Swedish Grammar

Table of Content

Appendices:

Alphabet and Pronunciation

Swedish basically uses the same alphabet as English, with the addition of three letters: å, ä and ö. (In alphabetical order, these are at the end of the alphabet, in that order.)

In some foreign words, borrowed from languages which use letters not present in the Swedish alphabet, the foreign letter(s) are sometimes used, especially when the letters in question are é (from French) and ü (from German). In foreign names, the foreign spelling is practically always used. (It would be considered wrong, and somewhat impolite toward the person whose name it is, to spell a name such as André or Günther without the accents, unless there is some practical reason - such as those letters not existing on the typewriter your using - to do it.)

Some the letters in the Swedish alphabet are pronounced roughly as they would be in English. The others are pronounced as follows:

A a
is differently depending on whether the quantity of the vowel is long or short. When long, the letter is pronounced approximately like the "a" in the English word "far". When short, the letter is pronounced approximately like the "a" in Spanish "casa".

C c
is usually pronounced as "s" before e, i, ä, and ö, and otherwise pronounced as "k".

D d
is pronounced almost as in English, except that the tongue should not be half-curled back (that is, Swedish /d/ is not a retroflex). (*)

E e
is pronounced as in the English word "deck", even when long; that is, never like "e" in English "be". (The letter "i" is used for that phoneme.)

G g
is pronounced hard, like English "g" before /a/, /o/, /u/, and /å/, and soft (as Swedish "j") before /e/, /i/, /y/, /ä/, and /ö/. After the sound /l/ or /r/ in the same syllable "g" is usually pronounced as /j/ as well. In other cases, it is usually pronounced as /g/. In loan-words, especially Greek and Latin loan-words, "g" is often pronounced /g/ even after /r/. In rare cases, such as "energi" (energy), the "g" is pronounced roughly like "sj" (see below).

I i
is pronounced as English "e" in "be".

J j
is pronounced as English "y" in "yawn". Never as "j" in "jaw".

L l
is pronounced as in English, except that when the sound is made (with the tip of the tongue touching the upper palate) the tongue should not be half-curled back, as in English, but straight. (*)

O o
is, depending on context, pronounced as either "oo" in English "too" (usually when the sound is long), or "o" in English "for" (usually when short).

Q q
is a very rare letter in Swedish since the spelling reform about a century ago. It occurs almost exclusively in names, and a few foreign loan-words (most from latin), and almost always followed by a "u" or, less often, by a "v". The sound of "qu" or "qv" is equivalent to Swedish "kv".

R r
is normally pronounced with a very slight quiver of the tongue; more distinct than is normal in English, but not quite as distinct as in German. (*)

T t
is pronounced almost as in English, except that the tounge should not be half-curled back. (That is, not retroflex.) (*)

U u
in Swedish is pronounced in a way that is somewhat difficult to describe with reference to English, which has no sound similar to it. For those familiar with the IPA phonetic alphabet, it can be written as a 'u' with a dash through it and a plus below it .

W w,
as Q, is a rare letter in Swedish, and almost exclusively used in names. It is pronounced as "v", except when used in foreign (especially English) names, when it is usually pronounced as it would be in the language the name came from (e.g: "Wayne" and "Washington" would normally be pronounced more or less as they are in English).

Y y
is pronounced almost as "y" in English names such as "Terry", "Teddy" or "Cheryl", both when long and when short. It is never pronounced as the "y" in "reply".

Z z,
as Q and W, is a rare letter in Swedish. It is usually pronounced as English "s", but can be pronounced as an English "z" if one wants to emphasise the fact that the word is spelled with a "z", not an "s". As usual, in foreign names, the pronunciation is often that of the language the names come from.

Å å
is pronounced as English "o" in "for".

Ä ä
is pronounced as English "ai" in "fair", and as a German "ä".

Ö ö
is pronounced much like German "ö", which is roughly like "u" in English "turn". Some Swedish dialects (including the "standard" one) gives this sound a somewhat lower pitch and a less fronted quality when it is followed by /r/ or a retroflex sound, and a somewhat higher pitch and more fronted quality otherwise.
(*) Note: while the phonemes /d/, /l/, /s/, and /t/ are not generally pronounced in retroflex position, the combinations /rd/, /rl/, /rs/, and /rt/ are pronounced as retroflex versions of /d/, /l/, /s/ and /t/ (with no separate /r/ sound).

