Does this mean to finish the book in 15 minutes, or that one will start reading in 15 minutes (or both)? Or does it mean something like: I read the book during the next fifteen minutes? Maybe I don't understand because my native language is not English.
It means I am reading the book (or am planning to start it), and it takes me 15 minutes to finish it. The English means the same.
If I were to say that I will start reading the book in 15 minutes, I'd probably say "Jag börjar läsa boken om en kvart.". If I wanted to express that I will be reading the book for the next 15 minutes, I'd probably say "Jag läser boken en kvart.", although that sounds a bit strange, and would sound better with some other construction, such as "Jag tillbringar en kvart med att läsa boken." = I spend 15 minutes reading the book.
I don't think it's so clear that that is what the English means - I am a native English speaker, and "I read the book in 15 minutes" sounds decidedly strange to my ear. (Or, more precisely, "I read the book in 15 minutes" sounds fine if "read" is in the past tense, but odd if it's in the present.) I think we would use some additional words here to make the meaning clear: "I can read it in 15 minutes" "I will read it in 15 minutes" "I am going to start reading it in 15 minutes", or "I am going to read the whole thing in 15 minutes." But not just: "I read (present tense) it in 15 minutes."
But the problem here probably isn't in the en kvart, it's in the verb. läser is very ambiguous here. I think I might prefer to translate it as I will…, but in Swedish it's actually really unclear whether this is future, present, habitual or what. Most likely future though, if I have to pick one.
But "I will read the book..." isn't accepted and "I read the book..." is, which in English is past tense and not the same in Swedish... Please correct the sentence, because it's too misleading in its current form.
@AlexHirsch1 & Arnauti: I agree that "will read" makes it more likely to be understood as "om en kvart".
I think part of the problem here is how unnatural it apparently sounds to be reading a book in 15 minutes. Could the sentence be changed altogether to Jag läser tidningen på en kvart or Jag äter smörgåsen på en kvart och something that doesn't confuse learners as much? (Maybe in a later version of the tree?)
The grammatical structure would of course still be the same, but I think it might be easier to "accept" it for what it is if learners didn't get so stuck on the meaning.
I've added 'will read'. I agree this sentence would probably have been more helpful had the main translation used that instead.
@Arnauti I think "will" makes "in 15 minutes" sound like "om en kvart" as opposed to "på en kvart".
Same problem as in English, then, if I'm understanding you right - it's the "read" which is unclear, since we don't know what the modality or tense is supposed to be. (I can read, I will read, I do read.....)
I meant that the problem is in the verb in the English translation. There's no problem in the Swedish sentence :)
I was wondering if laser and other verbs are the same no matter what tense you are speaking in? I translated laser to "I will read the book in fifteen minutes," and it was marked correct, but the suggestion at the bottom said "I read the book in fifteen minutes," suggesting that laser can be used in past and present tenses. Is that correct for all verbs, or is laser a special case?
Läser is present tense. I would say your answer is wrong and the suggested answer is in the present tense. But I'm not a native so take that with a grain of salt.
In response to your comment on mine, "read" is past and future (it's only present if it's "to/can etc. read" or "reading"), each example I noted can only be read in individual tenses, first future and then past.
My point was that the phrasing of the suggested translation (I read the book in fifteen minutes) can only be past tense, that cannot be said in present tense.
I also understand that the structure of the Swedish sentence is incompatible with both the past and future tenses, this is why I said it's misleading to have this suggested translation. The only way to phrase this sentence in present tense therefore, is "I am reading the book for 15 minutes."
"I am reading the book for 15 minutes." is not a correct translation of "Jag läser boken på en kvart.". The Swedish sentence means that I will have finished the book at the end of that period of time.
I disagree with your statement that read by itself is only past or future. I read the book is completely ambiguous unless you hear it spoken or know the context.
Past - "rehd"
Present - "reed"
If you say "I read the book" in the sense of the present tense, that's just bad grammar.
