In Danish, prepositions are called forholdsord. That term is compound, a combination of the word forhold which means “relation” with the term ord which means “word”.
Prepositions are words that specify the relationship between two or more entities, often nouns or pronouns. The prefix “pre” indicates that a preposition is placed before the entity it governs, as it specifies the relationship with the next element in the sentence, for example 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”.
In Danish, as in most languages, prepositions are indeclinable words and therefore always keep the same form.
In this grammar guide, I have attempted to sort prepositions into 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 provides a list of the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe placements.
|in front of
|ved siden af
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 a direction, a route, or a trajectory of movement.
|i løbet af
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 the words “hen” and “henne” make 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)
|på grund af
|ved hjælp af
|with the help of
|på trods (af)
Here are some examples of Danish phrases in which prepositions describe the relation between entities:
In some cases, prepositions function as adverbs. In practice, it is a merging of the preposition and the adverb, 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 into three groups:
Below are some examples of Danish 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.
To learn more Danish vocabulary, here is a list of the 1000 most frequently used Danish vocabulary words.