1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Swedish
  4. >
  5. "Inte" and verbs


"Inte" and verbs

Is there a rule as to where "inte" goes in relation to verbs? I think I am getting confused, because it seems like in some sentences it's placed after the verb (i.e. Jag vet inte) and in others it's placed before it (Jag inte äter) ... Can someone explain?

November 23, 2014



Main clause: Hon jobbar inte i dag (She doesn't work today)
Subordinate clause: Hon kommer hit, eftersom hon inte jobbar i dag (She will come here, since she doesn't work today)

PS. "Jag inte äter" is not correct. "Jag äter inte", but "Han frågade varför jag inte äter" (He asked why I don't eat)


Ooh thanks! I've been wondering that too! Have a lingot.

And here's a definition of "subordinate clause" for anyone who doesn't spend their days neck-deep in editing: Basically, if that part of the sentence can't stand alone, it's probably a subordinate clause. In "She will come here, since she doesn't work today," you can have "She will come here" as its own sentence but "since she doesn't work today" isn't it's own sentence--the "since" throws everything off.


Tack så mycket! I must've gotten confused with the way it is in english.


Btw, this was a popular question on Swedish tests back in school, drilled again and again and again...


Concise explanation Helen. Thanks a lingot!


If you think of it in terms of more archaic English, the negation will come more easily. As you said, "Jag vet inte" is correct. Think of it in terms of "I know not." So, for instance, more archaic English may arrange the sentence "The sun doesn't shine" as "The sun shines not," which, as you may have guessed, in Swedish would follow the same order: "Solen skiner inte."

Gråt inte - Don't cry / Cry not

Skrik inte - Don't shout / Shout not

Oroa dig inte - Don't worry (yourself) / Worry (yourself) not

As you can see, the negation goes at the end, and has a parallel in older English grammatical forms.

"Inte" can go at the beginning of the sentence when you're negating a noun, such as

"Inte det!" - "Not that!" BUT "Det är inte det!" - "It isn't that!" Notice how the negation is after the verb again.

And as others have noted, "inte" can go after the verb in a subordinate clause.

Learn Swedish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.