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  5. "He does not speak Swedish."

"He does not speak Swedish."

Translation:Han talar inte svenska.

November 17, 2014



It seems like no one in this lesson speaks Swedish. I'm not alone :D


Hej, jag talar svenska!


I can understand that, but IDK all of Swedish (Svenska).


Is this common to use the phrasing of "One can not... (language)"? I've only come across "Man talar inte... (språk)". Hope my question makes sense.


"Kan" can also be defined as "know" in certain situations. So, "Han kan inte svenska" actually translates to "He does not know Swedish." "Talar" and "Pratar" can also be used in this situation, but they translate directly to "talk" or "speak". "Han pratar inte svenska" means "He doesn't speak Swedish."


"Han" means "he." This translates as "He speaks not Swedish," i.e., "he doesn't speak Swedish."


I think he is asking if we can use the Swedish word "man" as an indefinite personal pronoun, like we do in German.


i think "man talar inte" is used more for a country or a people, like "man talar inte svenska i USA"


What's the difference between talar and pratar?


"Prata" is used all the time, while "tala" is formal only (and a bit oldfashioned).


tala is definitely not formal only, but it's getting there. The youngest generation virtually doesn't use it at all, even though it is still quite common only a generation or two up.


It's been considered oldfasshioned for around 50 years... Swedes 50 years old and younger normally won't use it except for stating that they know a specific language, but the word is used a bit more in writing.


I'm sorry, but that's simply not true at all. Where did you get that information?


Because I'm native, have been living in the country for over 40 years, been to school in the country for 12 years + 11 years in the university - and happen to have a mother who has been teaching Swedish in the Swedish high school since the mid 60s (still working at the age of 75). I have quite a few older (native) friends and relatives in the southern parts of the country (Borlänge and Stockholm being the ones currently living the furthest northward, but four grew up around the arctic circle). My grandmother sometimes said things like "Vem talar till mig", but she was 105 years old when she passed away 18 months ago (and most of the time even she would use "prata" instead of "tala"). Taking my time going through the Swedish lessons in Duo to try to give some answers to questions here on the forum, but perhaps you'd prefer if I didn't say anything? Just thought a native might be able to shed some light here and there. Sorry for trying to help.


You can tala svenska, tala ned till någon, tala till publiken, tala i telefon, tala med chefen, etc. etc.

I wrote this in another thread a few days ago:

It used to be a matter of style, with prata being colloquial and tala proper. The current trend seems to be that tala is approaching a status of oldfashioned in a generation or two. Right now, you could honestly often use them interchangeably, but some - especially youth - will consider tala somewhat formal.

As you can see, I don't entirely disagree with you - but it's definitely wrong to say that tala is "formal only", and it's not strictly old-fashioned either.

[...] but perhaps you'd prefer if I didn't say anything?

No, of course not. You've posted quite a lot of good comments, and I'm appreciative of that. Most of your posts have been nothing but helpful.

But you've also posted some thing that are clearly incorrect - like your claim that Swedish doesn't have articles, or the one about there being no rules for verb conjugation in Swedish, or that Swedish doesn't have genders. This kind of advice is directly detrimental to learners.

To be honest, you should consider what your limits are in regards to how well you can teach your language. Your input as a native is for the most part valuable, and informative - but you are lacking knowledge of the grammar, and it's occasionally affecting your post quality negatively.


Good question, What's the difference?


Basically, tala = speak, and prata = talk. But there's considerable overlap, just as in English.


tack så mycket :)


The position of talar and inte cannot be interchanged? How does it make a difference?


It's called the v2 rule - the verb needs to go in second position in normal sentences.


You have to put "inte" after the verb in normal sentences, but in a subsentence (like "Han är tyst, då han inte talar svenska") it has to be in front of the verb. This is a rule that most Swedes don't know, but it's still a valid rule.


Kan?? I havent learned that word yet!


"Han kan inte svenska" - he can't Swedish? Is this just a set phrase where you can just assume the speaking part since you're talking about a language?

I'm also assuming "kan" is an irregular verb since it doesn't end in "r". Is it still "jag kan", "vi kan" etc? I've only just reached the verb section of the tree and haven't come across it yet - only as a correct alternative to "han talar inte svnska". I'm having a lot of vocab crop up for the first time in these "select all correct translation" questions and lose a heart because I haven't learnt it yet.


Han kan inte svenska would be similar in meaning to "he doesn't know Swedish."


