The Swedish Teacher

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Archive for August, 2010

Håller med, håller i, håller på …

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Thank you everyone for your questions! I’m working on them all and today I will answer one from Rach:

“Hi there!

What about a post or series of posts about the common words that go together but then mean something else compared to when the word is by itself. I see håller with different things and by itself in so many different ways and I never know what it means…  […] These are sneaky as you need to know the combinations so that the sentence makes sense.”

The teacher term for these sneaky words are “partikelverb” and I posted an introduction to some months ago.

I think it’s a brilliant idea to put up a series of posts with the most interesting “partikelverb”. I will start today with the verb that Rach asks specifically about – different ways of using “håller”. In this post I will go through some of the most frequent ones. You are more than welcome to ask about different “håller” that I don’t mention here.

håller (höll – har hållit/hållt) med

Stressing “med” this phrase does not mean “hold with” but agree. Anna tyckte att de vita gardinerna var snyggast och Anders höll med.

(Anna thought that the white curtains were nicer and Anders agreed.)

Anders höll med om att de vita gardinerna var snyggast.

(Anders agreed that the white curtains were nicer.)

The “med” will sometimes be separated from its main word for instance when the sentence contains a  sentence adverbial (like “inte”).

Anders höll inte med om att de vita gardinerna var snyggast, han föredrog de gula.

(Anders did not agree that the white curtains were nicer; he preferred the yellow ones.)

håller i

Stressing “i” makes “håller i” mean that you are holding something hard so that you won’t drop it. An example:

Den lilla flickan höll hårt i sin nalle.

(The little girl was holding on to her teddy bear.)

håller i sig

“Håller i sig” looks quite similar to “håller i” but the reflexive pronoun “sig” makes a difference to the meaning. “Sig” makes the verb reflexive which means that whatever activity the verb describes we are doing to ourselves, to our own body. Håller i sig “means” that you are holding on to something so that you don’t fall.

Anna höll i sig hårt när hon åkte berg-och dalbana.

håller igång

This is an expression for being active in different ways. A couple of examples:

Morfar håller igång trots att han är gammal. Han cyklar, snickrar och går på fotokurs.

(Grandpa is very active even though he is old. He goes bike riding, does carpentry and takes photography classes.)

Grannarna festade och höll igång hela natten.

(My neighbors went on partying all through the night.)

håller ihop

One of the most common ways to use “håller ihop” is with the meaning to stay together as a couple or a family. Like this:

Rikard och Annika har hållit ihop i flera år nu. De planerar att köpa en lägenhet tillsammans.

(Rikard and Annika have been a couple for several years now. They are planning to buy an apartment together.)

håller om

“Håller om” is synonymous with “kramar” wich means hugs. An example:

Lilla Karin håller om sin nalle hela natten.

(Little Karin hugs her teddy bear all night.)

Det unga paret tittade på solnedgången och höll om varandra.

(The young couple were watching the sunset and hugging each other.)

håller till

“Håller till” is another way to express “befinna sig” which means to be somewhere. It’s a common expression when you are looking for someone, for example at an office. Take a look at this:

– Ursäkta, vet du i vilket rum Börje Andersson håller till?

(Excuse me, do you know where I can find Börje Andersson.)

– Ja, han sitter i rum 305. Det är på höger sida lite längre ner i korridoren.

(Yes, he’s in room number 305. You’ll find it on your right hand side further down the hallway.)

håller upp

“Håller upp” has two different meanings. First of all it can be close to the English “hold up something” meaning showing something. Like this:

Håll upp bilden så att jag kan se den!

(Hold up the picture so that I can see!)

“Håller upp” also means hold as in “open”. Like this:

Är du snäll och håller upp dörren? Jag har så mycket att bära.

(Could you please hold the door? I have my hands full.)

håller kvar

“Håller kvar” means that you are making someone stay, simply “keep” in English. The difference is that “håller kvar” is about people, if you are keeping things you would use “behåller” in Swedish. An example of “håller kvar”:

Polisen höll honom kvar över natten.

(The police kept him over night.)

håller ut

First of all “håller ut” means “hold out” as in reach out, for example your hand:

Blunda och håll ut handen så ska du få en överraskning!

(Close your eyes and hold out your hand and you will get a surprise!)

Secondly “håller ut” means hold on. As a teacher you might say:

Håll ut tio minuter till så tar vi lunch sedan.

(Hold on for ten more minutes and then we will take a lunch break.)

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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“Är” or “blir”?

Saturday, August 14th, 2010


During a lesson the other day my student asked me about when to use “är” and when to use “blir”. I thought this was a very interesting question so I wanted to share the answer with you all.

att bli – blir – blev – har blivit

This verb expresses a change of a condition or a turn in some way. The literal translation to English of “bli” is “get” or “become” but in some cases it makes more sense to use “make” as in “it makes me happy”.  We are going to take a look at some examples to see when to use “bli”.

Min cykel blev stulen när jag var på semster.

(My bike got stolen when I was on vacation./My bike was stolen when I was on vacation.)

In Swedish we have to use “blev” in this case since it expresses the transition from the bike not being stolen to it being stolen. If I said “min cykel var stulen när jag var på semester” it means that my bike was stolen only when I was gone but the thief got second thoughts and returned it.

Ta på dig regnjackan så att du inte blir blöt.

(Put a rain coat on so that you don’t get wet.)

This example is quite clear, the rain makes us wet  and we use “blir” to express that change.

Jag blev jätteglad för blommorna! Tack!

(The flowers made me really happy! Thank you!)

Since the flowers are the cause for the person being happy we use “blev”. Before receiving the flowers the person was not happy but now she (or he) is. The following day, if the person is still very happy over the flowers she/he would say:

Jag är jätteglad för blommorna. De är så fina!

(I am so happy over the flowers. They are so beautiful!)

Jag blir galen på den här trafiken!

(This traffic makes me crazy!)

I wasn’t upset before getting in to traffic, but now I am.

Lasse blev röd i ansiktet.

(Lasse turned red.)

Lasse probably got embarrassed or angry over something and therefore changed color. Compare to the following example:

– Varför är Lasses så röd i ansiktet?

(Why is Lasse’s face so red?)

Han har varit ute i solen hela dagen.

(He has been out in the sun all day.)

In this case Lasse will probably stay red for a while, it is more of a condition he is in rather than a quick change.

Ingvar har blivit rik på att sälja möbler.

(Ingvar became rich from selling furniture./Ingvar made a lot of money on selling furniture.)

Also here we are expressing a change, from not being rich to being rich, as well as how Ingvar made his money.

att vara – är – var – har varit

Just to compare “blir” to “är” I’m going to show a few more examples:

Min cykel är stulen så nu måste jag promenera till jobbet.

(My bike is stolen so now I have to walk to work.)

– Varför är du så blöt? – Det regnar ute.

(Why are you so wet? -It’s raining outside.)

Vad fina blommorna är! Tack!

(These flowers are so pretty! Thank you!)

Det är alltid mycket trafik i Los Angeles.

(It’s always a lot of traffic in Los Angeles.)

Ingvar är en av Sveriges rikaste män.

(Ingvar is one of the richest men in Sweden.)

Tack för idag!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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