Last update: 2016.01.21
NOTE! I'm in the process of fixing up this page, I wrote it a year or two ago.

Swedish Prefixes and Suffixes:

Most likely, your textbook hasn't taught you these. I had to learn Icelandic without knowing this kind of thing as well, it's really frustrating and means you learn slower for no reason at all. I didn't find this list anywhere, I created it myself after becoming decent at Swedish via immersion.

Want more example words? Use the rhyming dictionary and simply type in the suffix. Use the “SAOB” dictionary, it has a lot more words than what's in the normal dictionary (but it’s not finished being made so words starting with certain letters can’t be found there yet). In SAOB, type *skåp to get any words ending in -skåp, for example.

Suffixes where I don’t know where they come from:

-nar (for verbs). Denotes the present tense of something that is done "on its own":

vaknar = becomes awake, wakes up (not to “wake someone else up”)
somnar = fall asleep (ex. without meaning to)
dagnar = become day(time)

-else. Plural form is -elser. Added to intangible things, ideas etc. to turn them into nouns having to do with the root word. Similar to "-ness, -hood, -dom, -ity" in English (fatherhood, likeness):

bakelse — “bake-thing”, baked good, pastry. The verb "to bake" is "att baka".
betydelse — "make-interpret-thing", significance, a meaning (as in the meaning of a word)
varelse “being-thing”, creature, a (living) being
händelse – “happen-thing”, event, occurrence, incident
upplevelse – “up-liven-thing” – experience
välsignelse – “well-bless-thing”, blessing
iakttagelse – the phrase "i akt taga - in act take" put together, possibly from the longer phrase “att ta(ga) det i akt [to take it in (the) act]”. Meaning: watching, sighting, observation

födelse – “father(ing)-thing”, birth.
The word father was “fadur” in Swedish, faður in Icelandic. The beginning of the word turned to föð-/föd- in some grammatical forms. Modernly in Swedish the word has just been shortened to far, as well as "modur" has been shortened to "mor" except for in stray phrases like modersmål - mother's tongue; meaning one's first language.

means “tool for doing something”, similar to the word “means” in english (“a means for doing something”).

diskmedel – “dish-tool”, dish-soap.
läkemedel – “heal-tool”, medicine.
läromedel — "learn/teach-tool", teaching materials.

Suffixes and Prefixes that come from Old Norse:

-are, -ere.
Same in plural. These denote that the word refers to a person who is doing the action (not necessarily as their career), in English being the -er in “user, teacher” (one who is using, one who is teaching) and ee in “absentee" (one who is being absent). Which letter the word gets, -a or -e, depends on the sound that comes directly before.

lärare – teacher
brukare – user
jordbrukare – “earth-user”, farmer
användare – user (computer-related)
läsare – reader
talare – speaker

vikare – “bay-er, inlet-er", literally meaning "someone who lives in the bay” except it really means “seal” as in the animal. A related word is “Reykjavík”, the capital of Iceland, which means “Smoke-Bay” (in Swedish this would be written as "Rökavik").

Means “opposite”. Two common English equivalents are "un-, im-" as in "tie, untie; material, immaterial". It can be added to any word and you'll always be understood, but some words have special terms used as set opposites already. This means that if you say a "mistake" when using this prefix, the Swede will simply tell you what the common-use word is. Some words are in everyday use but are seen as slang, so while not being wrong you may still be corrected just because people have the idea that foreigners shouldn't speak in slang. Some words are so old that they don't make literal sense anymore.

olycka – “unhappy”, accident, disaster (lycka = happy).
ogilla – dislike.
ojämn – uneven
okänd – unknown
ohälsosam – unhealthy
ostört – undisturbed, uninterrupted

obra – bad (bra = good). This is seen as slang, but it's a perfectly good and probably very ancient word. Sweden has very many "slang" terms that have actually existed since the viking age.

otur – “unluck”, unfortunate. In order to use this word you say "jag har tur (I have luck), jag har haft otur (I have had unluck)". They do not say "I am lucky"

Exception (due to age):
gräs – weed (gräs = grass)

-ande, -ende
This turns a verb into an present-tense adjective, meaning it describes a noun while still preserving its sense of time. For example: "The student is studying (verb); the studying student (adjective)" would be this method in present-tense. "The food has burnt (verb); the burnt food (adjective)" would be past-tense.

-ande, -ende
marks that the action was done by the noun that's being described: the student did the studying, the food did the buring. By placing -s onto the end, we receive "-andes, -endes" which marks that the action was done to the noun being described. "The studying student (-ande, -ende)" and "The student who is being studied" (-andes, -endes)". Swedish doesn't use this construction very often compared to Icelandic, but it's still in use, especially with certain recurring words.

pratande — talking
brusande – sound effect for traffic noise
krävande – requiring
sugande – literally "sucking", but meaning "craving"
värmeisolerande – “warmth's-isolating”, heat-insulating

leende – smiling

be-, ge-
Means “make, do, give (a quality to)”, and sometimes “together with”, although in many cases it actually means nothing because it's 1. too old, or 2. was actually a loanword from German.

