Learning Swedish: 'In' an hour or 'on' an hour? What's the difference?

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Learning Swedish: 'In' an hour or 'on' an hour? What's the difference?
You can say both "in an hour" and "on an hour" in Swedish and they mean different things. Photo: Torstein Bøe/NTB scanpix/TT

Swedish teacher Sara Hörberg explains the difference between "i en timme", "på en timme" and "om en timme".



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 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 of "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 express how long 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 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo')

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 [email protected]. Have fun learning Swedish!

Sara Hörberg began teaching Swedish as a foreign/second language in 2001. Ask her anything about grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Read more here: Sara the Swedish Teacher.


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