In addition to the single letters, Swedish uses a number of digraphs and trigraphs to spell sounds that lack a letter of their own. In most cases, pronouncing a written Swedish word is fairly straighforward; usually, there is only one way of pronouncing each letter sequence (at least if the next following letter is taken into account). The reverse, however, is not always true. Particularly the Swedish spelling of the sounds similar to those written as "sh" in English, and as "sch" and "ch" in German, can be confusing:

Sj-
as in "sjö" (lake), "sjunka" (to sink), and "själ" (soul). This spelling is rather common in originally Swedish words, and rare in loan-words. Usually, "sj" in modern Swedish was "si" plus a vowel in Old Swedish.

Sk-
as in "sked" (spoon), "sköta" (to take care of, to handle), "skina" (to shine), "skinn" (skin, hide), and "skäl" (a cause, a reason). Common when an e, i, ä or ö follows immediately afterward.

Skj-
as in "skjuta" (push, shoot), "skjuts" (a 'ride'), and "skjul" (shed, shack). Usually, "skj" was "ski" + vowel in Old Swedish.

Stj-
as in "stjäla" (steal) Usually a euphonic mutation of Old Swedish "sti" + vowel.

Sch-
as in "sch!" (hush!), "schwung" (oldish slang for 'speed and/or strength in an action', 'verve', 'go', etc), and names like "Scholl", "Schultz", "Scheele", etc. Primarily used in onomatopoetic words, some names, and German loan-words.

Ch-
as in "chock" (shock).

Sh-
is frequent in foreign (especially English) loan-words and names. Examples: "sherry", "Shelley", "shah" (persian ruler).

-sch
"Dusch" (shower).

-ge
"Garage" (garage), "fromage" (blancmange, not cheese). Mostly in French loan-words.

-rs
"Fars" (farce), "farstu" (hallway).

"Sj-", "Sk-", "Skj-", "Stj-", and "Ch-" are usually pronounced like German "ch", while "Sch-", "-sch", "-ge", and "-rs" are usually pronounced like German "sch" (English "sh").

To add to the confusion, "sk" is usually pronounced as two separate letters when followed by either a consonant or one of the vowels a, o, u and å. Examples: "skräp" (trash), "skrika" (to shout), "skata" (magpie), "sko" (shoe), "skum" (foam), "skåp" (cupboard).

Also, foreign words and names from languages that use some variation of the Latin alphabet, and where this variation includes the addition of a special letter for the "sh" sound, this special letter might be used. Foreign words and names from languages that use other alphabets usually get their "sh" sounds rendered as "sj", "sh" or "sch", depending on what transliteration rules are being used.

There are really no simple rules for how to spell the "sh" sound in the general case; it is usually best to try to learn the spelling together with the word.

Intonation, Accents, Stress, Pitch

Swedish, like most modern Indoeuropean languages, basically has "ictus", or "stress", accent; one "stressed" syllable in a word is "emphasised" more than the other syllables.

Unlike most other modern Indoeuropean languages, but like some of the older ones, Swedish also has a tonal, or pitch, accent. Only two levels are distinguished, "high" and "low". (Although one might argue that the unstressed syllables have a third, "middle", level.)

The accents in Swedish are not normally marked in any way in the written language, although "'" (acute accent, high pitch) and "`" (grave accent, low pitch) have become the de facto standard way of marking them when one wishes to mark the specifically (such as in linguistic discussions, or when discussing rhythm and rhyme in poetry).

Often, pronouncing a word with the wrong pitch will sound odd, but not cause any misunderstandings. There are, however, a number of words that are distinguished only by the accent, and a sizable group of words that have a distinct tonal stress. Most of these words are bisyllabic words with the stress on the first syllable. Examples: "búren" (the cage) - "bùren" (carried), "régel" (a rule) - "règel" (a latch), "slágen" (the blows) - "slàgen" (beaten).

There is a vague general tendency towards interpreting bisyllabic words with an initial high pitch as nouns, while words with a initial low pitch "feels" more like verbs, participles and adjectives.


Nouns

(Unfinished.)

Swedish nouns are divided into declensions depending on their stem, how the plural is formed, and on their gender (which is either 'uter' or 'neuter'). Within these declensions, they are inflected according to:

Inflection by case is rather trivial: the genitive is the nominative with an "s" suffixed, if the word doesn't already end in an "s" sound, in which case nothing (or, optionally, an apostrope) is added. A few words and names borrowed from Latin have latin genitives, although it is possible to ignore this and treat them like other words.

