Danish prepositions: the complete guide

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 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.

Danish prepositions describing placements

The table below contains the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe placements.

Table: Danish prepositions describing placements
Danish prepositions Translation
i in
ved at
mellem between
over over/above
on/at
under under/beneath
bag(ved) behind
foran in front of
ved siden af next to
nær near
tæt (på) close (by)
inde (i) inside
udenfor outside
blandt among
efter after
før/inden before

Here are some examples of Danish phrases in which prepositions describe placements.

Danish prepositions describing direction/route/channel of movement

The table below contains the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe direction/route/channel of movement.

Table: Danish prepositions describing direction/route/channel of movement
Danish prepositions Translation
til to
fra from
gennem through
af by
imod towards
frem forward
mod against
langs med along
rundt om/omkring around
på tværs across
i løbet af during
forbi past

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.

Danish prepositions describing relations between entities

The table below contains the most common Danish prepositions which are used to describe relations between entities.

Table: Danish prepositions describing relations between entities
Danish prepositions Translation
hos at
uden without
for for
om about
med with
med hensyn til / angående in regards to / regarding
i stedet (for) instead (of)
indtil until
undtagen except
på grund af because of
siden since
ifølge according
vedrørende concerning
ved hjælp af with the help of
takket være thanks to
med mindre unless
på trods (af) despite (of)
blandt andet among other

Here are some examples of Danish phrases in which prepositions describe relation between entities

Danish prepositions as adverbs

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.

Danish prepositions as postpositions

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.

Conclusion

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!

For more on Danish grammar, you can check out these guides to Danish pronouns, and Danish adverbs.

To learn more Danish vocabulary, here is a list of the 1000 most frequently used Danish vocabulary words .