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https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti

Deponent verbs (det finns, det känns, jag hoppas)

Arnauti
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Some common verbs in Swedish like for example hoppas ('hope') and lyckas ('succeed') are called deponent verbs. But what does that mean?

The short answer:

Deponent verbs are verbs that have the same form as passive verbs (ending with an -s) but are not passive.

The longer answer:

Morphologically, deponent verbs work the same as other verbs, except that they have the ending -s in every form. (Well, and they can't have a passive form).

Deponent verbs can be either transitive (= able to take an object) or intransitive, but most of them are intransitive. Their meaning can be:

  1. The subject of the verb can cause someone else to experience something: Rummet känns kalltThe room feels cold.
    The room causes somebody else to experience the feeling of coldness.
  2. The meaning can be reciprocal: Vi träffasWe meet.
    The subject is several people who interact with each other.
  3. The action of the verb affects the subject of the verb: Jag misslyckadesI failed, Jag trivsI am comfortable.

It can be difficult to distinguish deponent verbs from passive verbs, but with the deponent verbs, there can be no agent who performs the verb action and there isn't an underlying idea that the action of the verb was caused by some external agent.

For instance, in the sentence Rummet känns kallt (’The room feels cold’), it is not the room that experiences the feeling of coldness, but somebody else, either the speaker or generally anybody. It is impossible to say Rummet känns kallt av mig (’The room is felt cold by me’), and the sentence does not convey the idea that the feeling of coldness is brought on by some external agent (like, say, in a passive sentence like Rummet kyldes ned ’The room was cooled’, where you can easily get the idea that someone or some force made the room colder).

The following deponent verbs are taught in this course:

  • andas (’is breathing’)
    Han andas inte! – He is not breathing!
  • finns (’exists’, ’is there’)
    Hästar finns inte – Horses do not exist.
  • hoppas (’hope’)
    Jag hoppas att hon är hemma. – I hope that she is at home.
  • misslyckas (’fail’)
    Projektet misslyckas. – The project fails.
  • lyckas (’succeed’)
    Hon lyckas alltid. – She always succeeds.
  • fattas (’is missing’)
    Något fattas. – Something is missing.
  • trivs (’be comfortable’)
    Han trivs i Stockholm. – He likes it (feels at home, feels comfortable… ) in Stockholm.
  • minns (’remember’)
    Minns du sången? – Do you remember the song?
  • ses ('see' as in ’meet’)
    Vi ses! – See you!
  • träffas (’meet’)
    Vi träffas alltid på samma ställe. – We always meet in the same place.
  • känns (’feels’).
    Allt känns bra. – Everything feels fine.
  • svettas (’sweats’).
    Du svettas. – You're sweating.
3 years ago

41 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Priya7
Priya7
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Thanks!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JeffFolster
JeffFolster
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This is one of those instances where having studied Latin previously can be useful, as that language contains many deponent verbs! (So many in fact that my textbook chose to introduce deponent forms before even mentioning the passive). So at least the concept will be familiar to Latin students.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pipthevaliant

Ita verum dicis - multa sunt verba deponentia in lingua latina! Regardless of acquiring quite a notorious reputation in my Latin class at first, deponent verbs are now starting to come in handy so...I guess they have redeemed themselves:)

9 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ragityman

My Latin is disused by many decades, and I had hopes of brushing it up using DuoLingo. There seems to be serious administrative resistance to a Latin course, at least the last time I checked. Have you heard anything?

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenCarlsson
HelenCarlsson
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"Svettas" in included in the course too, I think.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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You're right, I'll add it to the list. (I suspect there may be some more, I just don't know which ones).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hegelacan
Hegelacan
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Is there any german equivalent? I have no idea... In general, if I translate Swedish word by word, it sounds a bit like old fashioned german :) Maybe there was an equivalent...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/phil_hb
phil_hb
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i read that the -s comes from the old nordish 'sik' - that makes it easier to find some german equivalents (but sadly not to every deponent verb above) :

han hoppas - er erhofft sich

han minns - er erinnert sich

det finns... - es befindet sich

vi ses - wir sehen uns (or more impersonal: man sieht sich )

seems, that swedish used way more reflexive forms in former times (think of the "har på sig") - hope some of the experts here can confirm it?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViolentRed

Tack så mycket! A tiny correction: the verb ses should read see, not meet.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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I thought that would be confusing because this isn't the main sense of see, but I changed it to 'see' as in 'meet' now, which will hopefully be clearer. Thank you!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mritala

I have studied some ancient Greek which has three voices for verbs: active, medium and passive. Deponent verbs of Swedish seem to function like the medium voice in Greek. What do you you think?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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Yes, people often compare the two. (Not to say they will be identical, but there are big similarities).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HeliasZografo

Perfect observation. As a native greek who has studied ancient greek i have to say that you are completely correct. They seem to be heavily related in meaning, but i wouldn't go that far saying that they function identically.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hashmush
Hashmush
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I created a category on wiktionary some months ago. It should contain all deponent verbs. I did this by searching for all verbs ending with -s and manually adding the correct ones to the category. Let me know if some of them aren't deponent and I'll remove them.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Swedish_deponent_verbs

