"That is bad!"
Translation:Det var illa!
This is a pretty strange phenomenon that happens a lot in the spoken language. It's called "modifierande preteritum", and it's sort of a more polite and careful way to say things.
I found a short text about it here. (in Swedish)
Edit: that page won't let you link directly. To see the discussion you need to search for "var" and then choose Varför säger vi ofta Det här var gott och inte Det här är gott?
Edit 2: I want to add that both options are approved answers, in both directions, because this sentence may have a real past tense meaning too.
If you were to say "är" instead of "var" would that come across as rude, then? Just out of interest. I worry I won't remember things like this.
It's not rude per se, just a little more direct. Of course tone is always important when pointing out that something is bad.
Just as a heads-up: the link in your comment doesn’t quite work — it redirects just to the search page of the Institutet för språk och folkminnen. I guess this answer to “Varför säger vi ofta Det här var gott och inte Det här är gott?” there is where the link should go?
I just tried det var dåligt and it was accepted. I'm not sure whether det var illa is more idiomatic or if the two are about equivalent... but Google gives 155,000 hits for "det var dåligt" and 52,000 for "det var illa", so I assume it's at least as valid a translation.
Both work. There's some slight difference in meaning, but it's very small – Det var illa is probably more about how something turned out, as in talking about a whole situation. Like, 'pity it turned out that way'. Whereas the other one is more general and can refer to ett nouns too. Hur var mötet? Det var dåligt. 'What was the meeting like? It was bad' – you could not have said illa in that case.
If you meant a specific object in English, you would have said that one. If you just say 'that', you're probably talking about something more general. Not "that apple", but "the whole set of circumstances we were just discussing", if you see what I mean.
why is "det är dålig" not accepted? I've read the thread but it's still not clear.