Swedish Language Blog

Stop or shut? Posted by on Jan 17, 2012 in Grammar, Swedish Language, Vocabulary

Similar to the nouns in last Tuesday’s post, there are a number of Swedish verbs that have the same infinite form but different meanings and different conjugation.

One of the best examples is the words sluta, meaning either “stop”, “end”, or “shut”, depending on its context and grammatical conjugation. It is also worth noting that sluta as “stop” or “end” is intransitive, meaning that you can not sluta something – inserting a direct object after it makes no sense. You can, however, sluta doing something or sluta med something. Here are some examples

Lektionen slutarom fem minuter.The lesson ends in five minutes.
Sluta tjata på* mig!Stop nagging me! (* in this case is tied to the verb, but not emphasized. You can’t say, for example, tjata mig.)
Sluta med tjatandet!Stop with the nagging!

[Note: If you want to “stop” something (i.e. from doing something), you can use the word stoppa. If you want to “stop” something from being in motion, use the word stanna.]

Here is the conjugation of sluta meaning “end” or “stop”:

sluta – to stop/end
slutar – stop/end, stops/ends, am/is/are stopping/ending
slutade – stopped/ended, was/were stopping/ending
har slutat – have/has stopped/ended, have/has been stopping/ending
hade slutat – had stopped/ended, had been stopping/ending

with the definition of “shut”
, however, is a transitive verb, meaning that something can’t just sluta; it has to sluta something else. Here is an example:

Jag slöt ögonen och somnade.I shut my eyes and fell asleep.

If you want to say “His eyes shut“, because sluta in this definition is transitive, you have to say either:

Hans ögon slöt sig. (if they shut themselves on their own, i.e. via reflex) or:

Hans ögon slöts. (if they were shut, most likely by him himself, saying it from a first-person, relatively literary perspective).

Sluta meaning “shut” is conjugated like so:

sluta – to shut
sluter – shut/end, shuts/ends, am/is/are shutting
slöt – shut, was/were shutting
har slutit – have/has shut, have/has been shutting
hade slutit – had shut, had been shutting

Another good example of this phenomenon is sticka, meaning either “knit” or “be off” or “leave”.

sticka – to knit sticka – to be off/leave
stickar – knit, knits, am/is/are knitting sticker – am/is/are off, leave/leaves, am/is/are leaving
stickade – knit(ted), was/were knitting stack – was/were off, left
har stickat – have/has knit(ted), have/has been knitting har stuckit – have/has left/gone
har stickat – had knit(ted), had been knitting hade stuckit – had left/gone

These are only two examples of such words. There are several more that will pop up as you learn more Swedish!

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About the Author: Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


  1. Eugenia:

    Thank you!! It’s always a pleasure to read what you post here!!!

  2. may:

    Thank you so much. You always have good example to clarify things. By the way what is “slots”, is it an adjective?

    Also not sure if you have covered it in your previous blogs but we are very confused with the verb “fara”. If you haven’t please give us a lesson on it. Thansk!

    • Steve:

      @may Hi there,

      If you mean slöts, it is categorized as a passive verb. Slöt is the past tense form of [att] sluta (“[to] shut”); adding an S to a verb generally makes it passive. In other words, while [att] sluta (the active form) means “[to] shut”, [att] slutas (the passive form) means “[to] be shut [by someone/something else]”.

      Hope that was helpful!