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Posts Tagged ‘på’

When to use “på”

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Dear blog readers,

I’m so happy to be able to help you learn . I really appreciate all the feedback and the questions I get, without them I wouldn’t know what you want to read about. So thank you for contributing to this blog.

Today I will share with you some of the most common examples of using  the preposition “på”. Here we go:

On a surface

First of all we use “på” when we are talking about something that is placed on some sort of surface. This usage of “på” is similar to English. Take a look at a few examples:

Tidningen ligger på bordet.

(The newspaper is on the table.)

Det hänger en tavla på väggen.

(There is a painting on the wall.)

Jag bor på Gotland.

(I live on Gotland.)

Place where everybody is doing the same thing

In this case Swedish “på” is better compared to English “at” than “on”. In Swedish we therefore use “på” when we are talking about a place where everyone is doing  the same thing, so when we use “på” the activity or the function of the place is more important than the place itself. There are many situation that this applies to:

– work

Jag jobbar på en fabrik.

(I work at a factory.)

Jag är på kontoret.

(I am at the office.)

Jag är på jobbet.

(I am at work.)


Jag läste svenska på SFI.

(I studied Swedish at SFI.)

Han gick på KTH.

(He went to/studied at KTH.)

Note that there is an exception to this rule: i skolan. It does happen though that people say “på skolan” in spoken Swedish.

-commercial facilities and public offices

Anna letade julklappar på NK hela dagen.

(Anna were Christmas shopping at NK all day.)

Sedan var hon på banken, på Systembolaget och på Skatteverket.

(Then she were at/went to the bank, Systembolaget and Skatteverket.)

Förra veckan låg Anders på sjukhus.

(Anders was hospitalized last week.)

-public transportation

Alla är tysta på bussen.

(Everyone is quiet when on the bus.)

– parties and entertainment

Det är kul att gå på bio.

(It’s fun to go to the movies.)

Vill du följa med på fest?

(Do you want to come to a party with me?)

På vintern träffas svenskar gärna på kafé.

(Swedes love meet up at a café in the winter time.)

-courses an meetings

Jag ska gå på ett möte så jag kan inte ha telefonen på.

(I’m going to be in a meeting so I can’t have my phone turned on.)

Note that we still say “i affären” (in the store).

– time off

Klockan 10 går alla på kafferast.

(At 10 o’clock everyone takes a coffee break.)

I juli är all personal på semester.

(In July the whole staff is on vacation.)

“På” is also used when expressing negative feelings:

arg på

(angry about/angry with)

förbannad på

(furious about)

galen på

(mad about)

irriterad på

(annoyed with/at)

besviken på

(disappointed at)

trött på

(tired of/sick of)

We also use “på” when talking about what we can do with our five senses:

Lars tittar på TV.

(Lars is watching TV.)

Lyssna på mig!

(Listen to me!)

Kom och lukta på blommorna.

(Come here and smell the flowers.)

Vill du smaka på kakan som jag har bakat?

(Do you want to try/taste the cake I have made?)

Känn på kattens mjuka päls.

(Touch (and feel) what a soft fur this cat has.)

There are of course many many more situations when you should use “på” , but the list above should at least get you started on using it. Good luck and look out for the upcoming post about “i”.

Sara the Swedish Teacher

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