Både or båda?Hej och gott nytt år!
A reader has sent me a question:
Can you give an explanation for the use of “båda” and “både”?
”Både … och” is a conjunction (”konjunktion” in Swedish). Here are a few examples:
Anna vill ha både jordgubbsssylt och vispgrädde på sina våfflor.
(Anna wants both strawberry jam and whipped cream on her waffles.)
Gösta talar både tyska och engelska.
(Gösta speaks both English and German.)
Restaurangen serverar både öl och vin.
(The restaurant serves both beer and wine.)
“Båda (två)” is a pronoun (“pronomen” in Swedish). A couple of examples:
Två bilar i krock. Båda började brinna.
(Two cars in crash. Both caught fire.)
Hur skriver jag ut på båda sidorna av papperet?
(How do I print on both sides of the paper?)
Do you have a question? Email me at email@example.com
Have fun learning Swedish 2016!
Quite often I see students making mistakes when using the adverbs ”då” and ”sedan”. Both words translate to English “then”, so today I’ll to straighten out when to use which one.
Då (when used as a time adverb), means ”at that time” or ”by the time”. Some Swedish synonyms are:
vid den tidpunkten
på den tiden
vid det tillfället
Here are a couple of examples:
Jag var i Sverige i juli. Då regnade det mycket.
(I was in Sweden in July. It was raining a lot then.)
Lasse fyller 50 år i februari. Då ska han ha en stor fest.
(Lasse’s 50th birthday is in February. Then he will have a big party.)
Sedan, often pronounced, and sometimes spelled, sen (it should be pronounced “sänn”) means “therafter”, “after that” or “afterward”. Some Swedish synonyms are:
Here are couple of examples of how to use “sedan”:
Först ska jag dammsuga. Sedan ska jag dricka kaffe.
(First I’m going to vacuum. After that (then) I will have a cup of coffee.)
När Göran kommer hem från jobbet brukar han laga middag. Sedan tittar han på TV.
(When Göran comes home from work, he usually make dinner. Then he watches TV.)
If you have questions about grammar or vocabulary, please post in the comment field!
It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present perfect tense of the verb:
I was wondering if you can address past tense vs. perfect tense in Swedish. It seems that the perfect tense is used much more often than in English.
For example, in Swedish people often say “Vad har hänt?” whereas in English it would typically be said “What happened?”
Another reader earlier posted this question about the –ing form in English, and how to express it in Swedish:
Have you done the difference in Swedish and English when it comes to using the present participle? That was one of the hardest things to wrap my head around when I first started learning Swedish, because I would want to construct sentences with the present participle all the time, but you don’t usually do that in Swedish.
For example: “I am running”, “I am singing”, “I am doing it” would be “jag springer”, “jag sjunger”, “jag gör det.” Which is a different tense and something that is important for English speakers learning Swedish to understand.
First it might seem like these two questions aren’t related at all, but since I started working on the first one, I realized that I was also getting closer to the answer of the second one.
I’m neither a native speaker of English, nor very educated in English grammar so I’m playing it safe and choose stay away from making a comparison between the two languages here. What I will do in this article is to explain when to use perfect tense (presens perfekt) and past tense (preteritum) in Swedish language. All comments on the differences between English (British or American) and Swedish are more than welcome!
Tense and aspect
Most of us know that tense (“tempus” in Swedish) is a grammatical category that defines the time for an action, when something happens. When speaking, Swedish, English, or any other language, we don’t only want to express when something happens, but also if the action is temporary, repeated, completed or continuous. This, is what we call the aspect of the verb. Aspect also represents time but has to do with the flow of the action compared to tense which locates the state in time.
The aspect of the verb is shown in different ways in different languages. In some languages there will be a certain ending on the verb and in other languages there are always two pairs of verb showing two different aspects. In French for example (this is one of few things I remember from French lessons in school) there are two forms of past – “passé simple” and “imparfait”. The first one is used when you talk about a completed action and the other one for a not completed action. If you look in an old Swedish grammar book you will find that “preteritum” is called “imperfekt”. There was a change of terms some years ago since “imperfect” isn’t a correct description – “preteritum” describes a completed action.
Perfect or past tense (perfekt or preteritum)
Speaking Swedish you should always use the perfect form to express a continuous action, continuous time or if we now have a result or continuation of the action that is interesting. Hopefully a few examples will show what I mean:
Göran har rökt i 15 år.
(Göran has been smoking for 15 years.)
This means that Göran has been smoking and still is, the action continues.
Göran har rökt 5 cigaretter idag.
(Göran has smoked 15 cigarettes today.)
In this case the action, smoking the cigarettes, is over but the time – today – continues, it is still today.
Har du tagit rökpaus ännu, Göran, eller vill du följa med ut och röka?
(Have you taken a smoke break yet Göran, or do you want to come along for a smoke?)
In this case you have to use perfect in Swedish since the action (har tagit paus) gives us a continuation or result (vill följa med och röka) that is interesting.
