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Ändra och förändra


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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10 responses to “Ändra och förändra”

  1. Bas says:

    Perfect like always !

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  2. Jenn says:

    Can I add one thing that might help clarify? “Förändra” often means change in the sense of transform (which you describe as abstract change) — as opposed to alter (ändra). :)

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  3. Terry says:


    I just found your blog the other day. Great stuff — very helpful to me as someone who lives in the US trying to learn Swedish.

    I was wondering if you can address past tense vs. perfect tense in Swedish. It seems that the perfect tense is used much more often than in English.

    For example, in Swedish people often say “Vad har hänt?” whereas in English it would typically be said “What happened?”


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  4. S says:

    Hej Hej!

    Once again, and as always, I absolutely LOVE this blog, you are helping countless people, thank you so much, it is very much appreciated!

    Jag vill fråga en sak. När borde man använda “både” och “både”? Jag kunde inte hitta svaret på dina gamla texter…. Men förlåt om du har redan skrivit om detta!

    Tack och hej,

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    • Thank you S for your kind words :)

      You should use “både” in combination with “och”, for example in:

      Både min man och jag vill ha en hund.
      (Both my husband and I want a dog.)

      “Båda (två)” means “both” as in “both of them”. An example:

      “Jag kunde inte välja mellan den röda och den gröna tröjan så jag köpte båda (två).”

      (I couldn’t choose between the red and green sweater/jumper so I bought both of them.)

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  5. S says:

    Ursäkta mig! Jag menade “både” och “båda” !

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  6. Carlos says:

    Hi Sara,

    I read your post on ändra and förändra and would also like to know the difference between these two words and byta.



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  7. Thanks so much Sara. This is my favorite part of the the Local.

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