"I pour some coffee, sit down, and read the book in fifteen minutes." It's unusual to narrate in the present tense in English, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Usually we use the present tense for repeated actions, like "every morning I read the book in fifteen minutes", which sounds a little strange but is the same grammatical construction as something like "every morning I get washed and dressed in fifteen minutes". I don't know if the Swedish sentence carries a habitual sense, but it's fine in English however you read it
telemetry's example is a really good one. Regarding the habitual aspect of the English sentence: no, there's no intrinsic habitual aspect to the Swedish one. You could very well say "varje morgon tvättar jag mig och klär på mig på en kvart", but there the habitual sense comes purely from the "varje morgon".
Thanks for the explanation. Still hard to fathom, but it helps :). Just one more question: how would the meaning of the sentence change if you exchange på with either om or i?
"Jag läser boken om en kvart" is a bit strange, since it means that you will read it pretty exactly 15 minutes from now, which doesn't make much sense with a book (not even one you'd read in 15 minutes). You could say "Jag ringer dig om en kvart." = I'll call you in 15 minutes from now. It would make sense, since the action of calling is pretty instantaneous. Or "Jag läser brevet om en kvart." = I'll read the letter in 15 minutes. But reading a book is not something occurring in a very short space of time, 15 minutes from now.
"Jag läser boken i en kvart" ... I guess this would be a pretty good way of expressing the "I'll be reading the book for 15 minutes." that I struggled with above. Although for some reason it sounds better in my ears when talking about an action that you are more likely to measure the length of time for, such as "Jag joggar i en kvart" = I'll jog for 15 minutes.".
Here are indeed some good examples of "i en kvart" being used for "for 15 minutes": http://sv.bab.la/lexikon/svensk-engelsk/i-en-kvart.
Thanks for the thorough explanation. Seeing the three together makes it somehow easier to understand either of the three versions.
I'm glad if I could make it clearer for you! Because I think I made it more confusing for myself... :-D
It means to finish the book in 15 minutes. Not necessarily in the next 15 minutes to come, but being able to finish it in 15 minutes whenever he/she wants to.
So if, in the sense of time, "i" means "for the duration of X" and "om" means "X amount of time from now", what does "på" mean?
So the difference between "i" and "på" in the context of this sentence is the difference between "I spend 15 minutes reading the book" (for i) and "It takes me 15 minutes to read the book (from start to finish)" (for på)?(Obviously not translated literally)
Yes, "Jag läser boken PÅ en kvart" conveys the meaning that it is a small or very easy book to read. Or that the reader shows off as a very fast reader, needing only 15 minutes.
It is an expression meaning "15 minutes" or "a quarter hour". "A quarter" does not carry the whole meaning here.
Not sure about elsewhere in the world but in Australia, when you say you'll do something in "fifteen" the minutes part is implied. Like "I'll be around there in fifteen" is quite typical
We generally can't use nouns in the singular without an article, so it's rather that the cases when you can do that which require an explanation. If you compare with English, you would never say It takes me week, you'd always say It takes me a week. It's the same phenomenon.
What does "I read the book in 15 minutes" mean in English?
I can't think of a case where I'd say this using just "read" in the present tense. "I will read...", "I want to read..." etc. sure, but to me, the accepted translation doesn't seem like natural English, so I don't think that I'm getting what the intended sense is in Swedish.
The sensible English that I've tried: "I read the book for 15 minutes.", which I find better but still not entirely natural, is rejected as a translation.
BTW. Is "Jag läser boken på en kvart." common/typical/idiomatic Swedish or is it an artificial construction for the purposes of this lesson?
If it's not artificial, what is a real world scenario where someone would actually say it?
Please read the whole discussion before posting your own question. This sentence means I am reading the book (or am planning to start it), and it takes me 15 minutes to finish it. You might say this just before you start reading it, so it could also be translated as "I will read", or while you're actually busy reading it.
It is indeed a slightly strange sentence because books are rarely read from start to finish in 15 minutes, but there's nothing wrong with it as such. A very cocky person at a speed reading course might say it. ;-)
As you will see from the discussion, reading the book for 15 minutes is a whole different thing, that's why that answer was rejected.
Would "Jag läser boken på en kvart." be an appropriate response to "How long will it take you to read this?" where "this" is a small, pamphlet sized, book?
Something like this: Alice, handing Bob a small book "How long will it take you to read this?". Bob: "Jag läser boken på en kvart."
