‘aft-in’), and night is ‘nat’ (rhymes with ‘mat’).

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