på - According to Norstedts Ordbok
This post was originally meant to explain the many different instances in which på is used by translating the entry for på in Norstedts Ordbok Professionell. However, native speakers of Swedish (I am not one of them) have commented on this post with many suggested points on clarification and correction. Therefore, I have incorporated those suggestions as edits of the original post.
- on - indicates location on or against a surface
- på bordet - on the table
- på väggen - on the wall
- on or in - indicates existence on an island: larger islands ('in'), smaller islands ('on')
- på Irland - in Ireland
- på Öland - on Öland
- på en öde ö - on a desert island
- in - indicates locations, such as rooms, in buildings
- på vinden - in the attic
- på toaletten - in the bathroom
- han är på sitt rum - he is in his room
- i köket - in the kitchen
- i vardagsrummet - in the living room
- in - indicates existence in a defined (usually 2-dimensional) area or space
- på den här bilden - in this picture
- på torget - in the square
- in - indicates location in or on (American) a street; at - indicates location at a specific street address
- på gatan - in (or 'on') the street
- på Hamngatan in (or 'on') Hamngatan
- på Hamngatan 25 - at 25 Hamngatan
- at - indicates a place or building designed for a particular activity
- på banken - at the bank
- på flygplatsen - at the airport
- på teatern - at the theatre
- i skolan - in the school
- i affären - in the shop
- i kyrkan - in the church
- at - indicates attendance at a place associated with work, employment, occupation; attendance at an event
- vara på fest (konsert) - be at a party (concert)
- på en konferens - at a conference
- on - indicates location on a page of a book; sometimes at
- på sidan 100 - on page 100
- slå upp böckerna på sidan 30 - open your books at page 30
- on, on to, onto - indicates direction to places where the preposition 'on' is used
- lägga något på ett bord - put something on a table
- hoppa upp på bordet - jump on to (up on) the table
- lägga ner något på golvet - put something down on the floor
- to, in to, into - indicates direction to places where the preposition 'in' is used
- gå upp på vinden - go up in the attic
- rusa ut på gatan - rush out into the street
- to - indicates direction to places or events where the preposition 'at' is used
- gå på banken - go to the bank
- gå på fest - go to a party
- gå på konsert - go to a concert
- at - indicates who/what one (ex. throws, kicks, points, etc.) against someone or something
- kasta en sten på ngn - throw a stone at sb
- knacka på dörren - knock at the door
- peka på ngn - point at sb
- titta på ngn - look at sb
- on - indicates a certain day, day of the week, specific date
- de är födda på samma dag - they were born [on] the same day
- på fredag - on Friday
- på hans födelsedag - on his birthday
- på femte april - on the fifth of April
- in - indicates a part of a day, a season, a decade, a century
- på morgonen - in the morning
- på vintern - in [the] winter
- på 30-talet (trettiotalet) - in the 30's (thirties)
- på 2000-talet - in the 21st century
- at - indicates time
- på utsatt tid - at the appointed time
- på samma gång - at the same time
- on, during - indicates the length of time 'on'; with an emphasis on the full time segment 'during'
- han arbetar på loven - he works on his holidays, he works during his holidays
- jag läste boken på resan hit - I read the book on (during) the journey here
- for - indicates time period, used with words for hour, day, week, month, year (American English - 'in')
- han har inte varit här på månader - he has not been here for months
- for - indicates a time period in the future
- åka bort på några dagar - go away for a few days
- in - indicates the time required to do something
- det är klart på en minut - it'll be ready in a minute
- jag kommer på minuten - I will come in a minute
- specifies the time someone has made available
- vi har en vecka på oss - we've got a week
- at - used in describing measurements involving height, depth or altitude; for - used in describing distances in a general sense such as 'for a stretch of miles'
- på 300 meters avstånd (djup) - at a distance (depth) of 300 metres
- inte ett träd på många kilometer - not a tree for many kilometres
- in - used in the meaning of 'per'
- inte en på hundra - not one in a hundred
- det går 100 pence på ett pund - there are 100 pence in a pound
- to - used to indicate accuracy
- mäta på millimetern - measure to a millimetre
- summan stämmer på öret - the sum tallies to an öre
- after - indicates sequence and repetition
- göra fel på fel - make one mistake after the other
- kaffe på maten - coffee after dinner
- of - indicates number
- en bok på 500 sidor - a 500-page book, a book of 500 pages
- en gädda på fem kilo - a pike weighing (of) five kilos
- en flicka på femton år - a girl of fifteen
- of - used in the construction 'noun + of + noun' (the name of the street); is equivalent to the genitive construction - the street's name
- färgen på blomman - the colour of the flower
- man såg bara huvudet på honom - only his head could be seen
- namnet på gatan - the name of the street
- in - used to specify a language
- på engelska - in English
- på ett främmande språk - in a foreign language
- for - used to indicate something one wants to receive
- hoppas på ngt - hope for sth
- vänta på ngt - wait for sth
- by - used in the sense of 'by'
- man hör på rösten att hon är trött - one hears by her voice that she is tired
- jag märkte på hennes ögon att hon ljög - I could tell by her eyes that she was lying
Note: The following was not included in the original entry in NOP.
på is used in the construction of several particle verbs. The particle in particle verbs must be stressed.
breda på - to smear, to spread (as in butter)
gå på - to continue, to go on
hälsa på - to visit
hitta på - to come up with, to think of, to get up to
känna på sig - to have a feeling, to sense, to suspect
köra på - to go ahead
lägga på - to hang up
lägga på sig - to fatten, to gain weight
röra på sig - to move about, to get about
skriva på - to sign, to endorse (to make a document official by applying ones signature)
slå av (på) - to turn off (on)
Sara the Swedish Teacher has a blog entry on på.
