Swedish Language Blog

Förlora, Tappa, Mista Posted by on Aug 24, 2010 in Grammar

You guys have been asking what the difference is between these three verbs. Let me try to explain it in a nutshell for you. All these three verbs could be translated as “to lose”. Well all three verbs are near in meaning, but förlora and mista are closer synonyms.

Förlora: You use the verb in cases where there is no going back. Somethin is done. Whatever has happened it´s happened. Like losing a game, losing a girl- or boyfriend etc.

a., Mijonären som har förlorat allt ska starta eget.

b., The millionaire who has lost everything will start own business.

a., Han var 15 när han förlorade oskulden.

b., He was 15 when he lost his virginity. OBs! Don´t use the synonym mista in this case. It would be not only dramatic but it would feel like that the person is not really “happy” about the fact.

Tappa: You use the verb in situations where you have lost something but there is a chance that you or someone else will find it.

a., Jag har tappat/tappa bort min plånbok.

b., I have lost my wallet.

 OBS! The word tappa has several meanings. Tappa vin på flaska= to bottle wine, tappa på blood=to drain blood

 Tappa bort would mean to lose something but in spoken language you often use just “tappa”. It is also possible to combine the verb “tappa” with other prepositions as well like; tappa x över= tappa kontrollen över någonting=to lose the control over something. You can also lose your temper.  Han tappade humöret på mötet.=He lost his temper at the meeting. In certain expressions you wouldn´t use preps. like; tappa håret=to lose hair, tappa aptiten= to lose one´s apetite

Mista: You use the word in very emotional or dramatic situations. OBS! mista and förlora are synonyms, but certain expressions demand certain verbs.

a., Hon har mist sin dotter i en  bilolycka or Hon har förlorat sin dotter i bilolycka. Both works!

b., She has lost her daughter in a car crash.

a., Han har mist synen. or Har förlorat synen.

b., He has lost his sight.

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  1. Steve:

    I thought the difference between “tappa” and “tappa bort” was that the first means “drop” and the second means “lose”.

    Jag har tappat min plånbok.
    I have dropped my wallet.

    Jag har tappa bort min plånbok.
    I have lost my wallet.

    If this is not the case, then how do you say “I have dropped my wallet” in Swedish?

  2. Letícia:

    Thank you very much for the post, Tibor. I was one of those who asked for it. 🙂
    It’s still a little hard for me to get it because my first language (Portuguese), like English, has only one verb that translates into those three Swedish verbs. And that same verb in Portuguese also means “to miss”, so only now I realized that “mista” and “missa” are not the same thing. Looks like I’ve got a lot of studying to do, haha. 🙂

  3. Tibor:

    Hi Steve!

    Very good question. Yes tappa is also to drop something. But people sometimes use it without “bort” even when it comes to losing things. It is an important observation indeed. If you feel uncertain about it, I would recommend to use tappa bort as to lose and tappa as to drop. Just be aware of the fact that people might say tappa as well in cases like losing things (especially in spoken language).

  4. Luke (Sydney):

    I guess Swedes don’t have the concept of going back with the EX—which is a good thing of course 😀

  5. David:

    Maybe due to the influence of English, you can sometimes see “förlora” used instead of “tappa” where English has “lose”: “Han förlorade kontrollen”; “Jag har förlorat håret” and so on. But “tappa” is still the correct form.

  6. Tibor:

    Hej David!

    The correct use becomes that spreads in people´s language. I don´t think it is incorrect because a lot of people using it like that. Language changes all the time and it is seldom logical that is why we call those words and expressions as exceptions. Just because something is an English influence it doesn´t mean it is incorrect if people use it. We have plenty of exemples in Swedish for that.

  7. Camilla:

    without having read the other comments yet i would just like to add that if you used “mista” instead of “förlora” when it come to virginity it suggests that it can be retrievable.

  8. Camilla:

    To me the verb “mista” is getting old.. like sth my granny used to say. almost like that anyway, i think i use “förlora” a lot.

  9. Tibor:

    Hej! So ture LOL!

  10. Tibor:

    Also a good point made by Camilla. It is def. more frequent in older literature..so this might be also true