"En middag"

Translation:A dinner

November 18, 2014



This was how I was silly and lost a heart:

Me: "Ah, middag. Like Dutch middageten, German Mittagessen...lunch, right?"

Duolingo: "Wrong! Everyone knows the middle of the day is when you eat dinner" :p

Interesting semantic shift from lunch to dinner though! :)

November 18, 2014


The problem is that the convention in English disagrees with this translation. At least this is true if the term "middag" refers to the time of day that the meal occurs rather than which meal in the day is the main meal. "dinner" in English only refers to which meal is the main meal and is associated with both the noon meal and evening meal. It only somewhat favors the noon meal. If the Swedish tendency is to eat their main meal in the evening then a translation to "dinner" is very reasonable. Although this still depends on whether the term "middag" refers to the significance of the meal rather than the time of day.

You can think of the English usage like this...

(1) morning meal = breakfast, or dinner if anyone were to make this the main meal

(2) noon meal = lunch, when light, or dinner when it is the main meal

(3) evening meal = supper, when light, or dinner when it is the main meal

I sent a report on this and would like if a native speaker who knows could explain the answer to my question on whether "middag" refers to significance, time, or both. If you read this and turn out to be the same person who will have read my report then I am sorry to have accidentally mistaken this for the Danish course in my report. I am simultaneously studying Danish and Swedish and immensely enjoying both courses! You have beautiful languages and they are very fun to learn. :)

December 14, 2014


The standard usage of the Swedish term today refers only to the significance of the meal. Hardly anybody eats middag at noon, and we don't use the word middag to refer to that time of day either.

December 21, 2014


Except in Skåne (Southern Sweden) :) Where lunch is Middag ;)

February 6, 2015


I've written a much longer comment about meals here https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6176753
In the course, we're trying to teach Standard Swedish, so we stick to one definition of middag in order to avoid confusion, but we also try to explain that usage varies.

February 6, 2015


I asked my friend who is from Malmö and she said no one she knows calls middag lunch. They use the standard frukost, lunch and middag. So I guess it's not everyone from Skåne =P

February 6, 2015


Thank you for taking the time to explain and help me understand! :)

December 22, 2014


It's just not that simple in English, it depends on region and social class and a bunch of other stuff; I think it's probably simplest if the course just tells people that middag = dinner, anything else would get confusing, and it's a quirk of English which isn't really relevant to learning Swedish.

December 17, 2014


I think that a better question would be that as the evening meal is "middag", should "supper" also be accepted as a correct alternative answer? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supper?show=0=1420736630

January 8, 2015

January 8, 2015


The definition of these words does not depend on region or social class. The usage or misusage would. The term "dinner" in English does not specifically refer to the evening meal and suggesting that it does is what would cause confusion. The simpler solution is to make the direct parallel between terms for the evening meal and then "supper" is the correct term. This is true unless the Swedish convention is to eat their main meal in the evening. "dinner" would then become a reasonable translation but it should additionally be considered whether the Swedish course wishes to parallel a term that can refer to both the noon and evening meals. Does "middag" sometimes refer to lunch? If it does when lunch becomes the main meal then "dinner" is an excellent translation. If it never refers to lunch (as giving that answer seems to indicate in this course) then it is not a term for which "dinner" should be a translation.

December 17, 2014


I do think definitions depend on region and social class, there's no such thing as a "global academy of English" that sets rules for all English speaking countries and people to follow.

