What are prepositions and time expressions?

In this blog post, I wanted to talk a little bit more in detail about what prepositions and time expressions actually are. This follows on from the last text about why prepositions are so difficult to learn (if you haven’t read it, you can find it here).

Prepositions are a word category

You probably know this already, but languages are made up of different word categories. Each category includes words that have a specific function. For example, a verb is a word category that helps us express and understand what is happening (running, talking, studying, being, etc). Adjectives describe things (long, boring, yellow, fast, etc).

The Swedish language has 9 word categories in total, and one of these categories is Prepositions.

Prepositions can usually be found before or after a noun (noun = something you can put a number or ‘the’ in front of). They can also pop up after verbs sometimes, or after some adjectives. They can also be part of a phrase or an expression.

The function of prepositions

So what do they actually do, these prepositions? They show relationshipsbetween words or parts of a sentence. That’s their job.

If you say “the dog is on the sofa”, the preposition on shows us a relationship between the dog and the sofa. The dog is lying (or sitting, or maybe standing) on top of the sofa. (I am boarding a dog at the moment, so all my grammar examples this week are about dogs!) 

What are time expressions?

Another more fancy word for time expressions is Adverbials (that’s the word us teachers and others working with languages use). So what’s an adverbial?

An adverbial is either:

  • an adverb, or
  • a combination of a preposition and another word

An example of an adverb as an adverbial is sedan (then, after that). An example of a preposition+word combo is på morgonen (in the morning).

But they are all time expressions (or adverbials, if you want to sound fancy).

Because they tell you when something happened, or happens.

The thing with Swedish time expressions is that they can affect the word order. If you start a sentence with a time expression, the verb needs to come immediately after that, and then the subject.

På morgonen + dricker + jag + kaffe.

That’s it! I hope you feel a little bit clearer on what prepositions and time expressions actually are.

If you are wondering how to best learn them, stay tuned as I will get in touch in a couple of days with some tips about this. (Yes, I am on a Preposition Missionat the moment!) 

Vi hörs,

Why are prepositions so hard to learn?

Should I use ‘i’ or ‘på’ with days of the week? Am I sitting ‘i’ or ‘på’ the sofa?

If you have ever asked yourself these types of questions, you are like most other Swedish learners. 🙂

When asking students what they struggle most with in terms of their Swedish, almost everyone says the same thing: prepositions. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are a beginner or an advanced speaker.

Learning and mastering prepositions is one of the hardest parts of learning Swedish. But why is it so difficult?

Prepositions have different meanings

Prepositions are very common in many languages; you see them all the time. But the thing that makes it tricky is that prepositions can mean many different things in different contexts. 

, for example, can mean in, at, by, of, for, over, across and more. Therefore, just looking the word up in a dictionary won’t be of much help. And when it comes to memorising them, this can become confusing. What should you write on the back of your flashcard for ‘’? One example, or all of them?

Prepositions are difficult to translate literally

Prepositions are often different from what you would expect in other languages. In Swedish, we say that something is ‘in the stairs’ (i trappan) instead of ‘on the stairs’, and we are ‘interested of music’ (intresserad av), instead of ‘interested in music’. And there is no real rhyme or reason for why we use certain prepositions in specific contexts, unfortunately.

Yet another reason why it is difficult to learn prepositions comes from the belief that we all hold, which is that our own language does things “the right way”, and other languages we learn do things in a “strange way” that doesn’t make sense.

By constantly trying to make sense of the grammar rules in other languages as they relate to your native language, you are focusing too much on your native language and not enough on the language you are learning. When you do this, you are causing your brain to believe that your native language is the most important one, and then it wants to translate everything back into your native language.

Prepositions in time expressions

In Swedish time expressions (when something happens), prepositions play a big role. We often create time expressions with a preposition and some other word, for example på måndagi måndags, and i helgen. Many time expressions belong to a particular verb tense, which means that a conversation where you want to arrange a time to meet can get very confusing if you get them wrong. 

This is not the case just for the Swedish language, prepositions are notoriously hard in other languages too. So if you feel you struggle with prepositions, know that you are not alone. 

In a few days’ time, I’ll go into a little bit more detail about what prepositions and time expressions actually are, which I hope will help a little bit towards understanding them better.



