Past tense in Swedish

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Past tense

This lesson is going to be about the past and things that happened in that time. We are going to learn how to refer to action that happened previously, we are going to talk about the past tense. Sit back, relax and enjoy the lesson!

We have a decent knowledge of Swedish vocabulary and we already know how to express what is happening right now. But how to say what happened yesterday without the knowledge of the past tense? Mission impossible! Let’s start with the essential facts about the past tense in Swedish:

1. The Swedish language does not distinguish between the simple and continuous tenses. Got it? … There is no difference between I was sleeping and I slept in Swedish.

2. There are basicly four different groups of verbs: -AR, -R, -ER and the less pleasant group THE IRREGULAR VERBS.

3. Last but not least, the beloved rule: verbs do not conjugate according to numbers or person or gender in Swedish and that is why we love it.

Let’s get the ball rolling and take a look at the -AR group:

-AR VERBS

HOPPAR — HOPPADE
PRATAR — PRATADE
SIMMAR — SIMMADE

Lätt som en plätt, isn’t it? If there is -AR ending in the present form, the verb ends with -ADE in the past form. The -AR group is 100% regular!

The second group consists of verbs with the -R ending:

-R VERBS

BOR — BODDE
TROR — TRODDE
SYR — SYDDE

This group is friendly too. Just replace the -R ending with -DDE, voilà we have the past tense. It is that simple.

So far so good. But it is not getting easier. The -ER group can be divided into two particular groups. The first one is represented by the following verbs:

-ER VERBS group one

KÖPER — KÖPTE
LÄSER — LÄSTE
LEKER — LEKTE
MÖTER — MÖTTE

It is going to be a bit complicated now. Subtract from the above mentioned verbs (in the present form) -ER and write down the last letter of all verbs. What letters do you have? If you have p, s, k, t you did it right. To the point, the -ER verbs with the p, s, k, t “endings” are transformed into the past form by adding -TE.

All the other verbs with -ER ending are treated similarly by adding -DE instead of -TE. See the table bellow to get a picture of how it works:

-ER VERBS group two

RINGER — RINGDE
BYGGER — BYGGDE
STÄLLER — STÄLLDE

The last group consists of the irregular verbs. The good news is that you can always find similar patterns and group verbs together in this big irregular family. The bad news is that you have to learn it by heart. Therefore it is the most challenging and funniest part, in my humble opinion. Here is a short list of some irregular verbs:

Irregular verbs

DRICKER — DRACK
SKRIVER — SKREV
KOMMER — KOM

Well done, well done! It is all for today. I hope that this tutorial was useful for you and do not be sad that we did not learn new vocabulary in this lesson. There is going to be another vocabulary-building lesson soon on MySwedish. Stay tuned and study with pleasure and joy.

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