Dialogue - Danish

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Vocabulary

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matematik math
dårlig bad
idræt sport, physical education
valgfag elective
at gerne ville would like to
at skynde sig to hurry, to hurry up
selvfølgelig of course, naturally, certainly, obvious
at kunne to be able to
sådan da sort of, more or less
derimod on the other hand, in contrast

Lesson Notes

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Lesson Focus

The Focus of this Lesson is Discussing Skills and Desires
Jeg er dårlig til matematik, men god til sport.

"I am bad at math, but good at sports."

 


 

In this lesson, we will learn how to:

  1. Talk about what you are good or bad at
  2. Talk about what you would like to do, using the phrase at gerne ville
  3. Use the modal verb at kunne

 

1. Talking about what you are good or bad at


 

Let's take a look at three of the most common sentence structures to talk about your own skills, focusing on the first person singular. The first one is:

 

Jeg er god til [noun].

This means "I am good at [noun]." Jeg is the pronoun "I," er is the noun at være in present tense meaning "is," god is the adjective "good," and til is the preposition "at." Simply add a noun indicating what you are good at.

 

For example: Jeg er god til fodbold.

This means "I am good at soccer." The noun fodbold, which means "soccer" or "football," has been added to complete the sentence.

The second most common sentence structure is:

 

Jeg er ikke god til [noun].

This means "I am not good at [noun]." Basically, the adverb ikke, which means "no" or "not," has been added between the verb er and the adjective god, so the sentence becomes negative. Let's complete the sentence with a different verb this time:

 

Jeg er ikke god til madlavning.

This means "I am not good at cooking." The noun madlavning, which means "cooking," has been added to complete the sentence.

The third most common sentence structure is:

Jeg er dårlig til [noun].

This means "I am bad at [noun]." The adjective god has been replaced with dårlig, which means "bad." Other than that, the sentence pattern is identical to the previous two. So if you are bad at chess, the sentence becomes:

 

Jeg er dårlig til skak.

This means "I am bad at chess." The noun skak is the Danish word for "chess."

Let's take a look at the sentence structures when using a verb instead of a noun.

Jeg er god til at [verb].

This means "I am good at [verb]." The meaning is more or less the same, except we have added the infinitive marker at, meaning "to." Then simply add a verb in the infinitive form that indicates what it is you are good at.

For example: Jeg er god til at læse.

This means "I am good at reading." The verb læse, which means "read," has been added to complete the sentence.

The second sentence structure becomes:

 

Jeg er ikke god til at [verb].

This means "I am not good at [verb]." Again the adverb ikke, which means "no" or "not," has been added between the verb er and the adjective god, so the sentence becomes negative. Let's try a different verb this time:

 

Jeg er ikke god til at stave.

This means "I am not good at spelling." The verb stave is the infinitive form of "spell." Of course, you can always add further details about what it is you are not good at.

For example: Jeg er ikke god til at stave lange ord.

This means "I am not good at spelling long words." Lange is the adjective "long" modifying the noun ord in plural form, meaning "words."

And the third sentence structure becomes:

Jeg er dårlig til at [verb].

This means "I am bad at [verb]." The adjective god has once again been replaced with dårlig, which means "bad." So if you are bad at singing, the sentence goes:

 

Jeg er dårlig til at synge.

This means "I am bad at singing." The verb synge in its infinitive form, which means "sing," has been added to complete the sentence.

 

2. Talking about what you would like to do, using the phrase at gerne ville


 

The phrase at gerne ville is the most common way to express what you would like to do. It consists of the adverb gerne, which means "with pleasure," "gladly," or "willingly," and the verb ville, which means "will" or "shall." So put together we have gerne ville which means "would like to." Let's take a closer look at the sentence pattern, focusing on the first person singular:

 

Jeg vil gerne [verb]. ("I would like to [verb].")

Jeg is the pronoun "I" and vil gerne is the phrase at gerne ville in present tense. Please note that gerne should be placed after ville whenever the verb is not in infinitive form. Then simply add a verb in the infinitive form that indicates what it is you would like to do.

