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The Swedish Teacher

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Archive for April, 2012

För, för att, därför att and eftersom

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Hej alla!

I just received a question about conjunctions on my Facebook page. I thought the answer would be of interest for many of you Swedish students out there. The question is:

Here’s a doozy: so many ways to say “because”. Can you give examples of the difference in kinds of sentences that determine whether you use “för att” eller “eftersom” antingen bara “för” eller “ty”? också finns det “emedan”, “då”. . .

I’m going to do my best to straighten out these words for you :)

Därför att

”Därför att” is simply a subordinating conjunction that answers the question “why?”  Let us take a look at an example of how “därför att” might be used:

Anders stannade hemma från jobbet därför att han inte mådde bra.

(Anders stayed home because he didn’t feel well.)

Eftersom

“Eftersom” is also a conjunction that we can use when answering the question “why?” “Eftersom” has the same meaning and use as “därför att” and he only difference is that “eftersom” can be placed in the beginning of the sentence, when we choose to put the subordinate clause first.  “Eftersom” is sometimes translated to “since”.  Here is one example of how we can use  ”eftersom”:

Anders stannade hemma från jobbet eftersom han inte mådde bra.

(Anders stayed home since he didn’t feel well.)

We might also begin with “eftersom” and have the following word order:

Eftersom Anders inte mådde bra stannade han hemma från jobbet.

(Since Anders didn’t feel well, he stayed home.)

”Därför att”, on the other hand, cannot be put in the beginning of a sentence. If you want to begin your sentence with “because”, you have to choose “eftersom” instead of “därför att”.

Då and emedan

“Då” and “emedan” have the same meaning as “därför att” and “eftersom” but are used in more formal language.

För

För is a conjunction that links two independent clauses (“huvudsatser” in Swedish). “För” is synonymous with “därför att” and “eftersom” but can only connect independent clauses. Here’s an example:

Peter stannade hemma, för han var sjuk.

It doesn’t look much different when we don’t have a sentence adverb (inte, aldrig, alltid, kanske etc). Let me through in a sentence adverb and you’ll see the difference in the sentence construction.

With “för”: Peter stannade hemma, för han mådde inte bra.

With “därför att”: Peter stannade hemma därför att/eftersom han inte mådde bra.

Ty

“Ty” is synonymous with “för” but is used in formal, preferrably written, language.

För att

“För att” is another conjunction starting a subordinate clause (”bisats” in Swedish) when you want to express “in order to” or “with the intention to”. Here are a couple of examples that hopefully will illustrate what I mean:

Jag steg upp tidigt i morse för att jag skulle komma i tid till arbetet.

(I got up early this morning so that I would come to work on time.)

Göran tog på sig mössa och handskar för att han inte skulle frysa.

(I put on a hat and gloves so I wouldn’t be cold.)

It’s also good to know that you don’t have to repeat the subject in the subordinate clause in this type of sentence. Our examples above would then look like this:

Jag steg upp tidigt i morse för att komma i tid till arbetet.

Göran tog på sig mössa och handskar för att inte frysa.

Have fun learning Swedish and don’t forget to post questions!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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“Denna” or “den här”?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

“Denna” or “den här”?

Swedish language students often ask question about different pronouns. One pronoun that especially seems to cause confusion is “denna” and how it is different from “den här”. Here is a question from one of my blog readers:

Hej!

I have a question. When do we use denna/detta/dessa? I see that it is used like this/these in English. It is followed by a noun in the indefinite form. What’s the difference between it and den/det/de här? Also, sometimes denne is used instead of denna, for example “den 5 dennes”, which is supposed to mean “the 5th of this month”. Why is that?

When I started to work on an answer to this question I realized that there isn’t really a right and wrong way to use “denna” and “den här”. As a matter of fact even native Swedish speakers have different opinions about which one to use depending on which dialect they speak.

Let us first straighten out what the pronouns mean.

denna /den här, detta/det här, dessa/de här = this/these

We use “denna” or “den här” when the pronoun refers to a noun with en-gender (utrum). Here’s one example:

Denna bil (en bil) är min.

Den här bilen är min.

(This car is mine.)

We use “detta” or “det här” when the pronoun refers to a noun with ett-gender (neutrum). Here’s one example of that:

Detta hus (ett hus) är mitt.

Det här huset är mitt.

(This house is mine.)

We use “dessa” or “de här” when the pronoun refers to a noun in plural form:

Dessa bilar är mina.

De här bilarna är mina.

(These cars are mine.)

Which one do I use?

As you can see we use the noun (bil) in indefinte form after denna/detta/dessa and in definite form (bilen) after den här/det här/de här. This is the most common way in spoken Swedish in the eastern, central and northern parts. It is also the norm in written standard Swedish according to Svenska språknämnden. In many western and southern dialects, on the other hand, it is quite common to use denna/detta/dessa also in spoken Swedish, and it’s also common to use the following noun in definite form. In Värmland, Skåne and other western and southwestern parts of Sweden our previous examples could look like this:

Denna bilen är min.

Detta huset är mitt.

Dessa bilarna är mina.

In these dialects it is common to say “Denna bilen” instead of “denna bil” which is the norm in written language and standard Swedish.

What about “denne”?

In written Swedish “denna” can also be used independently (without a noun) instead of a personal pronoun. The purpose of doing that is to clarify who you are referring to in a sentence. Take a look at this example:

Tor ringer ofta till sin son, men denne har sällan tid att tala med sin far.

If we use ”han” in this case it isn’t all clear if we are referring to ”Tor” or to ”sin son”. If we instead use “denne” it’s more obvious that we’re referring to “sin son”. This is especially common in formal texts like legal documents. But why are we using “denne” with an “e” instead of “denna”? “Denne” is an old masculine form that we still can run into every now and then. Other examples of masculine form are “bäste” (bästa) and “store” (stor).

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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