December 26, 2014


I think you misunderstood my point. Usage precedes definition and therefore it informs references and teaching materials. So I agree that an Australian may use the term "dinner" quite differently than would be commonly an American or British English tendency. If they did do this it would cause some confusion between the different uses but certainly no one in Australia must necessarily observe conventions set by Americans. This is entirely different from the idea of defining a term for common reference. You can understand this as it applies to dictionaries and other attempts at translation. You can also observe how it applies to this course. For example, a few people have reacted to this term "middag" in Swedish and attempted to translate this as "lunch". If there are no rules and Swedish usage has not provided an understandable definition of the term "middag" then correcting the students of this course for responding with "lunch" is pointless. The Swedish language should concede that non-Swedes that are now learning their language will inject a new usage into Swedish which ignores their definition of the word. I'm sure this will actually happen somewhere and that is the natural evolution of all languages. This is the perspective from which you are 100% correct. You can't control usage or misusage. When you try to define a term it is for more practical purposes though and it is desirable to reach a consensus. On this basis there is a process that sets rules for English generally and this process is necessary for providing enough consistency overall for the language to function. This is why you can look up the term "dinner" in an English dictionary and see it defined as I have used it. You can also know from this that a general usage in this way existed before the definition. This is not enforced by anyone of course and everyone is free to use the term "dinner" to refer to acid, the color green, cherries, chips, a pool table, or anything else that they wish. It should just be understood that applying the term in a novel way will not tend to result in ease of understanding and this is what interests me. I wish to understand and be understood.

December 26, 2014


They are correct. It does heavily depend on social class and region. Some Americans use "supper" when describing lunch (and then dinner when describing the next meal) because it was brought over by French Canadian ancestry, as the same thing happens in their Québec French. Also, supper and dinner mean exactly the same thing when not referring to lunch by the aforementioned. Supper just tends to be used by lower or middle class people, and dinner tends to be used by middle or upper class people. Also, both can be simply regional as well. In my experience, neither term has had anything to do with "the main meal" of the day.

January 6, 2015


...that is your problem. Everything is "textbook". Just because that's the technical definition doesn't mean it accurately reflects its usage.

January 7, 2015



I'll use an American dictionary since you are an American. You can find a similar definition for this in other dictionaries. I will not provide further replies on this topic. I have no desire to accidentally bury the discussion surrounding the Swedish term. Thank you to those who have interacted with me on this question. I am a professional writer and it has been valuable to me to be given your perspectives on this. I appreciate the dialogue in general and how the community here has interacted regarding this translation. I wish you all the best with your studies and as much fun as I am having continuing with your participation in this course. :)

January 7, 2015


I know that there's a lot on this topic, but for anyone here learning English - it really depends. I'm English (from the north) and the three meals were always called breakfast (in the morning), dinner (in the afternoon) and tea (evening/night). Some people call them breakfast, lunch and dinner, and some people probably say breakfast, lunch and tea! Supper can end up in there too, as the late meal or an extra 4th one, just to complicate things...

It's really as simple as that, just convention (which definitely ties into regions and social class, maybe less than it used to though). I don't know anyone who considers the afternoon meal the main one in the UK, even though I grew up calling it "dinner", and if you did then school dinners might leave you a bit disappointed ;)

December 17, 2015


I can't agree that "supper" would ever be the correct term in England. A few effete southerners, usually with pretensions to being better than they are (a la Hyacinth Bucket) refer to the main evening meal as supper. Otherwise supper invariably refers to a light snack taken just before going to bed - usually involving hot chocolate or Horlicks!

February 14, 2015


I'm from the north of England and agree that, here, supper would refer to a light snack before bed but I have heard people talking a about going out for supper. I'm not sure what they ate but I suspect it was more than I'd expect for supper. There may be a niche for bars serving milky drinks and biscuits, tho!

April 5, 2018


As swedish Wikipedia says the term "middag" refers both to a meal and to a time. MIDDAG (mat): "Middag" är den måltid som brukar intas efter arbetsdagens slut..... MIDDAG (tid): "Middag" ("mitt på dagen) avser den tidpunkt då ett halvt dygn har fortläpt, det vill säga klockan 12:00....

I suggest Duolingo should accept even the answers: "A midday", " a noon"..

January 27, 2015


middag is very rarely used to refer to the time 12:00 and only under special circumstances. If you see it like this (En middag), as a Swedish native speaker, noon is not what you will think of. A noon sounds strange to me in English.