There are essentially five declensions:

First declension, plural indefinite on -or.
There are two groups of words within this declension, those that have a singular indefinite suffix -a, and those that use the bare stem. The words with an -a suffix in the singular indefinite uses -an to make the singular definite. The other words use -en. All words in this declension are uter.

Second declension, plural indefinite on -ar.
Like the first declension, the second also has two primary groups of words; those that add -e in singular indefinite, and those which use the bare stem. The singular definite has an -en suffix. All words in this declension are uter.

Third declension, plural indefinite on -(e)r.
Words of this declension always use the bare stem for the singular indefinite, and add -(e)n or -(e)t in the singular definite. There are both neuter and uter words in this declension.

Fourth declension, plural indefinite on -(e)n.
Singular indefinite: bare stem. Singular definite: -(e)t. There are only neuter words in this declension.

Fifth declension. Plural indefinite: bare stem.
Singular indefinite: bare stem. Singular definite: -(e)t or -(e)n. There are both neuter and uter words in this declension.

All nouns, except neuters of the fifth declension and some irregular words, add -na to the indefinite plural to form the definite plural. But words with a plural already ending in "n" do not usually double this "n" except in special cases, most of which concern words that are irregular for other reasons, too.

Fifth-declension neuters have definite plurals on -en.

Inflection paradigm for the five declensions:

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
sg.indef. flaska buske minut vittne brev
sg.def. flaskan busken minuten vittnet brevet
pl.indef. flaskor buskar minuter vittnen brev
pl.def. flaskorna buskarna minuterna vittnena breven
English: bottle bush, shrub minute witness letter (`mail')

The gender can easily be determined by looking at the singular definite form of the word (which always end in either "n" or "t"); the words with a singular definite on "n" are uter, and others are neuter.

In the third and fourth declension, there are a number of words that end in -er and -el; these usually drop the `e' before the final consonant when an added inflection suffix begins with a vowel. E.g. en konstapel (3u, constable), pl. konstaplar, and ett papper (4n, paper), sg.def. pappret. However, in the sg.def. case in the third declension, the suffix is instead usually reduced from -en to -n, e.g. konstapeln. Forms such as konstaplen are possible, but often sound strange or archaic.

The third declension contains some neuter words, in which case the sg.def. form above ends in -et instead of -en. One example is parti, a word with several barely related meanings, inflected thus: parti, partiet, partier, partierna. (Two meanings of the word are (1) `party' in the sense of a grouping of people, such as a political party or a `side' in a legal dispute, and (2) a `game' in the sense of the occasion of playing it from start to finish, e.g. `ett parti schack' = a game of chess.)

Umlaut plurals

A number of words form plural with umlaut, i.e. a change of the vowel of the syllable before the suffix. Sometimes, this causes a loss of the suffix. This phenomenon occurs in English too, e.g. man - men, goose - geese, mouse - mice, etc, but it is somewhat more common in Swedish than it is in English. Usually, if a word has umlaut plural in English and the English word sounds similar to the Swedish one, the Swedish word also forms plural with umlaut, since both languages have then typically inherited the word from older Germanic sources.

Some Swedish words with umlaut plurals are: en man - män (man), en fot - fötter (foot), en hand - händer (hand), en tand - tänder (tooth), en rand - ränder (stripe, edge), ett land - länder (land, country), en strand - stränder (shore, beach), en brand - bränder (fire, conflagration), en fader - fäder (father), en broder - bröder (brother), en moder - mödrar (mother), en son - söner (son), en dotter - döttrar (daughter), en bok - böcker (book), en rot - rötter (root), en gås - gäss (goose), en and - änder (a kind of duck), en mus - möss (mouse). Additionally, some words have the length of a vowel reduced without changing vowel, since the vowel has umlaut form already. An example is en nöt - nötter (nut).

Note also that the family words fader (father), moder (mother) and broder (brother) have short variant forms of the indefinite singulars. These drop the -de-, giving: far, mor, bror. This contraction only occurs in the singular indefinite, however. In casual slang, these contractions can then be extended by adding -sa, giving farsa, morsa, brorsa, which are inflected as first-declension nouns in all forms.