Tycka, tänka, tro and how to use them


Today in our Tricky Concepts series, we’ll be discussing something many Swedish learners find difficult. If you find the 3 Swedish verbs tycker, tänker and tror difficult to separate, you are NOT alone. At the end of this post, there is also a free cheat sheet that you can download and use as a reminder. 

To think in Swedish

The English word think corresponds to three Swedish verbs: tycka, tänka, and tro, something that likely causes confusion for non-native speakers. It can be tricky because the translation of the verbs can sometimes overlap each other. However, it’s not as complex as it might sound, but takes time and practice to get used to. In this post, we will look at when and how to use these words.

Sweden winter

Tycka (inf.):

Use this verb when you want to express your personal opinion about something.

Example: Jag tycker choklad smakar gott.  I think chocolate tastes good. (Your opinion is that chocolate tastes good.)

Example 2: Jag tycker du ska komma hem.  I think you should come home. (Your opinion is that the person should come home.)

If the preposition om is added, the word then simply refers to the state of liking something.

Example: Jag tycker om choklad. I like chocolate.

Tänka (inf.):

Use this verb when you want to express that you are thinking, or a specific action you intend to take.

Example: Tyst! Jag försöker tänka. Quiet! I’m trying to think.

Example 2: Jag tänker åka utomlands.  I intend to go abroad.

Example 3: Jag tänker ta en dush nu.  I’m going to take a shower now.

Similar to tycka, adding a preposition changes the expression. I’ve used the preposition om here, which then gives tänka a meaning similar to the English word “imagine”.

Example: Tänk om vi vinner på lotto. Imagine if we win the lottery.

Another preposition you can use is . In this case it means to think about someone or something.

Example: Jag tänker på dig. I’m thinking about you.

Tro (inf.):

Tro is related to the English believe, suppose, presume, and guess, depending on context. A hint of opinion is involved, but it’s mainly a belief or a guess in regards to something you are not sure about (or have never experienced). Imagine a scenario in which you are going to the cinema with a friend. You have read reviews, watched the trailers, but you can’t have an opinion about the film until you have watched it.

Example: Jag tror filmen är bra.  I think the film is good.

Once you’ve watched the film, you will have an opinion (and an experience of the film) and therefore use the verb tycker instead.

Swedes love to talk about the weather, so you could also think of this verb as the “weather word”, as it’s always used to predict the weather in a conversation.

Example 2: Jag tror det blir vackert väder i morgon. I think (believe) the weather will be beautiful tomorrow.

Once the next day arrives, you will have an opinion on the weather when you look out the window, and therefore use tycker.

The most common preposition to use with tro is , and is always followed by the object you believe in.

Example: Jag tror på dig.  I believe in you.

Hopefully this has clarified some confusions about how to use these words. But remember to not get too frustrated with them, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the distinction between them. And make sure to download our FREE Tycker-Tror-Tänker Cheat Sheet (button below) and keep somewhere handy, to remind yourself of the difference between these three verbs. 

Is Swedish hard to learn?

Is Swedish hard to learn?

Well, it depends, of course. It depends on what your native language is, and whether it is close to Swedish. So for example, if your native language is German, then Swedish will be quite easy to learn. It also depends on the complexity of the language. For an English speaker, Swedish is not that complex, compared to many other languages. Compared to English, the pronunciation may be a bit of a challenge.

Swedish pronunciation and grammar

Swedish has a lot of vowels, in fact 9: a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, and ö. If you want to practice the vowel sounds, check out our Sound Like a Swede series on Youtube.

Swedish also has some particular sounds that do not sound quite like they are spelled (for ex: sj-, stj-, skj-). If you are not used to grammatical genders, the idea of using ‘en’ and ‘ett’ in front of the nouns seem weird to start with. And when you learn more about the grammar, you will find out that the concept of en and ett can also be seen on other words in the language – they kind of ‘rub off’ on other words (adjectives and possessive pronouns, typically).

It of course also depends on how much time you devote per week to studying Swedish (the more often you study, the quicker you will learn), what resources you have available and your motivation for studying.

