In English, the 'both' is not clear as to whether it refers to both me and the other person, or both laugh and cry. Is it also ambiguous in Swedish, or does the 'both' clearly apply to one or the other?
It’s not ambiguous in Swedish, it refers to the actions here. Otherwise you’d use ”båda” if you were talking about the people. ”Båda” is here a pronoun whereas ”både…och” are two conjunctions that go together.
- Vi är båda läkare. (We are both doctors.)
- Både han och jag är läkare. (Both he and I are doctors.
- Båda husen ligger vid sjön. (Both houses are situated by the lake.)
- Att leva med honom är både himmel och helvete. (Living with him is both heaven and hell.)
This is the first time that I have realised that there was even a "både" - thanks for the information! I just thought there was one word (båda) for everything!
So to say "We both laugh and cry", meaning both I and someone else laugh and cry, do you have to say "Både av oss skrattar och gråter", or is there some way to communicate "we both" using "vi"?
You could say something like Vi båda skrattar och gråter or Vi skrattar och gråter båda två.
Why do Swedes ask me all the time "Why are you laughing?" (Varför skrattar du?) when in fact I am only smiling? When I point out the difference the Swedes get "upset" Is it easier to say "Skrattar" than to say "ler"?
Hard to tell without meeting you. Maybe your smile when you meet Swedes is so big that we think you're laughing :D
"We both are laughing and crying", any specific reason this is wrong? It wanted me to use "we're", but the above is still grammatically correct in English.
It's because in your English sentence the 'both' refers to the 'we' - i.e. 'both of us are laughing and crying' - but that's not the meaning of the Swedish sentence. See Lundgren8's explanation of både/båda above.
I read it, but I don't see how it is not the meaning of this sentence. Vi både skrattar och gråter: We [us, both, all] are laughing and crying [both]. Would the meaning change at all saying vi båda skrattar och gråter? Would it not simply be grammatically incorrect, but mean the same thing? Or is the insinuation that the 'we' could be more than two, and the use of båda would make it mean specifically only two people? Det är både roligt och svårt att lära sig svenska ;)
OK, perhaps it will help to change the sentence so the English translation loses its ambiguity. So let's imagine it says "Jag både skrattar och gråter" - "I am both laughing and crying". Now it's clear even in English that the 'both' refers to the verbs. The point is that in Swedish that was already clear, because they use a different form of the word. In fact, I think (someone who knows about this please correct me!) 'både' is a conjunction and 'båda' is a pronoun. In English we use the same word for two different functions but the Swedes don't. Your sentence is grammatically correct in English but it's not a correct translation from the Swedish, because you've changed the function of 'both'. Possibly I've just made it even less clear...
You're right about the conjunction/pronoun thing and everything else. I wrote some more about this recently here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8387413$comment_id=15263308
I think a clearer English way to say that "We [us, both, all] are laughing and crying [both]" is to say "We are both laughing and crying", as opposed to the answer you gave above of "We both are laughing and crying".
You are quite right: that would remove the ambiguity which is in the present English sentence.
How do you know the “we” is only two people? The Swedish sentence does not say that.
From the Swedish sentence, we don't know how many people are involved here. But be do know that only two actions are involved: laughing and crying. In the Swedsih sentence here, it is to those two actions that the word både refers.
The både x och y construction is a bit special - in a sense, you could say that the full phrase acts as a verb, whenever x and y are verbs, so the v2 rule is still in effect. Or you could consider it a special case. Either way, you're thinking correctly. :)