Prepositions, in Danish “forholdsord” (forhold = relation, ord = word), are words describing relations between two or several entities, often nouns or pronouns. The “pre“ indicates that the preposition stands before the object it governs as it emphasizes the relation which implies to the subsequent noun in the sentence e.g., where the noun is located relative to something.
For example, in the sentence “eleven sidder på stolen” (Translation: the student sits on the chair), the preposition “on” highlights the student’s position relative to “the chair”.
Prepositions are indeclinable words and therefore always takes the same form. It is not defined how many Danish prepositions that prevail, and they are not neatly sorted in groups with specific qualities, but merely exists in one big mess.
I have attempted to sort the prepositions in three groups describing (abstract) placements, direction/channel of movement and relations between entities. This is not an official way of sorting prepositions and some might have different opinions towards the chosen method.
The table below contains the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe placements.
|foran||in front of|
|ved siden af||next to|
|tæt (på)||close (by)|
Here are some examples of Danish phrases in which prepositions describe placements.
The table below contains the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe direction/route/channel of movement.
|i løbet af||during|
Here are some examples of Danish phrases in which prepositions describe a direction, route, or channel of movement.
Danes often adds the adverbs ”hen” or ”henne” to the preposition (hen imod, hen til, hen forbi, hen af, hen ved) resembling the English ”there”, “over” or “over there”.”Hen” is more of a direct action (as in: they went over and did something) while ”henne” is an abstract place (as in: somewhere). They work as a definition of a direction or movement towards, or at, a point, or place, relatively close to the point of reference.
Although not grammatically correct, you will not see raised eyebrows if adding “hen” to practically any of the prepositions. Vice versa, the meaning of the sentence will not change at all without the “hen”.
Below, I have applied the same examples as above to emphasize how “hen” and “henne” makes little, or no, difference.
The table below contains the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe relations between entities.
|med hensyn til / angående||in regards to / regarding|
|i stedet (for)||instead (of)|
|på grund af||because of|
|ved hjælp af||with the help of|
|takket være||thanks to|
|på trods (af)||despite (of)|
|blandt andet||among other|
Here are some examples of Danish phrases in which prepositions describe relation between entities
In some cases, prepositions function as adverbs. In practice, it is a merging of the preposition and the adverb as in for example:
Whether the preposition has an object to govern or not, it is grammatically correct to write the merging as both one and two words.
Some merges do not have any common adverbial use and will therefore always appear as two words. The rule applies whether the preposition stands before or after the object it governs.
Sometimes, the preposition will stand at the end of a sentence, and we might call it a postposition. Broadly speaking, these can be divided in three groups.
Below, I have set forth some examples of phrases in which prepositions act as postpositions.
Well, this grammar guide on Danish prepositions has reached its end. Practice listening to Danish here and there, and you will become comfortable with the pronunciations as well. Suddenly, you’re a natural talent!
To learn more Danish vocabulary, here is a list of the 1000 most frequently used Danish vocabulary words .