Swedish IS (relatively) easy

According to The Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, Swedish is in fact on of the easier languages to learn. Good news! If you are a native English speaker, it should take you approximately 575-600 class hours to learn Swedish to a proficient level. This is relatively easy, compared to some of the hardest languages – for example Japanese, Arabic and Chinese will take approximately 2,200 class hours to learn!

Also, have a look at the blog post we have written previously about how many hours it takes to learn Swedish.


The Plate Spinner

The Plate Spinner

When we talk about the process of language learning with our learners, we often refer to the concept of a plate spinner. We use this metaphor because we think it captures very well the process of language learning.

The problem with the house metaphor

Some think of the process as building a house (laying a solid foundation, adding brick upon brick, adding new floors on top of each other). The problem with this notion, is that it assumes that you need a solid and sturdy foundation before you can add any more on to it (to prevent it from coming crashing down). And what this usually means, in practical terms for language learners, is a sense that they must remember everything they have learnt so far, in order to move onto something new. “I don’t dare to start a new chapter, because I cannot immediately recall everything I learnt in the previous chapter.” This, we believe, is not a useful language learning strategy, as the learner will develop unnecessary anxieties relating to short-term memory failure, and an impossible ambition to be able to recall every single word in the new language vocabulary (often without any context). A bit like a computer.

Plate Spinning

Instead, a much more constructive analogy is that of a plate spinner. The plates can represent the different language skills (speaking, reading, listening, writing, grammatical knowledge), and the spinner is the learner. The goal is to spin all the plates as evenly as possible, at the same time. Of course, sometimes a plate spinner may focus on one or two particular plates, which results in another plate beginning to slow down and wobble. But the plate spinner turns their attention to that plate, gives it a little bit of a spin to stabilise it, and things are ok again. And it is ok for plates to be a bit wobbly sometimes. It may just be because you have focused hard on something else for a while. All you have to do is to identify the plate (speaking, listening, or whatever it may be), give it a bit of a spin, and just keep on going. As long as all the plates are spinning in some shape or form, then things are going just fine.


plate spinner

Andrew Van Buren, a famous plate spinner



GOD JUL in advance from Swedish Made Easy! We’ll be taking a little break over Christmas but will be back soon as usual, with lots of new tips and tricks for your Swedish journey during 2019!


Swedish Language Advent Calendar 2018


Christmas is nearly here, and this year Daniel and I thought it would be nice to provide a Swedish Language Advent Calendar. From 1st of December and until 24th (the Swedish Christmas day), you will learn a new word every day through the context of a festive little poem, courtesy of Daniel! You will not only learn the words, but there will also be specific notes on each word, like for example all verb tenses for the verbs, and handy little tips and tricks on how to use them.

Where? Instagram (but we’ll share it on our Facebook page too)

When? 1 Dec-24 Dec 2018


How to create plural endings in Swedish

Swedish plural endings

Are you confused about all the different plural endings in Swedish? In this blog post we’ll look at the different forms and groups so you can create and identify plural endings. There is also a free download of a noun plural cheat sheet, so you can print it out and put up somewhere as a reminder! But first, let’s look at all the noun forms.

The 4 noun forms

Swedish nouns have 4 forms; singular indefinite, singular definite, plural indefinite and plural definite.

singular indefinite (en hund a dog)

singular definite (hunden the dog)

plural indefinite (hundar dogs)

plural definite (hundarna the dogs)

The plural forms

The Swedish language have more plural endings than in the English language. In English, you mainly put an ‘s’ at the end of a noun to make it plural. Swedish nouns plural endings broadly group according to whether they are en or ett words and they also have sub-categories; three for en words (group 1-3) and two for ett words (group 4-5). Let’s go through the groups.

Group 1

This group contains en words that in singular indefinite ends on an ‘a’. They replace the ‘a’ with ‘or’ in plural indefinite and also add ‘na’ in plural definite.

en flicka a girl

flickan the girl

flickor girls

flickorna the girls

Group 2

In this group, we also find en words, but they will have some other endings. It’s usually short words ending on a consonant or ‘e’, or longer words that end on ‘ing’. These nouns take ‘ar’ in plural indefinite and add ‘na’ for plural definite.

en bil a car

bilen the car

bilar cars

bilarna the cars


en pojke a boy

pojken the boy

pojkar boys

pojkarna the boys


en tidning a newspaper

tidningen the newspaper

tidningar newspapers

tidningarna the newspapers

This group contains words that have a Scandinavian or Germanic origin, but that can sometimes be a little hard to tell, unless you are a language expert!

