Scandinavian language challenge day 38

Today I worked through the last chapter (chapter 12) of Swedish in three months, covering:

  • ‘either .. or’, ‘neither … nor’, ‘both … and’
  • ‘all and ‘whole’
  • the impersonal pronoun ‘man’
  • adjectives without a noun
  • how to translate some common English verbs
  • spelling
  • other words

‘either .. or’, ‘neither … nor’, ‘both … and’

Antingen … eller = either … or

  • Han vill antingen resa til Malmö eller til Lun
    (He wants to go either to Malmö or to Lund)
  • Antingen reser han till Malmö eller til Lund
    (he is going either to Malmö or to Lund)
    Note inversion between subject (han) and verb (reser) in the second example because antingen starts the clause.

Varken … eller = neither … nor:

  • Hon vill varken äta eller dricka
    (she will neither eat nor drink)

Både … = both and:

  • Hon vill både äta och dricka
    She wants to both eat and drink)
  • Både Karin och Gunnilla var på festen
    (both Karin and Gunnilla were at the party)

When used separately, not in the construction ‘both … and’, the form used is både (not båda):

  • Både kvinnorna var på festen
    (both women were at the party)

‘all and ‘whole’

All (allt, alla) is the adjective meaning all. As is in English, it may or may not be accompanied by the definitive article or a possessive:

  • han köpte all maten (he bought all the food)
  • allt hopp är ute (all hope is gone)
  • han gjorde av med alla sine pengar (he spent all his money)

Allt and allting both mean everything:

  • Hon säger att hon vet allt om Spanien
    (she says she knows everything about Spain)

Alla means everyone. It is plural, so any accompanying adjective must also be plural:

  • Alla är så glada idag (everyone is so happy today)

The adjective hel means whole. When its definite form hela is used, the noun takes only the suffixed article:

  • han satt och läste hela dagen
    (he sat reading all day)

Impersonal pronoun ‘man’

The impersonal pronoun man can only be used as subject. Its object and possessive forms (en and ens) are uncommon.

  • Man måste arbeta för att tjäna pengar.
    (one must work to earn money)
  • Det kan hända att polisen stoppar en för att kontrollera ens körkort.
    (it might happen that the police stop you in order to check your driving licence)

As is also the case for other 3rd person pronouns, the possessive form of man is sin (sitt, sina) if the possessive refers back to man appearing as subject in the same sentence:

  • man älskar sina barn
    (one loves one’s children)

Adjectives without a noun

Adjectives can be used without the related noun, and must be inflected to bear the appropriate endings for gender and number:

  • Ska jag ta den svarta kjolen? Nej, ta den vita.
    (Shall I take the black shirt? No, take the white one.)
  • Lindbergs har en grön bil och en röd.
    (The Lindbergs have a green car and a red one.)
  • Gamla människor är klockare än unga.
    (Old people are cleverer than young ones.)

The adjective sådan (sådant, sådant) means such. When used without a noun, it means ‘such things’:

  • sådant tolereras inte här (such things are not tolerated hear)

When used with sådan, the indefinite article does not appear in the same place as in English:

  • jag har aldrig läst en sådan bok förr
    (I have never read such a book before)

How to translate some common English verbs

English ask. To ask for someone to do something is be (4, ber, bad, bett). To ask a question is fråga (1).

  • Hon bad mig om hjälp (he asked me for help)
  • Vi bad honom göra det (we asked him to do it)
  • jag ska fråga expediten (I’ll ask the assistant)

English know. Veta is to know facts. Känna is to know people. Kunna is to know languages and subjects:

  • jeg vet att du känner Åke Lindberg, som kan franska, tyska och spanska
    I know that you know Åke Lindberg who knows French, German and Spanish)

English live. Bo is to reside, dwell. Leva is to be alive:

  • Lindbergs bor i södra Sverige
    (the Lindbergs live in southern Sweden)
  • Gustav Vasa levda på 1500-talet
    (Gustav Vasa lived in the 6th century)
    (reminder: 1500-talet = 16th century, not 15th)

English think. Tro is to believe. Tycka is to hold an opinion. Tänka is to ponder, intend.

