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The Swedish noun is marked for number, gender and definiteness.
The numbers are singular and plural. Unlike in English where there is a standard way of making plurals (except for exceptions), there are five standard plural endings for nouns as well as some exceptions in Swedish.
The gender of a noun is in Swedish not expressed in masculine and feminine but in utrum and neutum. These are visible as indefinite articles, equivalent to English "a", as in "a car". In Swedish these are "en" and "ett".
Unlike many languages where the definite article precedes the word, the definite article is in Swedish suffixed to the noun. How this is done depends primarily on if the word is "en" or "ett".
There is no way of knowing from looking at a noun whether it is supposed to be "en" or "ett". This is something that has to be learned together with new words. Learning this is important since much else depends on it, for instance how adjectives or participles are inflicted.
Most words are "en", about 80%, but there are many common words that are "ett".
en bil, en penna, en stol, en dator, en telefon, en polis
ett hus, ett träd, ett barn, ett äpple, ett problem, ett intresse
There are five plural endings in Swedish: -or, -ar, -er, -n and Ø (empty). Knowing whether a word is "en" or "ett" helps assign plural ending. It is only between -ar and -er that there is ambiguity. There are some rules of thumb for a qualified guess, but ultimately a dictionary must be consulted.
These plural groups are presented in the next section, Noun Groups.
The indefinite form is used when new information is presented, just as in English. The indefinite form of the noun is consequently used after the following words:
en, ett, många
någon, något, några
ingen, inget, inga
varje, varenda, vartenda
sådan, sådant, sådana
denna, detta, dessa
The indefinite form is also used after possessive pronouns and the genitive form (see below).
The definite form is used for known information. The definite form is used after the following words:
förra, första, sista
The definite form is also used when the function of a generally known noun is in focus:
Ex.) Han lånar pengar på banken. (He borrows money in the bank.)
Ex.) De köpte medicin på apoteket. (They bought medicine at the pharmacy.)
Just as in English, a nouns ownership is expressed with a genitive -s. Note that there is no apostrophe before the -s in Swedish.
Lärarens penna ligger på bordet. (The teacher's pen is on the table.)
Stolens ben är raka. (The legs of the chair are straight.)
Skolans reception är öppen. (The reception of the school is open.)
Fill in the blanks in the sentences below. Choose between the indefinite and the definite form of the noun in brackets.