Group 3

The last of the en word groups mainly contain longer words ending on a consonant (although there are a few short ones in here too). They take ‘er’ in plural indefinite and also add ‘na’ for plural definite. Like this:

en apelsin an orange               

apelsinen the orange               

apelsiner oranges                

apelsinerna the oranges

In contrast to group 2, these words are international loan words and they often originate from English, French, Russian, Latin or other languages.

Group 4

Ett words that end on a vowel in singular indefinite belong to this group. They add ‘n’ in plural indefinite and add an ‘a’ for plural definite. For example:

ett piano a piano

pianot the piano

pianon pianos

pianona the pianos

Notice how the plural indefinite makes the word looks like a singular definite en word! This can be quite tricky, but you can look out for ’plural markers’ before the word, for example tre pianon three pianos, många pianon many pianos, några pianon some pianos.

Group 5

The fifth group contains ett words that end on a consonant in singular indefinite. These words take no ending for plural indefinite and add ‘en’ for plural definite.

ett hus a house

huset the house

hus houses

husen the houses

Can you see how the plural definite form makes the word looks a bit like a singular definite en word? This can be even harder than for group 4, so it is best to learn these words by heart.

Download our FREE Noun Plural Group Cheat Sheet for a visual model of these 5 groups, so you can remember them more easily.

Time prepositions: i, på and om

Are you unsure of when to use the time prepositions i, , and om when describing when, for how long or how often something happens? You are not alone. In this week’s blog post, we’ll dive into the murky waters of time prepositions, and look at the categories of Point in Time, Time Duration and Frequency, as they will dictate when you use i, på and om.

När? When? (point in time)

When you want to say something about when something will happen or happened, you want to refer to a Point in Time. And you have two options. Either you want to talk about something will happen in the future, or you want to talk about something that happened in the past.


Unless you want to give the exact date or time (which is of course fine too!), you can use the preposition om, and then add the time between now and the event that you are talking about. For example:

om ett årin a year’s time

om en veckain a week’s time

om 5 minuterin 5 minutes’ time

PAST – för … sedan

If the event happened in the past, you can use för + time + sedan. This basically means ago. Notice that we do not have one word for ago, we have two! One that comes before the time and one that comes after. For example:

för ett år sedana year ago

för en vecka sedana week ago

för 5 minuter sedan5 minutes ago


Hur länge? (For) how long? (duration of time)

If you want to talk about how long something has been happening, you will be referring to Duration of Time. Here you also have two options, but they are more to do with positive and negative. If something has been going on, or will be going on (in this sense, positive) for a duration of time, use i. For example:

Jag har studerat svenska i 2 årI have studied Swedish for 2 years

Jag ska vara i Grekland i 2 veckorI will be in Greece for 2 weeks

If something has NOT been happening for a period of time, or will NOT happen for a period of time, use . For example:

Jag har inte gått på gymmet på 2 veckorI have not been to the gym for 2 weeks

Jag ska inte ha semester på 2 månaderI won’t have a holiday for 2 months


Hur ofta? How often? (frequency)

If you want to express how often something happens, or has happened, you are in the area of Frequency. Here, you need to use either i or om. This will be determined by the word that you use. Here are the rules:

If it is dagen, dygnet, or året, use om: 

en gång om dagenonce a day

en gång om dygnetonce every 24 hours

en gång om åretonce every year

If you want to up the frequency, just change en gång to två gånger (twice), tre gånger (three times), fyra gånger (four times), and so on.

If it is sekunden, minuten, timmen, veckan, månaden or kvartalet, use i:

en gång i sekundenonce every second

en gång i minutenonce every minute

en gång i timmenonce an hour

en gång i månadenonce a month

en gång i kvartaletonce every 3 months

Same thing here, if you want to up the frequency, just change en gång to två gånger (twice), tre gånger (three times), fyra gånger (four times), and so on.

