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Archive for January, 2011

Question time – inspire The Swedish Teacher!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Hej alla!

How’s the new year coming along? I just realized it has been almost a year since I wrote my first post here. I want to thank you all so much for reading and contributing to the content by posting interesting, challenging and inspiring questions. :) In my upcoming posts I’m planning to discuss more partikelverb, reflexive verbs (like “lära sig”) and conjunctions. Now I want to know what you have been wondering about all winter :) ! Post all questions you have, challenge the Swedish Teacher again (or remind me if I have missed one of your questions).

Til next time!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

- now on Facebook ;-)

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“Mer”, “mera”, “fler” or “flera”

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Hej hej!

Today I will try my best to clarify something that I know many Swedish learners struggle with. I’ve had a question about this before and today another blog follower reminded me that I haven’t answered this question yet. Here is what Carlos (and many others) are wondering about:


Would you be so kind as to explain to me what is the difference between mer and mera, fler and flera?



Parts of this question, the difference between “mer” and “fler” and the difference between, “fler” and “flera”, are easy to answer, but the difference between “mer” and “mera” is more complicated and there are different opinions out there about what is correct.

mer vs fler

“Mer” (more) is used when we’re talking about the volume of something rather than counting it. For example we wouldn’t count things like coffee, butter and hair and say we drink “many coffee” or put “many butter” in the food. Therefore when expressing “more” in these and similar cases we have to use “mer” instead of “fler”. Here’s a couple of examples:

Lars dricker mer kaffe än Bengt.

(Lars drinks more coffee than Bengt.)

Kanelbullarna blir godare om du har på mer smör.

(The cinnamon buns will be tastier if you add more butter.)

As you probably have figured out by now we should use, “fler” instead of “mer” when talking about something that we can count like “sandwiches”, “lakes” or “vowels”:

Bengt äter fler smörgåsar till frukost än Anders gör.

(Bengt eats more sandwiches for breakfast than Anders does.)

Det finns fler sjöar i Finland än i Egypten.

(There are more lakes in Sweden than in Egypt.)

Det finns fler vokaler i svenska än i engelska.

(There are more vowels in Swedish than in English.)

fler vs flera

The rules for using “fler” and “flera” are not very strict and this might be the reason why it’s a little bit confusing. However, all grammar experts agree on one thing and that is that “flera” is used when we mean “många” or several in English. Here’s a couple of examples with “flera”:

Anita har varit på semester i Italien flera gånger.

(Anita has been to Italy for vacation/holiday several times.)

Elisabeth skrev SFI-provet flera gånger innan hon blev godkänd.

(Elisabeth took the SFI exam several times before she passed.)

When you are comparing it is accepted to use either “fler” and “flera” (personally I mostly use “fler” when comparing). Here’s a couple of examples of comparison and how we can use “fler” and “flera”:

Gunilla har varit i Italien fler gånger än Anita.

Gunilla har varit i Italien flera gånger än Anita.

(Gunilla has been to Italy more times than Anita.)

Elisabeth fick fler poäng på SFI-provet än Anna.

Elisabeth fick flera poäng på SF-provet än Anna.

(Elisabeth got more points/marks on her SFI exam than Anna.)

mer vs mera

Also when it comes to  “mer” and “mera” it’s more or less up to every person which one to use. In grammar books and other official guides of Swedish,  “mer” is more recommended for more formal and for written Swedish while, “mera” is perfectly fine in spoken Swedish and in less formal written texts. When doing my research on this subject I came across a Finnish Swedish (finlandssvensk) language recommendation site and, to my surprise, the recommendations for mer/mera for Swedish in Finland were more or less the opposite – use “mera” in more formal and especially in written Finnish Swedish and “mer” in spoken and in other ways less formal Swedish. Here’s a link to the article for those who are interested: Med mera i Finland?

I hope I have been able to bring some light to this subject. Thank you for reading :-)

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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Ja eller jo…

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Hej igen!

It’s about time that I dig in into the questions from my readers. Here is one from Justin:

Hello Sara,

Can you explain the use of ja and jo please. One fact I’m certain of:
To answer ‘yes’ to a negative (inte) question use ‘jo’.

In ‘a fiction book’ I’m reading two characters are having a conversation: -

1st character: ”Och kom nu fram med er ide!”.
2nd character: ”Jo! Var ligger ert fartyg …….”.
I’m not sure why the 2nd character says ‘Jo!’ and not ‘Ja!’. [2nd character's idea is a solution to a bad situation!]

Which leads me to another question: Are the following questions (below) identical? If not, why would I use ‘jo’ and not ‘ja’?

1. Jo, var ligger ert fartyg? (Well, where is your ship?)
2. Ja, var ligger ert fartyg?

Sara, I just have one more question. Can you explain the correct use of ‘tja’ please? “

Justin is on the right track here: “jo” has two functions. First of all we use it to answer a question that has some kind of negation in its construction, like “inte” (not), “aldrig” (never) and “knappast/knappt” (hardly). Here are some examples:

- Varför är du på jobbet? Skulle du inte vara ledig idag?

