Super Scary Prepositions: Till

Posted on 31. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar

It’s Halloween. A time for super scary creatures. And super scary parts of grammar. Nothing scares me more than prepositions. I hate them. There, I said it. I hate prepositions. I mess them up in Swedish and English. And I’ve been speaking both of those languages for a lot of years. A lot of teachers might cringe at what I’m about to write because some people believe you should avoid saying that things you’re teaching are difficult, but there’s no point in lying: prepositions are hard and they never seem to have any rules.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. The rule part at least. A while back, we published a post titled How fast can you eat 25 hotdogs? In Swedish. It gave you a few questions to ask yourself to help guide your preposition use when dealing with frequency. How fast? How long? How often?
Hur snabbt, which is answered with the preposition .
Hur länge, which is answered with the preposition i or no preposition at all.
Hur ofta, which is answered with the preposition om or i.

One way of conquering your fears is to face them. And then bore them into submission. So today, we’re going to face prepositions. Actually, we’re just going to face one preposition in particular. But it’s a very common one: TILL!

There are a lot of different ways till can be used (and even more here that won’t make this list), but this a start:

  1. To indicate movement
  2. To indicate a new owner using an indirect object
  3. To indicate a future time period
  4. To indicate a connection to something or togetherness

To indicate movement:
Till usually translates pretty easily as to, as in I’m moving to Sweden. There’s motion here. You’re moving TO Sweden:
Jag flyttar till Sverige. I’m moving to Sweden.

The same can be said if you decide to walk to the library:
Jag går till biblioteket. I’m walking to the library.

But that’s the easy part of till. It does so much more.

To indicate a new owner using an indirect object:
Till can also be used as a preposition with an indirect object. Indirect objects are those objects that are receiving the direct object. If your friend is sending you a postcard from Sweden, your friend is the subject, the postcard is the direct object, and you are the indirect object. In these cases, till usually translates as to or even for:
Min vän skickade ett vykort till mig. My friend sent a postcard to me.
Ge den till mig. Give it to me.

To indicate a future time period:
Till can also be used when discussing time periods. You can often translate till as either until or for depending on what you’re trying to say. Think about things that are going to happen in the future with this preposition:
Hon kommer hem till jul. She’s coming home for Christmas.
Jag ska jobba till den 1 januari. I’m going to work until January 1.

A couple of things to keep in mind here: first, you might hear people say tills in these cases instead of till. That’s totally acceptable. When those two words are used as prepositions, they are considered synonyms. Second, don’t use till when discussing the clock. If it is 10:55 and you want to say that there are five minutes until 11 you say: klockan är fem i elva. I is the preposition you want there.

To indicate a connection to something or togetherness:
This can be a tricky one, but till is used when you need almond milk for your cereal or a sandwich for lunch. It can sometimes be translated as with or for:
Kan jag få mandelmjölk till flingorna? Can I have almond milk with my cereal?
Jag vill ha en macka till lunch idag. I want a sandwich for lunch today.

So there are four of the ways you can use the preposition till. You can also use till in a few other instances, to show possession, for example:
Han är en kollega till mig. He’s a colleague of mine.

Or in a prepositional phrase like, for example, you use till also. Till exempel = for example. Remember, you can read about abbreviations on this post titled 14 Swedish Abbreviations You Need to Know, where you’ll learn that the abbreviation for till exempel is t.ex.

And now that we’ve faced our fear of prepositions, and probably bored ourselves a bit along the way, we don’t have to be as afraid of the preposition till.

Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 3

Posted on 29. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar, Swedish Language


Hej på dig! I’m back with Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 3. In parts 1 and 2, I explained two different ways to say “this” in Swedish. Now it’s time to explain “that”.

If you recall from Part 1, the first way I taught you how to say “this” was den här. Den här is used for common or “n-gender” nouns. Det här is used for neuter or “t-gender” nouns, and de här is used for all plural nouns, regardless of gender.

To say “that”, you basically just take each of these forms and replace här with där. So, for common gender nouns, you get den där. For example:

den här stolenthis chair
den där stolenthat chair

For neuter gender nouns, you get det där:

det här pianotthis piano
det där pianotthat piano

And for plural nouns, regardless of gender, you get de där:

de här stolarnathese chairs
de där stolarnathose chairs


de här pianonathese pianos
de där pianonathose pianos

Fantastiskt! And just like den här and its declined forms, den där can also be used independently:

Den där var min favorit.That one was my favorite.
Jag tänker inte äta det där! – I’m not going to eat that!
De där går inte att köpa just nu.Those you can’t buy right now.

