The many uses of the preposition “av” Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in Grammar, Vocabulary

Some of our readers have requested a post about the Swedish preposition av, so here it is! The word has many uses, among them what is expressed by English “of”. This is, however, far from always the case, and “of” can also be expressed by other Swedish prepositions, depending on what the speaker means to convey.

1) describing what something is made of

Bordet är gjort av trä. – The table is made of wood.
Kniven var gjord av rostfritt stål. – The knife was made of stainless steel.

2) inclusion in a group

Igår var jag hemma hos en av mina klasskamrater. – Yesterday I was at the home of one of my classmates.
Där stod två av de tre ekorrar vi hade sett dagen innan. – There stood two of the three squirrels we had seen the day before.

3) marking the agent in a passive clause

Jag blev precis anfallen av en bläckfisk. – I was just attacked by a squid.

4) marking the cause or source of something

Hon dansade av ren glädje. – She danced out of pure happiness.
Jag fick pennan av Sigvard. – I got the pen from Sigvard. (Here, you can also use the preposition från.)

Av as a preposition is never emphasized when pronounced. When it is used as a verb particle or adjective, though, it is emphasized:

Barnen sparkade av stövlarna när de kom hem. – The children kicked off their boots when they got home.
Stäng av kranen! – Turn off the tap/faucet!
Är tv:n av nu? – Is the TV off now?

Av can also appear as a lexical (and therefore emphasized) prefix:

Jag har fått avslag på min ansökan. – My application was denied. (Lit: “I have received denial (noun) on my application.”)
Annika ska avinstallera programmet åt mig. – Annika is going to uninstall the program for me.

Hope this guide was helpful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment! 🙂


Source for some of the information in this post: Wiktionary (all borrowed examples proofread).

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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. Diana:

    Tack för ditt inlägg. This is fantastic, exactly what I was looking for.

    Is there a similar explanation for words like “för” “till” “över”, and other prepositions? They seemed to be used differently and I can’t find a definite pattern.

  2. Regiane Ferreira:

    I would like to know about the strong and weak adjectives and the rules to use en,ett and den,det,de? Take a look at the exemples!

    Kniven var gjord av rostfritt stål. – The knife was made of stainless steel.

    den fina bilen- The beautiful car.


  3. Bella:

    Im still confused to differentiate / using av or från. Example : jag skulle vilja ha pengarna av Evert på söndag. Du ska få en present av mig. Why not using från?
    Thanks for your help.