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Swedish Sentence Adverbials Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in Grammar

It’s a super exciting topic. Sentence adverbials. In Swedish, sentence adverbials are those little words or phrases that get thrown into a sentence to They’re those little things that get thrown into a sentence to modify the sentence. They usually describe time, or place, or even the way something is being done.

There are a whole lot of these words to choose from and what and how you choose will of course modify the sentence in a specific way. Below, you’ll find a short list of some of the more common sentence adverbials:

Inte                                                      not
Alltid                                                   always
Aldrig                                                  never
Ofta                                                     often
Ibland                                                  sometimes
Sällan                                                  seldom
Bara                                                     only
Gärna                                                  gladly
Tyvärr                                                  unfortunately
Kanske                                                            maybe, possibly
Fortfarande                                         still
Nog                                                     probably
Snart                                                    soon

The list could go on and on, but next we’re going to discuss exactly how to use these words. In a main clause, or a huvudsats, it’s easy. A huvudsats is just a clause which can stand alone and be a full sentence. For example: Jag äter godis. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it is a full sentence. But what if we wanted to modify this sentence? I never eat candy for example? Jag äter aldrig godis. Or I do not eat candy? Jag äter inte godis. The sentence adverbial follows the first verb in a huvudsats. Just for good measure: Jag äter alltid godis. Jag äter sällan godis. Jag äter bara godis. Let’s add a second verb just to clear things up. Jag ska kanske äta godis. Jag ska snart äta godis. Jag ska fortfarande äta godis. As you see, the satsadverbial still follows our first verb.

Easy right? Right.

Now let’s move onto a subjunctive clause, or dependent clause, or in Swedish, a bisats. A bisats is marked by what is called a bisatsinledare. Again, there are a lot of these, but essentially, what this word or phrase does is let you know that this part of the sentence cannot stand along as a full sentence. It needs help. Below you will find a list of some of the more common words:

Därför att                                because
När                                          when
Trots att                                   in spite of, despite
För att                                     so as to, in order to, to
Eftersom                                 since
Medan                                     while
Om                                          if
Innan                                       before
Att                                           that

But what do we do with the satsadverbial when we have a bisats? It’s not too bad at all. The satsadverbial will come before your first verb in this case. So if we take my sweet tooth example from above and modify it with a bisats, we might have something like this. Jag äter godis eftersom jag inte är sjuk. In the bisats “eftersom jag inte är sjuk,” the satsadverbial comes before my first verb. And a few more examples: Jag äter godis trots att jag alltid är sjuk. Jag äter inte godis om jag kanske är sjuk. In all the examples, the satsadverbial comes before your first verb in the bisats, and after your first verb in the huvudsats.

So to recap: in a huvudsats, the satsadverbial follows your first verb. In a bisats, the satsadverbial comes before your first verb.  Good luck!

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


Comments:

  1. Linn Olsson:

    When studying Swedish grammar, this is commonly referred to as “Biff-regeln” and “Heff-regeln”.

    Biff-regeln is short for: i Bisats kommer Inte Före det Finita verbet.

    Heff-regeln is short for: i Huvudsats kommer inte EFter Finita verbet.

    (“Inte” can swap places with other satsadverbial, and “Finita verbet” is basically another way of saying “det första verbet”)

    …in case anyone was wondering! I am somewhat of a grammar nerd and thought this was a really good post Marcus! Just felt a need to comment on it 🙂

  2. Marcus Cederström:

    Good comment!

  3. Pea:

    Hi! I have a question:
    What happens if there are two satsadverbial in a sentence, where one satsadverbial is ‘inte’ in addition to any other satsadverbial. In which order, then the two stand in a sentence?
    Thanks for answering!

  4. Marcus Cederström:

    Oh good question! Generally you’ll get a short satsadverbial, followed by a long one, followed by the negating satsadverbial, followed by the time adverbial. Of course, it depends then on which ones you use in any particular sentence. Hopefully that helps a little bit!

  5. Aina B.:

    Hej! Good post! It made things clearer for me regarding satsadverbial. However, I didn’t understand your reply on the comment from Pea (on the 25th January 2016). Could you clear it up with some examples? Thanks!

    • Marcus Cederström:

      @Aina B. These sentences can get kind of awkward with so many adverbials in one sentence, but you could say something like:
      Jag borde ju egentligen aldrig röka. There we have a short one (ju), a long one (egentligen), and negating (aldrig).

      Or maybe:
      Hon behöver ju inte alltid röka. There we have a short one (ju), a negating (inte), and a time (alltid).

      Hopefully that helps a bit!

  6. Anne:

    Which is right please?

    Jag kan fortfarande inte tala svenska.

    Jag kan inte fortfarande tala svenska

  7. Lydia:

    Ok I seldom comment on articles but I must say this is the most simple and straightforward explanations ever. Thanks a lot for this.

  8. Sveta:

    I have read the whole article about where to place adverbials in huvudsats and bisats. This complicated topic has become clear to me, thank you very much!

    Although, in Rivstart B1, B2, Kapitel 7 övningsbok, sida 56 finns många meningar som jag inte förstod. Those sentences make no sense to me at all as they seem to contradict each other. This made me crying and I was in despair.

    There are just 7 sentences.
    What I wrote was:
    1. Inte långt från mitt hus finns en skog som jag springer ofta i.
    2. På biblioteket har de en fotobok som jag tittar mycket i.
    3. I Malmö finns en park som jag promenerar ofta i.
    4. Ingmar Bergman var en regissör som många blev inspirerade av.
    5. På en fest träffade jag en man som jag drömmer ofta om.
    6. Jag har ett eget företag som jag investerar mycket pengar i.
    7. Ett smultronställe är plats som man kommer gärna tillbaka till.

    I checked with the facit övningbok and the correct sentences are:
    1. Inte långt från mitt hus finns en skog som jag ofta springer i.
    2. På biblioteket har de en fotobok som jag tittar mycket i.
    3. I Malmö finns en park som jag ofta promenerar i.
    4. Ingmar Bergman var en regissör som många blev inspirerade av.
    5. På en fest träffade jag en man som jag ofta drömmer om.
    6. Jag har ett eget företag som jag investerar mycket pengar i.
    7. Ett smultronställe är plats som man gärna kommer tillbaka till.

    Why!!! is it so that in the first, third, fifth and seventh sentences I made mistakes and when the second and sixth sentence with the same word order – were correct?! What is going on?!
    Maybe it’s a mistake in the workbook.
    If not, then Nordic Swedish language was invented so that foreigners can never learn it.