"You are writing the wrong address on the letter."

Translation:Du skriver fel adress på brevet.

December 23, 2014

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Can someone explain why this isn't "adressen" ?


Fel is an adjective that simply won't accept describing a definite noun.


which is why there is no "den"?


I also thought it was den fel adressen, but thanks for the explanation... I wasn't aware "fel" was that way. Stubborn adjective! haha


Well, it is Swedish.


Never ever, really? So, when you're doing a quiz show and there are only two possibilities left to choose from, can't the presenter say in Swedish: "This is the wrong answer"? Only "This is (a) wrong answer" or "This answer is wrong"? Or perhaps "This is not the right answer"? :) Do you have another synonym of "wrong/bad" for these cases?

It's really not that I can't relate to omitting the definite article, actually it would be the same in my language too. However, sticking to the original example, I remembered the time when our company changed its address and for some time letters were still sent to the old address where we lived. So we got them, but since we were about to move, we really didn't prefer that address anymore. That is when we said "Not again, they wrote THE wrong address on the letter!" In this case the address was not wrong, because it was misspellt or fake. It just wasn't the right one.

So, I'm just wondering if I were a Swede my annoyance could only manifest as "Not again, they wrote the old/previous address on the letter!"


Indeed it won't. It just sounds really strange to use it for a definite noun.


If I understand, you can use an indefinite article, however, yes? So there is still a distinction between "a" wrong address and (the) wrong address because of the lack of the indefinite article, correct?


No, you cant use an indefinite article either. It's all just fel adress.

But if you use the synonym felaktig, it's completely regular.


Tanks, this is very important.


It simply won't? What are other examples of such snob words?


I think "samma" would be another example..? We have THE same job would translate to "vi har samma jobb" and NOT "vi har samma jobbet"...? Or am I terribly wrong about this...?


You're right, samma is another case of this. Actually the English way of saying it sounds really redundant to my Swedish ears. If it's the same, it's the same, right?


I saw this and want to add that there's a loophole for samma: there's another word, densamma, which means 'the same person or thing'.
But there's no loophole whatsoever for fel :)


Thank you guys. There is something so delightfully illogical about this rule (for me), I'm sure I won't forget it.


@Yerrick, no, that's a bad translation, en bok för mig would simply be 'a book for me' in English. 'a book of mine' would be en av mina böcker, that's the only way we can say it. (even though that would also be 'one of my books'). Well, I guess we could also use expressions like en bok jag har 'a book I have', and we could probably use that a little more freely in Swedish than one would like to in English.


I think it's much more logical like we do, to assume that what's wrong can never be determinate, than to do like English and speak about wrong things as determinate by default. In the case with the old address of your company, 'the' wrong address was still only one of the infinite possible wrong addresses. (We'd say Den gamla adressen, which would be determinate with good reason).

Something similar that I find illogical though, is something a Polish acquaintance used to say: En min bok 'A mine book'. Now you can't say that in Swedish or English, and I could explain why, but I don't agree with my language in this case. I really wish we could say that! :)


Arnauti: in English we can say "a book of mine". Google suggests "en bok för mig" as a translation; does that carry the same meaning as the English?


I really like the philosophical concept behind the infinite number of wrong possibilities. Very mathematical. Though I would "argue" that since you can always define a binary subset of possibilities (that mutually exclude each other) it also makes sense to refer to one of the two choices as the wrong one. :)

Maybe we're just wired that way, because for us it is natural to use wrong as a distinctive property of something and the answer to "Which..." questions always has to be definite, anyway.

Just for fun:

  • Have you found out why you didn't receive the letter? Did they use a wrong address or was it that creepy postman who stole it?

  • No, it was not the postman, it was because of the wrong address.

In my mind wrong address is a single unit, a reference to one of the two (thus, countable) presented explanations.

PS: In Hungarian we can say En min bok too. We can even say something like Den ena mina boken...


It seems to be language that wires us. It's an intersection here between what the specific word contains and how the sentence works.

We've got other words like felaktig 'wrong', 'faulty' that are useful in situations like that, and which can be real adjectives in a way that fel isn't.

Interesting to hear about Hungarian. I had just assumed that Hungarian didn't have noun definiteness in the first place.


I think förra, nästa, fel, rätt all work similarly

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