Translation:When we were going to go to the hospital, the car broke down.
gå sönder is a phrasal verb in Swedish and means to break. So, you have to conjugate gå because it is a verb.
Commas are sparsely used in modern Swedish, but you can also rewrite the meaning as
När vi skulle åka till sjukhuset , gick bilen sönder.
Then you can see better that När vi skulle åka till sjukhuset is a subordinate clause that takes the first place in the main clause
bilen gick sönder and the subject is therefore placed after the first verb: ... gick bilen sönder.
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Is "gå sönder" a particle verb? We have seen "ha sönder" which also means "break" (Varför skulle du ha sönder kameran? ). I am confused.
"I broke the object" = "Jag HADE SÖNDER objektet"
"The object broke" = "Objektet GICK SÖNDER" .
"I will break the object" = "Jag kommer HA SÖNDER objektet"
"The object will break" = "Objektet kommer GÅ SÖNDER" .
"I break the object" = "Jag HAR SÖNDER objektet"
"The object breaks" = "Objektet GÅR SÖNDER"
"Jag GÅR SÖNDER objektet" = "I will walk on the object so that it breaks"... :-) It's not entirely incorrect to phrase it like that, but it sounds weird and I don't think I've ever heard anyone phrase it like that.
(Sorry - I can't explain why it works this way. I'm a native Swede, but this has never been explained to me in school. I think the concept is called "loosely connected verbs", but I can't explain why it sometimes uses "ha" and sometimes "gå".)
If you would've written "Bilen gick sönder, när vi skulle åka till sjukhuset." it would've been completely correct. The way you've chosen (using another grammar concept that I don't know the word for) you would've been forced to write "När vi skulle åka till sjukhuset GICK bilen SÖNDER." in Swedish. There are a few cases when the word order changes in Swedish, and this is one of them (using the same word order that you often use for questions as well - "Gick bilen sönder?").
OwainLlyfr is correct but also incorrect. The sentence order they suggest is correct but it is due to the V2 rule which is a very rigid rule with very few exceptions rather than this being a “question order” sentence.
The V2 rule applies here because När vi skulle åka till sjukhuset is the subclause (bisats på svenska) which is acting as the tidsadverbial (time sentence adverb) here. This subclause takes up the first place in the huvudsats (main sentence). With the subclause in first place the verb (gick) must take second place as per the V2 rule.
Aha - so THAT's the reason! Thanks for enlighting me! :-D
I wonder how many grammar rules there are in Swedish that are usually unknown to most native speakers... :-) Before checking this forum I had never heard of the V2 rule, but perhaps they never mention it in the Swedish schools because it's so basic that a native will know by instinct.
Besides the intransitive verb gå and the transitive verbs ha, ta, slå, can we also use other transitive verbs to express a destructive action, for example kasta sönder en tallrik, bita sönder ett snöre, klippa sönder ett kreditkort, skära sönder ett hjuls däck, trycka sönder ett ägg?
Similarly, ihjäl can be preceded with transitive verbs: ha, slå, skjuta, sticka, or intransitive e.g. frysa.
The English verb "to break" can be either intransitive ("the ladder broke and I fell down") or transitive ("The thief broke the window with a hammer"). The same thing happens with many English verbs, e.g. "She returned from a journey" or "she returned the book to the library"; "I walk along the beach" or "I walk my dog every morning"; "Children grow"or "I grow strawberries in my garden". Other languages often use different verbs for the transitive and intransitive meaning of the same English verb.