Introduction to Swedish/Verb tenses

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The Swedish verb has quite a few tenses. But these are, like with English, created by the help of auxiliary verbs. (N.B. Swedish does not change the verb depending on which grammatical person acts).

The regular verb arbeta

Regular endings are made bold.

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866.

Tense English Swedish Form of verb
Infinitiv To work (Att) arbeta Infinitiv
Present Tense I work Jag arbetar Infinitiv + "r"
Past Tense, Imperfect Aspekt I worked Jag arbetade Preteritum
Past Tense, Perfect Aspekt I have worked Jag har arbetat Har + Supinum
Future Tense, Futurum Simplex I will work Jag ska arbeta Ska + Infinitiv

The irregular verb

Tense English Swedish
Infinitiv To walk (Att) gå
Present Tense I walk Jag går
Past Tense, Imperfect Aspekt I walked Jag gick
Past Tense, Perfect Aspekt I have walked Jag har gått
Future Tense, Futurum Simplex I will walk Jag ska gå

The irregular verbs vara, ha and ska/skulle are used in complex verb tenses in much the same way as be, have, will/would are used in English.


(att) vara to be
jag var I was
jag har varit I have been
jag är I am


(att) ha to have
jag hade I had
jag har haft I have had
jag har I have

ska & skulle

jag ska I will
jag skulle I would

Past tense, imperfect aspekt of the verb arbeta:

jag arbetade I worked
du arbetade you worked
han arbetade he worked
hon arbetade she worked
den arbetade it worked
det arbetade it worked
man arbetade you worked
vi arbetade we worked
ni arbetade you worked
de arbetade they worked

Really simple and similar in both languages!

Example sentences[edit]

Jag arbetade igår. I worked yesterday.
Det har gått ett år. One year has passed.
Ni ska arbeta i morgon. You will work tomorrow.
De gick och arbetade i parken. They went for work in the park. or They went and worked in the park.(i.e They walked {which is what "went" infers in the english} and worked in the park.
De arbetade och gick i parken. They worked and walked in the park.
Vi skulle ha gått dit. We should have gone there.
Jag hade tur. I was lucky.
Jag arbetar (nu). I am working.
Jag arbetar två dagar i veckan. I work two days a week.

Example Text[edit]

Kalles väg till arbetet

Det var morgon. Kalle gick ut på gatan. Han skulle gå vägen till arbetet. Den här vägen hade han gått många gånger förut. "När jag har arbetat klart ska jag gå hem igen.", sa Kalle. "Fast då går jag nog en annan väg!"

Kalle's way to his work.

It was morning. Kalle entered the street. He would walk the road to his work. This road he had walked many times before. "When I've finished work I will walk home again.", Kalle said. "But then I'll probably walk another route!"


Please translate into English:

1. De har gått en annan väg.

2. Erik och Lina gick ut på puben.

3. Det var många i parken.

4. Hon har varit duktig.

5. Jag arbetade förut.

Please translate into Swedish:

6. Per, you are lucky!

7. He has another car.

8. She is exiting now.

9. Once upon a time mummy was lucky.

10. What is the meaning of this?

Answers to exercises


annan another, other
den här/det här this
fast but (in spoken language)
förut previously
att arbeta klart to finish work
ett arbete a work
en gata a street
(att) gå to walk
(att) gå dit to walk there
(att) gå ut to exit
(att) gå ut på to enter [a street], to go to [the pub], to mean something
en gång one time
(att) ha to have
(att) ha tur to be lucky
ett hem a home
en morgon a morning
nu now
många many
nog probably, enough
när when
en pub a pub
(att) säga to say
vad what
en väg a road, way, route