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Posts Tagged ‘att’

“Som” eller “att”

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Hej hej!

It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when to use “att”. Today I’ll try my best to explain in what situations you should use the two.

“Som” as a relative pronoun

A relative clause is a sub- clause (“bisats” in Swedish) that gives you more information about the noun in the main clause (“huvudsats” in Swedish). Let us take a look at an example:

Jag har en hund. Hunden gillar köttbullar.

(I have a dog. The dog likes meatballs.)

Instead of having two sentences (two main clauses) we can connect them with a relative pronoun and get one main clause and one relative clause (a sub-clause). The sentence will then look like this:

Jag har en hund som gillar köttbullar.

I have a dog who likes meatballs.

Relative clauses in English are mostly introduced  by “who”, “which” or “that”. In Swedish they are in most cases introduced by “som”. This word never changes its form, regardless if the noun in the main clause is en, ett or plural (yay). Here are some more examples of “som”:

Sten har en syster som bor i Malmö.

(Sten has a sister who lives in Malmö.)

Ann leker med dockorna som hon fick i julklapp.

(Anna is playing with the dolls that she got for Christmas.)

Min cykel, som jag fick i julklapp, har 21 växlar.

(My  bike, which I got for Christmas, has 21 speeds.)

If we already have a subject in the sub-clause the word ”som” can be left out. Take a look at these sentences:

Mannen som ni söker är inte här.

(The man (who) you are looking for is not here.)

Mannen  ni söker är inte här.

(The man you are looking for is not here.)

“Som” when comparing

We also use the word “som” when comparing. In such a case “som” means “as”  in English. Here’s one example:

Han är lika lång som jag.

(He is as tall as I am.)

When should we use “att”?

It is not unusual that a word has only one meaning in one language, when you would use two different words in different language. For example we know that when we say “think” in English, we need to choose between three words in Swedish “tycker, tänker and tror”. The same thing can happen to for example conjunctions and prepositions.

In Swedish “att” means:

  1. “to” as in “to run”, “to eat”, “to drink” etc. The function of “att” is in these cases being an infinitive marker. Att springa, att äta, att dricka. We will see att in an sentence like this one:

Pojken tycker om att leka med sin hund.

(The boy likes to play with his dog.)

2. Att as in “that” when “that” is used as a conjunction between a main clause (huvudsats) or sub-clause (bisats). Here’s an example:

Bengt säger att det är varmt ute.

(Bengt is saying that it is warm outside.)

Have fun learning Swedish!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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What about “att”?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011


Jag är tillbaka! 😉

Many times it seems like the small words are the ones that caus the most confusion. Another problem that can be extra tricky for a Swedish language student is, “att”. In Swedish we use “att” for everything and anything it seems like, so today I wanted to share with you a few common ways to use “att”.

“Att” as an infinite marker

First of all “att” has the function of infinitive marker (på svenska “infinitivmarkör”) when a verb is in infinitive form like in “att läsa” to read.

Det är roligt att läsa.

(It’s fun to read.)

“att läsa” is also used when you say in English, “reading” like this:

Att läsa är roligt.

(Reading is fun.)

Det är svårt att uttala “ö”.

(It’s difficult to pronounce, “ö”.)


Att uttala “ö” är svårt.

(Pronouncing, “ö” is difficult.)

“Att” meaning “that”

When creating so called indirect speech you use, “att” in Swedish when you would say in English, “that”. This is probably one of the first, “bisatsinledare/bisatsord” or subjunction that your Swedish teacher will tell you about. We use, “att” when we refer to what a third party is saying, wondering, wishing  etc.

Han säger att det är kallt ute.

(He says/is saying that it’s cold outside.)

Hon undrar om hon får titta i sitt lexikon under provet.

(She wonders/is wondering if she can look in her dictionary during the test.)

Att in the subjunction “därför att”

We also find, “att” in the subjunction “därför att” which means “because”. If we begin the subordinate clause (bisats) with, “därför att” it will explain the reason of what is going in the independent clause (huvudsats).

Daniel vill gifta sig med Åsa därför att han älskar henne.

(Daniel wants to marry Åsa because he loves her.)

“Att” in the subjunction “för att”

“För att” looks very similar to, “därför att” and what is even more frustrating to someone learning Swedish is that the two often are pronounced almost exactly the same! Many Swedes (probably myself included) say something like, “f’ratt” for both “därför att” and “för att”. Listen carefully out there and you will hear it :) They do have different meanings. Whilst “därför att” means, “because”, “för att” means, “in order to”. We have a main clause and a subordinate clause with a conjunction joining the two. Where the subordinate clause begins with, “för att” the subordinate clause explains the reason for what’s happening in the main clause.

Agneta bantar för att bli smal.

(Agneta is on a diet (in order) to become skinny.)

Now compare the example above to how we use “därför att”:

Agneta bantar därför att hon känner sig tjock.

(Agneta is on a diet because she feels chubby.)

Well that was all for today. I hope everyone is having fun learning Swedish :) Please post questions if you have any!

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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