The Immemorial Mystery of "Ved"
I don't get this word. What does it exactly mean - or maybe rather WHAT CAN IT MEAN? How should I use it depending on the meaning? Is there any rule or relationship that'll lighten my mind? It might be because I'm from the Slavic Wild East, but the word "ved" seems to me like black magic and loom larges me all the time. Can anybody help me - or just give a simple tip how to get my head around it? Can't stop struggling :/
"Ved" is a preposition. It communicates either spatial or causal relationships:
"Ved" can be used literally to mean "by" or "next to": "Han står ved døren": he stands by the door, he stands at the door; "De kommer ved firtiden": They arrive around four o'clock. In this use, "ved" contrast to "i" (in, inside), "på" (on, atop), "under" (under), and so on.
"Ved" can also be used more metaphorically to mean by means of, due to: "Hun kommunikerer ved håndbægelser": she communicates through hand movements; "de blev rige ved handel": they grew rich through trade; "Ved at studere lærer vi mere": By studying, we learn more. These uses are much less precise, and often, "ved" could be replaced with "gennem" (through) without changing the meaning of the text. In some (but not all) cases, we could even use "på" (on): "de blev rige på handel": trade made them rich, but not "På at studere lærer vi mere": on studying, we learn more (the sentence is as strange in Danish as in English). There is a current fashion for using the set phrase "ved det at" to mean "because". This is colloquial, not very good Danish.
In the Germanic languages, the exact choice of prepositions for any metaphorical use is illogical and often seems idiosyncratic. Someone once pointed out that in Norwegian, there are three or four different propositions for time (cf. Danish i går, til sommer, om morgen, ud på aftenen, literally in yesterday, to summer, about the morning, out on the evening).