I am starting to hate swedish because of "på, i , om" !!! Killing!! Advise please! They are sooo interchangeable. They mean everything. Is there a place where we can see their usage? Any rules?
You might want to get a notebook and write down the situations you run into where you use each one. Creating your own reference will help you to remember it - and unfortunately that's what you have to do with prepositions, get familiar with which pops up when you phrase a certain idea. You already did it for your first language, you can do it again!
Those are pretty frustrating. Every time I get one of them I wish there was a lesson dedicated to just them.
This is just how prepositions are though, including in English - you just don't notice because you're used to the phrases they appear in, so the familiarity makes them feel natural. You probably never even think about them!
The trouble with trying to learn them in isolation, is that you end up with a huge collection of rules describing the possible phrases they can appear in. That can help a bit, but it can also be really complicated - look at at, on and in. You live at an address, in a house but on a street in a town. Something can happen on a Monday in January in the afternoon or at night.
You might be able to draw up some consistent system of rules that explains all these differences and why each one (and not another) is used in each situation, but that's hard to do and hard to remember. And most importantly - native English speakers just don't do that, in general. We just say the preposition that goes with the phrase. It's 'at night', or 'in the night', that's just what you say!
Same with Swedish, you just need to learn that when you express a certain idea, you phrase it like this. And don't try to apply English rules to it! Sometimes i works in the same way as in (like with 'in January'), other times it doesn't, you can't rely on it. Just try to focus on learning the phrases, and it'll get easier with familiarity
Wow that was a lot of words to say "practice makes perfect".
My point about the lessons was that after reading several discussions I noticed people seem more frustrated with these pronouns than most anything else. To the point where I've seen people use the word hate several times.
Targeted lessons would give people the extra practice with prepositions and allow for them to become familiar with the language patterns of swedish.
I'm not saying practice makes perfect! I'm saying practice using them in context will make you familiar with them. There's already a Prepositions section, and practicing those lessons over and over will drill the phrasing into your head.
The reason people hate them is because they think there's a rule they're not getting, about when you use this or that - there isn't, and it doesn't mirror the English usage either. I mean you can make notes, and try to puzzle out a pattern - that's fine and it can help them to stick in your head! But you have to just get stuck in, and don't worry about getting them wrong - it's all part of the learning process
The above blog simplifies.
Maybe I'm lazy here, but I find surprising that "I read the book in 15 min" was not accepted. After a day at work where this kind of abbreviation is very common, I completely forgot that duolingo expects full words ; nevertheless, isn't it a correct way to write in English?
15 instead of fifteen is correct but sadly min is not a word. These days abbreviations like that are far too common but in most learning environments full words are expected.
I looked up kvart- no surprise its a relative of quarter (1/4). Two follow up questions. 1) would "en kvart timma" be technically correct, but overly formal? 2) Would using it as a quantity adjective - like " en kvart koppe " be strange?
- No, it's not even grammatical. Swedish really doesn't use the "of an hour" part that English does.
- That's fine, but you need the possessive: en kvarts kopp.
Why not om en kvart? I finally got the pattern with sentences like Om ett ögonblick, or Hans kostym kommer om en månad, but why is på being used here? Is it because the action of reading for fifteen minutes is continous until its finished, while other sentences talk of the action to be started in that period of time? Help!
English can use "in fifteen minutes" to mean either "after fifteen minutes have passed" or "during fifteen minutes, after which the book will be finished". Swedish uses om for the former and på for the latter.
Why 'I read the book for fifteen minutes' is not accepted? It has the same meaning
på means you finish it in fifteen minutes, which "for" doesn't convey.
Since no one else has asked: why is it just kvart? (quarter). Would "femton minuter" be wrong? The literal English translation for this makes no sense because you're not specifying that the fraction is of. Quarter of what? A minute? An hour? A day? Even if did specify it, who speaks like that? "I'll be there in a quarter of an hour" in English technically isn't wrong but no one would say it like this, ya know?
Well, you know how English uses "hour" and nobody would say "sixty minutes" - Swedish does the same for fifteen minutes, our word for it is simply kvart and that's the regular term for it.
Of course, femton minuter would be understood, and kvart is a cognate of "quarter". But since English "quarter" doesn't have the fifteen minutes sense - as you say - we have to translate it less literally.