January 27, 2015


Actually in England "dinner" is (or used to be) a meal of its own and does not refer to either supper or lunch. The meals of a day go like this:

Breakfast - in the morning Lunch - around noon Tea - in the afternoon, before dinner Dinner - around 5-6pm Supper - in the evening

Now I understand that in the modern world people don't follow this kind of a schedule anymore, but this is where the original meaning of the word comes from, and that makes this information relevant. If you read a book by e.g. Jane Austen, the distinction becomes quite clear. And to my understanding, this is also the concept that the swedish word "middag" refers to, hence middag=dinner.

January 15, 2015


It's similar to Russian, where they use Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper, but my family uses "Dinner" for lunch, usually.

November 18, 2014


This is also fairly common terminology with older people in the American Midwest (both sets of my grandparents, for example). I wonder if that has anything to do with the region's huge Scandinavian influence? It wouldn't be the only linguistic holdover.

December 7, 2014


It was also common in my youth (I'm an older person) in New England from an Irish-Italian immigrant background to refer to lunch as dinner and the evening meal as supper.. So this may not necessarily be a Scandinavian heritage holdover. Perhaps more generically it comes from a European working class background. While usages have moved on today- even in Swedish- see the next post. The more formal language could retain the distinctions

January 2, 2015


have to agree fully here, as in dutch an german..

July 17, 2015


Like in very many other countries, the Swedish system for lunch and dinner has changed, and there are still people around who stick to the older system. To avoid confusion, we only teach the modern standard usage of the words.
Today, most people eat the following main meals:
frukost is breakfast, the first meal of the day
lunch is lunch, the second meal of the day, eaten 'in the middle of the day' or at around 12:00.
middag is dinner, the largest meal of the day, normally eaten after the end of the working day.

Apart from these, we have
kvällsmat if you have a simpler evening meal after dinner, it's called kvällsmat
fika is a social institution typically involving coffee and something sweet (read more)
mellanmål is a snack
brunch is the same as in English
supé is a pretentious word for a meal after 20:00

December 21, 2014


There are also other words for kvällsmat: kvällsfika, kvällsmål. Don't know which ones are used more.

December 21, 2014


False friend of german or dutch learners

December 20, 2014


Is the g always silent?

November 26, 2014


Yes, pretty much, unless you want strong emphasis (and not always then). In the definite form, middagen, you can get it both ways though: [middan] or [middagen].

December 20, 2014


So, how to call "noon" på svenska?

November 21, 2014


lunchtid is also noon

December 21, 2014


middagstid or kl 12:00

November 23, 2014


And dinner time ? :D

November 23, 2014


That'd be middagstid, pronounced with or without g.

December 26, 2014


I don't think anything should be translated "dinner" as even English speakers can't agree on what that means. I think "lunch" and "supper" should be used as they do not have the confusion in English that "dinner' does. Is middag the meal eaten at noon or 6:00pm?

January 27, 2015


Middag is eaten around 6, lunch is eaten around 12.

January 27, 2015


Urban Swedish people (nowadays, I should say, the majority) use "frukost", "lunch", "middag", whereas more rural tradition is "frukost", "middag", "kvällsmat". I myself use the latter standard, but then my children say I am old-fashioned :-) As for the time of day, it is more common to say "mitt på dagen" or "middagstid". "En middag" can only refer to a specific meal, e. g. "en fin middag" (a fashionable dinner) or "en god middag" (a good/tasty dinner).

April 16, 2016


Confusing. Being Dutch, 'middag' means afternoon in my language. So far Swedish and Dutch were rather alike, and now I'm confused. XD

January 11, 2015


'Middag' is the main meal of the day. It got its name from 'middle of the day', when we were all farmers, and had our biggest meal around 12 o'clock. But since then lunch has been introduced, taking its place, factory-work etc changed the family traditions, 'middag' being held later and later during the day, until it became an evening meal. The only time you really have time to sit down for your main meal. Often at 17-20 o'clock. But on weekends the family dinner might be earlier, in the middle of the afternoon, when people have enough time to spend together.

June 9, 2015


Middag = dinner Eftermiddag = afternoon or midday

January 2, 2015


am i the only one who hear middar? is it the usual way to pronounce this word?

