My dear reader B have asked me about the word “ju”. What does it mean? How can I use it?
“Ju” is a so called sentence adverbial, or in Swedish – satsadverb. Sentence adverbials are little words that changes the whole meaning of a sentence. Those of you that have read the post about stress in sentences might remember that the sentence adverbials in most cases are unstressed, and therefore hard to discover in spoken language. Before digging deeper into the meaning of “ju” I want to show you a couple of other sentence adverbials to clarify what I’m talking about.
First we can take a look at a sentence without a sentence adverbial:
Jag kommer på festen i kväll.
(I’m coming to the party tonight.)
Now I’m going to ad a few different sentence adverbials to show how they change the content of the sentence:
Jag kommer kanske på festen i kväll.
(I’m maybe coming to the party tonight.)
Jag kommer inte på festen i kväll.
(I’m not coming to the party tonight.)
Jag kommer absolut på festen i kväll.
(I’m absolutely coming to the party tonight.)
We can also have two sentence adverbials. Look at this:
Jag kommer absolut inte på festen i kväll.
(I’m absolutely not coming to the party tonight.)
Well, it is quite clear what the sentence adverbials above mean, but in the Swedish language we also have a couple that have a more diffuse meaning and can not really be translated into a sentence adverb in English. One of those is “ju” and another one is “väl”. “Ju” is used when the speaker is somewhat confirming the information given in the sentence, or the speaker wants the other person to confirm what is said. I think you will better understand if I illustrate this:
The girlfriend talking to the boyfriend on a Friday evening:
- Ska du gå ut med dina kompisar? Vi ska ju träffa mina föräldrar i kväll!
(Are you going out with your friends? We are seeing my parents tonight!)
What “ju” ads to the message spoken here, is that the boyfriend already knew that he and his girlfriend are visiting her parents tonight. The girlfriend told him ages ago The closest translation I can give you is “as you know” or “as I told you”. Let’s do another example:
A meeting at work starts at 2pm and Anna shows up at 3pm. Anna’s colleagues might say:
- Kommer du nu? Mötet började ju klockan 3.
(Are you coming now? The meeting started at 3.)
We have the same meaning of “ju” here, the colleagues are assuming that Anna have got the same information about the meating as they did. They are fishing for her confirming that she knew about the time for the meeting, and also for a explanation for being late. Anna might then answer:
- Ja, jag vet. Det var snökaos och tunnelbanan stod helt stilla.
(Yes, I know. It was snow chaos so I got stuck in the subway.)
Yet another example, a dialogue between a parent and a teenager:
- Ska du gå ut utan mössa? Det är ju 15 grader kallt!
- Jag vet. Hej då!
Studying the examples above you might think that we use “ju” only when someone else is making a mistake or forgetting something Well, that is quite common, but far from the only case. The word is also useful when talking about your own actions. In the example below, the speaker suddenly remembers that he/she had booked the tvättstuga (and is now out doing something else):
- Åh nej, jag hade ju bokat tvättstugan i dag.
(Oh no, I forgot that I had booked the laundry room today.)
Alright, I really hope this cleared at least some of the confusion about “ju”. It is a tough one to explain, since the more you think of it, the more ways of using it you find. Next time I will look into another sentence adverbial – “väl”.
Keep on learning!
Sara the Swedish Teacher