gå vs åka: to go

I'm trying to keep går and åker straight in my head. I know this comes up in the exercise-specific threads a lot, but I wanted to ask about a few related uses so I thought this was the best place.

As I understand it, "går" is "go by foot" and "åker" is to go by means of some other transport. So "Jag går dit" would be appropriate if I were walking to the post office, but it would be "Jag åker dit" if I were catching a train to another city.

I have seen "Vart går detta tåg?" (Where does this train go to?). In this case, I guess it's gå because the train itself is moving under its own power, not riding on another larger train.

However, the same phrasebook gives "När åker tåget?" (When does the train go?) Does åker in this case mean "depart"? If I said "När går tåget" instead, would people assume I wanted to know how long the journey was as well?

Back on Duolingo, one phrase I got was "Jag åker alltid hit på söndagarna". Should I understand that the person talking is going "to the mountains" or somewhere distant, rather than (for example) going to their local church or park?

It seems like expressions like "to go to school" or "go to the cinema" tend to be gå (gå i skolen, gå på bio)- so if I wanted to translate "Children go to school until they are sixteen" would I just use går, would I choose between går and åker depending on what mode of transport I wanted to suggest, or would I be better off looking up the word for "attend" or something?

It seems like "gå" is used in more abstract expressions like "the project is going well"- is that right?

Finally, does the future construction "I am going to" normally use kommer rather than går or åker?

Thanks to anyone who can set my straight!

November 2, 2015


At least I can clarify the future constructions in Swedish. There are four possibilities:

1) kommer att + infinitive

This construction is used for natural processes, logical consequences, predictions, plans from a subject which are not fixed. For example: "Det nya bostadsområdet kommer att bli populärt" / "The new residence area will be popular"

2) ska + infinitive

This is used for decisions, plans and wantings. For example: "Roine Wigman ska starta ett nytt parti" / "Roine Wigman is going to establish a new party"

A special case is the "andrahandsinformation", an information which does not come from the person who speaks. For example: "Det ska regna i morgon" / "It will rain tomorrow"

3) present tense + future-expression

This works like in English as far as I know. For example: "Rolf åker till London i morgon" / "Rolf goes to London tomorrow"

4) tänker + infinitive

Used for plans. For example: "Sofia tänker flytta till Umeå" / "Sofia is planning to move to Umeå" (see the reply of malmhester below for more accurate information)

Hopefully, someone is going to correct my mistakes, because I'm not a native speaker in Swedish as well as in English. Your other question needs a revision of other people, I'm sad to say. I feel unable to explain it precisely.

November 2, 2015

Just a quick correction: "Sofia tänker flytta till Umeå" means that she has already decided to do that. My translation would probably be "Sofia is planning to move to Umeå" ("flytta" is "move", "fly" translates to "flyga".)

I might return to answer the "gå/åka" question later...

November 3, 2015

Thx, malmhester. I corrected it :)

November 4, 2015

I would suggest that "gå" is wider than "åka".

"Åka" is used for travelling by some kind of transportation as you say (train/car/plan etc.) If you say "Jag åker alltid hit på söndagarna" I would assume that you didn't walk, but I would not assume anything about distance or time.

("Åka" can also be used in some other expressions. For example "åka fast/get caught".)

"Gå" means as you say "walk/go by foot". But it doesn't always imply that you are going to walk. You will probably say "jag går..." when you are about to be off somewhere but how you get there isn't important.

You might say "Jag går till jobbet/I'm going to work" when you leave home, and then go straight to your car. "Jag går på toaletten/I'm going to the toilet" - well probably you are going to it by foot, but the main message is where you are going, not how you are getting there. (I sometimes say "Jag går och springer", meaning "I'm off running")

Concering "När går tåget?" - I suspect "går" in this sentence has come from "avgår", meaning "depart". "When does the train depart?" (I'm not sure though!)

I would say that "När går tåget?" and "När åker tåget?" means exactly the same thing.

"Går" can also be used as the english "go" in "Hur går det?/How's it going?", "Allt går bra/All is going well" (Or in your example "projektet går bra/the project is going well")

And close to that meaning "går" can also mean "working/functioning" "Tåget går som det ska/The train is fuctioning as it should"

In the expressions "gå på bio/gå i skolan" you would never use "åker", but you would be fine saying "Barn går i skolan tills de är 16 " or "Jag gick på bio en gång i veckan när jag var liten"

Well, there are a few answers, at least.

November 5, 2015
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