The Swedish Teacher

If you want the answers, you just have to ask!

What about “i”?

Hej igen!

I hope that everyone had a good Easter weekend and that you got a chance to speak some Swedish :)

A previous post about “på” brought up the question about when to use “i”, so today I will take a closer look at that.

First of all we use “i” when someone or something is inside a volume of some kind. For example being in a room:

Eleverna sitter i klassrummet.

(The pupils are sitting in the classroom.)

Anders fru sitter i köket och bläddrar i tidningen.

(Anders wife is sitting in the kitchen flipping through the newspaper.)

Anders sitter i soffan och tittar på TV.

(Anders is sitting on the couch watching TV.)

Now it might sound to you, according to my previous explanation, as if Anders is actually inside of the couch. Well, of course he is not. But, sitting on a couch, or sofa if you like, we are in a way surrounded by it and in such a case you should use “i” in Swedish. This also applies to armchairs:

Det är skönare att sitta i en mjuk fåtölj än på en på en stol.

(It is more comfortable to sit on an armchair than on a chair.)

Speaking of furniture and rooms, using “i” instead of “på” also makes the difference between “ceiling” and “roof”. You see, in Swedish there is only one word for both of these – “tak”. A couple of examples will show what I mean:

Det hänger en lampa från IKEA i taket.

(There is a lamp from IKEA hanging from the ceiling.)

Katten sitter på taket och kan inte klättra ned.

(The cat is sitting on the roof and can’t come down.)

The volume could also be a part of your body:

Det kliar i näsan.

(My nose is itching.)

Hon fick tårar i ögonen.

(She got tears in her eyes.)

Vad har du i munnen?

(What have you got in your mouth?)

Det kan göra ont i öronen när man flyger.

(Your ears might hurt when you are flying)

Peter Forsberg skadade sig i knät under den viktiga matchen.

(Peter Forsberg hurt his knee during the important game.)

Man får lätt ont i huvudet om man inte dricker tillräckligt med vatten.

(You easily get a headache if you don’t drink enough water.)

Jag är så trött i armarna! Skulle du kunna bära min väska?

(My arms are so tired! Could you carry my bag?)

Speaking of body parts, we also use “i” for holding something. My American husband always thinks it sounds funny when you say something like this:

Håll mamma i handen när du går över gatan!

(Hold mommy’s hand when crossing the street!) To him it sounds like the first person is sitting in the hand of the other person :)

Here is another example of holding or grabbing:

Aj! Sluta dra mig i håret!

(Ouch! Stop pulling my hair!)

Less surprisingly we also use “i” when someone or something is in a country, part of a country or in a city or village. For example:

Jag har bott i Uppsala i många år.

(I have lived in Uppsala for many years.)

Uppsala ligger i Sverige.

(Uppsala is in Sweden.)

You should also use “i” when talking about a volume in an abstract sense, as in a situation or condition. Like this for example:

Vi befinner oss i en allvarlig situation.

(We have found ourselves in a serious situation.)

En stor del av världens befolkning lever i fattigdom.

(A big part of the world’s population live in poverty.)

Anitas moster dog i cancer.

(Anita’s aunt died of cancer.)

Actually you can also say “dog av cancer”, but then you are rather focusing on what caused her death than on what condition she was in. The message is more or less the same though.

A number of expressions for time also use “i”. For example telling the time:

Klockan är fem i halv fyra. 😉

(It is fem minutes to half past three.)

Also most time expressions that shows past time use “i”:

i lördags

i eftermiddags

i februari

i vintras

i påskas

But also some expressions for future time:

i morgon

i november

i sommar

Some expressions for ongoing time:

i dag

i kväll

i sommar

i år

And finally when we tell for how long we have been doing something:

Vi  pratade i flera timmar.

(We were talking for hours.)

Koka potatisen i 20 minuter.

(Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes.)

Least but not last it is good to know that you should use “i” for positive feelings you have for someone or something. First take a look at this example:

Jag galen i dig!

(I’m crazy about you.)

Now, let us change “i” for “på”:

Jag blir galen på dig!

(You drive me cray!)

Here are more examples of positive feelings:

Det är många som är förtjusta i choklad.

(Many people likes chocolate.)

Daniel är kär i Åsa.

(Daniel is in love with Åsa.)

Well, that was all I have to share with you today. Good luck with “i” and “på” everyone!

Sara the Swedish Teacher


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