It exists in English as be-: bereft, bemoan, beseech, bedazzle, bewitch, berate, behead — literally meaning "make moan, make dazzled, do the action of witchcraft upon, cause someone to lose their head" and so on. It exists in German as both be- and ge-, ex. Besuch, gehör).

bebodd “make resided” – settled (as in settlement).
begränsa – “make border”, limit, restrict
begrepp – “make-gripped/grasped”, concept, notion, idea
bevilja – “make-wish”, grant, allow
belasta – “make-load”, strain, burden, handicap
belägen – “make-laid”, located, situated
betydelse — "make-interpret-thing", significance, a meaning (as in the meaning of a word)

betala – “make count”, pay. Nowadays, "tala" is used to mean "talk" and "räkna" is used to mean "count", but tal is the old version from Old Norse.

gehör – “together-with-hear”, musical pitch, playing by ear. This is a direct loan from German.

gemyt (myt = myth. gemyt = mood, temperament)
gemål (mål = meal, goal, language. gemål = man, consort)

Meaning "go back, again". Similar to tacking om (anew, around, about) or igen (again) to the beginning of the word. The English equivalent is "re-":

återta, återtaga (taga is the old form of ta) — retake, reclaim
återuppstå, "re-stand up" from "stå upp – stand up": be resurrected
återvänd – “return”, turn around, turn back

An abbreviation of samman (together).

samtal — “together talk”, conversation
samtycka — "together-opinion", agree
samband – “together-bond”, connection, relationship (as in "this topic is connected to the thing I was just talking about")
samhälle – shortening of “sammanhälde – same-held”, meaning “society”.

The same as “-some” in English, ex. "lonesome, handsome”. Meaning, it marks an adjective and can translate to "tending to be, -ative, -ous" or "-ful":

arbetsam – "work-some, tending to work", someone who works hard. diligent.
pratsam – "speak-some, tending to speak" talkative
omtänksam – "tending to think about", couteous
ensam – "tending to be one (single person or thing)" lonesome, alone
långsam — “tending to be long”, slow. Lång is also used as in "a long time", which is probably the origin of this word.

tacksam – thankful
aktsam – "tending to take care", careful, respectful

blygsam — humble (blyg = shy)
pinsam – embarrassing (from "pina", pain)

Used very seldom in the modern language. As a noun by itself, means “stem, tribe, tree trunk” and thus when a prefix it means “stemming from a single place”, “coming from a certain group”. In certain words the "group" being referred to is the military. Otherwise, it's evolved into having different meanings:

anställda – “stem-employed”, meaning “on active-duty” in the military.

härstamning – “here-stemming”, origin, heritage
fader, stamfar – “stem-father”, an ancestor.
stammoder – “stem-mother”, a female ancestor. Archaically there was also stamdotter (granddaughter).
stamfolk – “the folk originating from a place”, meaning native (tribal, aboriginal) people.
stamfastighet – “stem-fixed-ness (property/real estate)”, meaning “parent estate, original property/estate”, it’s some kind of housing term.
stamhem (archaic) – the house that one’s ancestors lived in or came from.
stamlägenhet – “stem-apartment”, the apartment of origin, an apartment you once lived in. It’s more of a legal term and isn't a word that everyone will know.

Frequently done:
stamkund — a frequent customer. This is the word with "stam" that you will most likely see most often if you actually live in Sweden.
gäst – a frequent guest, also meaning a frequent customer.

aktie – “stem- economic stock”, meaning “common or ordinary share”, which is an economics term meaning “a share entitling its holder to dividends which vary in amount depending on the fortunes of the company.”

stambyte – “stem-change”, when you change the pipes, electricity, and water pipes and stuff (ex. in an apartment). not a word everyone will know.

-lig, -ig.
turns words into adjectives. adds an a in plural (liga, iga). it’s the equivalent of -ly, -y in english, and it’s -legur in Icelandic so it’s probably -legr in old norse and -ligr in old swedish:
att taga på (“ta på” in modern language – to take on) – påtaga (on-take = claim, assume) – påtaglig (on-take-ly/assumably = obvious) – ett tag (a take = a while)
att bruka (to habitually use) – bruklig (habitually, usually) – ett bruk (a thing that’s habitually used, meaning “a use, a cultivation”)

