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  5. "Den lilla flickan"

"Den lilla flickan"

Translation:The little girl

December 5, 2014



"Den" is needed here because of the adjective "lilla", right? I'm still a little confused. Could someone explain why the sentence isn't "den lilla flicka" (lit. "the little girl") and why you stick with "flickan"?


In Swedish, you show definite (the) by an ending, right? So ”the girl” = ”flickan”; we have no need for an English ”the” word. However, when we combine it with an adjective, we have to not only show that it’s definite in the noun or the adjective, we also need an article similar to English ”the”. So:

  • En liten flicka = A little girl.

We put ”flicka” in the definite: ”flickan”. Then we put ”liten” in the definite, which is irregular, so it’s ”lilla”, and then we need an article similar to English ”the” as well. So you need to show it in three places!

  • Den lilla flickan


Tack för hjälpen! :)


You never disappoint, thanks.


Dang! Each language is uniquely weird.


Fascinating, and a major difference from Danish, it seems to me.


Yes indeed, it's a conspicuous grammatical difference from Danish (but not from Norwegian)! There are remnants in southern Swedish from the Danish times, e.g "Stora Torg" for "The Main Square" where Standard Swedish would have "Stora Torget or Stortorget" (we usually exclude the definite "det" when it comes to names, in Swedish as well as in Danish)


What is the difference that you are talking about? Are you saying that Danish and Norwegian do not use the -en/-et system? Can you give me an example of a Swedish sentence and then the same in Danish?


Regarding this difference, we would not need a sentence. Translated into Danish, this phrase would be "den lille pige." Without the adjective, "flickan" in Swedish is "pigen" in Danish. The Danes either make the noun definite or, with an intervening adjective, use a definite article, but they do not do both at the same time. As JonAbelli points out, while Norwegian is often more like Danish than Swedish, it does the same as Swedish in this case.


Thank you for the very helpful reply!


Tack snälla ni.


Okay- hands up who typed in "The purple girl?"?


Difference between lille and lilla?


The -e ending is strictly masculine. It's a remnant from when Swedish still made that grammatical difference, but today can only be used for actual masculinities. Thus, you might perhaps adress me as "käre moderator" to say "dear moderator".

The -a ending can be used for anyone, though, and is by far the most common. I recommend sticking to it if at all unsure.


So it would also be correct to address you as "kära moderator" and to refer to a little boy as "den lilla pojken"?


Yes. It's the most common way.


Why is there a den when flickan is the definite form already?


Swedish marks definiteness doubly when a noun is described by an adjective.


Tack så mycket för hjälpen! :-)


Your explanations are so clear and helpful. Hartelijk bedankt!


why has 'd' in 'den' suddenly become silent?


I don't think it is. It's a little faint, but definitely audible.


Your reply hadn't showed up in my notifications, I just saw it. Thanks!


It sounds like, "Eh lilla flickan" to me, no matter how many times I listen to it.


Why does "den lila flickan" work when you don't use "den flickan"? Is it because of 'lila'? HELP!!


Minwoo, read the rest of the comments on this page, starting with the very first one. It answers your question.


Thanks, I thought he/she was talking about something else. Have a lingot.


How many words for small are there in Swedish?


Well, there's only one, really. But it's highly irregular. For reference, here is the English Wiktionary's declension table: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/liten#Declension


But if it's definite AND plural, should you still use "lilla"(like in "de lilla skorna är svarta") or "små"("de små skorna är svarta")? Also, are there any other adjectives whose plural strong inflections differ from their non-masculine weak ones? Tack!


It's små in the definite plural.

I can't really come up with examples on the spot, although I wouldn't be surprised if there are more. liten is the typical example, though.


Ok, I know that "lilla" is the correct form here, but in the audio I clearly hear "Lille". Is the audio wrong or should it be pronounced like that?


You're right, the audio is slightly off here. It should be pronounced lilla - especially since lille is a masculine form, and flickan a feminine word.


I translated to "the short girl", which was incorrect. Can anyone explain why?


That would have been den korta flickan.


Is kort the opposite of lång?


Yes, exactly.


If I say "den lilla flickan", is the girl small in age, in size or either? And if it only holds for one of them, how would I construct the sentence for the other meaning?


Either works, and you'd have to use context. It's not much of a problem in practice, especially considering that those tend to go hand in hand.


I see, thanks!

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