(Why are you at work? Weren’t you supposed to take the day off today?)

- Jo, men jag har så mycket att göra.

(Yes but I have so many things I need to do.)

- Jag kommer aldrig att lära mig svenska! Det är så svårt!

(I will never learn Swedish! It’s so hard!)

- Jo, du behöver bara träna mycket.

(Yes you will, you just need a lot of practice.)

- Jag kan knappt prata någon svenska.

(I can hardly speak any Swedish.)

Jo, du är jätteduktig.

(Yes you do, you’re really good.)

“Jo” is also useful in a fight or an argument:


(No you can’t/won’t/may not )

- Jo!

(Yes I do)



In Justin’s other example of “jo” being used it doesn’t mean “yes” but rather “well” and cannot be replaced with “ja”.

1st character: ”Och kom nu fram med er ide!”.
2nd character: ”Jo! Var ligger ert fartyg …….”.

Another way of expressing “well” is by using “tja” pronounced with a long Swedish /a/. This “tja” shouldn’t be confused with “tja” pronounced with short /a/ like in “hatt”. “Tja” with short /a/ is a colloquial version of “hej”.

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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Dörren är stängd – perfekt particip forms of the verb

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Hej och gott nytt 20011!

Today we’re going to talk about something that is a little bit complicated but very useful- perfekt particip (“perfect participle” in English). When you are no longer a beginner you might feel that you want to extend your vocabulary and make more complex constructions. A very good and useful way to do this is by learning how to construct the so called “perfekt partcip” form of verbs. Perfekt particip is a verb form used and treated as an adjective.  When you master the perfekt particip you can use it as an adjective and when speaking in passive voice. Some might say that it is easier to just remember each word in its particip form (actually most verb lists also contain the particip) but I think it can be quite good to learn how to construct it.

Like I just said, a perfekt particip is a verb form that we can use as an adjective and just like we do with the adjective we need to conjugate the participle according to the gender (en/ett) and number (singular/plural) of the noun that it’s combined with. To create the participle we also need to know which conjugation, or group with another grammar term, our verb belongs to. Before we move on to how to construct the participle forms let’s refresh our memories about the verb groups.

First conjugation/first group – the -ar- verbs

This is the largest and most regular group and the most common way to conjugate a verb. Here we will  find common words such as “arbetar”, “tittar” and “bakar”. This group is also full of  words borrowed from other languages, like “jobbar”, “sms-ar” and “googlar”. This is what the tenses and forms look like in the first conjugation:

Infinitive (infinitiv): att arbeta

Imperative (imperativ): arbeta

Present tense (presens): arbetar

Past tense (preteritum): arbetade

Supine (supinum): arbetat

Supine is the form we use together with either “har” as in “har arbetat” or with “hade” as in “hade arbetat”.

Second conjugation/second group – the er-verbs

This is also a large group of verbs and quite often students don’t know if a verb belongs to this conjugation or the first one.  Examples of common er-verbs are “ringer”, “bygger”, “läser”, “köper” and “kör”. We can call them -er-verbs since they have -er ending in present tense. These are the different forms and tenses of the verbs in the second conjugation:

Infinitive (infinitiv): att ringa, att köpa

Imperative (imperativ): ring, köp

Present tense (presens): ringer, köper

Past tense (preteritum): ringde, köpte

Supine (supinum): ringt, köpt

Third conjugation/third group

In the third conjugation there are verbs that contain of one syllable only. I’m sure that you recognize words like bo (live), tro (believe) and (feel). The different tenses and forms of verbs in the third conjugation look like this:

Infinitive (infinitiv): att bo

Imperative (imperativ): bo!

Present tense (presens): bor

Past tense (preteritum): bodde

Supine (supinum): bott

Fourth conjugation/fourth group

The verbs in the fourth conjugation follow a certain pattern for the different tenses and forms, but they are far from as regular as the verbs in group one, two and three. Typical for the group four verbs is that instead of showing the past tense with an ending like -ade, -de or -te they change vowel; i in skriver (write) becomes e in skrev (wrote) and u in sjunger (sing) becomes ö in sjöng (sang). Many words that we use every day belong to this group so it normally doesn’t take students very long to recognize them.

Infinitive (infinitiv): att skriva

Imperative (imperativ): skriv!

Present tense (presens): skriver

Past tense (preteritum): skrev

Supine (supinum): skrivit

All right, now when we know a little more about the verb conjugations it is time to discover how we can create the “perfekt particip” forms and see some examples of how to use them. A perfect participle form of the verb is mostly used as an adjective. We might for example place it after a verb like vara (be), bli (become), se ut (look), känna sig (feel), verka (seem) and  låta (sound). In the following examples our adjectives come from the verb “stänger” (close):

Dörren är stängd.

