This is the third post in a very infrequent series about prepositions. We’ve covered the preposition till and the preposition under in the past, and now it’s time for vid. Prepositions are incredibly difficult to get right when learning a new language. Unfortunately, they’re also very important to greater levels of understanding. But don’t worry! No one ever said language learning was easy. Actually, plenty of people have probably said that, but for the vast majority of people, learning a new language takes a lot of work and can be very frustrating, so don’t worry if you get stuck. Especially when working with prepositions like vid.
Vid is generally used to describe a closeness to something. There are a lot of ways to translate that into English, so you’ll sometimes see vid translated as at, by, near, with, on, around, about, etc. You get the idea. That’s why instead of focusing on just a translation, we’re going to focus on a few examples that will demonstrate how to use the word. Remember, vid is going to be used to describe closeness, nearness, proximity, adjacency, and that can mean either location or time.
Let’s look at a few examples using location first:
Hon står vid dörren. = He’s standing by the door.
Vi går vid vägen. = We’re walking by the road.
Jag sitter vid datorn. = I’m sitting at the computer.
De bor i en stad vid kusten. = They live in a town on the coast.
Har ni sett slottet vid parken? = Have you all seen the castle by the park?
Undervisar du vid ett stort universitet? = Do you teach at a big university?
Helsingborg är en stad vid kusten! By Georg Braun (Civitates orbis terrarum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
You’ll notice that in the first five examples, vid could be translated as “close to” and the sentence still makes sense. But what about that last one? It’s a kind-of exception. The sentence is still describing a location—the university—but the sentence is asking if you teach AT the university. Just like the sentence about sitting AT the computer, you can work AT or vid a big university. Think of it as a broad definition of closeness—working at or studying at a university is as close as you can get.
Now let’s take a look at a few examples using time:
Ska vi träffas vid lunchdags? = Should we meet around lunchtime?
Hon kommer vid sjutiden. = She’s coming around 7:00.
Jag brukar lägga mig vid midnatt. = I usually go to bed around midnight.
Han flyttade hemifrån vid 18 år. = He moved away from home at the age of 18.
Jocke var 80 år vid sin död. = Jocke was 80-years old at his death.
All of the examples above describe some sense of time. There’s lunchtime, 7:00 time, midnight time, 18-year old time, and even death time. While the first three examples might be very obvious, time can be extended out to years and even a lifetime, as long as it conveys some sense of closeness. So along with translating vid as around or at when talking about time, you could also translate it as about or even –ish.
There are, as always, exceptions. Sometime, vid can be used to mean “when it comes to, ” like:
Jag måste vänja mig vid att äta grönsaker. = I need to get used to eating vegetables.
Sometimes it can mean that you’re alive or in good health:
Hon är fortfarande vid liv! = She is still alive!
Han är vid god hälsa. = He is in good health.
But even though there are exceptions, if you keep in mind the use of vid to describe closeness, whether it’s place or time, you’ll be just a little bit closer to mastering the use of this super scary preposition.