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 på.
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:
- To indicate movement
- To indicate a new owner using an indirect object
- To indicate a future time period
- 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.