Oh yeah, maybe kan isn't the word for 'can', but for 'know' (think 'kennen' in German) which agrees with what calhob8 was saying (Calvin and Hobbes 8??). Although maybe you already figured out what kan is...


My German is REALLY rusty, but I think that's a good example of one way of using the word "kan". It does also mean can, as in capable of. Any toddler will angrily tell you: "jag kan själv!!!" translated to "I can do it myself". Yes, Calvin and Hobbes for sure, which is actually Kalle och Hobbe in Swedish :)


In old fashioned English we had the verb to ken or to know. Kan is a cognate for ken showing our common language roots.


Yes 'kan' is an irregular verb. The infinite form(I'm not sure if it's called that in English) is 'kunna', the past tense is 'kunde' and in the perfect form (again, don't know if that is English but when it's used like "I have been able to do smt") is 'kunnat'


Nice Cosima profile picture. :)


I said "han kan inte prata svenska" but it said "han kan inte svenska" which does not make sense to me.


I don't think there's anything wrong with your answer, I'm not a native though. In swedish 'kan' can be sometimes used like 'know' in English. This is the case you are having in here with the sentence 'han kan inte svenska'. If I were to translate the sentece into English it would literally translate to 'He can't swedish' but you can't say that in English so it's translated to 'he doesn't speak Swedish'


A cousin I have in Sweden says that pratar is used more commonly, and that talar is more formal, as in a speech.


Other way around, really - you would be less likely to use pratar in formal texts, and more likely in common speech. But neither is wrong in either setting.


I think that was what I was trying to say. Talar, formal. Pratar, common. I've been to Sweden three times now, and don't hear "talar" used in conversation. Yet, Rosetta Stone language course also used "talar" in the first levels, which was confusing to me.


No, that's not what I mean. I'm saying that while one is more common in formal contexts and one in informal ones, they're are not inherently formal and colloquial. You can very well use either word in either setting, and nobody would react at all. The word talar is perfectly normal.


Good to know, as my goal is to be easily understood when I am speaking Swedish in Sweden.


This makes sense. Like in English (America at least), if someone always said "I am speaking to you" instead of "I am talking to you", I wouldn't really think much of it. It carries almost the same exact connotation.


Can someone tell me how the other languages are written in swedish?


Here are a few: engelska-English, finska-Finnish, danska-Danish, norska-Norwegian, tyska-German, franska-French, spanska-Spanish, italienska-Italian, japanska-Japanese, ryska-Russian,


so she does not speak swedish and she speaks swedish is the same thing? i hope I'm not missing something


She speaks Swedish would be "Hon kan svenska.".


Rather "Hon kan tala (prata) svenska", i believe


You're both right, in a sense:

  • Hon talar svenska = She speaks Swedish
  • Hon kan svenska = She knows Swedish
  • Hon kan tala svenska = She can speak Swedish / She knows how to speak Swedish

In practice, as in English, you can mix them up quite a lot. :)


Does the inte have to follow the verb? I wrote 'han inte talar svenska' and got it wrong.


Posted the answer earlier in this thread a few minutes ago.


What is the difference between Svanska and Svanske? Is it like Hej and Hallå where both work , or no?


Well, neither is a word. :) However:

  • svenska can be either the language Swedish, or the adjective Swedish in definite form, or a Swedish woman
  • svenske can only be the adjective Swedish in definite form, and only for males - the form is optional


Looks like (male/female) gender endings, as in other well known languages.

In case of Swedish man (woman), what gender are the two words? Ett svenske(ka) or en svenska(ke)?

And are these words nouns at all in this case? (Or we dealing with adjectives every time)

I wonder if "or a Swedish woman" is related to the "or the adjective" or in this case it's not an adjective


For adjectives that end in -a in the definite singular, you can pretty much always use -e instead for males. Doing so is completely optional. This is the only rest of the old gender system Swedish used to have a long time ago.


why not "Svenska"? How capitalization works in Swedish?


We capitalise the first letter of a sentence, as well as proper names.


"Proper names"? Do you mean human and animal names? Or this: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Swedish_proper_nouns


For instance, yes, and also countries, cities, etc.


much more simpler than german :D Thank you


here is a rule for the verb in Swedish language the verb must take the second position mostly even when you build a negative sentence for example: Jag kan pratar svenska and Jag kan pratar inte svenska for those who got confused with ''kan'' its a helping verb which means it must come before the verbs like English


If you add "kan" you'll have to use "prata" instead of "pratar".


it gave me "Han talar ej svenska." as the correct answer, despite using inte.. would "ej" be the better word to use here?