In Icelandic it’s skápur. It means closet, cabinet, or cupboard and is combined with other words to mean “place where something is contained” basically. In Swedish it’s just a normal compound-word-noun but it’s used a lot more in Icelandic and stuff (or I seem to recall anyway), and it’s in some “household words” learners probably learn early on, so I thought to add it here:
kylskåp – “chill-cabinet”, refrigerator
klädskåp – “clothes-cabinet”, wardrobe
bokskåp – “book-cabinet”, bookcase, bookshelf
arkivskåp – “archive-cabinet”, i forgot the name for these in english.
dokumentskåp – “document-cabinet”, file-cabinet
dockskåp – “doll-cabinet”, dollhouse
städskåp (att städa + skåp = to clean + cabinet) – broomcloset

in icelandic it’s -skapur, in english it’s -ship or -scape. it’s used a ton more in icelandic and faroese (ex. Fróðskaparsetur Føroya – “Wise-ship-seat Faroes”, Academy of the Faroes…). note that as a noun by itself, it means “scrape”.
vänskap – “friend-ship”
kunskap (att kunna + skap = to recognize/be familiar with + ship), knowledge
vetenskap (att veta (to know facts) + skap except done a long time ago and also a loanword) – science
landskap – landscape
bottenskrap – “bottom-scrape”, bottom-of-the-barrel (stuff).
egenskap – “own-ship”, trait, characteristic
galenskap – “crazy-ship”, insanity

Comes from old norse… probably. forgot. can mean “female person who does something” (same as -are). also can mean “-ian, -an” like in “Washingtonian, American”, meaning “from a place”. this is an old suffix that doesn’t come up much.
fjellstedtska – from fjellsted (“mountain place”) or whatever… not sure. was a school name i think. can’t be bothered to look it up right now.
sångerska – a songstress, a singer
städerska – chambermaid, cleaning lady

-ling, -ing
turns words into nouns and sometimes corresponds to english “ing”. plural form is -ingar. historically it was a feminine ending. depending on the consonants before it, an n is inserted (ex. att blöda – blödning, att passa – passning).
blödning – (blöd + ing) bleeding
lärling – (lära + ing) apprentice, intern
yngling – (yng + ing) “youngling”, a youth/young person
älskling – (älska + ing) darling
övning – (öva + ing) practise, exercise (as in math exercises, not as in physical exercise)
bokning – (bok + ing) booking, reservation
kodning – (kod + ing) coding, encoding

denotes passive form of verbs (when added to nouns it denotes possessive form – ex. “dog‘s“), and is added to the word after it’s been otherwise conjugated.
öppna – open. öppnas – is open, is opening (?). ska öppnas – is planned to be opened, will be open.
stängt – closed. stängades – is closed. har stängts – has been closed.
prata om – talk about. pratas om – is being talked about, is talked about. pratades om – was talked about.
födas – “is fathered”, is born. (the word father was “fadur” in Swedish or faður in Icelandic, which turned to föð-/föd- in some grammatical-requiring cases. and modernly in swedish has just been shortened to “far”).

same as “-less” in english. it’s -laus in Icelandic. note that on its own it can mean “free, loose” as in “a loose dog (that’s not on a leash)”
stamlös – stemless
sockerlös – sugarless.

ur-. means “ancient, primeval” but also “super” (cognate to jätte)
urdjur – “ancient animals”, protozoa
urkul – “super cool”, LMFAO

affixes from other languages, but doesn’t mean the word is a loanword overall:

Comes from German, means “-able” (which, in English, sometimes changes to “-ible”). It’s an adjective so when talking about a neuter noun you say “-bart”, when talking about a plural say “-bara”.
användbar = “usable”
ätbar =”edible”

False friend?: omedelbart “immediately”.

derives from Latin; academic swedes started joking around with latin when speaking swedish and eventually this ending stuck. it’s a “diminuitive suffix” (cuties, puppies, piglet, cutlet), meaning it makes words seem cuter or friendlier. adds -ar in plural to become ex. “bebisar – babies”.
bebis – baby (probably from the English words babe/baby)
dagis – daycare (from dag “day”)
promis – promenade, walk, stroll (from promenera “to promenade”)
bästis – best friend
gullis – cutie (from gullig “cute”)
mellis – snack (from mellanmål “between-meal”)
maskis – masquerade

more foreign-language borrowings, but words starting with these are always loanwords:

loan from english and probably other languages. means the same as in english, that is “again, anew”.
retur – “re-tour”, recycle, return, has some other uses ex. with the military. (loan from french and english)
reaktion – reaction
reaktor – reactor
realistisk – realistic
att reassurera  – to reassure
rebelion – rebellion
recept – recipe, doctor’s prescription (loan from Latin “receptum”)

loanword that means (“locationally”) in german. usually the words with this were directly taken from german because they already correspond so closely to swedish anyway. sometimes the “an” can be replaced by “på” and that’s just done according to personal choice:

angelägen “locationally-lying” = pressing, urgent. german word is apparently Angelegen.