Here’s another example:
Jag har inte ätit så jag är hungrig.
(I haven’t eaten so I’m hungry.)
We have a result (I’m hungry) of the action (haven’t eaten).
The past tense (preteritum) should be used when we’re talking about a completed action in the past, meaning that the action both started and finished in the past. Sometimes the exact time is mentioned and sometimes it’s not. Here are a few examples:
Jag såg en film igår.
(I saw a movie yesterday.)
Olle tvättade bilen förra veckan.
(Olle washed his car last week.)
Anna studerade vid universitetet i Lund.
(Anna studied at the university in Lund.)
Other ways of expressing continuous or completed action in Swedish
Except for using perfect instead of present tense or pluperfect instead of past tense there isn’t any grammatical ways to express the aspect of the verb in Swedish. To do so you have to you use the vocabulary. In some cases the “partikelverb” come in handy to more clearly express a completed action. Take a look at this:
(finsish eating, finish the food)
(finish the drink, empty the glass)
With the particle “upp” and “ur” we can get an aspect of the verb – we know that the action is completed.
When it comes to the English progressive aspect, the be– ing, it’s a little harder. It’s hard to clearly express the progressive aspect as clearly in the Swedish language. That’s probably why it’s a common mistake a Swedish speaking person will make when speaking English. Most of the time we would simply use the present tense in Swedish and don’t show any difference between the continuous and not continuous aspect. You will have to understand the aspect sense from the context. However you could use “håller på att” or some other paraphrase.
Vad gör Janne?
Han jobbar i trädgården.
(“He works in the garden./He is working in the garden.”)
Vad gör Janne?
Han är ute och jobbar i trädgården.
(“He’s out in the garden working.”)
Vad håller Janne på med?
Han håller på och jobbar i trädgården.
(“What is Janne up to? He’s working in the garden.”)
Thank you everyone for reading and have fun learning Swedish!
Sara the Swedish Teacher
It happens every now and then that my students mix up the words “vet”, “kan”, “känner” and “känner till”, so I was thinking we should take a closer look at these verbs. The best way to explain the differences between these verbs is with examples:
Anders vet när bussen går.
Anders knows when the bus leaves.
vet = have the information
Anders kan köra buss.
Anders knows how to drive a bus./Anders can drive a bus.
kan = knowing how to
Anders känner busschauffören.
Anders knows the bus driver.
känner = being friends, are acquainted
Anders känner till busschauffören.
“Känner till”, with emphasis on “till”, is a particle verb that means “know of” or ”have heard of”.
A better way to explain the difference between “känner” and “känner till” :
Anders känner till statsministern.
This means that Anders have heard of the Prime Minister. Maybe Anders know the Prime Minister’s name, or what political party he represents. Now, compare that to:
Anders känner statsministern.
This means that Anders and the Prime Minister are acquainted, or maybe friends.
“Känner till” is also the verb you should use when you want to say something like “have you heard of” or “are you familiar with”. For example, you should say “Känner du till Uppsala?”, instead of “Vet du Uppsala?”
Sara the Swedish Teacher
I happened to read on a forum on The Local that someone was confused about when to use an -s on verbs in Swedish. There are three different occasions when there is an –s, and in this article we’ll learn about –s in passive voice.
-s expressing passive voice (passiv form)
Passive voice is used when we don’t know who is taking action or when it isn’t interesting who is doing it. In grammar terms we can express it as that we don’t have an agent in the sentence.
Passive voice is often used in newspaper articles and also news on TV and radio. Here are a few examples from Dagens Nyheter today:
17 skadades efter busskrock utanför Piteå.
(17 were injured after a bus crash outside Piteå.)
Sprängämnesstoff hittades i flickans sko.
(Explosive materials were found in the girl’s shoe.)
Mordbrännare jagas i Eslöv.
(Fire-raiser is being chased in Eslöv.)
In the examples above we don’t know or perhaps don’t find it interesting who injured the 17 people, who found the explosives in the shoe or who is chasing the fire-raiser in Eslöv.
The passive voice is also used in instructions, recipes for example, and in formal language. You will find passive forms on a carton of milk or on a bill like this:
(To be opened here.)
Betalas senast 100831
(To be paid at the latest by Aug. 31, 2010).
As you have seen the passive voice can be used for different tenses (actually all tenses) and it’s not complicated to construct the passive version of the verb. You more or less just ad a -s to the regular form except for the present tense where you need to remove the -r. It looks like this:
skadar (regular) skadas (passive)
köper (regular) köps/köpes (passive)
syr (regular) sys (passive)
skriver (regular) skrives/skrivs (passive)
skadade (regular) skadades (passive)
köpte (regular) köptes (passive)
sydde (regular) syddes (passive)
skrev (regular) skrevs (passive)
We can also create the passive voice with something called “the perfect participle” which is more common in spoken Swedish and less formal Swedish. I will discuss this in a different post but I can show you what our s-passives would look like constructed with a participle:
skadades – blev skadad
hittades – blev hittad
Sara the Swedish Teacher