Another thing to note that the noun man (man) has different plurals depending on nuances of meaning. When the word refers to a count of people in a crew, the plural is often `mannar', but when the individual members of a crew are referred to collectively (without any specific counting) `män' is used. In older Swedish, the combined umlaut and suffix form `männer' is sometimes used, especially in modes of address, e.g. `I männer över lag och rätt' (`Ye men of law and justice'; this is the first line of an aria from Atterberg's opera Fanal).

Shifting stress

A number of word, mostly Latin loan-words ending in -or, shift the position of the stress when a word is inflected in such a manner that the number of syllables increases; these words are uters of the third declension, and typically, the stress is shifted so it always falls on the penultimate syllable. Some examples are: vektor (vector) stressed véktor, but inflected vektórer(na) in plural; lektor (university teacher), dator (computer), pastor (priest, pastor; although the Latin word means `shepherd'). A number of technical words, especially electrical and electronical components are also of this type: resistor, termistor (thermal resistor), varistor (variable resistor), kondensator (capacitor), induktor (inducer, inductor), transduktor (transducer), motor (motor, engine), stator (non-moving active part in electrical motor), donator (donor). Some more examples whose meaning are essentially the same as the English words they resemble are: sektor, mentor, rotor, promotor, reaktor, extraktor, gladiator, generator, senator, doktor.


Adjectives

(Unfinished.)

In Swedish, adjectives are inflected according to the number, gender and definiteness of the word they qualify (no matter whether the adjective is in attributive or predicative position, i.e. whether it is used as in "a red apple" or "the apple is red").

Note: in Old Swedish, adjectives were also inflected according to case. There are a number of set phrases where these case-inflected adjectives still survive, for instance "i ljusan låga" (= "in bright-(accusative) flame", (= "in bright flame", "on fire", "burning brightly") and "allom bekant" (= "all-(dative) familiar" = "known to all").

Regular adjectives have, at most, three different forms: singular indefinite uter, singular indefinite neuter, and a common form for the other six possible variations on number, gender and definiteness. The first of these three forms is referred to as the "basic" or "uninflected" form, and is the form normally found in dictionaries. (Actually, there is a fourth form, a masculine singular definite, which is a relic from Old Swedish. The use of this form is, technically, entirely optional in modern Swedish, but it is widely used. It takes the form of replacing the usual "-a" suffix with an "-e".)

Regular adjectives derive their second form by suffixing a -t to the basic form. However, in terms of spelling, a number of modifications can occur:

The third form of regular adjectives is obtained by suffixing an -a to the basic form. Adjectives whose basic form end in an unstressed -al, -el, -en, or -er loose the unstressed vowel, yielding -la, -la, -na, or -ra, respectively, when the suffix is added. (Note on spelling: if the basic form ends in an short vowel plus an "m" or an "n", the consonant is doubled before adding the -a.)

A few adjectives, most notably `liten' (little, small), are irregular and may change or modify the stem during inflection, but this is a small group of exceptions.

In addition to "pure" adjectives, participles can also function as adjectives. The past participle is typically inflected -(e)n, -(e)t, -na, with the first two forms being uter and neuter for the singular indefinite, while the -na is for all the other forms. The present participle always end in -nde, and is normally not inflected when used as an adjective.

Examples:

`grön'
(green)
`vit'
(white)
`vid'
(wide)
`svart'
(red)
`liten'
(little)
u.sg.indef. grön vit vid svart liten
n.sg.indef. grönt vitt vitt svart litet
sg.def. gröna vita vida svarta lilla
pl. gröna vita vida svarta små

Except for a few irregulars such as `liten', the plural form is always the same as the definite singular.

Comparatives and superlatives

Much like English, Swedish has comparative and superlative forms of the adjectives, and can form them in two ways: by suffix, or by using mer (more) and mest (most).

Most monosyllabic adjectives always form comparatives and superlatives by suffixing, adding -are for comparative and -ast for superlative, e.g. röd-rödare-rödast (red), våt-våtare-våtast (wet), sen-senare-senast (late), vid-vidare-vidast (wide). These words can use mer/mest too, but usually don't, and when they do, it can often suggest a slightly differente nuance of meaning.

Adjectives formed with the derivational suffix -ig from a monosyllabic root nearly always use -are/-ast, and those formed from a bisyllabic root often do this, too. Polysyllabic roots waver, but unless the final word is far too long, it is nearly always considered correct to use -are/-ast even though mer/mest might be preferable in these cases.

