"När jag lagar mat äter hon."

Translation:When I cook, she eats.

November 18, 2014



I thought "äter hon" had to be a question because the verb came before the subject. So I wrote, "When I cook, does she eat?" When is the inverted construction a question and when is it not?

February 19, 2015


Can anyone please explain why does the verb äter come before the subject hon when it's not a question? Didn't see an answer for that so far...

April 30, 2015


I'm not sure, but shouldn't this have a comma, like "När jag lagar mat, äter hon."?

November 18, 2014


Swedish does not typically put a comma between clauses in the same fashion as German does, so it’s not necessary.

November 18, 2014


Is it clear that it's not saying "When I cook food (that/which) she eats"?

November 19, 2014


Yes, because of the rule that you have to have the verb in the 2nd place. Your sentence would translate as ”När jag lagar mat (som) hon äter.”

November 19, 2014


sorry i still don get it clear, so this is a sentence with a question at the end?

May 13, 2015


No, it’s just that Swedish has a rule which states that the verb has to come in the second place in the clause. So while English says ”Yesterday I ate”, Swedish says ”Yesterday ate I”. So this sentence first starts with a clause:

[När jag lagar mat]

and then the verb comes in the 2nd place after that clause

[När jag äter mat,] [äter hon]

May 13, 2015


I can't reply directly to Lundgren8, so this is the best I can do to say thanks—that's the best explanation (and the first one to make sense) I've gotten so far about the verb placement in this type of sentence.

April 18, 2016



The voice is not quite perfect on this sentence, as of August 11th, 2017, so I've taken the liberty of re-recording it.

The stress is on the wrong word twice, so as a result, the entire sentence sounds off to a native.

Please find a correct recording on http://duolingo.vydea.io/de9e7c5717784f9d98953c571bb05589.mp3

For more info on re-recordings, please check the info thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23723515

Thanks for listening. Ha en bra dag! :)

August 11, 2017


I MAY have accidentally put "when i cook, i eat her"...

December 13, 2017


I get the V2 rule, but how do you identify what a clause is? Sorry I'm a total grammer numbskull!

December 20, 2016


Why can't you say, "Whenever I cook, she eats"?

November 2, 2017


There's a difference in connotation which, though small, I think should be kept. We'd say när jag än lagar... for that.

November 2, 2017


She eats when I prepare food is not correct but sounds ok for me

February 3, 2015


Sure, I'll add that.

August 11, 2017


How about "While I'm cooking, she's eating"? I think while is just as OK here as when, but maybe not ;)

April 26, 2015


Nope, that'd be medan. :)

August 11, 2017


LaEric i thought the same thing. Instinctively i feel like i know what a clause is but how can we be sure

September 28, 2018


I'll try to explain this a little further. If the below overlaps a lot with what you already know, I apologise - I'm trying to be clear and thorough, not condescending.

A clause is something that can express something on its own, but not be broken down further while still carrying the same meaning. The problem here is that clauses can have different properties depending on the type of clause.

We make a difference between "main" clauses and "subordinate" clauses. A main clause is, put simply, a clause that can function as its own sentence, and which doesn't depend on other clauses to derive its meaning. It also cannot be divided further without losing its meaning.

Let's take the sentence "She eats and I cook", for instance. This can be divided further: "She eats" can stand on its own, and "I cook" can as well. Neither of these can be divided further, though - just e.g. "She" or "cook" make no sense on their own. And the meaning of one of the clauses doesn't affect the meaning of the other. So both of them are main clauses, and they're glued together by the conjunction "and".

The main purpose of conjunctions is to glue clauses like these together, frequently with some additional meaning. For instance: in "I sing and you sleep" and "I sing but you sleep", the same clauses are connected in the same way, but with a small additional difference in meaning through "and" and "but".

A subordinate clause is one that depends on a main clause to work in a sentence. (Main and subordinate clauses are frequently called "independent" and "dependent" for this reason.) This can typically be for one of two reasons: either because it doesn't function grammatically on its own, or because it derives its meaning from the main clause.

Subordinate clauses are also often introduced by the use of a conjunction. These conjunctions are called "subordinating conjunctions", for that reason. The important part here is that the subordinating conjunction is part of the clause, which makes it easier to see why it doesn't function on its own.

For instance, in the sentence "She eats when I cook", the main clause "She eats" goes well as its own sentence, but "when I cook" doesn't. It requires the main clause to express its meaning.

So the base phrase here, so to speak, is Hon äter när jag lagar mat, which mirrors the English example I used above. In English, when you change the clause order, you retain the clauses as they are: "When I cook, she eats". The only real difference is that you use a comma if you put the subordinate clause in the front.

But in v2 languages, every head verb in a main clause wants to go as the second unit of full phrase, which consists of the main clause plus its subordinate clauses. So then we get this:

She eats when I cook = [Hon] [äter] [när jag lagar mat]

I have put each unit within brackets, from the main clause's point of view. We have Hon äter which is the main clause and när jag lagar mat which is the subordinate clause. Hence, äter is the main verb, and it's in the second position. That's the easy part. Now for moving it around:

When I cook, she eats = [När jag lagar mat] [äter] [hon]

Since the entire subordinate clause is one unit - at least as far as the main clause is concerned - the main verb äter bullies its way to the second place in the sentence. But it's still a main clause even though it no longer functions on its own.

As you and LaEric noted: this is the challenge of v2 languages - to correctly identify the clauses even when the v2 rule messes their word order up. I doubt this immediately solves anything, but I hope it at least explains what's happening in this sentence a little.

(Finally, please note that I've left out lots of other info on clauses since that's an enormous subject and most of it isn't relevant to this discussion.)

September 28, 2018


How happy I am that Dutch is my mother tongue. Apparently, Dutch also follows the V2 rule. So I put the verb intuitively on the right position and do not have to learn it anymore for Swedish. I now understand why I sometimes do this wrong in English.

February 17, 2019


Can I just say thank you?

I have been having a tough time getting my head around the V2 rule, and I haven't found anything the broke down the word order in a way that made sense to me. Especially when they throw a curve ball like that.

But with how you broke it down, with

"She eats when I cook = [Hon] [äter] [när jag lager mat]"

is the same as saying

"When I cook, she eats = [När jag lager mat] [äter] [hon]"

everything finally fell into place. Maybe I can actually start getting the V2 down pat.

November 22, 2018


I'm very glad to hear that! And I have no doubt that you'll get the hang of it eventually. :) It is tricky, but practice makes perfect - övning ger färdighet, as we say in Swedish. Or övning ger träning ("practice makes exercise") as my violin teacher used to say.

November 22, 2018


I always liked perfect practice makes perfect, otherwise you practice bad habits. Still, thank you for the help!

November 23, 2018


Thank you SO much for "dumbing" this down for me. In my (english/american) schooling I only received one year of grammar study which was 7th grade.... A LONG time ago. I had no clue about all the clauses and subclauses. THANK YOU!

February 2, 2019


Glad it's helpful! But please don't think of it as dumbing it down. There's really zero way of figuring this out without being taught it, and I doubt most native Swedes know why it works like this either. One of the privileges of speaking a language natively is not having to understand how you do it. :)

February 2, 2019
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