The Swedish Teacher

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Archive for March, 2011

Ändra och förändra

Thursday, March 17th, 2011


Many of the questions that I receive from readers (and students) are about words that have a almost interchangeable meaning. A common problem for Swedish language learners is the difference in meaning of “ändra”, “förändra” and “ändra sig”.  In this post we will take a look into these words today and I’ll try my best to explain when to use the different variations :)


(“change” meaning  “make a change”, “modify” or  “correct”)

– Oj oj, här har du skrivit “gådde” istället för “gick”, sade svenskläraren till Andrew. Det måste du ändra!

(Oh dear, you have written “gådde” instead of “gick” here, the Swedish teacher told Andrew. You have to change/correct that!)

Skulle vi kunna ändra schemat och ha mötet på torsdag istället? Måndag passar inte så bra för mig.

(Would it be possible to make some changes to the schedule and have the meeting on Thursday instead? Monday isn’t a very good day for me.)

Lisa har ändrat hårfärg  och frisyr igen. Hon passar bra i kort brunt hår.

(Lisa has changed hair color and hair style again. Brown, short hair looks really good on her.)

Vi måste ändra klänningen så att den sitter perfekt.

(We must make some changes to the dress to make it fit perfectly.)


“Förändra” also means change and in many cases “ändra” and “förändra” are interchangeable. I’d say that the difference in certain cases is that “ändra” can be used for a more material change, for example changing your hair – maybe we can express it as “making a change”. If you take a look at how “förändra is used” “Förändra” is more often used for an abstract change like if someones personality has changed or our society has changed. A typical expression in Swedish politics is  “samhället har förändrats och vi måste anpassa oss”. Here are a few more  examples of how to use “förändra”:

Lisa har verkligen förändrats på sista tiden. Hon verkar vara mycket gladare.

(Lisa really has changed lately. She seems so much happier.)

Världen har förändrats.

(The world has changed.)

Samhället har förändrats.

(Our society has changed.)

Sociala medier har förändrat vårt sätt att kommunicera.

(Social media has changed our way of communicating.)

ändra sig

(change one’s mind)

If we ad a reflexive pronoun to the verb we’ll get a new meaning – to change one’s mind. Here’s a couple of examples of how we can use “ändra sig”:

Först ville jag bli ingenjör men nu har jag ändrat mig. Jag ska studera medicin istället.

(First I wanted to become an engineer but now I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to medical school instead.)

Kan jag få ett glas rött vin, tack? Nej vänta, jag har ändrat mig. Jag tar en öl istället.

(May I have a glass of red wine, please? No wait a minute, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll have a beer instead. )

‘Til next time!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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