Essential Icelandic - 12 Key Phrases

Magazine Essential Icelandic - 12 Key Phrases

When you are traveling to Iceland, to anywhere really, it is helpful to know your way around the language a bit to increase your level of understanding and communicate better with the locals.  Most Icelanders are taught English at a young age, but learning some of the language is always a nice gesture in a foreign country.  So, without further ado, here are 12 essential Icelandic words and phrases you need to know when traveling in Iceland.

* <r> means a rolled/trilled r

1. Hæ/ Halló

Pronounced: Hi/ Hah-low

Starting with the very basics, here are your generic greetings; both simply mean hello. You use these the same way you would in the English language.  “Hæ” is more common and it is often said twice in a greeting “Hæ hæ”.

2. Já/ Nei

Pronounced: y-ow / ney

The first means yes, the second means no.  Maybe it’s a bit rudimentary, but you would be surprised how many tourists do not know this and how often this will come in handy.

3. Góðan daginn

Pronounced: go-thah-n  die-in

The literal translation here is “good day” and it is probably the most common greeting in the Icelandic language.  Use this to say hello to all the people you meet and it will show them that you are both polite and friendly.

4. Ég heiti….

Pronounced: ye-gh hey-tee

This means “My name is…”. Introducing yourself is good manners and makes it much easier to meet new people.  Simply introducing yourself in their native language opens up the doors of friendship to the local Icelanders.

5. Hvar er…

Pronounced: kva-<r>  e<r>...

This means “Where is…”. Not knowing your way around a foreign country is inevitable so it will be helpful if you are able to for ask directions.  You don’t necessarily need to know the Icelandic name of the place you are trying to find since the locals will probably know what you mean.

6. Klósett

Pronounced: k-low-seht

This simply means bathroom, or toilet.  Hey, we’ve all been there. When you gotta go, you gotta go and being in a foreign country doesn’t change that.  Knowing this word will help you locate a restroom either by reading signs or asking a local.

7. Hversu mikið kostar þetta?

Pronounced: kve<r>-su mih-kith coh-stah-<r> theh-tah

This means “How much does this cost?”  When shopping for food or souvenirs, it will be helpful to be able to ask how much an object costs. Remember that they use crowns in Iceland, or krónur.  They may also use the word “kall”, which is the equivalent of “bucks” in English.

8. Kvitunn

Pronounced: kv-ih-tuhn

This means “receipt”. If you are asked if you would like one, it will be helpful to at least recognize the word.  You can follow with yes or no which are listed above.

9. Þakka þér/Takk

Pronounced: thah-kah th-yeh-<r> / tah-k

Both mean “thank you”, though the first is more formal. “Takk” is our equivalent of “thanks”.

10. Afsakið/ Fyrirgefðu

Pronounced: af-sah-kith / fih-<r>-ih-<r>-gef-thu

Both mean “sorry, though the first can also be used as “excuse me” and the second is much more formal.

11. Verðu þér góður

Pronounced: veh-<r>-thu  th-yeh-<r>  go-thu<r>

This basically means “you are welcome”.  Manners are very important in Iceland so if somebody “thank you”, or what was listed above at number 8, it is important to reply with this.

12. Bless

Pronounced: bleh-s

This means “goodbye” or simply “bye”.  This, like the greeting, is often repeated twice: “Bless bless”.

Now that you know some of the basics of the Icelandic language, you can go tackle your adventures with more confidence and ease. Safe travels and the best of luck!  From Icelandair Hotels, who invites you to come practice your newly acquired Icelandic at one of our 9 comfy hotels located all around Iceland.  Bless!

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