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Confused about the grammar/structure of the "Progress." and "(blank) og"

"I stod og snakkede sammen hele dagen" wants "you were talking together all day"

What is the "stod og" doing here? What is the literal translation?

This section tends to leave out other "og" which are more obvious. "Han sidder og snakker.." wants "he is talking with..." and not "he is sitting and talking with.." it makes sense, but with how much of a stickler other sections are for EXACT wording (annoyingly so in some cases) it just seems weird that so many "og" bits are getting left out here, which makes me thinks there is a purpose or a reason. Does Danish add this unnecessary stuff purposefully in? What's going on here?

Another from this section "alle går og laeser den samme avis" wants "Everybody is reading the same newspaper" what is the gar og doing?

Is this a tense thing?

May 5, 2019


Sorted by top post


Okay. These are very common constructions in Danish. I think the best way to explain them may be to cpmpare with the English continuous ("talking" etc.):

"I stod og snakkede sammen hele dagen" is literally "You stood and talked together all day". In Danish, this "stod og" does communicate a bit more that "I snakkede hele dagen" - it literally indicates that you were standing talking. Most often, we construct these sentences with "stå", "sidde" and "ligge": "Jeg står og venter", "du sidder og spiser", "hun ligger og sover". Compare with English "I stand waiting", "You sit eating" and "She lies sleeping". I think that in English only the last of these would sound perfectly natural. I suspect that this is a matter of set phrases differing in different languages. These constructions are very common and unremarkable in Danish. Perhaps Duo replaces the most common form in Danish with the most common form in English?

In many cases Danish seems to use these "og"-constructions where English would use the continuous (-ing). So: "han snakker altid" =he always talks, "han sidder altid og snakker" = he is always talking. As you may have noted, Danish does not really use the past and present imperfect (is talking, was talking) in the way English does, replacing it with simple present and simple past (talks, talked). The "og"-construction conveys some of the same meaning. The literal translation of "is talking" would be "er snakkende", but I would only use that form to say something like "De er meget snakkende" - they talk a lot. An english sentence like "She was talking to her neighbour when the bell rang" would translate most naturally as "Hun stod og snakkede med sin nabo, da klokken ringede".

"Går og" and "kommer og" are special cases. They literally mean "walks and" ans "comes and", but they are very often used to indicate something else. "Går og" indicates an ongoing, continous process, people constantly or repeatedly doings something. You can find sentences like "hun går og er ked af det", "she walks and is sad", meaning that she is constantly sad, she is often sad, she is repeatedly sad, something like that. "De går og spreder rygter" means that they are often/repeatedly/always spreading rumours. "komme og" indicates something like "begin to", and is used notably for interference or for initiating a new process: "Du skal ikke komme her og blande dig" - Don't come here and interfere. "De kommer her og tror de ejer det hele" - They come here and think they own everything. My dad's favorite paradoxial sentence is "Du skal ikke komme her og blive væk og sige du har været her", "Don't come here and stay away and say you have been her", or less colloquially, "Don't try not turning up, and then pretending you were here".

So, the difference between "alle går og læser den samme avis" and "alle læser den samme avis" is that the former emphasises an ongoing action: everyone is reading the same paper - every day, regularly, again and again. The latter more suggests that at some point in life, everyone reads this paper, but not that they necessary do so more than once.

"Vi er i færd med" means that we are in the middle of, we have not yet finished. The phrase emphasises the unfinished nature of the project. If you look at the alternative, "Vi snakker om et nyt forhold mellem mennesker og dyr", that sentence could mean that this new relationship already exists, and that we are just talking about the fact that it exist, and that we could break off talking any minute. "I færd med" conveys a sense of unsettled, ongoing negotiation or exploration, suggesting that this new relation is not yet firmly established or well-understood.

May 5, 2019


baerghest, det er simpelthen en seriøs god forklaring! Jeg har aldrig selv tænkt over at vi har den slags konstruktioner som vi bruger ret konsekvent; det må jo være et helvede som nybegynder at sætte sig ind i den slags. :-) Du får en lingot... :)

May 22, 2019


Thank you very much for that detailed explanation, I understand far better now!

May 5, 2019


Another "Vi er i faerd med at snakke om et nyt forhold mellem mennesker og dyr" wants "We are talking about a new relationship between humans and animals"

it just feels like the sentence makes sense without the "er i faerd met at" entirely.

May 5, 2019


Also: "være i gang med".

May 6, 2019


English is kind of special in its use of the progressive -ing -structure; namely, English uses it much more than many other languages use the equivalent structure.

In English, you would typically say/write "I am swimming.", whereas "I swim." is used much more rarely.

In Danish, you would typically use "Jeg svømmer.", and if you want to specifically emphasize that you are in the process of swimming and not done yet, then you would use one of the structures mentioned here.

Same in Norwegian, I presume, though I have not yet encountered progressives. I do not remember how Swedish expresses progressives, but certainly the default is "Jag simmar."

In Finnish, you would typically also use "Minä uin." and more rarely "Minä olen uimassa.", and that when you want to draw attention to the fact that you are in the process of swimming (and hence can't meet your friends in the city centre or whatever). The same in Kven.

In French you also have the progressive structure with "train", but it also seems to be used less than in English.

May 6, 2019
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