Are you ready for the more complicated part of word order? I hope so, because today we will look into how to construct some subordinated clauses - “bisats”.
Do you remember that a “huvudsats” (main clause) is the independent clause? It can be a question, a statement or a command. It can be very short as in “Jag äter.” or quite long as in “På sommaren äter jag alltid glass i parken.” Do you also remember the different parts of the main clause and their functions? If not, let me refresh your memory:
subject - Who is doing something?
verb/action - What is happening?
object - Who/what is affected by the action?
place - Where is the action taking place?
time - When is it happening?
sentence adverbial - The little word that changes the meaning of the sentence.
Alright, now we need to understand what a “bisats” really is. Personally I think the English term “subordinated clause” is a more clear description, since a “bisats” is a subordinated part of the “huvudsats”. The “bisats” can for example be the object or time in the main clause. Let me show you what I mean. First we can take a look an example when the object is the subordinated clause:
Lars vill veta när bussen går.
(Lars wants to know when the bus is leaving.)
Let me break the sentence down for you:
Who wants to know something? Lars does. So “Lars” is the subject.
What is happening? Lars wants to know something. So “vill veta” is the action/the verbs.
What does Lars want to know? He wants to know when the bus is leaving. Therefore “när bussen går” is the object of the sentence. You can easily identify the object of the sentence by asking “what+subject+verb”.
The object in this sentence is not just a single word, it is a separate clause – a subject and a verb (bussen + går). But it is not a independent clause, if someone said only “när bussen går” we wouldn’t understand, because it is just half a sentence – a subordinated clause.
One more example:
Lisa säger att hon har ont i magen.
(Lisa says that she has a stomach ache.)
What is the object (the subordinated clause) here? That’s right – “att hon har ont i magen”.
Now a couple of examples when the time is the subordinated clause:
Jag läser tidningen medan jag äter frukost.
(I read the newspaper while I’m having breakfast.)
What is happening? Someone is reading (läser). Who is reading? – “Jag” What am I reading? The newspaper (tidningen). And finally, when am I reading? While I’m having breakfast (medan jag äter frukost). “medan jag äter frukost” – that’s our subordinated clause.
Anna fick ett jobb när hon hade tagit examen.
(Anna got hired when she had graduated.)
Here “Anna” is the subject, “fick” is the action, “ett jobb” is the object and “när hon hade tagit examen” is the time and at the same time a subordinated clause.
Alright, now I’m going to upset you. We are going to ad sentence adverbials, the little words that change the meaning of the sentence, to the subordinated clause. And it will not end up in the same place as in a main clause. You might remember that the main clause construction looked like this:
Hon åker kanske till Stockholm i morgon.
subject + verb + sentence adverbial + object + place + time
Now let me turn that sentence into a subordinated or indirect clause:
Hon säger att hon kanske åker till Stockholm i morgon.
(She says that she maybe goes to Stockholm tomorrow.)
As you can see, in the subordinated clause, the sentence adverbial (in this case “kanske”) is placed before the verb and we get the following structure:
subject + verb
+ subject + sentence adverbial + verb + place + time
The good news here is that the subordinated clause is more similar to how a sentence would be costructed in English. The hard part when you are speaking Swedish out there, is to keep track of main clauses and subordinated clauses. The best way to do that is to learn the subjunctions, but that I will save for another post.