Word order in Swedish

Hello beautiful reader, this is MySwedish and today I want to talk a little bit about word order in Swedish.

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Why does it even matter?

A flawless word order makes you sound like a native. And it is highly recommended to put words in the right order from the very beginning since it is quite difficult to get rid of a bad habit.

But do not hesitate to start speaking just because you are worried how you might sound.

Action drives improvement, and usually, once we act, we wonder why we spent any time waiting.

Word order rules

If a principal clause is a statement the verb comes as a second word in a sentence. Let's take a look at the examples below:

  1. Det regnar idag. — It is raining today.
  2. Idag regnar det. — Today it is raining.

A principal clause can also be a question. A Question starts either with a verb (and the subject comes second) or with interrogative words (question words) and then the verb comes as the second word.

  1. Regnar det idag? — Is it raining today?
  2. När regnade det? — When was it raining?

Interrogative words

Here comes a list of the interrogative words in Swedish:

  1. var -> where
  2. vad -> what
  3. när -> when
  4. hur -> how
  5. varför -> why
  6. vilka -> which
  7. vem -> who

Object

Let's take a look at a bit more complex sentences including an object.

  1. Jag handlar mat. — I am buying food.
  2. Hon slog honom i magen. — She beat him in the stomach.
  3. Det var en kall dag. — It was a cold day.
  4. Har du skrivit ett brev? — Have you written a letter?

Adverbs

Let's move to sentences that contain time-connected adverbs:

  1. Jag köper ofta mat. — I often buy food.
  2. Det var en ganska kall dag. — It was a pretty cold day.
  3. Jag skriver aldrig brev. — I never write letters.

Time:

  1. Jag ska gå till affären klockan tio. — I will go to the shop at ten o'clock.
  2. Hon slog honom igår. — She beat him yesterday.
  3. Det var en ganska kall dag idag. — It was quite a cold day today.
  4. Jag skrev ett brev förut. — I wrote a letter before.

Place:

  1. Jag ska gå till affären klockan tio. — I will go to the shop at ten o’clock.
  2. Det är ofta kallt i Sverige på vintern. — It is often cold in Sweden during the winter.
  3. Jag satt hemma och skrev ett brev. — I sat at home and wrote a letter.

Principal clause with one verb

  1. The verb always comes as the second word in a sentence or as the first word if the sentence is a question.
  2. The subject comes as the third word of a sentence or as the second word if the sentence is a question starting with a verb.
  3. The adverb stands after the first verb and subject.
  4. Place can can be the first word, the last word or close to the end of a sentence.
  5. Time is the first or the last word of a sentence.
Word order in Swedish

Principal clause with two verbs

There are sentences containing two or more verbs. The second and the third verb unfortunately do not come precisely after the first one.

Word order in Swedish

Two principal clauses in one sentence

One sentence may contain several principal clauses connected by conjunctions like: och, men, eller, för, utan.

  1. Jag kör inte bil till skolan utan jag åker buss. — I do not drive to the school but I go by bus.
  2. Jag åker inte buss men jag åker tåg. — I do not go by bus but I go by train.

The same subject and/or the same verb can be omitted:

  1. Jag kör inte bil till skolan utan går. — I do not drive to the school but I walk.
  2. Jag åker inte buss men tåg. — I do not go by bus but I go by train.

Subordinate clause

A subordinate clause may either stand before or after a principal clause. But a subordinate clause cannot stand alone without a principal clause.

  1. Jag blir glad om du kommer imorgon. — I will be happy if you come tomorrow.
  2. Om du kommer imorgon blir jag glad. — If you come tomorrow I will be happy.

A subordinate clause may start with the following subordinate conjunctions:

därför att -> becauase
eftersom -> since
medan -> while
innan -> before
när -> when
om -> if
att -> that
tills -> until
fast (fastän) -> though
trots att -> although

A subordinate clause has an indirect word order very often. Compare the following sentences:

  1. Han kommer inte hem imorgon. — He will not come home tomorrow.
  2. Han sade att han inte kommer hem imorgon. — He said that he will not come home tomorrow.

Here come other subordinate clause examples:

  1. Jag kan inte komma idag eftersom jag är sjuk. — I cannot come today because I am ill.
  2. Även om jag är trött går jag upp klockan 7. — Even if I am tired I wake up at 7 o'clock.
  3. Jag trodde att du kom från USA. — I thought that you came from the USA.
  4. Ifall du inte kan komma måste du ringa. — In case you are not able to come you need to call.
  5. När jag har ätit borstar jag tänderna. — When I have eaten I brush my teeth.
  6. Jag gick ut för att få lite frisk luft. — I went out to get some fresh air.
  7. Du måste äta så att du orkar arbeta. — You have to eat in order to have the energy to work.

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