Note to anyone interested... "Have you ever been to Sweden" is not always interchangeable with "Have you already been to Sweden". The first sentence refers to asking if someone has ever been there where as the second sentence could be asked to someone who you know has travelled there before but has been planning to go back there
I'm not a native German speaker, but I grew up in a family of German descendants, and used to hear German frequently. In my opinion it is common, yes.
Ich denke, man könnte es auch etwas anders sagen: Bist du/Sind Sie schon in Schweden gewesen? (Just changing to the present perfect, instead of the simple past formulation of this exercise.)
By the way, thanks for commenting on the "literal translation". I was just looking for that. So you mean in English people would not use the past simple - only the present perfect?
which of these is the more common translation for, have you already been to Sweden?
Warst du schon in Schweden? the Präteritum
Bist du schon in Schweden gewesen? the Perfect
even though we have been taught that in German, perfect tense is far more common than Präteritum but i think for auxillary and modal verbs, Präteritum is more common.
So, warst du schon in Sweden? can be translated both as, Have you already been to Sweden? (http://germanforenglishspeakers.com/verbs/perfect-vs-preterite/) as well as, Were you already in Sweden?
I wish a native would shed more light on this.
I had to really think about this, and it does seem odd that English does not accept in here, but it is so.
Where no motion is involved, we say "He is in London", "He is in Sweden" or, with smaller towns, sometimes "at" as in "He is at/in Oxford today". But when motion is involved, we tend to use to or even (sometimes) into. I am going to France tomorrow, I went to Germany yesterday, "I have been to Sweden several times". "I have been into work today, but I'm home again now".
I am not used to thinking of "to be* as a verb of motion, but I think it substitutes here for "I have gone" and takes on the implied motion for the occasion.
In German the past perfect can mean the preterite,
I think you mean the present perfect (er hat gelesen as in "he has read"), not the past perfect (er hatte gelesen as in "he had read").
but can it do another way round?
English present perfect (referring to an action in the past that has an effect in the present) pretty much always translates to German Perfekt.
For example, "Have you done your homework?" (implying: did you do it in the past, such that it is now finished) has to be Hast du deine Hausaufgaben gemacht? and cannot be Machtest du deine Hausaufgaben?, which in turn can only mean "Did you do your homework?" or "Were you doing your homework?" (inquiring after a past action without reference to completion in the present).
That's what I thought too, so I am confused about the original sentence: how can "warst" be translated into "have been"?
Yes, it's a bit odd.
I'm not sure how to explain the difference between Warst du schon in Schweden? Warst du schon mal in Schweden? Bist du schon in Schweden gewesen? Bist du schon mal in Schweden gewesen?
At least some of them map to "Have you been to Sweden already?" but the meaning is not identical... but I don't know how to explain the nuances.
So perhaps my earlier statement about German Imperfekt/Präteritum never being an appropriate translation for English present perfect was too strict.
If the "or" is read as meaning the two choices are equivalent, that's not quite right. "Did you do your homework?" is asking whether the homework is finished. On the other hand, "were you doing your homework?" asks what you were doing at whatever time we are talking about.