"They eat at night."
Translation:De äter på nätterna.
Is this another case of English preferring the indefinite and Swedish using the definite form? Much like the seasons. In English we would say simply summer to mean the summertime whereas in Swedish we specify THE summer to mean the same. Just saying summer (or in this case natt) is a more general reference to the season rather than specifying in the summertime. As in the setting of listing the seasons or times of day or saying god natt etc....
Arnauti, can you clarify if I am on the right track here? This often catches me out!
The thing is that the Swedish sentence is always the main sentence. And since the closest English translation of på nätterna is 'at night', that is what we get.
Both på natten and på nätterna translate into 'at night' in English, they don't have any closer translation of på nätterna.
'at night' is på natten – we just don't use it without the definite article. It's a set phrase in both languages.
I feel I was a bit unclear here. In Swedish, you can say either på natten or på nätterna and both mean 'at night'. på nätterna puts a little more stress on it being about several nights or nights in general, but 'at night' has this implication in English too so it covers both.
Is this like "I morgon är det helg" (Tomorrow it is the weekend) but in reverse?
ie. In "I morgon är det helg," Swedish doesn't say "the" before "weekend" (but English does).
But in this question, Swedish says "the night" (or "the nights") but English doesn't (just "night").
As you say, these are set phrases, so we must just learn them through exposure? (ie. There aren't any handy rules, right?) Thanks!
Yes. The thing is that in Swedish we can say either på natten or på nätterna but in English you say 'at night' but neither 'at nights' nor 'at the nights', you only have one option with 'at', so 'at night' covers both på natten and på nätterna.
And for some reason, English wants it to be indefinite while Swedish wants it to be definite.
There's no good rule for it, but at least there are some similar expressions: på dagen, på morgonen, på kvällen 'during the day, in the morning, in the evening' på förmiddagen, på eftermiddagen 'during morning', 'in the afternoon'…
Also compare to how you can say 'in the evening' OR 'in the evenings' in English. på kvällen, på kvällarna. Same difference.
I'm not sure. You would say på kvällen, på morgonen, på dagen and på natten; but for some reason you use i gryningen, i skymningen and i ottan.
Even more confusing you say "mitt på dagen" meaning "in the middle of the day" or noon, but "mitt i natten" for "in the middle of the night" (which is generally not at midnight)
When you have a precise time as "at midnight" you use vid midnatt, or "at around four" - "vid fyratiden"
Maybe someone else here can shed some light on this.
på natten is also accepted, but the way Duo is built, the sentences in the language that is being taught are really the main sentences. So we wrote this sentence in Swedish where it's natural to say either på nätterna or på natten (with a tiny difference in nuance) but since it isn't natural to say 'at the nights' in English, both these translate into English as at night.