(The door is closed.)

Fönstret är stängt.

(The window is closed.)

Fönstren är stängda.

(The windows are closed.)

As you can see we have to think of the gender and number of the noun, just like regular adjectives. The perfect particip can also be placed before a noun. In this case we have constructed the particip with the verb bakar (bake).

en hembakad kaka

(home made cake)

ett hembakat bröd

(home made bread)

några hembakade bullar

(some home made cinnamon buns)

How to construct the particip form

To construct the particip form correctly you need to know  to which conjugation your verb belongs. If it is a verb from the first group it is quite easy, just add a -d to the imperative form (tvätta) when the particip is combined with an en-word, -t when it’s combined with an ett-word and -de when combined with a noun in plural. Like this:

en nytvättad skjorta

(a newly washed shirt)

ett nytvättat fönster

(a newly washed window)

nyvättade skjortor

(newly washed shirts)

With verbs belonging to the second conjugation we also add an ending to the imperative form to get the perfekt particip.Words in the second conjugation end with a consonant in their imperative form and therefore the perfekt particip forms look like this:


(hired, employed)

Lars är anställd på Volvo.

(Lars is hired/employed at Volvo.)





Lars och Anders är anställda sedan förra året.

(Lars and Anders are hired/employed since last year.)

Here are some more examples with a verb from the second conjugation:

stängd (closed)

Dörren är stängd.

(The door is closed)


Fönstret är stängt.

(The window is closed.)


Dörrarna är stängda.

(The doors are closed.)

Some verbs in the second conjugation end with k,p,t or s in their imperative form. You might already know that these verbs never use -de as an ending for the past tense but -te: for example we cannot say “läsde” but must say “läste” with a -te. The same spelling rule applies to the perfect particip form of these verbs. Take a look at this example created from the verb “låser” (lock):


Anna försökte öppna dörren men den var låst.

(Anna tried to open the door but it was locked.)

Even though “dörren” is an en-word we still have to say “låst” with a “t”.

Verbs in the third conjugation get double -d or-t in the perfekt particip form. This is a pattern you might recognize from the past tense of verbs in this group for example “trodde”, “bodde” and “klädde”. Here are examples of perfekt particip forms of a verb in the third conjugation – “sy” (sew)


Den här jackan är sydd i Italien.

(This jacket is made in Italy.)


Det här lakandet är sytt i Portugal.

(This sheet is made in Portugal.)


De här jackorna är sydda i Kina.

(These jackets are made in China.)

When dealing with verbs in the fourth conjugation things get a little more complicated. Now we cannot look at the imperative form of the verb anymore we have to know the supine form. Again, the supine form is the “ätit” as in “har ätit” or “druckit” as in “har druckit”. To construct the perfekt particip form we take the supine form, remove the -it and add another ending depending on which noun we are working with. A few examples hopefully clear things up:

Let’s say we have the verb “att stjäla” (to steal), which has the supine form “stulit”, then our perfekt particp forms will be


Min bil blev stulen igår kväll.

(My car got/was stolen last night.)


Mitt pass blev stulet.

(My passport was/got stolen.)


Alla mina diamanter blev stulna.

(All my diamonds was/got stolen.)

From “försvinna” (disappear) we gwt the following perfekt particip forms:


Min plånbok är försvunnen. Jag kan inte hitta den.

(I have lost my wallet. I can’t find it.)Note that you in Swedish could say both “my wallet is disappeared” (Min plånbok är försvunnen.) or “my wallet has disappeared” (Min plånbok har försvunnit.)


Mitt pass är försvunnet.

(My passport is/has disappeared. My passport is gone.)


Mina pengar är försvunna.

(My money has disappeared. My money is gone.) Note that “pengar” in Swedish is always plural.

Perfekt particip from partikelverb

We are almost finished but not quite. When constructing perfekt particip form of partikelverb there is something you need to keep in mind – put the particle first and make one word instead of two. Like this:

Normal partikelverb: kasta bort (throw away)

Perfekt particip of partikelverb: bortkastad (en), bortkastat (ett), bortkastade (plural)

Det var bortkastad tid.

(It was a waste of time. Literally: It was wasted time.)

Normal partikelverb: köra på (hit, run into)

Perfekt particip: påkörd (en), påkört (ett), påkörda (plural)

Han blev påkörd av en SL-buss.

(He was hit by a Stockholm bus.)

Normal partikelverb: ställa in (cancel)

Perfekt particip:  inställd (en), inställt (ett), inställda (plural)

Mötet klockan 14 är inställt.

(The meeting at two o’clock is cancelled.)

Phew! Congratulations on reading this far! Now you can test yourself with this quiz: http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=perfekt-particip

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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Blog updates

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