Important Swedish verbs: att bli, “to become” Posted by Stephen Maconi on Jun 1, 2015 in Grammar, Swedish Language
Also known as bliva*, the Swedish verb bli is one of the most useful ones to know. It has several uses, but the main meaning is “to become”.
(*Bliva is an older variant of the word that you might see in older texts or songs. Bli is the variant used in modern Swedish, so this is the one you should learn.)
As you can see in the examples, the present tense of bli is blir. While English has two present tense forms of “to become” – “become” and “becomes” – the Swedish language only has one: blir. In other words, whether it’s jag, du, hon, vi, ni or de, the present tense conjugation is always blir.
In its most basic meaning, bli is used to indicate that something is becoming more of something:
Det blir svårare att hitta bostad allteftersom tiden går.
It is becoming/getting harder to find a place to live as time goes on.
Bli is also used to indicate that someone is taking on a new endeavor. This is often used in the future tense:
Jag ska bli pilot efter universitetet.
I am going to become a pilot after university.
But if it is something that will happen soon or is already in the process, the present tense is usually used. In this case, the meaning is similar to “will be” but with the specific meaning as bolded above:
Snart blir hon mamma.
Soon, she will be a mom. [Literally: “Soon, she becomes a mom.”]
Bli can also mean “would be” when used with an adjective describing a theoretical situation:
A: Ska jag hämta honom istället?
A: Shall I pick him up instead?
B: Nej, det behöver du inte. Det blir omständigt för dig.
B: No, you don’t need to do that. It would be inconvenient for you.
Finally, bli is used to form passive sentences. In this case, it is an auxiliary verb followed by a past participle:
Företaget blev grundat år 1952.
The company was founded in 1952.
Bli is conjugated as follows:
present: blir, “become(s)”
past: blev, “became”
present perfect: har blivit, “have/has become”
past perfect: hade blivit, “had become”
Have you seen any other uses of bli that aren’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments!