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  5. "Vad vore jag utan dig?"

"Vad vore jag utan dig?"

Translation:What would I be without you?

January 20, 2015



'What were I without you?' is correct, if archaic, English. For example, Hamlet 'after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live', or King Lear 'It were a delicate stratagem to shoe a troop of horse with felt'. Or Othello 'O, I were damned beneath all depth in hell, but that I did proceed upon just grounds to this extremity'.

It often seems to me that the Swedish rendering of a phrase is like that of middle or early modern English. This goes for word order, too ('In the morn, went they to the forest' is something one might easily read in Le Morte D'Arthur, etc.).

Incidentally, I looked 'vore' up in Holmes and Hinchcliffe's 'Comprehensive Grammar', and they mention 'finge' and 'ginge' as also being preterite subjunctive forms in current usage. Can anyone give me an example of these in sentences?


I'm no linguist, but I have read a decent amount of early modern English, and I think that's correct. A fair number of modern Swedish words seem to be cognate with English words that were in use when the Tudors were kicking around.

E.g.: behöver = behoove Varför = wherefore Prästen bad oss att be = the priest bad us pray


One example would be finge jag välja skulle jag säga ja - "were I allowed to choose, I would say yes". But really, it's not in common use, and definitely not orally - ginge even less so.

For other learners who don't know: finge and ginge are indeed remnants of the subjunctive mood which we don't really have in modern Swedish any longer, save for a few choice words and in certain phrases, and they are conjugated from and , respectively.


I've read swedish books written during WWII and they do contain gingo and fingo. Interestingly only in the descriptive writing portions of the book and not when the characters are actually speaking. So it looks like people weren't talking that way in the 1940's but they still hung onto the formal way of writing.


That's correct. Actually, it was mostly gone by then in writing as well, but some still held onto it for a while longer, and the final death blow was essentially when TT stopped using it in 1945.

But note that I was talking about finge and ginge, not fingo and gingo. :)


And Fair Em, which may or may not have been written by Shakespeare, contains this exact line:

TROTTER. Iwis you will when I cannot. Why, look, you have a Mill-- Why, whats your Mill without me? Or rather, Mistress, what were I without you?


Rural colloquial American English also preserves a number of these forms, including this here form. Of course, some of yhem might be borrowed from Swedish immigrants, I guess.


for German speakers, it's just like the German 'wäre'


In this case, yes, but we use it less than they use wäre in German.


can someone explain what vore is please. i also read it somewhere as tack vore


"Vore" means "would be". It's an old verb conjugation that's no longer used with the one exception of vore.

Det vore kul att träffa dig = It would be fun to see you

What you read was probably "tack vare", which means "thanks to..." as in "because of..."


Can we also say "Det skulle vara kul att träffa dig"?


Yes. Vore = skulle vara. They mean exactly the same and both are used interchangeably.


I was just about to ask that, thanks for the explanation. Have a lingot


yeah you are right. thanks a lot.


In English you can say I wish I were instead of I wish I was. This is the same word as vore, except that in Swedish it’s also used to cover would be. It’s the old subjunctive mood.

  • ”If I were a boy” = ”Om jag vore pojke”
  • ”If I were a rich man.” = ”Om jag vore en rik man.”


I had to give a lingot because I appreciate the pop culture references so much. : ) For some reason, these two were really nice together.


It is the preterite subjunctive form. For regular verbs, it is identical to the indicative form, but for irregular verbs it is different. Very rarely used.


Could I say Vad skulle ja vara (ha varit?) utan dig?


Yes, I'd say Vad skulle jag vara utan dig? = 'What would I be without you?' and Vad skulle jag ha varit utan dig? = 'What would I have been without you?'


Yes, that is what most swedes would say. Vore is a kind of old word.


What about "vad ville jag vara utan dig"?


Ville is would with what you want and vore is would with be. Jag ville inte göra det, I would not do it. Jag vore ensam utan dig, I would be alone without you.


How does 'vore' conjugate? I was trying to read Nils Holgerssons underbara resa, and came across conjugations like 'voro', which I couldn't make heads or tails of.


vore here is the conjunctive, it doesn't change.

voro in Nils Holgersson is the plural form of the verb (past tense): they used different verbs for singular and plural in older Swedish: jag (du, han, hon) går but vi (ni, de) gå, also in the past tense: jag gick but vi gingo. And jag var but vi voro.

This started to change about 1891. You can actually see it in progress in Nils Holgerssons underbara resa (1906–7), where Selma Lagerlöf only uses the plural endings in the narrative text, not in dialogues. In the general language, the plural endings slowly disappeared, and the change was not fully completed until 1945, when the main news service TT, Tidningarnas telegrambyrå skipped them in all their texts.

Swedes today usually have no feel for this whatsoever, so when they try to fake 'old Swedish', they often use the plural forms for singular subjects.


Hahah, I love this! Thanks. Really interesting stuff, and so cool to hear about the man in the street's idea of 'old Swedish'. I must say I'm happy I don't need to learn 'vi gingo', etc. ;)


gingo is interesting, just like ging in German. Is there a sort of a table to look those forms in? Thanks Arnauti, I knew only about voro and äro.


You can find plenty in the Bible version of "Karl XII:s bibel"


Så är "Vad vore jag utan dig" det samma som "Vad skulle jag vara/bli utan dig"?


I think just Vad skulle jag vara utan dig.
There was a word bleve that would have meant 'What would I have become …', but basically no one uses it any more.


I recently read a book in which a person using "vore" was told that they sounded "like a theatre piece" by a younger person. Is this a common view? Would I come across as old-fashoined/stilted if I used "vore"?


Not in the slightest. What a weird thing to put in a book.


Okay. thanks. Weird indeed.


There is a tendency on germanic languages to lose the subjunctive, but in the other hand, in romance languages is used very frequently. We have the three times, but I think only Don Quijote uses the future of subjuntive nowadays.


Don Quijote is hardly nowadays is it? It still appears in legal texts though.


Interesting. In German the subjunctive exists as Konjunktiv I and Konjunktiv II. And it is very important and used often. I'd say it's actually essential in order to understand German language usage and culture.


https://youtu.be/tldhkGMysQ0 I knew, without thinking, what the sentence meant beacuse of this song.


"Vore" is an old verb-form that is not used anymore in the modern swedish. This form lives on in expressions, sayings and biblic terms. It is not worth learning since you can only use this form in very specific sentences. It is not accepted to apply this grammar on verb, the modern form is rather "skulle vara" eller "skulle (ha) varit".


That is absolutely not true. The word vore is in very active use. It's used in everyday language, in newspapers, in literature, in terminology. Even an exact phrase such as det vore bra has over 357 000 hits on Google, which is a huge sum for a three-word phrase in general.


Ok yes you are right in saying that the Word "vore" is used today, I'm talking about the gramar, the conjugation, that is not used anymore. It is an old form and that form of gramar is no longer in use. Do you understand? A googleseatch is no legit argument, the word "vore" sure lives on but it doesn't change the fact that the conjugation no longer is in use. Take other verb and try and do the same thing like "äta" would be "äte" say that and you probably be misunderstood, it rather sounds like a south swedish accent form of "äta".


Ah, yes - the subjunctive mood does no longer exist in Swedish. It's not like we actively teach the grammar of it, though - but some traces of it do linger and needs to be taught, like the word vore.

A Google search is a very legitimate argument if you're trying to prove frequency.


I think we agree, it's my lack of english that leads to misunderstanding. I would use a corpus to prove frequency. A good example of googlesearch inaccuracy was told by the norwegeian stand-up comedian Dag Sörås who was told by a journalist that a googlesearch proved him wrong where Sörås replied "well I googled your name together with nazi and found the same amount of results". It's not legit, maybe give a hint but never legit.


Google is a corpus if you use it correctly, though. For instance, I also checked the number of times the word occurred in DN and SVD for the past year. And again, I was trying to prove that the word is in use - Google is a good source for that.

But I agree, I think we agree. :)

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