 

For example: Jeg vil gerne sove.

This means "I would like to sleep." Sove is the infinitive form of the verb at sove, which means "to sleep." Of course, you can also modify the sentence even further by adding more details about what you would like to do.

 

For example: Jeg vil gerne sove på sofaen.

This means "I would like to sleep on the couch." is the preposition "on" and sofaen is the common gender noun sofa in definite form meaning "the couch" or "the sofa."

 

3. Using the modal verb at kunne


 

The modal verb at kunne is used in the sentence Fedt! Kan du hjælpe mig? which means "Cool! Can you help me?" Fedt is slang for "cool," kan is at kunne "to be able to" in present tense, du is the pronoun "you," hjælpe is the verb "help" in the infinitive form, and mig is the pronoun "me." At kunne is most commonly used to express ability, like in the sentence from the dialogue, but the verb has several other usages.

In this case, it is used to ask someone if they are able to help with something. Kan is usually followed by a verb in infinitive form that indicates what it is someone can or is able to do. Here that verb is at hjælpe, meaning "to help." So put together we have kan hjælpe which means "can help." At kunne does not change according to person and is conjugated in the chart below:

Infinitive

Present

Past

Participle

kunne

kan

kunne

kunnet

 

Let's take a look at some examples:

 

Jeg kan spille klaver.

This means "I can play the piano." Jeg is the pronoun "I," kan is at kunne in the present tense, spille is the verb "play" in infinitive form, and klaver is the neuter gender noun "piano."

 

Han kunne fløjte.

This means "He could whistle." Han is the pronoun "he," kunne is at kunne in the past tense, and fløjte is the verb "whistle" in infinitive form.

 

Hun har kunnet forstå dansk.

This means "She has been able to understand Danish." Hun is the pronoun "she," har is the auxiliary verb "have" used to form the past participle together with the modal verb, forstå is the verb "understand" in the infinitive form, and dansk is the noun "Danish" used when referring to the Danish language.

 

Examples from the dialogue:

  1. Idræt! Jeg er dårlig til matematik, men god til sport.
    "Sport! I'm bad at math, but good at sports."
  2. Ja, jeg skyndte mig. Jeg vil gerne have mere tid til mit valgfag.
    "Yes, I hurried. I would like to have more time for my elective."

 

Sample Sentences


 

  1. Drengen er rigtig god til at spille skak.
    "The boy is really good at playing chess."
  2. Pigen er dårlig til dansk.
    "The girl is bad at Danish."
  3. Forældrene vil gerne være alene.
    "The parents would like to be alone."

Key Vocabulary & Phrases

selvfølgelig "of course," "naturally," "certainly," "obvious"

Selvfølgelig as an adverb means "of course," "naturally," or "certainly."

Selvfølgelig as an adjective means "obvious."

As an adverb, this is used to express that you think something is obvious, completely normal, or expected. It is also used to express a faint confession before saying something contradicting. When emphasizing that you are fully aware of the certain way something stands, you can also use selvfølgelig. Finally, you can use selvfølgelig to express that something stands as expected, even though you had hoped something else.

As an adjective, it is used to describe when something is completely natural, expected, or in other words, obvious. When using selvfølgelig as an adjective to describe neuter gender nouns or verbs, remember to add a -t so it becomes selvfølgeligt.

For example:

  1. Selvfølgelig må du komme med.
    "Of course you may come along."

 

sådan da "sort of," "more or less"

Sådan is an adjective and means "such" or "like that." Da as an adverb means "then" or "at that time." As a conjunction, it means "when," "as," "since," or "then."

Sådan da is used to express when something is fairly good or within reasonable boundaries. Some people might find sådan da too vague when describing a status or condition. They might prefer the adjective nogenlunde, which means "fairly good." Both are equally casual, but sådan da has a more negative sound to it. So if someone asks you whether or not you have recovered from an illness, you might want to use nogenlunde instead if you want to indicate that you are on your way to recovery.