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenCarlsson
HelenCarlsson
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So you created that one! That's great! I've never seen "att töras" before, but the present form "törs" is very common of course.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hashmush
Hashmush
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Haha, I had the same reaction when I found it. I've also heard people use "tordes" though it's very uncommon where I'm from. Ex. "Jag tordes inte göra det"

But using the supine form sounds really strange. Ex. "Jag tror aldrig att jag har torts göra det"

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Joel__W
Joel__W
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The supine form is pretty common where I'm from (Värmland). I guess 'tordes' and 'har torts' are just the preterite and perfect of 'törs', though I have actually never thought of it that way. I do agree that the infinitive sounds strange; I've never heard anyone say it!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenCarlsson
HelenCarlsson
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I thought that Hashmush added an alternative infintive, "att tordas", but now I can't find it anymore. That one is more familiar to me.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Joel__W
Joel__W
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Seems like both exist, but according to Google "att tordas" does seem to be used more in actual writing. Both sound a bit strange to me, but that's just because I haven't heard either of them being spoken.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hashmush
Hashmush
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Nope, I didn't! I've never heard it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kalzani

Thank you Arnauti!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thorr18
thorr18
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So, let me try to get this straight.
Swedish for "He breathes" is deponent. This means it appears passive, but can never be passive. It can be transitive, so "He breathes water" is probably OK, but "The water is breathed" would be the unallowable passive?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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Yes. If this were a normal verb, its s-passive would be andas but that's already taken, so that vattnet andas would just mean 'the water is breathing', it can never be passive.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thorr18
thorr18
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You've made my day.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adelhaidar
Adelhaidar
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tack!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gramphos

Are you sure about känns and träffas being deponent?

You can say "Jag känner mig hänging." ("I feel lethargic") and "Jag träffar dig på torget om en timme." (I will meet you at the square in an hour.)

"Vi träffar nya människor dagligen" / "We meet new people daily"

To some extent I would say the same about minnas however, that is in old parlance. (Jag minner mig att det brukade finnas en dörr här. / I recall that it used to be a door here.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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Everything I say above is based on SAG, Svenska akademiens grammatik, 2nd volume, pages 554–557. About träffas, they say: In many cases, the deponent verb has a form without s by its side, and is semantically related to it in different ways.
Their example:
Vi träffades i Berlin. Compare: Jag träffade henne i Berlin.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenCarlsson
HelenCarlsson
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I am a bit new to deponent verbs, so I have created some example sentences below. Can you please have a look at them and tell me if my understanding of the concept is correct?

Vi träffas av blixten. ("träffas" is passive of "träffa")
Vi träffas klockan sju. ("träffas" is a deponent verb)

Kyrkan känns igen på långt håll. ("känns" is passive of "känna")
Det känns bra att det äntligen är julafton ("känns" is a deponent verb)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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I think you're totally right.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gramphos

I'm still trying to fully grasp these.

  • Maneten bränns, rör den inte. - (bränns is a deponent verb)
  • Maneten bränns. Stäng av spisen. - (bränns is passive)

  • Svatrskägg räds ingen. (räds is a deponent verb)

  • Svartskägg fruktas över det sju haven..(fruktas is passive)

  • Det vattnas i munnen. (vattnas is a deponent verb)

  • Blommorna vattnas. (vattnas is passive)
3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HelenCarlsson
HelenCarlsson
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It looks fine to me! But do you normally fry jellyfish :)? And then eat it???

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gramphos

I don't eat jellyfish. But there are recipes on the Internet. ;) I mainly wanted to use both brännnas in very similar sentences to illustrate the difference.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jairapetyan
jairapetyan
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Tack ni; Detta är kul läsning. :)

Thanks you guys, this is fun reading!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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Isn't that considered the ultimate proof that someone is from Stockholm? That they think maneter e såna som man eter? :P

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/impy_imp
impy_imp
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I've eaten jellyfish. But that was in Hong Kong :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tracymorgan1

Very useful!

These are really tricky for a new beginner - they certainly become second nature after a while, and you get a feel for what sounds right!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SameerThom

You mentioned that in deponent verbs, there can be no subject performing the verb action. But isn't the subject performing the verb action in examples like "She always succeeds" or "You're sweating" or "He is breathing"?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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I said there can be no agent who performs the verb action. I.e. you cannot say hon lyckas av mig 'she succeeds by me', han svettas av dig 'he sweats by you' etc. The agent is the one who performs an action in a passive sentence, like huset byggdes av mig 'the house was built by me'. The fact that it's impossible to have an agent here is a key difference between deponent verbs and passive verbs.

The subject is the subject of the action, but the relationship between subject and action is a little more indirect than for 'normal' verbs, it's more like the subject is affected by the action, it's something that happens to them rather than something they do actively. Grammatically it's still the subject but semantically the subject has less control in hon lyckas 'she succeeds' than in e.g. hon sjunger 'she sings'.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SameerThom

Thank you! That really clears things up.

1 year ago