Similarly to det här, det där can be used to refer to the state of affairs in a mentioned situation. In contrast to det här, though, it refers to a situation that isn’t occurring in the speaker’s current time and place. This sounds complicated, but the difference is actually expressed in the exact same way in English: Whereas one might say “This is fun!” about one’s own current situation, one might say “That’s fun!” about a situation that is not their current one. For example, two friends are on a rollercoaster. One of them shouts:

Det här är kul!This is fun!

Later, she tells a colleague that about the rollercoaster. Having been on the rollercoaster before, the colleague comments:

Det där är kul!That is fun!

Hope that made sense!

As a general concept, “here” and “this” are related. When you talk about “this”, you are talking about something that is close to you either physically or mentally. In the same way, “there” and “that” are also related. When you talk about “that”, you are talking about something that is farther away either physically or mentally. Hence, det här means “this” and det där means “that”.

Awesome! Now you’ve mastered the basic ways to say “this” and “that” in Swedish. Grattis! Ha så kul!

Answering Yes and No Questions in Swedish

Posted on 27. Oct, 2014 by in Grammar, Swedish Language

Det is an important word in Swedish. It’s a common word with a lot of uses and a few different meanings. If you missed Steve’s posts about this and that, definitely click on through to find out more about how det is used:
Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 1
Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 2

Det can also be used when answering yes and no questions in Swedish. As you become more comfortable with the language, you’re going to find that you want to nuance your speech more. One way of doing that is to fine-tune how you respond to people when answering questions.

Many students first learn to respond to yes and no questions by simply repeating the question back to the person who asked in an affirmative way.

Gillar du godis? (Do you like candy?)
Ja, jag gillar godis. (Yes, I like candy)

Hatar du grönsaker? (Do you hate vegetables?)
Nej, jag hatar inte grönsaker. (No, I don’t hate vegetables.)

It’s a great way to learn the basics of the language and a great way to make yourself understood. But it also can become somewhat elementary as you repeat over and over the same words that you just heard.

Just as in English, we would not necessarily always include the word “like” and “hate” in the examples above. Instead we might respond to someone asking us if we like candy: yes, I do.

We can respond in similar fashion in Swedish using the word det. The formula is relatively simple. Start with your yes or no response. Add det. Add a verb. Add a subject. Maybe add a negative. Let’s look at a few examples:
Är du full? (Are you drunk?)
Ja + det + är + jag. (Yes, I am.)
Nej + det + är + jag + inte. (No, I am not.)

Har du en hund? (Do you have a dog?)
Ja + det + har + jag. (Yes, I do.)
Nej + det +har + jag + inte. (No, I do not.)

Försöker ni tala svenska? (Are you all trying to speak Swedish?)
Ja + det + gör + vi. (Yes, we are.)
Nej + det + gör + vi +inte. (No, we are not.)

Pretty easy, right? But you may have noticed that the verb switched. In our first two examples, we just re-used är and har in our response. But in the third example, we used gör instead of försöker. For the most part, when you’re responding in this way, you’re going to replace the original verb with the verb göra. Är and har are a couple of exceptions (kan, ska, vill are a few more exceptions).

Let’s practice with more examples:
Är du kär i henne? (Are you in love with her?)
Ja, det är jag. (Yes, I am.)
Nej, det är jag inte. (No, I am not.)

Har du kul? (Are you having fun?)
Ja, det har jag. (Yes, I am.)
Nej, det har jag inte. (No, I am not.)

Vill du skrika? (Do you want to scream?)
Ja, det vill jag. (Yes, I do.)
Nej, det vill jag inte. (No, I do not.)

Känner du honom? (Do you know him?)
Ja, det gör jag. (Yes, I do.)
Nej, det gör jag inte. (No, I do not.)

Kör du bil? (Do you drive?)
Ja, det gör jag. (Yes, I do.)
Nej, det gör jag inte. (No, I do not.)

Now you’re ready to impress your Swedish friends with a more advanced way of responding to their questions. Good luck!