Other adjectives with more than one syllable in the stem tend to go with mer and mest, although some bisyllabic (and the occasional polysyllabic word stressed on the last syllable of the stem) waver and can use suffixes as well, e.g. bekväm (comfortable) and intressant (interesting). The list can be made rather long, and different people have different opinions as to which of these words can properly take the -are/-ast suffixes, and which are restricted to only the mer/mest model.

A small group of adjectives have irregular forms in this respect. The probably most significant of these are: få-färre-- (few, fewer, -), stor-större-störst (large), liten-mindre-minst (small), hög-högre-högst (high, tall (about objects)), lång-längre-längst (long, tall (about people)), låg-lägre-lägst (low) bra-bättre-bäst (good), dålig-sämre-sämst (bad). In an attributive position, the irregular superlatives take the suffix of definiteness (-a, or -e in the optional masculine form), while in predicative position, they remain in the form given here.


Adverbs

(Being written.)

There are basically three kinds of Swedish adverbs: plain adverbs, older noun or adjective case forms (mostly datives) surviving as adverbs, and neuter adjectives used as adverbs. The latter group is straightforwardly formed just as when one would form an indefinite neuter singular adjective, so there isn't much more to say about them.

Some basic adverbs are: igen (again), tillbaka (back in the sense of returning), fram(åt) (at/in the front, forward), bak(åt) (at/in the back, backward), in (inwards, inside).

Some prepositions can double as adverbs, sometimes in a sense very similar to the prepositional meaning, and sometimes in a slightly different sence. Examples: (on), av (preposition: of, from; adverb: off), ur (out of), från (preposition: from, adverb: a wide and vague sense of away, out of reach, ahead of, etc), i (preposition: in, adverb: into).

Some preposition+noun phrases have been contracted to adverbs, e.g. iväg (away), isär (apart in a sense of drifting apart), itu (apart, in the sense of cutting or breaking, especially into two parts). Some of these have become petrified and only exist in connection with a limited set of words, e.g. ihåg (originally i+håg, e.g. `in mind', `in intension') which now mainly occurs in connection with the verb komma (to come), as komma ihåg någonting (to remember something).

Some older adverbs (and other words) have petrified, much like the preposition+noun phrases mentioned above, into idiomatic adverbs with only a vague meaning of their own. The most common of these are probably an, till and för. (Note that both till and för are perfectly alive as common prepositions, though, meaning `to' and 'for', while an is mostly dead as a separate word in Swedish, although it has survived in German.

Various directional, locational and demonstrative words can be considered adverbs, too; e.g. här (here), hit (hither), där (there), dit (thither). (This group can also be considered to contain a number of directionals and demonstratives, but these will be discussed elsewhere in this document.)


Numbers

Much like English, Swedish has two kinds of number words, the cardinals ("one", "two", etc) and the ordinals ("first", "second", etc).

The number words are mostly uninflected, with the following exceptions: en/ett ("one") agrees in gender with the word it qualifies, and the two first ordinals, "första" (first) and "andra" (second), have an optional masculine form ending in "-e" rather than "-a".

Numeral Cardinal Ordinal
Numeral Cardinal Ordinal
1 en/ett första 0 noll (nollte)
2 två andra 20 tjugo tjugonde
3 tre tredje 30 trettio trettionde
4 fyra fjärde 40 fyrtio fyrtionde
5 fem femte 50 femtio trettionde
6 sex sjätte 60 sextio sextionde
7 sju sjunde 70 sjutio sjuttionde
8 åtta åttonde 80 åttio åttionde
9 nio nionde 90 nittio nittionde
10 tio tionde 100 (ett)hundra (ett)hundrade
11 elva elfte 200 tvåhundra tvåhundrade
12 tolv tolfte 500 femhundra femhundrade
13 tretton trettonde 1 000 (ett)tusen (ett)tusende
14 fjorton fjortonde 2 000 tvåtusen tvåtusende
15 femton femtonde 5 000 femtusen femtusende
16 sexton sextonde 10 000 tiotusen tiotusende
17 sjutton sjuttonde 20 000 tjugotusen tjugotusende
18 arton artonde 50 000 femtiotusen femtiotusende
19 nitton nittonde 1 000 000 en miljon miljonte

Compound cardinals are formed by putting together the indiviual number words, largest first:

42 = fyrtiotvå (40+2)
123 = (ett)hundratjugotre (100+20+3)
4 711 = fyratusensjuhundraelva (4000+700+11)
262 144 = tvåhundrasextiotvåtusenetthundrafyrtiofyra ((200+60+2)*1000+100+40+4)

Usually, compounds are only formed for units of up to six digits. When millions and higher numbers are involved, they are usually broken off into a separate words, e.g. 531 243 385 = "femhundratrettioen miljoner tvåhundrafyrtiotretusentrehundraåttiofem".