anspänning  “on-straining” = exertion, tenseness. spänning comes from icelandic/old norse (spennandi) where in modern icelandic it means “exciting”.

anpassa “on-fitting” (as in being suitable for) = adapt, conform
anspråk “on-language” = claim, pretense. german word is Ansprache.

anledning – “on-leading” = reason
angående – “on-going”

-tion, -ism.
obviously, denotes a loanword taken from english. means the exact same thing as in english: -tion forms a noun, -ism denotes a set of beliefs or school of thought. the only difference is it’s pronounced differently in swedish.
motion – motion
suggestion – suggestion
information – information
mesmerism – mesmerism
hypnotism – hypnotism
kommunikation – communication

stolen from (probably) english, it is a swedification of “thesis”:
tes – thesis
syntes – synthesis
hypotes – hypothesis

-skin, -kin and sometimes kin-.
stolen from (probably) english or french or something, a swedification of “chine” or “chin”:
maskin – machine
kina – china.
kinesk – chinese.

-iserad, -serad.
probably stolen from english, means “-ized” (which technically means “caused, forced”). judging by icelandic, in older language they would have just used simple adjectives to say this instead, ex. “icelandic-ly” or “icelandic-ed” would mean “iceland-ificated, icelandic-ized”.
motoriserad – motorized.
globaliserad – globalized. globalisering – globalization.

miss-, mis-.
means “mistake”, same as in english.
missbruk – a mis-(habitual)-use, meaning a bad habit (like drugs), exploitation or other general misuse

-äng, sometimes -än.
as a noun by itself it means “meadow”. as a suffix, it emulates the sound “-ain(e)”, ex. in “rain“, so that loanwords can keep a similar pronunciation as in the origin language. the suffix (especially if there’s only 1-2 letters before the suffix starts) usually denotes a loan from latin languages, but pure swedish examples are säng – bed, släng – throw (away), and –fäng (which derives from “att fänga/fånga, to catch” from old norse).

when it’s in a pure swedish word, it’s there only because the original vowel underwent a sound change at some point.

terräng – terrain (form english, who took it from french)
morän – moraine (from english, who took it from french)
gratäng – gratine/gratin (from french)
poäng – point(s) (from english, who took it from french)
maräng – merengue (from french)

att hänga, fåfäng, sträng, säng, dräng – these are all “original swedish” (from old norse) words that went through spelling/pronunciation changes. (where they were að hanga, strangur, drengur etc). there used to be a rule in icelandic/old norse, where a changed to e depending on the word and case of the word and so on, and e in icelandic basically the same pronunciation as the swedish ä.

gäng – gang (from english, where it originated from að ganga “to go/walk” in old norse/icelandic…. which is att gå in modern swedish and is another example of the a-e change. in icelandic, ganga “to go/walk” turns into gengur “goes/walks”, chop the -ur off as was done for most words ending in -ur in swedish (ex. hundur = hund now), and you get geng, spelt gäng in modern swedish)


of course, prepositions like om (anew), upp (up), ner/ned (down), på (at/on), små (small, little, few), för (too much), över (over), in or i (in), inne or inn (inside), ute or ut (outside), mid (mid, middle), hög (high), låg (low), is (ice), mörk (dark, “murky”), and so on are often attached to various types of words, to describe direction or amount. this too was present in old norse and old english. sometimes they’re shortenings of words you should know already, ex. sär- = särskilt (unique, special, sometimes “separate”), and bär- = “att bära” (to bear something, to hold, to carry).

småsaker – “small things”, trifles, details, knicknacks
fördubbla – “too-double”, reduplicate
börja – “on-begin”, (to) start on (something)
inanledning – “in + at/on + leading” a leading-in (to something), a beginning
att innesluta – “to inside-end”, to envelop/encase, surround, hoop/ring.
högtalare -“high-talk-er”, loudspeaker
att ingå – “to in-go”, to go in, enter, join a group etc.
bärighet(att bära + (l)ig + het = to bear + (l)y + ness), “the act/idea of being able to bear something”, meaning buoyancy.

inne is the word for when there is no movement or goal of getting to a new place (the box rests inside), inn is the word for when there is movement to/from or happening with the “inside” (i’m going to go in/inside). Same with ute (i’m standing outside already) and ut (i’m going out). The problem is english has lost the distinction. but anyway that distinction is also kept when adding the prepositions to words. i could explain this better but no one cares about anything i do so i can’t be bothered.

nouns can be added in front too:
att skitsnacka “shit-chat”, to talk bullshit.
skitbra – “shit-good”, super good.
ascool “cadaver-cool”, super cool.

in these cases it’s really just normal compound words, anyone can make them up and you’re just supposed to know enough vocab to know what they are already.