Also notice that the time unit takes definite form: dagen, månaden, året, and so on.



Now that you know the difference between Point in Time, Duration and Frequency, could you fill in the right preposition into these six sentences? (the question is given in brackets before the sentence)

1 (När?) Johan ska åka till Grekland _______ två veckor.

2 (När?) Lisa var i New York _______ tre månader ________.

3 (Hur länge?) Sarah har studerat svenska _______ 3 år.

4 (Hur länge?) Jag har inte träffat min kusin ______ 5 år.

5 (Hur ofta?) Scott brukar åka på semester två gånger ______ året.

6 (Hur ofta?) Paul tränar på gymmet fyra gånger ______ veckan.


Lycka till!


5 ways to stay motivated

One of the most difficult aspects of learning a language is keeping up your motivation. So many of my students go through patches of lacking in motivation, and when you do it is easy to fall out of routine altogether, coming up with reasons not to learn (too much on at work, not enough time, etc), and the learning process might even grind to a halt completely.

In this blog post, I wanted to talk a bit about motivation and give you some hands on tips on how to stay motivated. You can also download our free Motivation Builder (Goal Setter and a Vision setter), to spark your motivation at the end of this blog post.

Internal vs external motivation

Internal motivation is basically enjoyment. It is the satisfaction of making progress, enjoying the learning journey, feeling curious and open, enjoying learning new pieces of information, feeling satisfied when understanding something tricky.

External motivation is some kind of reward, which could be real or symbolic. It could be achieving good results in a test, it might be the prestige in being fluent, or the rewards in being able to communicate with extended family and friends perhaps. The issue with external motivation is that it can lead to a situation where learners are learning even though they don’t actually enjoy it. It is therefore better to focus mainly on making sure your internal motivation is nice and strong!

How can we work on our internal motivation?

1. Make positive associations

Connect Swedish with your other interests. If you like politics, read the news headlines on dn.se or svd.se. Now is a particularly interesting time in Swedish politics, following the general election. Are you interested in history? Look into the history of Sweden. Like baking? Learn how to bake cinnamon buns, and translate a recipe from Swe to Eng. If you like music, research music with Swedish lyrics and try and translate them, and of course – sing along! I have a playlist on Spotify that you can have a look at: http://open.spotify.com/user/browwn/playlist/1ielXWVCjGa7cvYad7xWPc

Also try and associate learning Swedish with your favourite activities and places. Put a Swedish podcast on when you’re running, for example. Watch movies and tv series in Swedish. Look at youtube for Swedish clips. Go to sr.se (Swedish radio) and listen live or download a podcast. The channel P1 is news, current affairs, debates and culture. P2 is classical and jazz music. P3 is pop music and programmes for a younger audience. P4 is local radio stations. It’s worth checking out the programme Klartext, which is a daily news bulletin in easier Swedish (shorter sentences, reduced vocab). There is also a brilliant app for smartphones, called SR Play.

2. Don’t give up

You need a holistic and realistic view of the learning process. Many language learners start out with high hopes for achieving fluency fast, but their enthusiasm quickly dips when they find themselves making the same mistakes again and again, and maybe speak in an (often self-perceived) embarrassing accent.

This is definitely not the time to throw in the towel and admit defeat! These errors are 100% normal and actually a part of the progress. It is therefore EXTREMELY important to remember this:

Language-learning errors are not a negative reflection on your intelligence!

Instead, learn to love your errors. They are your friends, they bring you step by step closer to fluency and confidence. Smile, and learn from them.

3. Remember why you started

Was it to be able to speak more with colleagues at work? Or with your in-laws? Or to be able to at some point move to Sweden? Or to be able to speak like Saga Noren in The Bridge, just because it’s a cool thing to be able to do? Or because it’s cooler and more unusual than just learning Spanish or Mandarin?

Remind yourself now, maybe even write yourself a little e-mail to yourself with  http://m.futureme.org/ to remind yourself in 6 month’s time.

4. Explore ways to monitor progress

The thing with learning in general, is that it’s hard to sense progress. This is because of something I call “Moving Goal Posts”. Just as you have mastered one grammatical aspect and feel quite pleased about that, you turn a page and realise a whole damn new section that you didn’t even know before! The goal post is constantly moving. As Einstein himself said: “the more I learn the more I realise how little I know”. This is completely as it should be, it’s part of learning.

