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Swedish prepositions: Till Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Grammar, Swedish Language

Prepositions can be a real horror to master when you are speaking a foreign language and for me – a native Swedish speaker living in England -, it is  to/for that is extremely confusing. The reason for this is quite obvious: I translate from Swedish to English when I speak and where it is  “till” in Swedish, it’s either “for”, “to” or even “with”  and “of” in English. 

And when desperately trying to get this right, I have noticed that the Swedes seem to love the word “till”! I have gathered six different examples on how “till” can be used in everyday Swedish.

1. First of all, we will use “till” when we are talking about direction. Here, “till” can easily can be translated to “to”:

Jag ska flytta till ett större hus
(I am moving to a bigger house)

Jag brukar åka buss till jobbet
(I usually go by bus to work)

2. We also use “till” when we are talking about direction in a more abstract sense, when something is about to happen and you are moving towards it:

 Vad ska vi äta till middag ikväll?
(What’s for dinner tonight?)

Jag har anmält mig till en salsakurs
(I have applied for a salsa course)

3. “Till” is also used when the action involves some kind of change:

Jag vill byta denna till en större storlek
(I want to change this for a bigger size)

Malin utbildar sig till svenskalärare
(Malin is studying to become a Swedish teacher)

4. We also use “till” when we are sending or giving something away:

Vad ska du ge till Jennie på hennes födelsedag?
(What are you going to give Jennie for her birthday?)

Jag har en överraskning till dig!
(I have a surprise for you!)

Snälla, säg ingenting till någon!
(Please, don’t tell anyone!)

5. “Till” is also used when describing different types of usage:

Vad använder du den här till?
(What do you use this one for?)

Jag tror att pengarna räcker till maten
(I think I have enough money for the food)

6. For any accessories, attachments and side dishes, “till” is the word to use:

Kan jag få en kanelbulle till kaffet?
(Can I have a cinnamon bun with my coffee?)

Jag kan inte hitta locket till burken
(I can’t find the lid for this jar)

Passar halsbandet till klänningen?
(Does this neckless go with the dress?)

Jag bor i en förort till Göteborg.
(I live in a suburb of Göteborg)

So, has this been of any help? (Har detta varit till någon hjälp?)
Please feel free to add more examples if you can think of more usages of till. And while you’re at it, where in the jungle of prepositions do you reckon we should head the next time?

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  1. Cecile Pham:

    good lord. my brain just melted. so when do you use of = av? ack!!!! or for = för ?

  2. jennie:

    It looks worse than it is, I promise!! But prepositions are nasty little buggers, it’s difficult even for Swedes and I think it takes a lot of talking/listening to Swedish to get it well almost right at least. But I will def dedicate a post to av and för, watch this space! And keep up the good work!!

  3. david:

    Thanks for that!. Hardly surprising I am confused all day. Speaking English while being from Germany and trying to learn Swedish at the same time doesn’t make it any better. I guess I don’t have to say that a couple of prepositions are again different in German. 🙂

  4. jennie:

    Oh god, German prepositions were the worst! An, auf, hinter, in…
    Well, good luck!! 🙂

  5. Carlos:

    Hi. I would like to know when to use åt instead of för, till in cases where you would use for, to in English, since it can completely change the idea.