Introduction to Swedish/Verb tenses

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Grammar[edit | edit source]

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) varato be
jag varI was
jag har varitI have been
jag ärI am


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

ska & skulle

jag skaI will
jag skulleI would

Past tense, imperfect aspekt of the verb arbeta:

jag arbetadeI worked
du arbetadeyou worked
han arbetadehe worked
hon arbetadeshe worked
den arbetadeit worked
det arbetadeit worked
man arbetadeyou worked
vi arbetadewe worked
ni arbetadeyou worked
de arbetadethey worked

Really simple and similar in both languages!

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 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 | 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
fastbut (in spoken language)
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
nogprobably, enough
en puba pub
(att) sägato say
en väga road, way, route