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Posts Tagged ‘prepositions’


Monday, August 26th, 2013


Do you ever get confused about the word ”om”? You’re not alone :) I often get questions about this little word with several different functions and meanings. As we soon will see, “om” can be used as a conjunction, a preposition or a particle in a particle verb (“partikelverb” in Swedish).

“Om” as a subjunction

Let us begin with when “om” is a subjunction, i.e. the linking word between a main clause (“huvudsats” in Swedish) and subordinate clause (“bisats” in Swedish). Our first example is a conditional clause:

Vi ska åka till stranden om det är fint väder.

(We will go to the beach, if the weather is good.)

It is also possible to place the subordinate clause first:

Om det är fint väder ska vi åka till stranden.

(If the weather is good, we will go to the beach.)

In more informal Swedish it is also common to replace ”om” with ”ifall”, which literally means ”in case”. Here’s an example with “ifall”:

Du måste ringa ifall du inte kan komma till jobbet.

(You have to call if/in case you can’t come to work.)

Another situation when we use “om” is in indirect questions. Also in this case “om” is a subjunction and can be translated to English “if”. Here’s a couple of examples:

Göran undrar om du vill komma till Göteborg nästa vecka.

(Göran is wondering if you want to come to Göteborg next week.)

Läkaren frågade Lena om hon hade slutat röka.

(The doctor asked Lena if she had quit smoking.)

”Om” as a preposition

As I mentioned earlier, “om” sometimes functions as a preposition. As you will see “om” is used in several situations, for example when we are going to do something r how often we do something:

Jag ska åka till Västerås om två veckor.

(I’m going to Västerås in two weeks.)

Anna röker ett paket cgaretter om dagen.

(Anna smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.)

Hans åker hem till Tyskland två gånger om året.

(Hans go home to Germany twice a year.)

It’s important to remember that we only use “om” in “om dagen” and “om året”. For other time phrases for frequency we use “i”, for example “i veckan”, “i månaden” and “i minuten”.

Another use for “om” is to express something like “around”. Here are a few examples:

Nils glömde vantarna hemma och nu fryser han om händerna.

(Nils left his mittens at home and now his hands are cold.) Literally “fryser om händerna” means “he is cold around the hands”. This way of using “om” is especially common when talking about parts of the body. More examples:

Fryser du inte om fötterna i de där skorna?

Tvätta dig om händerna innan du lagar mat!

Polisen tog ett hårt grepp om hans arm.

Anna blev alldeles röd om kinderna.

Sometimes the use of “om” is more similar to how “about” is used in English. Take a look at this example:

Affären ligger om hörnet.

(The store/shop is around the corner.)

There are cases when the preposition”om” in Swedish corresponds to English “of”:

Den röda bilen är parkerad till höger om den gröna.

(The red car is parked to the right of the green one.)

Stina sköter om/tar hand om sin gamla mamma.

(Stina is taking/takes care of her old mother.)

Finally, we will take a look at some examples when “om” means “about”:

Vad handlar filmen om?

(What is the movie about?)

Vad rör det sig om?

(What is that about?)

Vad pratar ni om?

(What are you talking about?)

Bengt drömmer om att flytta till Italien.

(Bengt is dreaming/dreams about moving to Italy.)

Stefan bryr sig alltid om andra.

(Stefan always care about others.)

Vad bråkar ni om?

(What are you fighhting about?)

Vad tycker du om det?

(What do you think about that?)

”Om” in particle verbs

Sometimes ”om” looks like a preposition but actually is a particle in a particle verb (partikelverb). My first two examples illustrate when the particle “om” means “again”:

Boken var jättebra. Jag vill läsa om den.

(The book was very good. I want to read it again.)

Det gick inte så bra på provet. Jag ska göra om det i november.

(I didn’t do very well on the test. I will do it again in November.)

As a particle “om” can also mean “by” as in “pass by”. Take a a look at these examples:

Han körde om den stora lastbilen.

(He drove by/passed the large truck.)

Usain är jättesnabb. Han springer om alla andra löpare.

(Usain is really fast. He passes all other runners.)

Last but not least ”om” is part of the particle verb ”tycker om” as in “gillar” or in English, “like”.

Jag tycker om dig.

(I like you.)

Have fun learning Swedish!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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i en timme, på en timme, om en timme

Monday, February 4th, 2013
The best inspiration for blog posts are questions from people learning Swedish. The other day I received this question about some common time phrases:
Swedish teacher, what are the differences between i en timme, på en timme and om en timme?

i en timme

When you use “i” in a time phrase you will express for how long you have been doing something, for example:

-Hur länge har du väntat?

(How long have you been waiting for?)

-I en timme.

(For an hour.)

Here is another example with “i”:

-Hur länge har du bott i Sverige?

(How long have you been living in Sweden?)

-I ett år.

(For a year.)

På en timme

With “på” (yes we use “på” a lot in Swedish) you will express how long time it will take you to do something, for example:

-Jag kan köra till Stockholm på en timme.

(It takes me one hour to drive to Stockholm.)

Here is another example with “på”:

-Jag läste ut “Män som hatar kvinnor”  på tre dagar.

(It took me three days to finish “Män som hatar kvinnor”.)

Om en timme

Finally, the phrase “om en timme” means that something will happen one hour from now. Here is one example:

-När börjar filmen?

(When does the movie begin?)

-Om en timme.

(In an hour.)

Here’s another example with “om”:

- När ska du åka på semester?

(When will you go on vacation/holiday?)

- Om fyra veckor.

(In four weeks.)

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions about grammar or vocabulary, please post them in the comments or send them to sara@theswedishteacher.com. Have fun learning Swedish!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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Åt, till eller för?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010


Carlos has a question about how and when to use the prepostions “åt”, “till” and “för” and today we are going to take a closer look at that. Here is the question:


I would appreciate if you would provide me with the use of these words: åt, till, för when meaning “for” and in other cases.”