Ha Ha!! Well as you can see by all these comments, one can learn much by making many mistakes!!
Well I'm impressed! Thanks for sharing CandyKD. This is a great reference which deserves several visits.
på is not a particle in the particle verb gå med på – med is, but på is only a preposition in that case. Same in gå ut på.
Also I can't see how vända på or vänta på are particle verbs at all, maybe they ended up under that heading by mistake? – vara på upphällningen doesn't really fit there either.
Would you mind giving a definition of a particle verb? Swedish wikipedia is a bit vague. How about, for example:
Stå på sig
Are these considered particle verbs?
The simplest definition is to say that it's a verb + a stressed particle (normally a word that can also be a preposition or an adverb) + that these two create a unit that give a different meaning than just the verb on its own.
Particle verbs can also be reflexive (ha med sig) or require a preposition just like other verbs.
The verbs in your list here are all particle verbs and på is stressed.
Yes, wikipedia mentions the stressed particle but it seemed odd to me that that the definition of a particle verb would rely on pronunciation.
Another property of particle verbs as opposed to verbs + preposition is that in the participles and noun derivations of the verbs, the particle is moved to the front of the verb. This does not happen with verbs + prepositions.
- hitta PÅ en berättelse = make up a story (infinitive)
- en påhittad berättelse = a made-up story (past participle)
- påhitt = idea, invention (derived noun)
- ladda NED = to download (inf.)
- en nedladdad film = a downloaded movie (past part.)
- nedladdning = download, downloading (derived noun)
But for example:
- HÄLSA på = to greet
- han blev HÄLSAD på = he was greeted (not ’påhälsad’)
Particles can also be other things than prepositions:
- laga MAT = to cook (infinitive)
- matlagning = cooking, cookery (derived noun)
I'm farily sure you can use "påhälsad" ... I think I've used it myself. Mostly refering to dogs that loves to interact with humans.
It's more that the stress pattern reveals the extent to which the verb and particle create a unit, so it's more a symptom I guess, but it's the handiest way (for a native speaker) to know which is which. (This picture can be made a bit more complicated, but let's not go into every scholarly detail).
What a good explanation! Thanks for share it man, well done. Sometimes I though about how it works in each case, but only today I saw your post. I'm thinking how much time did you spend to do this. It was a wonderful job, congrats CandyKD and good studies for everyone.
"på Irland - in Ireland"
Are we sure we're talking about the same thing here? Both the island (consisting of Ireland and Northern Ireland) and the country (Republic of Ireland) have the same name.
This article about Madagascar uses "i Madagaskar" for when it's talking about the country (citizens, politics) but uses "på Madagaskar" for when it's talking about the island (nature, coasts).
For other islands, it's common to use i: "i Japan", "i Australien", "i Nya Zeeland".
However, even if it's common to use "i" for Swedish subregions ("i Skåne"), I'm still sure you can only say "på Gotland" and "på Öland" regardless if you're talking about the region or the island.
I think the original entry in NO was referring to existence on the physical island and not in reference to the island state, country, politics, citizens, etc. Your examples above illustrate the confusion over the use of "på" and "i" when referring to islands.
Here is a sentence in which på is used to mean about: Jag försöker tänka på något annat. In the discussion of this sentence, it was stated that native Swedes 'think on something' ; they do not 'think about something'.
"I'm trying to think of something else", depends on how you translate it. – We use "tänka på" to say "think of/about".
Good post! I didn't have the time to proofread the whole thing, but I found one thing that does not sound right: "hon är på köket". I have never heard anyone say i like that. It's "hon är i köket".
I'm a native speaker btw.
Edit: "hyra ett hus på en månad" is not the most common way to express yourself either. "hyra ett hus i en månad" is what the majority would use.
The original entry in NO was 'hon är på toaletten' but I changed it to 'kitchen'....well just because. So is 'på toaletten' okay or does NO just have it wrong when referring to being in a room in a building?
'På toaletten' or 'på vinden' works but not på köket or på vardagsrummet.
Thanks, but can you explain the distinction? Maybe it has to do with the relative size of the room - toilets and attics are typically smaller rooms and kitchens and living rooms are generally larger, analogous to being 'in' a large island and 'on' a small island? Could this be the distinction?
When you are talking about rooms, you are "i" them:
i hallen, i källaren, i kammaren, i skrubben, i förrådet, i köket, i <anything>-rummet, i matsalen, i aulan.