For legibility, thousands are sometimes also broken off into separate words, e.g. 42 751 = "fyrtiotvåtusen sjuhundrafemtioett", but this is less common.

Compound ordinals are formed like cardinals, except that the last (and only the last) compound element is an ordinal:

42nd = fyrtioandra (40+2nd)
123rd = (ett)hundratjugotredje (100+20+3rd)
4711th = fyratusensjuhundraelfte (4000+700+11th)
262 144th = tvåhundrasextiotvåtusenetthundrafyrtiofjärde ((200+60+2)*1000+100+40+4th)
(But not "*fyrtionde+andra" (40th+2nd) etc.)

Large numbers than millions may not be so common, but there are several words for larger numbers:

1 000 000 miljon
1 000 000 000 miljard
1 000 000 000 000 biljon
1 000 000 000 000 000 biljard
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 triljon
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 triljard(*)
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kvadriljon(*)
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kvadriljard(*)
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kvintriljon(*)
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kvintriljard(*)

All these large-number words are uter nouns, and inflected accordingly (e.g. sg. pl. indef. "miljoner", etc). The words marked with (*) are rare, and sometimes cause a bit of confusion as to exactly how many zeroes should follow...


Pronouns

(Not finished yet.)

The personal and possessive pronouns in Swedish are
meaning nominative form object form possessive
I jag mig min/mitt/mina
you (singular) du dig din/ditt/dina
he han honom hans
she hon henne hennes
it (uter) den den dess
it (neuter) det det dess
we vi oss vår/vårt/våra
you (plural) ni er er/ert/era
they de dem deras
(reflexive) - sig sin/sitt/sina

The reflexive pronoun refers to the agent of the sentence. It is used where "himself", "herself", "itself" or "themselves" would be used in English.

The masculine and feminine pronouns are used when talking about people, and sometimes metaphorically about objects.

Some of the possessives have three forms, corresponding to the three forms of adjectives. The first form is the uter singular, the second is the neuter singular, and the third is the common plural.


Prepositions

(Not written yet.)


Verbs

(Unfinished.)

Swedish verbs fall into one of five conjugations, the first three of which are termed "weak", because of their having undergone reduction and loss of the older Germanic stem changes. The fourth conjugation is often referred to as the "strong" conjugation, and the fifth as the "mixed" conjugation (since it has a "strong" imperfect stem, but a "weak" supine).

Swedish verbs are not inflected by person or number (although they still used to be inflected by number as late as in the 1930:ies), but they are inflected by tense, mood, and voice.

Example paradigms of the verb "vara" (to be), "ha(va)" (to have), and "visa" (to show):
infinitiv vara ha(va) visa
presens är har visar
imperfekt var hade visade
supinum varit haft visat
perfekt har varit har haft har visat
pluskvamperfekt hade varit hade haft hade visat
presens
particip
varande havande visande
perfekt
particip
- havd/haft/havda visad/visat/visade
imperativ var! ha(v)! visa!

The names of the forms above are given in Swedish, but being borrowed from Latin, they are quite similar to the English terms, since these are also borrowed from Latin. The only notable differences are imperfekt which is the "was" tense, and pluskvamperfekt (also known as konditionalis (conditional)), the `had been' tense.

The perfekt and pluskvamperfekt tenses are always formed with the present and imperfekt forms of the auxiliary verb ha (to have) followed by the supine of the main verb, much like in English.

Passive forms of the verbs are in most cases formed by adding "s" to the corresponding active form. The only general exception is in the present tense, where the normal ending "-r" is usually dropped before adding the "s". (Note, however, that a few verbs whose stem end in "r", such as styra (to steer; to control; to govern), use the bare verb stem in the present tense, and these verb do not drop their "-r" before the passive "-s".)

There are a number of verbs that are irregular in the way they form the present and imperfekt tense. Irregular verbs are usually listed with a tema (literally `theme', but in the context of verbs, it refers to a sequence of inflected forms): the present tense, the imperfekt tense, and the supine form. Sometimes the infinitive is added as a fourth form, at either the beginning or the end of the tema. The infinitive is usually signalled explicitly by the infinitive marker att.

