One or multiple words?

April 2019: Danish compounds are written withnospacesbetweenthewords

2019.04.12 | CKR/LVS

In short: Danish compound words are ALWAYS written without spaces.

Unfortunately, in Danish, there is a tendency to divide compound words, with the most common reason being the spell check on your computer or smartphone, which automatically divides the words or marks the word with a red, squiggly underline denoting misspelling.

Below, we have listed some advice and rules of thumb to help you understand how words are ’glued’ together in Danish.  


1. Two or multiple words
In Danish, most compound words consist of two nouns. For example, the word ’ingeniøruddannelser’ consists of the words ’ingeniør’ and ’uddannelser’. Some compound words comprise multiple words, e.g. ’erhvervskandidatuddannelse’. In this example, jamming together is not enough; you have to add a ’link’ to somehow make a smooth transition when pronouncing the compound. The link in ’erhvervskandidatuddannelse’ is the ’s’ between ’erhverv’ and ’kandidat’. 

2. Compound words with names
- are also written in one word, e.g. ’Herningborgmester’.

3. Aller, smadder, super, mega, herre, etc.
Compound words with stress on the first item are also written in one word, e.g. ’megagod’, ’superfint’ or ’kanonsød’. 

4. Indenfor/inden for, overfor/over for
Some compounds may optionally be written in one or two words if used as a preposition, i.e. if followed by another word, e.g. “BTECH udbyder uddannelser inden for/indenfor ingeniørvidenskab og erhvervsøkonomi”. When the compound is not followed by another word, it must always be written without the space, e.g. “Det er varmt indenfor”. 

5. Loan words in English
Newly added English loan words to the Danish language are written the same as in English, i.e. often in two or multiple words, e.g. ’open source’. If the word gradually becomes more used and known, and if pronounced with stress on the first item, it must be written according to the Danish rules, i.e. in one word, e.g. ’teambuildingkursus’ or ’computerprogram’.

6. Compound words in English
In English, compound words are often written in two or multiple words, e.g. ’business economics’ and ’engineering study programmes’.


Test your knowledge
Now that you know everything there is to know about compound words, you can test your knowledge here (NB in Danish only).

Language Services, Staff