For example:

  1. Vi er snart færdige - sådan da.
    "We'll be done soon—more or less."

 

derimod "on the other hand, against it"

Der as a formal subject means "there" or "it." As a pronoun, it can mean "who," "which," or "that." And finally, as an adverb, it means "there." Imod as an adverb means "against," and as a preposition it means "towards."

Derimod is used when something is contrary to or goes against what was just mentioned. You will often find derimod used in formal situations to mean something or someone is opposed to what was just mentioned. For example, it might come up  in a political or judicial context when some people might be against what is being stated or proposed.

Other synonyms for derimod that you can use in both formal and informal situations are tværtimod or til gengæld. Tværtimod is an adverb which means "on the contrary" and til gengæld is a phrase which means "in return."

For example:

  1. Derimod kan katte ikke flyve.
    "On the contrary, cats cannot fly."

Cultural Insights

Electives in the Danish School System

 


 

From the 7th grade students can choose between one and three electives. Some university courses also feature electives or supplementary subjects. Today, students can choose between foreign languages, art, home economics, shop, music, sports, math, psychology, science, and many more electives. Taking specific electives is often necessary in order to be admitted to your desired university course.

 

Lesson Transcript

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Beginner Season 1 Lesson 1 - Talking About Your Strengths in Danish
INTRODUCTION
Eric: Hi everyone, and welcome back to DanishClass101.com. This is Beginner, Season 1 Lesson 1 - Talking About Your Strengths in Danish. Eric here.
Anna: Hej! I'm Anna.
Eric: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to talk about skills and desires. The conversation takes place at a high school.
Anna: It's between Stine and Nanna.
Eric: The speakers are classmates. Listeners, please note that because there's no difference between formal and informal registers in Danish, we won’t be mentioning the formality level of conversations within this series. Okay, let's listen to the conversation.
DIALOGUE
Stine: Nanna, du er god til matematik, er du ikke?
Nanna: Jo... Sådan da.
Stine: Fedt! Kan du hjælpe mig?
Nanna: Ja, selvfølgelig. Nå, du er næsten færdig?
Stine: Ja, jeg skyndte mig. Jeg vil gerne have mere tid til mit valgfag.
Nanna: Åh, hvad er det nu, det er?
Stine: Idræt! Jeg er dårlig til matematik, men god til sport.
Nanna: Det er rigtigt! Jeg er derimod ikke så vild med idræt.
Stine: Så er det godt, du er god til matematik!
Eric: Listen to the conversation one time slowly.
Stine: Nanna, du er god til matematik, er du ikke?
Nanna: Jo... Sådan da.
Stine: Fedt! Kan du hjælpe mig?
Nanna: Ja, selvfølgelig. Nå, du er næsten færdig?
Stine: Ja, jeg skyndte mig. Jeg vil gerne have mere tid til mit valgfag.
Nanna: Åh, hvad er det nu, det er?
Stine: Idræt! Jeg er dårlig til matematik, men god til sport.
Nanna: Det er rigtigt! Jeg er derimod ikke så vild med idræt.
Stine: Så er det godt, du er god til matematik!
Eric: Listen to the conversation with the English translation.
Stine: Nanna, du er god til matematik, er du ikke?
Stine: Nanna, you’re good at math, aren't you?
Nanna: Jo... Sådan da.
Nanna: Yes... Sort of.
Stine: Fedt! Kan du hjælpe mig?
Stine: Cool! Can you help me?
Nanna: Ja, selvfølgelig. Nå, du er næsten færdig?
Nanna: Yes, of course. Oh, you are almost done?
Stine: Ja, jeg skyndte mig. Jeg vil gerne have mere tid til mit valgfag.
Stine: Yes, I hurried. I’d like to have more time for my elective.
Nanna: Åh, hvad er det nu, det er?
Nanna: Oh, what is it again?
Stine: Idræt! Jeg er dårlig til matematik, men god til sport.
Stine: Sports! I am bad at math, but good at sports.
Nanna: Det er rigtigt! Jeg er derimod ikke så vild med idræt.
Nanna: That's right! I, on the other hand, am not so crazy about sports.
Stine: Så er det godt, du er god til matematik!
Stine: Then it is a good thing you’re good at math!
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Eric: Anna, is it common for students to take electives at Danish schools?
Anna: Yes, from the 7th grade on, students are able to take one to three elective courses. Some university courses also feature electives or supplementary subjects.
Eric: What kinds of courses are these usually?
Anna: Some common examples are foreign languages, art, home economics, shop, music, sports, math, psychology, science, but they can really be anything.
Eric: And I've heard that some university courses require certain electives for admission, is that correct?
Anna: Yes, that's true.
VOCAB LIST
Eric: Now, let’s take a look at the vocabulary from this lesson. The first word is..
Anna: matematik [natural native speed]
