why is middag = dinner, but not lunch? middag should mean midday, so confused :/
In the Stockholm area it has shifted so that middag=dinner, but you still hear it as the meal you have at mid-day in other parts of the country. I use it for the meal at midday myself (and "kvällsmat" for dinner).
Even in English "dinner" traditionally meant the midday meal, which used to be the largest meal, and "supper" was the evening meal. As we adopted eating our largest meal in the evening, we started calling the evening meal "dinner."
And still to this day dinner is the mid-day meal and tea is the evening meal depending on your dialect!
Not suggesting that I shouldn't be marked wrong for just "middag", but the two times previously that middag came up, its gender was left off. Is there a way to tell from the word what its gender is? Should I just guess en unless we know it's ett?
Not quite sure how you mean, but if you get the English word with an article, you should have the Swedish word with an article too. So if you're asked to translate "A dinner", the answer should be "En middag" and if you get just "Dinner" (this should never happen) you should translate it into "Middag".
If you don't know the gender of a word, en is your best bet, because those words are most frequent. Also, if you knew the gender of the word dag, "day", you could infer that it would probably be the same here.
I mean how we got "jag/vi äter middag" and other similar phrases, where there weren't any articles.
Swedish and English are similar in this, sometimes you need an article, sometimes not. So in "Jag äter middag" there's no article, just the same as in "I eat dinner". We don't always use an article when you do, and vice versa, so you'll have to look out for the cases where it differs.
Sadly there isn't a way to tell if a word is an en word or an ett word. You just have to learn it. When in doubt, though, go with "en" because there are many more of them (especially if it's a borrowed word, it's almost always en).
perhaps there is no word for lunch. it makes no sense ti anyone what gender it is. sour pickles.