I am not going to list all cases of when to use “till” and “för” since it would just be a very long list and in my opinion not so interesting reading. In this post I will rather focus on when to use åt/till for English “for” and when to use “för” for English “to”.


“Till” is often used when we have an addressee of some kind. In other words, we give, say, send, buy, sell etc something to (till) someone. We also turn to someone, speak to someone or wave to someone. In all these cases we would use “till” in Swedish. Take a look at some examples:

- Vad ska du ge till Anna när hon fyller år?

(What are you giving Anna on her birthday?)

- Jag har köpt ett halsband till henne, men du får inte säga det till någon.

(I have bought a necklace for her, but you cannot tell anyone.)

So in Swedish, just like we are giving something to (till) Anna,  we are also buying something “to” (till) her and saying something “to” (till) someone. I like to think that just like the gift is handed over from me to Anna, when I say “köper till” (buy for) it is more focus on that the gift is going from point A (me) to point B (Anna). In English, it seems to me, that using “for” makes things focus more on the receiver of the gift – the gift is for her, while in Swedish there is more focus on the transaction of the gift – jag köper en present till henne. We would use “för” (for) in Swedish when we say something like “Det är bra för dig” (it is good for you).

More examples of using till:

Kan du skicka det här brevet till huvudkontoret?

(Could you send this letter to the main office?)

Jag ska skänka en del av mina kläder till Myrorna.

(I am going to donate some of my clothes to the Salvation Army.)

Det är telefon till Lasse!

(There is a phone call for Lasse.)


“Åt” can be used instead of “till” in some cases, but the meaning is slightly different. When we use “åt” instead of “till” it means that we are helping someone or doing someone a favor. Examples:

- Kan du göra min läxa åt mig? Den är så tråkig.

(Can you do my homework for me? It is so boring.)

- Nej, den får du göra själv!

(No, you’ll have to do that yourself!)

Jag ska handla mat åt morfar. Han har brutit benet och kan inte gå till affären.

(I’m going grocery shopping for my grandfather. He broke his leg and can’t make it to the store.)


“För” is used with “berätta” (tell) and other verbs that in English would be combined with “to”. Yes, that is confusing and I guess we just have to live with it ;-) Here are some examples when you use “för” in Swedish and “to” or no preposition in English:

berätta för, tala om för


förklara för

(explain to)

visa för


läsa för



Carlos, who posted the question about this subject, also wrote some examples that he wanted me to explain. We will take a look at some of them here, and I’ll do my best to explain what to use.

English: He always cooks for me.


1. Han lagar alltid mat åt mig.

2. Han lagar alltid mat till mig.

In the first example with “åt” the cooking is considered being help or a favor – this person is not capable of cooking. About the second example with “till” I’m thinking that it is a child we are cooking for. The child wouldn’t normally cook for herself/himself, so it is not really a favor. Note that it is a very fine line in this example, and you don’t really go wrong saying that you cook “åt” your children.

English: I baked a cake for you.


1. Jag bakade en tårta till dig.

The cake is a gift and a surprise. You were not planning to bake yourself.

2. Jag bakade en tårta åt dig.

Baking the cake is a favor. You were planning to bake, but didn’t have time. In this case we could also say:

Jag bakade tårtan åt dig.

(I baked the cake for you.)

English: She cleaned the house for me.

Swedish: Hon städade huset åt mig.

Well, if it is your house it is absolutely a favor that she cleaned it ;-) so here we have to go for “åt”.

A little test on “till”, “för” and “åt” will be up soon, keep an eye out!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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When to use “till”

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Prepositions  (on, at, in, to) is something that is always hard to master when you are speaking a foreign language. But with a lot of attention to native speakers and a lot of practice, you will one day get that feeling for what preoposition to use. I would say that the correct usage of prepositions comes when you start think more in the foreign language and translate less from your mother tounge.  But maybe you are not quite there yet, so I’m going to help you out with a preposition that sometimes causes confusion – till.

First of all we will use till when we are talking about direction. A couple of examples:

Jag ska flytta till en ny lägenhet.

(I am moving to a new apartment.)

Jag brukar cykla till jobbet.

(I usually ride my bike to work.)


We will also use till when we are talking about direction in a more abstract sense, you are so to speak moving closer to the target (in this case the course):

Jag har anmält mig till en kurs i svenska.

(I have applied for a Swedish language course.)


Jag sparar pengar till en resa.

(I’m saving money for a trip.)

We also use till when our action involves some kind of change:

Jag vill byta till en större lägenhet.

(I want to change for a bigger apartment.)

Anders utbildar sig till läkare.

(Anders is studying to become a doctor.)


Another situation when using till is when you are sending or giving something away:

Vad ska du ge till Pelle på hans födelsedag?

(What are you going to give Pelle for his birthday?)

Säg ingenting till någon.

(Don’t tell anyone.)

Pelle, jag har en present till dig.

(Pelle, I have a present for you.)


We use till when describing different types of usage:


Vad använder du den här till?

(What do you use this one for?)

Jag tror att pengarna räcker till hyra och mat.

(I think I have enough money for my rent and for food.)

For any accessories, attachments and side dishes (all these things are just calles “tillbehör” in Swedish):

Kan jag få mjölk till kaffet?

(Can I have some milk with my coffee?)

Jag kan inte hitta locket till burken.

(I can’t find the lid for this jar.)

Vilket vin passar till fisken?

(What wine goes with the fish?)

Jag bor i en förort till Stockholm.

(I live in a suburb of Stockholm.)

I hope I haven’t made you even more confused now. Don’t be afraid to post questions if something is unclear. Keep on learning!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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