• Sweden's news in English

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

Report abuse »


11 responses to “What about “i”?”

  1. bamboozler says:

    thank you so much for you efforts! i have lived in gothenburg three years, but have picked up relatively little svenska as i live with a mumbling helsingborgare with no interest in her native tongue, and I am required to speak English at my job. I am a teacher too; I have taught ESL for many years and find your simple, clear explanations a great help! keep it up!!

    Report abuse »

  2. Matt says:

    Glöm inte (Vad ska du göra i helgen) inte på!! jag har använd på helgen i nästan 2 år. ingen svensk person har rättat mig… :-/

    Report abuse »

  3. imran cheema says:

    thanks for your kind effort and work,i really appreciate it.

    It helped me so much to understand swedish in a better way…

    Tack så mycket,

    ha det så bra


    Report abuse »

  4. Matt Delblanc says:

    I am so glad I found this website. I spoke Swedish fluently as a child and know I am trying to pick it back up and your site it a godsend. Keep up the good work.

    Report abuse »

  5. luckyluckyme says:

    Tack såååååååå mycket!

    Report abuse »

  6. pan06 says:

    great work, I really like u r teaching

    Report abuse »

  7. Rachel says:

    :-) We miss you!!! Please come back! I check here every day or so to see if you have written anything more. I would like to know more about how to substitute “would” in English for how to say the equivalent in Swedish, “Would” is a word we use all the time in English..
    I would like to move to Sweden. I would love to come to your party. Would you like coffee or tea? etc….
    Would can be used in many different ways… but in Swedish?

    Report abuse »

  8. Rachel! I’m sorry for not posting for a while :( I’ve been really busy with work and now on a 2 weeks visit to Sweden (yay). New posts will be up in beginning of May – keep an eye out :)

    Regarding your question about “would”, you might find some answers in the post “10 useful hjälpverb”.

    Take care
    Sara the Swedish Teacher

    Report abuse »

  9. Rachel says:

    Thanks! I can sort of understand “should” but I don’t really see how any of the other examples would apply for “would”…. Anyway have a great holiday and I look forward to reading your fab posts in May!

    Report abuse »

  10. Cecile Pham says:

    yayay i can’t wait for another post. I really find your lessons really great at the little intricacies of the language I wouldn’t otherwise “get”

    Report abuse »

  11. George says:

    Hi Sara,,

    thank you so much for your effort and continous support. your posts have been great asset to me.

    As I started study swedish from scratch, I found this electronic English- Swedish- English electronic talking dictionary

    Apparently, it has good features but does not pronounce each Swedish word entry (separately) which is crucial in learning the correct pronounciation. It only has true human Swedish voice for a phrase book contains 14000 situations (dialogues)!

    I am a bit hesitated to buy it, what do you think about such dictionaries?? which is more effective in study to use such dictionaries or to open up a real dictionary book??

    Thank you and best wishes.

    Report abuse »

Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

jobs available