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.

Example:
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,
Anneli


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.

Kram!

Anneli

How to set realistic language goals (and achieve them)

One thing that many learners find difficult is to set up realistic language goals. When we ask what our students’ language goals are, many learners say things like “get better at Swedish”, “become fluent in Swedish”, or “being able to speak Swedish”. 

While these goals are understandable, they are problematic. Why? Because they are not specific enough, difficult to measure, and have no time period. 

You may have heard about the SMART way of setting goals. SMART is an acronym that include 5 useful components of goal setting. 

Specific – The goal should identify a specific action or event that will take place.

Achievable – The goal should be attainable given available resources.

Measurable – The goal and its benefits should be quantifiable.

Realistic – The goal should require you to stretch some, but allow the likelihood of success.

Timely – The goal should state the time period in which it will be accomplished.

Here are some tips that can help you set effective language goals:

  1. Develop several goals. A list of five to seven items gives you several things to work on over a period of time.
  2. State goals as declarations of intention, not items on a wish list. “I want to learn Swedish” lacks power. “I will learn Swedish,” is intentional and powerful.
  3. Attach a date to each goal. State what you intend to accomplish and by when. A good list should include some short-term and some long-term goals. You may want a few goals for the year, and some for two- or three-month intervals.
  4. Be specific. “To speak Swedish” is too general; “to be able to order something in a café in Swedish before the end of the month” is better. Sometimes a more general goal can become the long-term aim, and you can identify some more specific goals to take you there.
  5. Share your goals with someone who cares if you reach them. Sharing your intentions with your family/partner, your friend, or your teacher will help ensure success.
  6. Write down your goals and put them where you will see them. The more often you read your list, the more you will remind yourself of your goals.
  7. Review and revise your list. Experiment with different ways of stating your goals. Goal setting improves with practice, so play around with it.

In this blog post, you can read more about the best way to start learning Swedish. This article will explain what resources you will need, and this will help you when you set your Swedish language goals.

Rules for writing goal statements

  1. Use clear, specific language.
  2. Start your goal statement with TO + a VERB
  3. Write your goal statement using SMART Goal Criteria
  4. Avoid using negative language. Think positive!

An example of a goal statement: 

“To run the mini marathon in May and complete the 10 mile race in under 1 hour to beat my personal best time.”

Notice how the above example begins with the word “To”, includes the verb “run”, and tells what (the marathon), why (to beat personal best time) and when (May). 

Answer the following questions to identify the specific SMART criteria you will use to write your goal statement:

What is your basic goal? _____________________________________________

Is it Specific? (Who? What? Where? When? Why?)

Is it Measurable? How will I measure progress? (How many? How much?)

Is it Attainable? (Can this really happen? Attainable with enough effort? What steps are involved?)

Is it Realistic? (What knowledge, skills, and abilities are necessary to reach this goal?)

Is it Timebound? (Can I set fixed deadlines? What are the deadlines?)

Download our Free Goal Setter that will help you to define and structure your Swedish language learning goals. 

Swedish vowels – Å, Ä, Ö

How to say Å Ä Ö

Hej! Would you like to learn or improve how you say those last 3 confusing letters in the Swedish alphabet – Å, Ä and Ö? Would you like to hear how they are being pronounced, and get tips and tricks on how to say them? When you sign up for our FREE mini pronunciation video course, you get access to 3 free videos that specifically teaches you how to pronounce the Swedish vowels Å, Ä and Ö. Enroll in our video course, and you get to learn exactly how to pronounce them.

And don’t forget to share this with anyone else who might benefit from this practice! Let’s spread the love (or the lööööv as we say in Swedish)!

FREE VIDEO COURSE

A few words about Å Ä Ö

Å
Here is the first one of the three extra vowels in Swedish (they come in the end of the alphabet by the way, in this order: å, ä, ö). The challenge is to really distinguish them as separate vowels, and not just muddled versions of A and O. The Å can be thought of as the ‘au’ sound in (British accent) ‘Paul’. Indeed, some Swedish Pauls actually spell their names Pål. The sound is long, as in a long ‘Pååål’, or ‘poor’.