  • Jag tror att jag håller på att bli syk
    (I think I am going to be ill)
  • Tycker du ikke att Sverige är ett vackert land?
    (Don’t you think Sweden is a beatiful country?)
  • Vad tänker du göra imorgon?
    (what do you intend to do tomorrow?)
  • Jag kan inte tänka när du pratar
    (I can’t think when you’re talking)

English want + noun. Translate this with vilja + verb, for example, vilja ha:

  • hon ville resa till Amerika men han ville ha en ny bil.
    (she wanted to go to America but she wanted a new car)

English have must often be translated by a more specific verb:

  • Ska vi äta frukost idag?
    (Shall we have breakfast today)
  • Han drack två flaskor vin på festen
    (He had two bottles of wine at the party)
  • Jag har inte fått ditt brev än
    (I haven’t had your letter yet)
  • Du måste köpa hans senaste bok
    (you have to buy his latest book)

English get must often be translated by more specific verbs meaning receive, arrive or become:

  • Jan fick en bil, en båt, en boll och en bok
    (Jan got a car, a boat, a ball and a book)
  • Hur dags kommmer vi till Kiruna?
    (What time do we get to Kiruna?)
  • Jag vill inte bli arg
    (I don’t want to get angry)

English manage. Hinne means to have time. Orka means to have the strength to do something. Both are often used without any verb following.

  • han hann inte till tåget
    (he didn’t manage to catch the train)
  • jag hinner inte
    (I don’t have time)
  • han orkade inte lyfta piaonot
    (he didn’t manage to lift the piano)
  • Orkar du?
    (Do you have the energy?)


Some sounds are often not pronounced in colloquial speech, including:

  • at the end of words: da(g); de(t); go(d); ja(g); me(d); månda(g) etc; o(ch); ti(ll); va(d)
  • the (g) at the end of the common adjective suffix -lig
  • middle consonants: da(g)en; mor(g)on (always); nå(g)on; sta(d)en; så(d)an; vär(l)d (world, always)

In a few common words, the spelling and pronunciation do not match, including: mig [may]; dig [day]; sig [say]; de/dem [dom] Informally, these are often written mej, dej, sej, dom. Also är [ay]

Some of the other words in this chapter

Nouns: farbror (paternal brother); morfar (maternal grandmother); faster (paternal aunt); moster (maternal aunt); föreställning (performance); kamrat (friend); et ljus (-, light); en måne (-ar, moon); en pöang (-er, point / bonus); ro (peace = German Ruhe); stjärna (star); stund (short time, while); lättnad (relief); mörker (darkness); en ost (-ar, cheese)

Verbs: kasta (throw); märka (notice); tvinga (4, tinger, tvang, tvungit, force = German zwingen); förädra (4, drar, drog dragit, prefer); förskingra (embezzle); släcka (extinguish, = German (aus)löschen?)

Adjectives: ensam (alone); klok (clever = German klug?); upptagen (busy)

Other word and phrases: allt mer (more and more); en hel del (a lot of); i fall (in case, if); ibland (sometimes); just dett att (the very fact that); snabb (quickly); tillsammans (together)

Some other points:

  • utan is a preposition meaning without. It is also a conjunction meaning only, used to contradict a preceding negative clause (like German sondern). Utom is a preposition meaning except.
    • hans kommer alltid utan pengar
      (he always comes without money)
    • hans bil är inte gammal utan ganska ny
      (his car isn’t old but quite new)
    • alla utom Jan var på festen (everyone apart form Jan was at the party)
  • Vad för … (en/ett) means what sort of and does not inflect for gender or number:
    • Vad köpte du för ost?
      (What sort of cheese did you buy)
    • Vad har du för bil ny?
      (What sort of car do you have now?)

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