The Swedish Teacher

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Gånger, timmar, tid och dags

Hej igen!

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far. Time has come to answer the question about  different phrases for English “time”. The question is:

“Hi hi,

Could you have a section explaining the different phrases for time? I’ve notice that in english we have “time”. . and in Swedish there’s , gång, timmer, dags, tid. . . so on. I feel like there might be more. But can you explain the different situations each word is used?”

en gång, många gånger

Let me beging with gång and gånger. Gånger is the type of time/times that we can count, we talk about one time, two times, three times and so on. I’ll show you what I mean with an example:

– Hur många gånger har du varit i Stockholm?

(How many times have you been to Stockholm?)

En gång.

(Once/One time.)

Jaha. Jag har varit där två gånger.

(I see. I’ve been there twice/two times.)

Not surprisingly we also use gånger when multiplying:

Vad är 5 gånger 5?

(What is 5 times 5?)

You can also find gång and gånger in some common phrases:

gång på gång

(time after time/over and over again)

Han misslyckades med provet gång på gång.

(He failed his test over and over again.)

på samma gång

(at the same time)

I Kalifornien får man inte köra bil och prata i mobiltelefon på samma gång.

(In California you are not allowed to drive and talk on the phone at the same time.)

för en gångs skull

(for once)

I kväll ska jag titta på fotboll för en gångs skull.

(Tonight I’m going to watch football (soccer ;-)) for once)

Det var en gång…

(Once upon a time…)

Det var en gång en liten flicka…

(Once upon a time there was a little girl..)

en timme, många timmar

A  word that is ofte mistaken for meaning “rime” is timme, probably because the two words look alike, but en timme, timmar simply means hour/hours. The correct written form is “timme” but in spoken Swedish it isn’t uncommon that timme is pronunced “timma”. A couple of examples using timme/timmar:

Hur lång tid tar det att åka från Uppsala till Västerås?

(How long does it take to travel from Uppsala to Västerås?)

-Ungefär en timme.

(About an hour)

Jag satt och väntade på akuten i flera timmar.

(I was waiting in the emergency room for several hours.)


Tid is time as in a period of time and is not countable. Examples:

– Hur lång tid tog det?

(How long did it take?)

Det tog bara 10 minuter.

(It only took 10 minutes.)

Tid is also often used when referring to a longer period of time, maybe several years or even longer.

Vi har haft en rolig tid tillsammans.

(We have had a good time together.)

– Ja, vi har känt varandra i 20 år nu.

(Yes, we have known each other for 20 years now.)

Therefore you shouldn’t really say:

Hade du en rolig tid i Stockholm på din semester?

Semester (vacation) is too short to be referred to as “tid“. To express “Did you have a good time in Stockholm?” you should simply say “Hade du roligt i Stockholm?” and completely leave out the word “time”.


Last but not least there is dags. Dags means time as in it is the right time to do something. Examples:

Det är dags att gå nu.

(It is time to leave now.)

Stäng av TV:n nu, det är lägg-dags.

(Turn off the TV now, it is bed-time.)

You can also talk about lunch-dags, kaffe-dags, middags-dags, städ-dags and other everyday activities.

Hur dags? means at what time, or simply when. In Swedish it can be replaced by “när”.

Hur dags börjar filmen?/När börjar filmen?

(At what time does the movie start?/When does the movie start?)

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to take my new quiz on Swedish plural forms:

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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