Introduction to Swedish/Verb tenses

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Grammar[edit | edit source]

Swedish verbs have two inflected tenses: present and past. The other tenses are made by combining auxiliary verbs with infinite forms. Swedish verbs have five active forms.

Verb forms: example arbeta

Form English Swedish Formation
Imperative work! arbeta! Stem
Infinitive (to) work (att) arbeta stem + -a, or no change
Present (I) work (jag) arbetar stem + -r, -er
Preterite (I) worked Jag arbetade stem + -de, -te
Supine (I have) worked Jag har arbetat stem + -t, -tt, -it

1st conjugation tenses: example arbeta

Tense English Swedish Form of verb
Imperative Work! Arbeta! Stem
Present I work Jag arbetar stem + -r
Past I worked Jag arbetade stem + -de
Simple perfect I have worked Jag har arbetat har + -t
Past perfect I had worked Jag hade arbetat hade + supine
Simple future I will work Jag ska arbeta ska + infinitive

2nd conjugation: example bränna

Tense English Swedish Form of verb
Imperative Burn! Bränn! Stem
Present I burn Jag bränner stem + -er
Past I burned Jag brände stem + -de, -te
Simple perfect I have burned Jag har bränt har + supine
Past perfect I had burned Jag hade bränt hade + supine
Simple future I will burn Jag ska bränna ska + infinitive

3rd conjugation: example tro

Tense English Swedish Form of verb
Imperative Believe! Tro! Stem
Present I believe Jag tror stem + -r
Past I believed Jag trodde stem + -dde
Simple perfect I have believed Jag har trott har + supine
Past perfect I had believed Jag hade trott hade + supine
Simple future I will believe Jag ska tro ska + infinitive

4th conjugation: example finna

Tense English Swedish Form of verb
Imperative Find! Finn! Stem
Present I find Jag finner stem + -er
Past I found Jag fann Stem + vowel change
Simple perfect I have found Jag har funnit har + vowel change + -it
Past perfect I had found Jag hade funnit hade + vowel change + -it
Simple future I will find Jag ska finna ska + infinitive

Verbs in the 4th conjugation inflect by vowel changes (ablauts) in the preterite and supine forms. These vowel changes vary between verbs but are partly dependent on the vowels in the stem.


Irregular verbs: example

Irregular verbs usually follow one conjugation, but have one or two forms out of the ordinary.

Tense English Swedish
Imperative Walk! Gå!
Present I walk Jag går
Past I walked Jag gick
Simple perfect I have walked Jag har gått
Past perfect I had walked Jag hade gått
Simple future I will walk Jag ska gå


The irregular verbs har/hade and ska/skulle are used in complex verb tenses in much the same way as have/had and will/would are used in English.

har & hade

(att) hato have
jag hadeI had
jag har haftI have had
jag harI have

ska & skulle

jag skaI will
jag skulleI would


Note that Swedish does not have a correlate to the English continuous/progressive forms.

English Swedish
I work Jag arbetar
I am working Jag arbetar
I worked Jag arbetade
I was working Jag arbetade

Example sentences[edit | edit source]

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 walked 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 (right now).
Jag arbetar två dagar i veckan.I work two days a week.

Example text[edit | edit source]

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!"

Exercises[edit | edit source]

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

Glossary[edit | edit source]

annananother, other
den här/det härthis
then
fastbut (in spoken language)
förutpreviously
att arbeta klartto finish work
ett arbetea work
en gataa street
(att) gåto walk
(att) gå ditto walk there
(att) gå utto exit
(att) gå ut påto enter [a street], to go to [the pub], to mean something
en gångone time
(att) hato have
(att) ha turto be lucky
ett hema home
en morgona morning
nunow
mångamany
nogprobably, enough
närwhen
en puba pub
(att) sägato say
vadwhat
en väga road, way, route