"När jag lagar mat äter hon."

Translation:When I cook, she eats.

November 18, 2014

This discussion is locked.


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?


När jag lagar mat is fundament. It just tells you when she will eat. After fundament you have to put verb. It confused me a lot but I'm getting used to it.


Please scroll down a bit; I explained it in length below. :)


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



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! :)


Man you shoulde have done the voice for entire doulingo swedish.great recording.thanks.


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


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


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


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.”


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


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]


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.


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


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


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


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.)


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


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. :)

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Too true that many people cannot explain things about their native language. Also, what a milestone hitting 3000 devalanteriel. Grattis till dig !


I am a NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER, and clauses have never made sense to me until now. So thank you for enlightening me in both English and Svenska.


That's amazing! Thank you!

So, "Hon äter när jag lagar mat".

Couldn't it be "Hon äter när lagar jag mat"? Or "Hon äter när lagar mat jag"?

Or is it because the conjunction is a part of the second clause and the V2 rule applies only when we try to glue together a second clause, which has no conjunction?

"Med er går jag till Sverige" "Jag går med er till Sverige" "Jag går till Sverige med er"

Are all three correct?

"Medan hon läser en bok går jag" "Jag går medan läser hon en bok" "Går jag medan hon läser en bok " "Jag går medan hon läser en bok "

What about these?

Leading swedish is fun :)


Learning swedish is fun* :D


Couldn't it be "Hon äter när lagar jag mat"? Or "Hon äter när lagar mat jag"?

No, you don't change have the word order in a subclause introduced by a conjunction, so to speak.

Are all three correct?

Yes, all of those are correct.

"Medan hon läser en bok går jag" "Jag går medan läser hon en bok" "Går jag medan hon läser en bok " "Jag går medan hon läser en bok "

4 is the basic order and correct. 1 is the subclause-first order and also correct. But in 2 and 3, a verb is in the wrong position.


In this sentence, could the word "när" be changed to "medan"? Moreover, is the difference between English words "when" and "while" also applied here to "när" and "medan" in Swedish?


Yes, that's correct: it's perfectly grammatical to use medan, and it would mean "while".


Can you say to cook with one word in Swedish? Can you lagar something else?


laga on its own just means "fix". So you do need the mat part in order for it to mean "cook".


Huh, as a German it's so hard to remember the English word order, because ours is the same as the Swedish one


Such a nostalgic lesson. This is where the V2 rule finally clicked for me sniffles single tear


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


Sure, I'll add that.


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


Nope, that'd be medan. :)


This sentence made me do a double take.


Does Swedish not like ending a sentence with a verb?


Sure we do, often. But the verb in a main clause moves when it is preceded by a subclause.


"She eats while I cook" was not accepted. My Swedish better half agrees with the fact that this should be accepted as correct.


My internal owl says: "No! You reversed the order of the sentence and "while" is medan."
I think the sentence means that she will eat if I have cooked. So when I cook, she will eat. Swedish regularly uses the present tense instead of the future tense.

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