Swedish Language Blog

Swedish Verbs, part 2 Posted by on Sep 23, 2008 in Grammar

A few posts back we started to discuss Swedish verbs, remember? And I told you that those verbs can be divided into two big groups: “ar” and “er”. I also mentioned that there is a third group and then promptly refused to say anything else about it.

Oh yes, that third verb group. This is the group that brings tears of definitely not joy to the eyes of Swedish learners. Why? Several reasons.

While most (almost all other) verbs have infinitive forms that end in –a, those short little guys end in whatever they like. At least it looks like that to an untrained eye. And those guys are really short. Like one syllable short. That’s the good news. The other good news is that there aren’t all that many of them. The bad news is that they’re all irregular, and sadly, you have no other choice but to memorize them all, especially since quite a few of them are very common. Like this one, for example:

  • ge = to give

ge” is the infinitive form, and in the present tense this verb tries to masquerade as an “er” verb, clever little sod:

  • Jag ger dig pengar. = I give you money (I’m giving you money)

See what I mean? “Ge” becomes “ger” in the present tense.
Other verbs that behave as “ge” are:

  • le/ler = (to) smile
  • be/ber = (to) beg, request
  • se/ser = (to) see

Here are some other short verbs that are neither “ar” nor “er”:

  • stå = to stand
    Hon står och väntar. = She’s standing and waiting.
  • = to die
    Gräset dör i torkan. = The grass dies during drought.
  • bo = to live (somewhere)
    Jag bor i Sverige. = I live in Sweden.
  • = to get, to receive
    Hon får pengar idag. = She gets money today.
  • tro = to believe, to think
    Ja, jag tror det. = Yes, I think so (reckon).
  • = to go
    Hur går det för dig? = How’s it going for you?
  • = to feel (of health)
    Jag mår inte riktig bra. = I’m not feeling quite well.

Can you spot a pattern? While these are neither “ar” nor “er” verbs, turning them into their present tense forms is quite easy – just stick an “r” onto their short, little bodies. That’s the easy part. Unfortunately, that’s also the end of easy, because when it comes to their past and perfect forms, those irregular suckers you will need to memorize one by one. Let me know if you need any help!

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  1. corkowska:


    while being on stockholm skavsta airport last time i found something strange there. there r like smoking rooms – looking a bit like the bus stops, where u can have a fag being inside the terminal all the time, and there was written both in swedish and english that u can not bring any kinda food or dring to smoking room ’cause it’s against swedish law. have u hard anything bout it? what a nonsence! what kinda paragraph is it? 🙂

  2. Anna:

    hej hej!!!
    You know, I haven’t been to Skavsta in AGES, I hate that airport! LOL!
    But not allowing food into a smoking room makes perfect sense – it violates the health code regulations, because these days you’re not allowed to smoke anywhere where food is present. No smoking in restaurants, cafes, etc. So, not permitting any food or drink in those smoking rooms makes perfect sense to me. 🙂