October 31, 2015


No, there is no '-r' at the end. I actually hear the '-g' rather clear here, but I am native speaker of Swedish, so it might not be that clear to anyone else. Furthermore, the usual everyday pronunciation would probably be to just end in -a "midda-" softening the 'g' away.

October 31, 2015


oh, i guess that explains it. thanks a lot :)

November 1, 2015


so literally " a mid day" is dinner?

November 18, 2014


middag used to mean lunch a long time ago. More info in Swedish here: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunch

November 18, 2014


Does middag refer to the time of day you eat dinner? Because 'Dag' means day right? If thats so, then what does 'Mid' mean?

Sorry so many questions :p

January 12, 2015


I can't really see if your reply was aimed at me, but I'll just assume it is ;) In Dutch 'dag' means day, yes, and 'mid' just means mid (though in Dutch it's an abbreviated form of 'midden' meaning 'middle'), so 'middag' would be the same as 'mid-day'. It doesn't exactly refer to the time of dinner. With us, midday would be the equivalent of 'afternoon' which just refers to a certain time periode. Whereas 'ochtend' (morning) is 6-12 AM, 'middag' is 12-6 PM (or 12-18h). After that comes 'avond' (evening) which is 6-12 and then 'nacht' (night) 12-6. Evertyhing that's not night (so 6AM-12PM) is also together called 'dag', so day. I love to explain, I love to teach people stuff, so if you have any more questions about Dutch you know where to go.

January 12, 2015


middag is very rarely used to refer to the time you eat lunch (around 12). mid is the same mid as in English middle.

January 27, 2015


Lots to learn from the discussion here. Thank you so much.

May 8, 2015


Are dinner and meal interchangeable terms?

September 30, 2016


No, meal is måltid in Swedish. A meal is any meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, could be a snack.

November 13, 2016


My objection is that previously I translated middag as lunch in a sentence and it was accepted. Be consistent.

October 14, 2017


Why not to add both dinner and lunxh? Since middag is rather a time frame not a kind of meal. And as far as I know you in Sweden don't like to eat much (a point for lunch).

February 12, 2015


The normal use of middag is as a kind of meal, dinner. It is rarely used for the time frame. Read more here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6176753

February 12, 2015


I got docked for putting "dinner" instead of "a dinner", but to me these are totally different things - "dinner" is the evening meal, and "a dinner" is a gathering to eat out or have a dinner party.

Is the same distinction there in Swedish?

May 6, 2015


This is confusing as I'm a Dutch native and the Dutch word for 'middag' is 'afternoon' (mid-day) :P

July 17, 2015


All this comments go too deep. I just want to know. Does 'middag' in swedish only refer to evening meal? I an confused: german native speaker using duolingo english-swedish.

July 21, 2015


For most people, Mittagessen is only lunch in Swedish, and middag means the large meal eaten later in the day (English dinner). This is what we teach in the course.

July 22, 2015


I studied Swedish before, but I don't know if it's because of how I choose to remember the word or if ti was taught that way, but I thought middag was Mid day, or the time of day people eat dinner.

August 10, 2015


"Middag" being "dinner" instead of "lunch" totally confuses me (being a German native).

October 20, 2016


Why would a lunch be incorrect

November 3, 2016


Lunch = Lunch Middag = Dinner

November 4, 2016


My teacher thaught to me that middag is also lunch

March 8, 2017


But, how are they the same thing

May 29, 2017



November 14, 2017

[deactivated user]

    In English , the indefinite article (a) would not be used with the noun (dinner) too often.

    Like one would say " I had dinner ", and if one said " I just had a dinner ", it would sound somewhat unnatural, and you would probably have to explain more by saying "I just had a TV dinner" (for example).

    January 17, 2018


    Regardless of lunch or dinner... Bon appetit!

    July 17, 2018


    Therefore, "lunch" for "middag" should be accepted as a possible answer!

    July 24, 2019


    I didn't notice that I put the dinner

    August 26, 2019


    Heh I wrote "lunch". That's sad we don't have that much choices of words.

    November 13, 2016
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