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Swedish Short Answers Posted by on Dec 10, 2019 in Grammar, Swedish Language, The Swedish blog team, Vocabulary

Today I’d like to focus on Swedish kortsvar, or short answer format. This comes into play when answering yes or no questions and uses an inverted structure. Essentially, it’s the “yes, I do” or “no, I do not” of Swedish. 

Lena Granefelt “Workplace Environment” / Image Bank Sweden

There are a few different ways of answering questions in Swedish. The first way is to more or less repeat what you heard, adding a “ja” or “nej” Till exempel: 

Bor du i Umeå?                   Do you live in Umeå?
Ja, jag bor i Umeå.             Yes, I live in Umeå.
Nej, jag bor inte i Umeå.   No, I do not live in Umeå. 

 

The first option is great but then there is the kortsvar, or short answer. In my experience, this is almost a more common way to answer yes and no questions among native speakers. Rather than repeating the verb used in the question, you substitute it for gör (do). 

Talar du isländska?          Do you speak Icelandic?
Ja, det gör jag.                  Yes, I do.
Nej, det gör jag inte.         No, I do not. 

Cyklar du till jobbet?      Do you ride your bike to work?
Ja, det gör jag.                 Yes, I do.
Nej, det gör jag inte.       No, I don’t.

Again, instead of repeating the original verb cyklar, we use gör

I often tell my students that it’s sort of the “Yup, I do” or “Nope, I don’t.” It’s quick, straightforward and slightly less cumbersome than repeating the whole sentence. Read this post by Marcus for more on Answering Yes and No Questions in Swedish, where he breaks down the sentence structure. 

Below are a few more applications of the kortsvar, with some practice questions below:


With use of the verb “är” in your answer: 

Är du arbetslös nu?           Are you unemployed now?
Ja, det är jag.                     Yes, I am.
Nej, det är jag inte.           No, I am not.

To use kortsvar with a helping verb: 

Ska du cykla till jobbet?      Will you bike to work?
Ja, det ska jag göra.             Yes, I will do it.
Nej, det ska jag inte göra.   No, I will not do it.

Here, you’ll notice that we’ve added a helping verb and then added the infinitive form of göra (to do) at the end of the sentence. In true short answers form, we can also drop the göra and our answer becomes, Ja, det ska jag,  Yes, I’m going to. 

Kan du spela gitarr?        Can you play guitar?
Ja, det kan jag.                  Yes, I can.
Nej, det kan jag inte.        No, I cannot. 

 

If you have a question that is already negated in Swedish with an inte (not), or aldrig (never), a positive answer should include jo instead of ja. Jo works well with the kortsvar when someone is asking a question in which your answer states a contrary fact. 

Till exempel: 

Kommer du inte till jobbet?         Aren’t you coming to work?
Jo, det gör jag.                                Yes, I am (indeed).
Nej, det gör jag inte.                      No, I am not. 

“Jo” is used here to emphasize that yes, “I am indeed coming to work.”

 

Har han aldrig varit pa Gotland?           Has he never been to Gotland?
Jo, det har han.                                        Yes, he has. 
Nej, det har han inte.                              No, he hasn’t. 

You can use kortsvar when answering questions using past tense as well! Till exempel:

Arbetade du igår?                 Did you work yesterday?
Ja, det gjorde jag.                 Yes, I did.
Nej, det gjorde jag inte.       No, I did not. 

Bakade du kanelbullar imorse?  Did you bake cinnamon buns this morning?
Ja, det gjorde jag.                  Yes, I did.
Nej, det gjorde jag inte.        No, I did not. 

 

Ready to practice?! Answer each question with both a yes and a no statement. 

  1. Läser du på kvällen?  
  2. Kör du bil? 
  3. Röker du? 
  4. Vill du åka till Sverige? 
  5. Talar du inte engelska? 
  6. Dricker du inte kaffe? 
  7. Var du ledig igår också? 
  8. Snöade det i Falun igår? 
  9. Ska ni besöka dina föräldrar nästa sommar? 
  10. Hade du en fråga till läraren? 
  11. Måste du jobba sent ikväll? 
  12. Köpte du ingen mat till mig? 
  13. Har Greta inte pratat med Micke än? 
  14.  Gillar du inte öl? 
  15. Bor du inte i en lägenhet?
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About the Author: Chelsea B

Chelsea is a Swedish language instructor and translator living in Minnesota, U.S. She has a degree in Scandinavian Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and has experience living and working in Sweden from north to south! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, listening to music, and practicing slöjd, the Swedish word for handcraft.


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