Eric: math
Anna: matematik [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: matematik [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: sådan da [natural native speed]
Eric: sort of, more or less
Anna: sådan da [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: sådan da [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: at kunne [natural native speed]
Eric: to be able to
Anna: at kunne [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: at kunne [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: selvfølgelig [natural native speed]
Eric: of course, naturally, certainly, obviously
Anna: selvfølgelig [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: selvfølgelig [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: at skynde sig [natural native speed]
Eric: to hurry, to hurry up
Anna: at skynde sig [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: at skynde sig [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: at gerne ville [natural native speed]
Eric: would like to
Anna: at gerne ville [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: at gerne ville [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: valgfag [natural native speed]
Eric: elective
Anna: valgfag [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: valgfag [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: idræt [natural native speed]
Eric: sport, physical education
Anna: idræt [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: idræt [natural native speed]
Eric: Next we have..
Anna: dårlig [natural native speed]
Eric: bad
Anna: dårlig [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: dårlig [natural native speed]
Eric: And last..
Anna: derimod [natural native speed]
Eric: on the other hand, in contrast
Anna: derimod [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anna: derimod [natural native speed]
KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES
Eric: Let's have a closer look at some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first word is..
Anna: selvfølgelig
Eric: as an adverb it means “of course” and as an adjective it means "obvious". In Danish, this word functions as an adjective, but in English it is equivalent to the adverbs “obviously” or “of course.”
Anna: You can use selvfølgelig to express that you think something is completely normal or expected, or to say a faint confession before stating something contradictory.
Eric: You can also use it to emphasize that you are fully aware of the particular way something stands. But note that it changes when you use it as an adjective to describe neuter gender nouns or verbs.
Anna: Right. When you’re using selvfølgelig as an adjective, remember to add a -t. Selvfølgeligt.
Eric: Can you give us an example using this word?
Anna: Sure. For example, you can say Selvfølgelig må du komme med.
Eric: ..which means “Of course, you may come along.” Okay, what's the next phrase?
Anna: sådan da
Eric: which means “sort of, more or less.”
Anna: Sådan is an adjective that means “such” or “like that,” and da is an adverb that means “then” or “at that time.” As a conjunction, it means “when” or “since.”
Eric: You can use this expression to express that something is fairly good or is within reasonable boundaries.
Anna: That’s right. Be aware, though, that some Danish people might find sådan da to be too vague when describing a status or condition.
Eric: Instead, they may prefer the adjective...
Anna: nogenlunde
Eric: ...which means “fairly good.” Anna, can we use these two words in the same way?
Anna: Both are equally casual, but sådan da has a more negative connotation to it. So if someone asks you something like whether you’ve recovered from an illness, you might want to use nogenlunde.
Eric: That way, you can indicate that you are on your way to recovery. Can you give us an example using this phrase?
Anna: Sure. For example, you can say.. Vi er snart færdige - sådan da.
Eric: .. which means “We’ll be done soon - more or less.” Okay, what's the next word?
Anna: derimod
Eric: which means “on the other hand, against it.”
Anna: Der means “it” and imod as an adverb means “against.”
Eric: So literally, it means “against it,” but you can use it to mean “in contrast.” Use this phrase when you want to express something that is contrary to what was just stated.
Anna: Right. You will often hear derimod used in formal situations to mean that something or someone is opposed to what was just mentioned.
Eric: For example, it might come up in a political or judicial context when someone is against what is being stated or proposed. Can you give us an example using this word?
Anna: Sure. For example, you can say.. Derimod kan katte ikke flyve.
Eric: .. which means “On the contrary, cats cannot fly.”
Anna: Okay, now onto the lesson focus.