The tema for a few of the most common irregular verbs are: att vara(to be)-är-var-varit, att se(to see)-ser-såg-sett, att göra(to do/make)-gör-gjorde-gjort, att veta(to know)-vet-visste-vetat, att vilja(to want)-vill-ville-velat, att tåla(to endure/`stand')-tål-tålde-tålt, att kunna(to be able to)-kan-kunde-kunnat.

Note also the regular verb att vara(to last)-varar-varade-varat whose infinitive coincides with the verb for `to be'.

(To be added: an overview of all five conjugations.)


Conjunctions, etc

The most common conjunctions in Swedish are och (and), eller (or) and men (but). They are used much like their English counterparts. Och and eller can be used to connect sentences as well as elements in a noun phrase.

(More to be written here...)


Syntax

(More to be written here...)

Swedish syntax is fairly straightforward for someone used to English, but there are a few things that differ. The probably most noticable part is that Swedish sentences often use inverted word order (the verb before the subject) to indicate questions, conditionals and consecutives. Inverted word order is also used when the sentence starts with an adverbial or any object to the verb is placed at the front of the sentence.

Examples: Löven föll ner på marken (the leaves fell down on the ground), Föll löven ner på marken? (did the leaves fall down on the ground?), Ner på marken föll löven (down on the ground fell the leaves), Faller lövet ner på marken så är det nog höst (if/when the leaves fall on the ground, it is probably autumn). Note that both sub-sentences in the last example uses inverted word order.

(More to be written here...)


Appendix I: Noun gender

The grammatical gender of Swedish nouns are essentially a property of the word that has to be learned together with the word itself. In a number of cases, one can make reasonable guesses based on the form of the word, but this is not always the case. (The only simple situation is if you already know the singular definite form of the word, in which case the word is a uter word if it ends in -n, and a neuter word if it ends in -t. But it is the singular indefinite that is the dictionary form.)

The simple situations

Words ending in -a usually belong to the first declension, in which there are only uter words. Exceptions to the -a rule exist, but they are few; two common exceptions are öga (eye) and öra (ear) which are irregular neuters. They are inflected thus: öga, ögat, ögon, ögonen; öra, örat, öron, öronen.

Some derivational suffixes belong to predictable declensions and genders, e.g. -else (3u), -ning (2u), -het (3u), -eri (3/5n), -skap (5n).

Other words ending in -e can be either uters of the second declension, e.g. pojke (boy), buske (shrub), vante (mitten), ande (spirit, ghost, genie), or neuters of the fourth declension, e.g. möte (meeting), bete (bait), vete (wheat), dike (ditch). Chemical elements and other substances and materials ending in -e are usually also fourth-declension neuters, e.g. väte (hydrogen), kväve (nitrogen), syre (oxygen).

Present participle used as a noun

The present participle has a suffix -(e)nde and can be used as a noun whose gender and inflection depends on whether it refers to the acting person (uter) or the abstract action (neuter). For instance, the verb (go, walk) has a present participle gående (walking), which can function either as an adjective (den gående mannen = the walking man, the man who is walking), or as a noun: en gående = a walking [person], a pedestrian; and ett gående, somewhat awkwardly translatable as something like: a walking, an event consisting of walking, the act of walking.

As a uter word, the participle is not inflected by number or definiteness (although it is inflected by case, meaning an -s suffix in the genetive case). As a neuter word, it is inflected as a neuter noun of the fourth declension. Thus: en gående, den gående, två gående, de två gående; but ett gående, det gåendet, två gåenden, de två gåendena.

Other nouns

For words ending in other ways than the ones mentioned in the previous sections, guessing the gender from the morphological form of the singular indefinite is more difficult. Especially as there are minimal pairs distinguished only by gender, such as `en lår' (a crate) and `ett lår' (a thigh).


Appendix II: Some two-part verbs

Swedish, much like English, has a number of verbs that change their meanings in the presence of certain adverbs and particles. Some examples of this phenomenon in English are: set off, set up, put on, put up with, give in, tell someone off.

Unlike in English, but like German, the Swedish adverbs and particles can shift between being used as a verb prefix and as separate words. The same verb+adverb/particle combination can appear in both prefixed form and as two separate words; sometimes, the difference signifies different meanings, but usually, the difference is just dictated by the verb form. For instance, the past participle is almost always formed with the adverb/particle prefixed to the verb, while using the prefix in a plain present indicative can have an overformal or bureaucratic sound unless the form is well established.

