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"Jag har haft fem hästar, men nu har jag bara tre."

Translation:I have had five horses, but now I only have three.

September 30, 2015



This phrase doesn't work so well in English. "I have had" wouldn't necessarily denote that they were had at the same time. That generally would mean five different horses at different times in the past. "I had" would better indicate five horses at one point.


I think most people would have no problem discerning the meaning, but it actually works kind of the same way in Swedish. Perhaps this sentence would be better as jag hade and "I had".


the meaning can only be discerned bc of the subordinate part of the sentence, otherwise if would be assumed the horses were owned at separate times.


Sure, but that's not really an argument when you're actually given the full sentence. :) Please note though that I didn't say I like the sentence either.


In my opinion, there is nothing in the DL exercise that implies that the five horses were owned at the same time. In other words, the DL English here could well be a shorter equivalent of:
At one time or another I have had as many as five horses, but now I have only three.

In fact, as a native English speaker, that is how I would interpret the DL English sentence here, precisely because the present perfect was used instead of the simple past!

It is worth noting that the current DL Swedish and English sentences here are accurate translations of each other. If you can't accept that there is a scenario in which you would use the perfect instead of the simple past in the opening clause of the English sentence, then I believe you cannot accept the Swedish sentence DL gives us here either.

It would be different if the sentence DL gives us were German rather than Swedish. German (especially in the southern part of the German-speaking world) regularly uses the perfect to refer to a single point in the past. And it would therefore be reasonable to translate a German perfect into an English simple past. But, if I understand correctly, Swedish does NOT use its perfect in that way. Swedish sentences using the perfect tenses are best translated into English using the perfect tenses.

I assume the Swedish sentence DL gives us here was written first and by a native speaker. It is possible he/she made a mistake and that in the Swedish sentence the simple Swedish past should have been used, then translated into English as an English simple past. But, as I argue as the beginning of this post, I think it is also possible to envision a scenario that calls for use of the perfect in both languages.


I agree. The present perfect implies something slightly different than what we would usually expect ("I had"). Imagine a conversation about boarding the horse at a nearby farm. Is there room? Will he be well cared for or will staff be overstretched? "Not at all. I have had [implying up to, as many as, at a time] five horses but now I have only three [therefore there will be plenty of space and time to properly attend to your horse]. No, not the usual sentence, or situation, but it works here.


on the contrary, Ion: the second part of the statement ("but now I have just three") strongly implies that there was a time this person owned five horses simultaneously. The comparison between the numbers (just three vs five) makes that obvious. The current translation, in present perfect tense, is in fact incorrect and should be discarded. Because of the implications mentioned above by Davisnin and others. It is not a proper translation of the Swedish - even though in Swedish it can be put in present perfect to convey this meaning


KDT, several of the commenters here -- davisnin, rnlddmrrs, and CMSchifflett, as well as myself -- agree that use of the present perfect suggests that the horses need not have been owned at the same time in the past.

I see no basis for your claim that the second part of the statement strongly implies otherwise.


I agree with davisnin on this. The allowed answer is a clumsy, inconsistent translation. We would never say 'have had' in US English in this type of sentence, i.e. when directly contrasting how many I previously had with how many I have now. Secondly, it's inconsistent because most times Duolingo will not require a literal translation from Swedish to English when that translation is not the way it's said in English, but this exercise is only allowing the literal translation as the correct answer.


Swedish has a bit different concept of perfect tense


On the contrary, Swedish (unlike German and Dutch) uses the present perfect more like English.


davisin, you are correct that use of the perfect here (both in Swedish and in English) suggests that the horses were owned at different times rather than the same time. But why can't that be, in fact, the sense of the sentences here?


I typed "I had five horses, but now I have only three." Wouldn't that still be considered correct?


Needs to be "have had", this is present perfect, not past.


Is it "[..] har jag bara tre" and not "[..] jag har bara tre" because of the V2 rule?


Exactly. The phrase is nu har jag bara tre, so the verb is sitting cosily in second position.


"have haf" is very clumsy English. I agree with davisnin


I disagree with it inherently being clumsy English. Often times it is the best way to Express that something has been happening repeatedly and ongoingly. "They have had flooding in this area for years now."

On a vaguely relevant note, would you have to use singular verbs when using a singular they? "They runs a mile" "They has a cookie" That sort of thing


But this sentence isn't about something that's been happening repeatedly, it's about a period of time during which someone owned 5 horses simultaneously.

And no, the singular they still goes with plural verbs. Although you'd use singular verbs for people who use they/them pronouns if you refer to them by name, so you'd say "Sam runs a mile and afterwards they have a cookie."


Johanna you (and others here) are assuming that the sentence is about owning 5 horses simultaneously. But there is nothing in the DL exercise (no context) that implies that.

In other words, the DL sentence could very well be interpreted as the equivalent of either of the following sentences , which in English DO use the present perfect:
I have had five horses from time to time, but now I have only three.
At one time or another I have had five horses, but now I have only three.


Is that possible to say (jag haft fem hästar ....) haft is past of har ??


It works like this:

  • jag har = I have
  • jag hade = I had
  • jag har haft = I have had
  • jag hade haft = I had had


Now THIS is useful! Thank you, devalanteriel!


In what situation would you use jag hade haft / I had had?


Venatrixzy, compare the following English:
I own a collection of ceramic horses. I had had (I'd had) five horses until I broke one of them last year. After that, I had only four.

Jag hade haft fem hästar, men då hade jag bara fyra.


When you're telling a story in the past tense and you want to say something that happened even longer ago.


Not a native speaker, but I think "I had (/used to have) five horses, but now I only have three" would sound more natural to me. Does Swedish usually use "jag har haft fem hästar" instead of "jag hade fem hästar" to convey this meaning?


Frequently, at least, though I wouldn't perhaps say "usually".


Is there any difference between "har haft" and "hade" in this case?


There could be - har haft might not mean you had them all at once, for instance. But the difference in connotation would be more likely to be negligible.


Not all at once, I never thought about that. Thanks! :)

But in this particular case, would "jag HADE fem hästar (all at once)" be a better contrast to "men nu har jag bara tre (all at once)" than "jag HAR HAFT fem hästar"? Or is the difference negligible here?


It's negligible, really. I'd probably prefer the latter myself, but only for the reason that it sounds better to me.


Why doesn't "Jag har haft fem hästar, men nu jag har bara tre" work? Why does the verb come before the subject here? ("har jag" instead of "jag har").


men is a conjunction, so the clause following it is an independent clause and follows normal rules of grammar - such as v2. So in nu har jag bara tre, you need to put the verb second - and hence nu jag har doesn't work.


Tack så mycket!

[deactivated user]

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