Ä
This letter can be thought of as the English ‘ai’ in ‘pair’, or ‘hair’. The only thing to remember is that the mouth is actually quite wide, a bit more of a smile than when saying ‘pair’.

Ö
Finally, the Ö is similar to the English sound ‘i’ in the word ‘bird’. Or ‘u’ in the word ‘fur’. Or ‘ea’ in the word ‘heard’. The lips are fairly rounded, but also slightly trumpet-shaped.

And finally, the graduation test is to fully master the following Swedish tongue twister: Flyg fula fluga flyg, och den fula flugan flög (Fly, ugly fly, fly, and the ugly fly flew.).

Tycka, tänka, tro and how to use them

TRICKY CONCEPTS

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.

Hard-Languages-To-Learn

Best way to start learning Swedish

New Year. New Swedish you! 

Would you like to start (or re-start) learning Swedish, but don’t know where to start? Are you wondering what the best way is to learn Swedish? Do you feel overwhelmed with all the different websites, books, apps, courses and online resources? If this is you, then read on. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different ways of learning Swedish and the resources you may want to consider, so you can choose what works best for you. We also have a free Resource Checklist that you can download below, to set yourself up for a great year of Swedish language learning. 

children-skiing

Self-studying vs lessons

The first thing you should think about is if you want to study on your own, or take lessons with a teacher.

Having lessons will make you learn faster, as you get feedback from your teacher and get more speaking practice. In other words, this is the best way to learn how to speak Swedish. You can do a course at a language school, or do a private lesson (on Skype for example).

But if you are on a tight budget, you can also self-study. Just make sure to get some speaking practice with an actual Swede at some point (in person or via Skype). 

4 important resources

There are many resources you can use, and today with all the technology available, more than ever can be found online. But there are 4 categories of resources that you should make sure you have access to. 

1. Guiding resources

These are course books that take you from one level to the next. They will have a combination of grammar, texts and vocab, and will allow you to practice reading comprehension,  vocab learning and grammar understanding, and probably also listening comprehension (if it has audio support). If you study with a teacher, they will usually guide you through the books and give feedback on pronunciation and discuss grammar with you. The course books often include writing exercises as well, which your teacher can give you feedback on. If you are studying on your own, you won’t get any feedback on speaking and writing, and it is crucial that you make sure to find ways to get this elsewhere.

The guiding resources we use with our students are: 

Rivstart series (A1+A2, B1+B2, B2+C1) – This series is great for going through the levels, but all the instructions are in Swedish, so you will need a teacher to take you through it (at least in the beginning). If you buy them, remember that you need to get both the text book and the exercise book for each level.

Teach Yourself Complete Swedish – We also use this book in some of our lessons. As it is a self study book and all the grammar explanations are in English, this is a great book if you are learning Swedish on your own. It is also a good complement to Rivstart (because of the English grammar explanations). 

2. Practice Resources

Make sure you choose a good practice resource that works for you. It could just be as simple as a book where you write new words down, but there are also many apps and online programmes that you might want to explore. Practising programmes like Duolingo, BabbelClozemaster, or flashcard apps like Quizlet, Memrise, Anki, to name a few. All of these are very good for practising, but will not work as a guiding resource on their own. We therefore recommend to combine these with some of the guiding resources above. If you want to get started straight away, we have a free Quizlet lesson for total beginners (100 items) that you can access here

3. Input resources

Anything online can be an input resource! Videos on Youtube, radio programmes, movies, newspapers online, blogs, Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, Pinterest, etc. Physical easy to read books and other similar things are of course also good input sources when you are learning Swedish.  

4. Reference resources

These are usually dictionaries, phrase books, grammar books, and so on. A few good ones that we often use are:

There you have it! Make sure you have resources from all 4 categories. We also have a handy Resource Checklist that you can download for free here, to keep your resources organised. 

