The main dialect groups are divided by the largest islands/peninsulas:
Countless other dialects exist for smaller island or community within each area. Some dialects are similar, some are virtually incomprehensible to anyone living more than 50km away.
'Rigsdansk' is the official Danish language taught in school. It is a 'neutral' form and spoken in the big cities. The dialects are still spoken by people, young and old, in more rural areas of which there are plenty.
- Sjællandsk Zealand (Central-Eastern Danish)
- Jydsk Jutland (Western Danish)
- Bornholmsk Bornholm (Eastern Danish)
- Fynsk Funen (Central Danish)
Danish is notoriously difficult to pronounce correctly. It is flat (like the country) and monotone compared to Norwegian or Swedish where the tone goes up and down with every word (like the many mountains and valleys in those countries). The 'r' is very deep and throaty, but not at all rolling as in Roman languages.
The pronunciation of the common letters æ, ø and å are also unique to Scandinavian languages. A common Danish phrase told to foreigners is 'rødgrød med fløde' (red pudding with cream), a Danish speciality and a line very difficult for foreigners to say due to the abundance of 'ø's, the initial throaty 'r', the rough 'gr' sound and the soft 'd's.
Because of the difficulty experienced by foreigners in pronouncing Danish correctly, a joke often told by Danes themselves of their own language is that "Danish is not so much a language, as a throat disease".
The infinitive forms of Danish verbs end in a vowel, which in almost all cases is the letter e. Verbs are conjugated according to tense, but otherwise do not vary according to person or number. For example the present tense form of the Danish infinitive verb spise ("to eat") is spiser; this form is the same regardless of whether the subject is in the first, second, or third person, or whether it is singular or plural. This extreme ease of conjugating verbs is made up for by the many irregular verbs in the language. However, the latest official reform of Danish permits many previously irregular verbs to be conjugated regularly, and for some nouns to be spelled as they are pronounced.
Danish nouns fall into two grammatical genders: common and neuter. While the majority of nouns have the common gender and neuter is often used for inanimate objects, the genders of nouns are not generally predictable and must in most cases be memorized. A distinctive feature of the Scandinavian languages, including Danish, is an enclitic definite article.
To demonstrate: The common gender word "a man" (indefinite) is en mand but "the man" (definite) is manden. In both cases the article is en. (However, Danish uses a separate word for the definite article when an adjective is employed: "the big man", den store mand).
The neuter equivalent would be "a house" (indefinite) et hus, "the house" (definite) huset and "the big house", det store hus.
The numbers from one to twenty in Danish are: en, to, tre, fire, fem, seks, syv, otte, ni, ti, elleve, tolv, tretten, fjorten, femten, seksten, sytten, atten, nitten and tyve. Counting above forty is in part based on a base 20 number system, see vigesimal.
Danish is written using the Roman alphabet, with three additional letters: Æ / æ;