Sometimes -- typically when the adverb/particle is also a a preposition -- the words that could have made up a two-part verb are used as a plain verb plus preposition; below, this will be referred to as `non-compound' use. In the spoken form, this is usually signalled by both the verb and the adverb/particles bearing medium stress, while the verb bears heavy stress and the preposition is unstressed. This difference in stress is usually not indicated in writing, although it can be indicated by underlining or italics as any other emphasis, if required to avoid ambiguity.

It should also be noted that there exist some more firm compound verbs that cannot causally be split into two words, and that the forms of such firm compounds occasionally coincide with the kind of two-part verbs that are the main subject of this appendix; sometimes with completely different meanings. Some compound verbs of this type will also be listed below, given in the compound for, as opposed to the two-part verbs that are usually given in their two-word form except when the two-word form is rare or has a different meaning.

Lastly, it should be noted that this appendix only gives an overview of some common two-part verbs, and is far from a complete list.

Compounds with `ta' (take)

`Ta på x' = put on x (about clothes). Non-compound use: touch x.

`Ta med x' = bring x; about persons: bring x along.

`Ta av x' = take off x (about clothes). Non-compound use: take some part of x. (E.g. `ta av sina besparingar' = take from one's savings.)

`Ta till x' = resort to x. Usually not used in prefix form, since that conflicts with the existing compound verb `tillta' (increase, mount, strengthen), e.g. `vinden tilltar' = the wind gets stronger.

`Ta till sig x' = absorb/accept/embrace x (about abstract matters, teachings, opinions, etc).

`Ta sig till x' = resort to x, with a sense of urgency, confusion or desperation. More common in questions than statements, e.g. `Vad ska vi ta oss till?' = `What(ever) shall we do?'. Note non-compound use: get oneself to x, manage to go to x; e.g. `Vi tänker ta oss till Stockholm i helgen' = `We mean to take ourselves to Stockholm this weekend' (i.e. We're planning to go to S...).

Compounds with `sätta' (set, put)

`Sätta av x' = allocate x, set x aside for some particular use. Used both in prefix and two-word form, even though the latter conflicts with the firm compound `avsätta' (depose, remove from office).

`Sätta om x' = relocate/rearrange x, change the setting of x. The two-word form is mainly used about plants, switches and other things that are physically rearranged in nearly the same place, while the prefix form mainly refers to abstract transactions. In the context of economic, the derived noun `omsättning' is the standard word for `turnover', and the compound verb is sometimes used in this sense to, e.g. `Företaget omsatte mer pengar i år än tidigare' = `The company "turnover'ed" (= had a turnover of) more money this year than previously'. Note that the subject of the `omsättning' can be something other than money, in which case `exchange', 'circulation', `replacement' etc may be a more suitable better translation than `turnover'; e.g. a company that has replaced much of its staff in a certain period can be said to have had a high `personalomsättning' (Swedish 'personal = staff, personnel).

`Sätta på x' = switch something on. (Caution: this phrase is also used in slang for `have sex with'.)

`Sätta till x' = resort to x, employ/activate x. Usually with a suggestion of increasing the pace, perhaps for some final stage of some kind of competition. E.g. `sätta till alla tillgängliga resurser' = `employ all available resources'.

`Tillsätta x' = (1) fill a position (typically about employment, official appointments to non-elected offices, etc). E.g. `platsen är redan tillsatt' = `the vacancy has already been filled'; (2) add something, about ingredients.

Compounds with `tala' (speak)

`Tilltala x (som y)' = address x (as y). Beware that `som', much like English `as', can appear in both the sense `by the title of' and `in the capacity of', and that the latter can refer either to the speaking person or the addressed person. In other words, this Swedish phrase has about the same ambiguities as the English.

`Tilltala x' = appeal to x (in the sense of being pleasing to x, not in the sense of making a petition).

`Tala om x (för y)' = inform y of x. Note non-compound use: tala om x = speak about x.

`Talas vid' = have a talk/discussion, typically about some specific topic. The prefixed form `vidtalas' sounds formal, serious, or bureaucratic. Note that the verb itself is takes on the passive form, and that the subject is typically plural.

`Avtala x' = agree on x, make an agreement about x, make a contract to the effect of x.

`Intala y x' = make y believe x, convince y of x (usually implying that x is not completely believable by itself and that the belief has to be forced). Often used reflexively `intala sig x' = make oneself believe x, tell oneself x.




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