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