No, inte is far better. They are synonymous, but ej is formal. Do not use it in speech, nor in normal writing.


Anyone know why its talar inter and not inte talar i am used to saying it like inte talar (i speak the Finnish way of Swedish if thqt changes anything


v2 rule - the verb wants to go second in normal clauses.


Why is "inte" after "talar" when it is "He does NOT Speak Swedsih" instead when that seems like "He does SPEAK NOT Swedish"?

I'm new here, sorry if the question seems dumb.


Swedish is a v2 language, meaning that the verb wants to go second in every normal sentence or main clause.

But even disregarding that, the "not" actually comes after the verb in your English example as well - since "does" is the main verb there, not "speak".


I've been told on this forum that it's due to something called the V2 rule, i.e. the verb has to be number two in the phrase. As a native Swede I hadn't learned it as a rule, since everything else would feel weird.

If you think a bit more on the English phrase, it actually follows the V2 rule as well - does is the verb, coming in second place and being followed by the negation. In older English you would have "He speaketh not Swedish", which can be translated word-for-word into correct Swedish. So perhaps you could ask - why do you use the "do"-construction in English? :-)

Your question is actually a good one, especially if you're mainly used to English. There are a couple of guidelines you could use, if you wish:

  1. There's no Swedish version of the English "-ing" ("I am driving" and "I drive" both correspond to "Jag kör" in Swedish)

  2. There's no Swedish equivalent to the English "do" as an auxiliary verb, so if you can think of a way to reconstruct the English phrase without "do" you're more likely to find yourself closer to the Swedish version.

I hope this is of some help, at least. I'm not very good at explaining my native grammar, since I've never been taught any Swedish grammar in the Swedish school.


Where to use om, i am confused , pl help.


om generally means "about". It's also used as a particle.


The Swedish word "om" might be one of the most difficult things to explain in the whole language..

Most of the time it means "about" or "around". It's usually a good idea to start there, and see if the phrase makes sense.

A few examples:

  • Han talar bra = He speaks well

  • Han talar för henne = He's talking on her behalf

  • Han talar om henne = He's talking about her

  • Han talar om för henne = He's letting her know / He's informing her

Ok, so what happened there between the last two phrases? We added "för" (the word that usually means "to" or "for"), and the whole phrase just went bananas? Well, the problem actually starts with the old Swedish word "omtala" ("to inform", a word that still exists but isn't much used in that way nowadays) which is one of those famous "loosely connected verbs" that are everywhere in the Swedish language. In the present tense this old verb splits into "talar om" (never "omtalar", at least not that I've encountered), but the meaning is still "inform" and not "talk about". In modern day Swedish most people use "tala om" instead of "omtala" as the infinitive form. In order to "inform someone" we need to say "tala om för någon", and that's what happens between the two last phrases.

And just to add to the confusion:

  • Han talar om det för henne = He's informing her about it / He's letting her know it / He's talking to her about it

So, how do we know if the phrase "Han talar om det" should be "He's talking about it" or "He's letting it be known"? Well, if you simply see it written out of context there's NO WAY to say if it is the first or the second. There is a difference in spoken Swedish though - the first would be "Han TA-LAR om DET" (using capital letters for stressed syllables) whereas the second would be "Han talarOM det" (looks extremely weird writing it like that, but I don't know how else to show that the "OM" comes directly after "talar" so that it almost sounds like all of it is one word with three syllables and the stress on the last one).

If this was too complicated there are workarounds... You don't really need to use the loosely connected verb "talar om" if you don't like it. You can say "Jag låter dig veta att..." instead of "I'm letting you know that..." and "Jag informerar dig..." instead of "I'm informing you...". Most Swedes would probably use "talar om" instead of the other constructions, but some Swedes prefer the other ways - so as long as you manage to understand what they mean when saying "jag talarOM det" you will be fine.

(... and if you're not confused now, you'll probably never be confused again ...)


Why the first letter of "svenska" isn't written in capital letter?


Languages are never capitalised in Swedish. I don't know why they are capitalised in English... Same goes for months and days - never capitalised in Swedish, but for some weird reason capitalised in English...


jag talar inte svenska


Is there a word for "does" in Swedish? This directly translates to, "He speaks not Swedish," so I was just wondering.


The Swedish word for "do" is göra, as in "she does her homework" = hon gör sina läxor.

But I would really not consider the literal meaning of "do" here. English uses "do" for several grammatical constructions where the individual meaning of the word is less important than its use in the phrase. In this case, English uses "do" to construct the negative, whereas other Germanic languages do not.

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