When refering to an item, such as the toilet, then it's "på toaletten". You could say "i toaletten", but that would mean something is actually inside of it.
The expression "på vinden", "på övervåningen", "han är på rummet" and related expressions would be the exceptions. – I'm sure "på" is used for the attic, and the upper floor because it's "on top of" the main floor ("i köket på övervåningen").
Well I can guess: Toaletten refers both to the room and the actual toilet. So to say that someone is på toaletten probably originally meant that they were sitting on the actual chair (rather than just occupying the room).
That, however, doesn't explain 'på vinden' or 'på sitt rum' or the (uncommon) expression 'sitta på kammaren'. So maybe there is something to your explanation aswell.
For the attic, you can expand it to being up on the attic, jag är uppe på vinden - I am up on the attic
There are some even more curious ones though, compare han sitter i fängelse and han sitter på anstalt, for example.
"på toaletten" means that the person is using the toilet, just like "she's on the toilet".
If you want to state that someone is in the toilet-room, but not explicitly using the toilet, the expression "hon är i toalettrummet" works "she's in the bathroom" (you can also use "badrummet").
How do you feel about this list – did it make it clearer to you or does the information drown in all those paragraphs?
There was a lot to digest but since på is such a common word in Swedish and I am forever mis-using it, I thought it would be beneficial to investigate the categories of situations in which it applies.
I try to write explanatory topics sometimes and one reason I haven't even tried to write one about på/i for instance is that I'm afraid the picture would be too scattered so that people would just feel it was confusing.
I think there is no avoiding the fact that it is confusing, but the proper use of this simple word seems very important. I guess I expected to fail in capturing all the nuances of på usage but I also thought it would be a good start from which we could all collaborate in improving my original post by incorporating the suggested corrections and comments contained herein. If you think this post would only lead to a great deal of frustration and confusion for people just starting in this course perhaps I should delete it.
Of course I don't mean that! And even if someone does feel confused, I'm sure they'll just stop reading and it won't hurt them one bit. It's just that I'm thinking quite a lot about how to best present this kind of information. Maybe we should do more overviews like this. I'm thinking aloud about how we as course contributors could be more helpful.
OK then, I will just continue to edit this post for corrections and improvements. Lundgren8 (above) brought up a very interesting topic regarding particle verbs, verbs + preposition construction, the participles and noun derivations of the verbs. I personally would like to know more about this. I believe I have encountered examples of these and just didn't know what was going on.
I'll add one more fact like that, then: Some particle verbs can be used as verbs with prefixes – some can be either particle verbs or prefixed verbs, some can only be used one way. Usually with more or less different meaning, where the prefixed verb normally has a more abstract meaning. One example where both ways work and where the meaning is pretty similar is överföra and föra över meaning 'transfer', 'convey' – but överföra is more abstract.
"jag kommer på genast" does not sound right at all.
You can find it in a sentences such as: "göra något jag kommer på genast", but it's the expression "komma på", with "på" as a particle?
"inte ett träd på många kilometer" – "inte ett träd på flera kilometer" sounds better.
"kaffe på maten middagen" – I don't know what you're trying to say here...
Thank you for your comments! I tried to capture the entries in Norstedts Ordbok (English Plus) but I think I got them wrong in the jag kommer på genast and kaffe på maten middagen entries. They should have been jag kommer på minuten and kaffe på maten respectively. I will edit those entries in the original post. However, inte ett träd på många kilometer is directly from the NO entry with många not flera as you suggest.
många or flera ... this is getting confusing...
"flera" is comparative of "många" ("flest" is superlative).
"många" is a pronoun, which isn't what's used in the sentence.
"flera" is a determiner (multiple, many, several).
So it should be "inte ett träd på flera kilometer" according to my reserach. You can turn it into a pronoun and say "inte ett träd på mångas kilometer" of which is something else.
I'm confused @_@
fler (adjective) is the comparative of många
flera can be either a pronoun meaning 'several' or a version of the adjective fler.
många (pronoun) means 'many'
inte ett träd på mångas kilometer would mean 'not a tree for the kilometer of many' which would be very odd semantically.
But both inte ett träd på många kilometer – inte ett träd på flera kilometer are correct, it's just that många means 'many' and flera means 'several'.
kaffe på maten means 'coffee after the food'. It's an idiomatic expression.
Both inte ett träd på många kilometer – inte ett träd på flera kilometer are correct, but många means 'many' and flera means 'several'.
For what I've understood, kaffe på maten means coffee with the food, not after. But it can be dialectal.
Would you say inte på många mil or inte på flera mil?
I've only ever heard it about coffee drunk after the food, and it isn't common here to drink coffee with food. You typically finish your meal first, then you go get the coffee.
I'd say either inte på många mil or inte på flera mil depending on what I meant.
- Gå på banken, is not correct. You can go PÅ an event. Maybe NO has "gå på banketten"?
There is definitely an entry with 'gå på banken' See here: <https://ne.ord.se/ordbok/svenska/engelska/s%C3%B6k/p%C3%A5 >