The Swedish Teacher

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Far, får får får?

Far, får får får?

I often get the question about how to use the verb ”får”, it seems like it can be used in a thousand different ways, some students say. Well, it may not be a thousand ways to use “får”, but there are quite a few meanings of the word and today I will do my best to try to explain them. Before we begin I want to remind you that I am not trying to translate from Swedish to English here, I‘m only using English to explain the how Swedish is used.

“Få” as a auxiliary verb

All right, the first case of “få” that I want to shine some light on is when “få” has the function of an auxiliary verb (“hjälpverb” in Swedish). As a hjälpverb one can use “få” (or “fick”, which is past tense) when expressing that someone has a permission,  someone is allowed to do something. Here’s an example:

Du får röka här.

(You may smoke here.)

Here’s another one:

Får jag ta en kanelbulle till?

(May I have another cinnamon roll?)

It’s also common to hear “få” in the sense “may” when someone wants to be polite. It could sound something like this:

Får jag bjuda på en kopp kaffe?

(May I buy you a cup of coffee?)

Please note that since “få” is a hjälpverb, the next verb should be in  infinitive form (ta, röka, bjuda).

As a hjälpverb “får” can also be used in the sense of “have to” (“är tvungen att” in Swedish). This makes me think of childhood and how “får” carried totally different messages in sentences like:

Nu får du sluta med det där.

(You must stop that right now.)

Nu får ni gå och lägga er.

(You have to go to bed now.)

In cases like the ones above, it was clearly (understood from the tone of the adult) not a question about being allowed to stop or to go to bed 😉 In other cases “få” had the sense of “may”:

Du får stanna uppe och se klart filmen.

(You may stay up and finish the movie.)

Du får ta en kanelbulle till.

(You may have another cinnamon roll.)

Here’s another example of how you can use”få” to express “have to”:

Jag fick sitta och vänta på flygplatsen i flera timmar.

(I had to sit at and wait at the airport for several hours.)

“Få” in the sense of “receive” or “get”

This use of “få” seems very similar to English “get”. It’s especially common when talking about money and payments, but also other things. Here are a few examples of how to use “få” in the sense of “get”:

Jag fick löneförhöjning.

(I got a raise.)

Jag fick en cykel i julklapp.

(I got a bicycle for Christmas.)

Jag fick ett myggbett på armen när jag sov över i mammas stuga.

(I got a mosquito bite on my arm when I spent the night at my mother’s cabin.) True story! 😉

“Få” in the sense of “be subject to”:

Patienten fick behandling för sin öroninflammation.

(The patient received treatment for his otitis.)

“Få” in the sense of  “begin to feel” or “come to have”:

Hoppas ni får roligt på semestern!

(I hope you will have fun on your vacation.)

Lasse fick lust att gå på bio och se den nya James Bond-filmen.

(Lasse got the urge to go to the cinema and watch the new James Bond movie.)

“Få” as in get notified:

Lasse fick veta att han har öroninflammation.

(Lasse got to know/found out that he has an ear infection.)

Prinsen sökte om bygglov för att bygga en bastu men fick avslag.

(The prince applied for a building permit to build a sauna but he got rejected.) Also a true story 😉

Vi fick en massa grammatikövningar i läxa. De var jättesvåra.

(We got a lot of grammar exercises for homework. They were really difficult.)

We have come to an end here with “få” but we before we finish I want to mention to you that “får” also means “sheep”. Singular form is “ett får” and plural form is “får” (Maybe you remember from my post about plural forms that ett-words ending with a consonant stays the same in plural) so now I hope you can understand this classic play on words:

–         Far, får får får?

–         Nej, får får lamm.

Until next time!

Sara the Swedish Teacher


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