Make 2019 the year you progress your Swedish significantly, wherever you are. You can do it! 🙂

And if you know someone else who would find this useful, make sure to share this article with them.  

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

 

PS.

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!

 

Sexy in Swedish – 44 romantic Swedish phrases

All I want for Christmas is you!

When you are learning Swedish, chances are that the course books include everyday language that is very helpful for getting by in Sweden in general. However, you will probably not find intimate and sexy phrases in these types of books.

It can be difficult to chat up Swedes, as we can be a little more reserved to strangers than some other nationalities. However, according to statistics Swedes can be very flirty too, especially on dating apps.

Here are 44 phrases that you can use when getting to know someone, either face-to-face or via a dating app. So let’s get festive and romantic with some useful Swedish phrases for these situations!

The first steps

Are you dating anyone at the moment?

Dejtar du någon just nu?

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Har du pojkvän/flickvän?

Do you want to dance?

Vill du dansa?

Do you want anything to drink?

Vill du ha något att dricka?

I would like to get to know you better.

Jag skulle vilja lära känna dig bättre.

Do you want to meet again? Maybe we can meet again?

Vill du ses igen? Vi kanske kan ses igen?

Can I get your phone number?

Kan jag få ditt telefonnummer?

Asking someone out

Now that you’ve taken the first step and got acquainted, it’s time to ask them out.

Do you want to meet tonight/tomorrow/this weekend/next week?

Vill du ses ikväll/imorgon/i helgen/nästa vecka?

What would you like to do?

Vad skulle du vilja göra?

How about…?

Vad sägs om…?

We could maybe go for a coffee?

Vi kanske kan ta en fika?

Where do you want to meet?

Var vill du ses?

What time?

Vilken tid?

I’ll get in touch/I’ll call you.

Jag hör av mig.

Stay in touch/call me.

Hör av dig.

Compliments in Swedish

Giving compliments in Swedish can be a bit tricky. Swedes are not great at giving compliments, and many Swedes dislike crude comments about someone’s body.

So stay away from comments like ‘You have a sexy ass’. Giving criticism after a compliment should also be avoided (ex: ‘I love your hair, but you should wear it down more often’). Instead, use some of these phrases…

You look nice.

Vad fin du är.

You are funny.

Du är rolig.

I love your laughter/smile.

Jag älskar ditt skratt/leende.

You have such beautiful eyes.

Du har så vackra ögon.

You’re smart.

Du är smart.

I like your way of thinking.

Jag gillar ditt sätt att tänka.

I like hanging out with/talking to you, you inspire me.

Jag gillar att hänga/prata med dig, du inspirerar mig.

Getting closer

If you have been successful with the previous phrases, the following phrases may come in handy.

May I kiss you?

Får jag kyssa dig?

I (don’t) want to.

Jag vill (inte).

Hold me.

Håll om mig.

Kiss me.

Kyss mig.

I want you.

Jag vill ha dig.

You feel so nice.

Du är så skön.

You are so sexy.

Du är så sexig.

Do you like this?

Gillar du det här?

Don’t stop!

Sluta inte.

Slower.

Långsammare.

Faster.

Snabbare.

That was totally amazing.

Det var helt underbart.

Saying goodbye

After all that passion, unfortunately it’s time to say goodbye.

It’s late.

Det är sent.

I should go home.

Jag borde gå hem.

I’ll call you.

Jag ringer dig.

I don’t want to go.

Jag vill inte gå.

See you tomorrow.

Vi ses imorgon.

Thanks for this evening.

Tack för ikväll.

Goodbye.

Hejdå.

Goodnight.

Godnatt.

I’ll miss you.

Jag kommer att sakna dig.

Make sure to practice these, perhaps make them into flashcards to memorize them. Have fun with them, and good luck!

 

Swedish Language Advent Calendar 2018

Hej!

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