However, what is worth doing, is to capture your level at certain points, so you have something to compare with. If you are following some kind of course, this will probably be included anyway. Writing exercises that you can look back at in 3 months time. Why not make a short audio recording on your mobile phone or computer? No one needs to know, but you can go back in a year’s time and see how much you have progressed.

5. Consider not having a schedule

I know it may seem sloppy or disorganised somehow in our society to not have a schedule, we are extremely goal oriented as a society. The problem is that having a too strict schedule can make learning a language into a chore. Chores = boring = less internal motivation and less likelihood to succeed.

Learning a language is a bit like going to the gym. You won’t notice immediate effect, and you’ll have good days and bad days. You can’t just work out like mad for 6 months and then go couch potato for 2 years and expect the same level of fitness throughout. But if you work on it regularly, you will notice a difference over weeks and months. Expecting quick improvements is to expect too much from your brain, it’s simply unrealistic. Learning a language is more like a marathon than a sprint, and remember that a flood is made up of raindrops!

Some more useful tips:

  • svt.se (Swedish television, some programmes are available outside of Sweden)
  • TV4play and Kanal5play for smartphones
  • 8sidor.se (notice especially their “Lyssna” feature in the left-hand side menu)

Download our free Motivation Builder to get your motivational flow going!


Får får får?

Hej! Daniel here. In this week’s blog post I’ll help you to make sense of the Swedish word får.

Får får får? is a Swedish pun that means “Do sheep get sheep?” (meaning Do sheep have (baby) sheep? or What’s the word for baby sheep?)

Many languages have what I call ‘hiccups’: words that can mean several things, depending on word order. And be put together to form a complete sentence.

I will quash this particular hiccup here and shed some light on its usage with the help of a few examples.

Får is the present tense verb of “receive” or “get” — Jag får en biljett till månen. (I receive/get a ticket to the moon). There is no other verb in this sentence.

Får is also the present tense auxiliary verb of “allowed” — Får människor åka till månen? (Are people allowed to travel to the moon?). The main verb here is åka (go).

Ja, människor får åka till månen. — (Yes, people are allowed to travel to the moon). Får is an auxiliary verb because it comes after the noun människor, and is followed by the main verb åka, which always turns into its infinite form.

Makes sense so far? Good.

Få can show the amount of a quantifiable noun but it’s important to look at the context and the sentence construction too because it could also be the infinitive form of the verb or an auxiliary verb respectively:

Få människor får åka till månen — (Few people are allowed to travel to the moon). The auxiliary verb får precedes the main verb åka. Compare this to the following sentence:

Att få åka till månen vore fantastiskt! — (To be allowed to travel to the moon would be fantastic!) Same få as before, but in the infinitive form. The key difference here is that there’s an att in front of the få, which works similar to the English “to”.


What about the elusive sheep then? In Swedish, the word for “sheep” is får. What if they somehow found a way to leave Earth?

Well, let’s try out a few sentences:

Får får åka till månen? — (Are sheep allowed to travel to the moon?). The sentence construction is identical to the example with humans, we just switch one word (människor and får).

Nej, får får inte åka till månen — (No, sheep are not allowed to travel to the moon). The auxiliary verb får comes after the subject får, and is followed by the main verb åka.

But what if sheep are allowed to travel to the moon? Let’s have a look:

Får får åka till månen. — (Sheep are allowed to travel to the moon). The only difference here is the punctuation. This is a statement, not a question.

Just like humans, however, only certain sheep are allowed to travel to the moon:

Få får får åka till månen — (Few sheep are allowed to travel to the moon). There’s no att present, which means it’s the Swedish word for few. It’s followed by the subject får, the auxiliary verb får, and lastly the main verb åka.

To explore verbs and more with me, book your lesson here. (We have a great summer offer on at the moment too: 15% off your first lesson with me until 31 July 2018!)

Oh, and by the way, the answer to the Swedish pun (Får får får? Do sheep get sheep?)  is Nej, får får lamm (No, sheep get lambs.).

Ha det gött!