Lesson focus

Eric: In this lesson, you'll learn how to talk about your skills and desires. Let’s take a look at three of the most common sentence structures to talk about your own skills. The first one is...
Anna: Jeg er god til, followed by a noun.
Eric: which means “I am good at…” and then state what it is that you are good at doing. Let’s break this phrase down to understand the meaning of each word.
Anna: Alright. Jeg means “I,” er means “is,” god is the adjective meaning “good,” and til is the preposition “at.” After this, just add a noun indicating what it is that you are good at.
Eric: So, it literally means “I am good at..” So following our pattern, how would you say...“I am good at soccer”?
Anna: That’s simple. “Soccer” in Danish is fodbold. So the sentence is Jeg er god til fodbold.
Eric: Great. Now let’s talk about the second most common sentence structure.
Anna: That would be Jeg er ikke god til plus a noun.
Eric: Using this pattern to express that you’re not good at something. As you can see, we only added one word,
Anna: ikke
Eric: Which means “no” or “not.” For example, you can say…
Anna: Jeg er ikke god til madlavning.
Eric: “I am not good at cooking.” Anna, how would you say “I am bad at something”?
Anna: For that we would have to use a third structure - Jeg er dårlig til plus a noun.
Eric: Just replace the word meaning “good,”
Anna: god
Eric: with the word meaning “bad.”
Anna: dårlig.
Eric: Other than that, the sentence pattern is identical to what we have just learned. Let’s examine this phrase by using an example. If I am bad at chess, I can say…
Anna: Jeg er dårlig til skak. The noun skak is the Danish word for “chess.”
Eric: Can we use the same sentence structure with verbs instead of nouns?
Anna: Yes, just add the infinitive marker at, meaning “to.” Then simply add a verb in the infinitive form that indicates what it is that you’re good at.
Eric: To apply this to a sample sentence, how would you say… “I am good at reading”?
Anna: “To read” is at læse in Danish. So that would be...Jeg er god til at læse.
Eric: And what about “I am not good at spelling.”?
Anna: The verb at stave means “to spell,” so in Danish it’s Jeg er ikke god til at stave.
Eric: And I guess the same pattern is used for “I am bad at…” plus a verb, right?
Anna: Right. For example “I am bad at singing” - Jeg er dårlig til at synge, where at synge means “to sing.”
Eric: Listeners, for more examples, take a look at the Lesson Notes for this lesson. Let’s move on to our second grammar point, which is how to talk about what you would like to do using the phrase...
Anna: at gerne ville. It’s the most common way to express what you would like to do. It consists of the adverb gerne, which means “gladly,” and the verb ville, which means “will.” Put together, we have at gerne ville, which means “would like to.”
Eric: After that, simply add a verb in the infinitive form that indicates what it is you would like to do. For example…
Anna: Jeg vil gerne sove.
Eric: “I would like to sleep.”
Anna: At sove means “to sleep.”
Eric: Let’s hear one last example...
Anna: Forældrene vil gerne være alene.
Eric: “The parents would like to be alone.” Alright, we have one more Grammar Point, and you can find more information about it in the Lesson Notes,
Anna: It’s about the usage of the modal verb at kunne.
Eric: Meaning “to be able to,” which is commonly used to express ability or to ask if someone is able to help.
Anna: So listeners, make sure to check out the lesson notes, and post any questions you have in the comment section.

Outro

Eric: And that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you next time! Bye!
Anna: Vi ses!