"Det tar flera sekunder."
Translation:It takes several seconds.
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Could you explain that more? From my understanding 'några sekunder' would be referring to an undetermined amount of seconds? How does that differ from 'flera' in this context?
I'm also not sure how you mean regarding a slight difference in taking 'a few seconds' versus 'several seconds' in English. I can't think of any context where I would say 'several seconds' at all, except in cases where I would instead say 'a few.' In both cases it's an undetermined amount of seconds. IE, few wouldn't refer to 1-5 and several wouldn't refer to 6-15... We would use both 'few' or 'several' for "at any time within the next minute."
The only difference I can understand is from spelling, not from context. Några vs flera is spelled differently like several vs few is spelled differently. Do you have a context example?
Well, to me it's a matter of a shifting perspective. Saying it takes several seconds seems to imply that's rather much, while saying that it takes a few seconds seems to imply that's rather little. I guess if I'm dropping a stone from a cliff and saying that it takes several seconds to reach the ground, that would emphasize that it takes longer than expected. On the other hand, if I'm shooting an arrow and say it takes just a few seconds to travel 300 meters, that seems to imply that it's a very short amount of time. Does that make sense to you?
Hm, well if that's the case in Swedish it makes perfect sense. That's not really the same case in English. IE, if a child is asking you if a game is done loading yet and you got impatient with them you'd still say, "it needs a few seconds" rather than "several", with it needing more time than the child expects. But "needs several seconds" would mean the same thing. Or, "it takes a few seconds to get used to... Xyz", implying longer, but, "it takes a few seconds to say I love you, but forever to prove it", implying shorter.
I could see "several" being used in a more formal setting, such as, "The meeting will start soon, I just need several seconds to re-arrange these papers." But in that case I think "...need a few moments" is more formal than both. It's such a minuscule thing that I still think a native English speaker would be confused by 'a few' not being correct here.
Might just be the case that 'few' is used more often than 'several' in general, here's Google's Ngram: http://goo.gl/a5CVZW
Yes, I'm aware of this difference in how flera and several work. This is also the reason why you can say things like the last several years in English, but ?de senaste flera åren does not make sense in Swedish. (de senaste åren means 'the last several/few years' by default; 'the last years' would be de sista åren). The same goes for your example "The meeting will start soon, I just need several seconds to re-arrange these papers.", flera would not make sense here in Swedish, you'd say några.
This means that there isn't really any simple way of translating the exact meaning of the above Swedish sentence into English. All the English translations would mean Det tar några sekunder if you translated them back into Swedish, and you don't really have a good way of capturing the difference between those in English.
I can see two options here. The big picture is that generally, flera means several, and our learners struggle enough with learning this, so one option would be to remove this sentence and replace it with Det tar några sekunder which would be 'It takes a few seconds' in English. Or we could just leave it as it is and let interested people find the information here.
As a native Irish/UK English speaker I agree with Zmrzlina here. 'A few X" implies less X than you (or I) expected; 'several X' implies the contrary. In the example you give 'only/just' is understood., as in "It (only/just) needs a few seconds" (so why are you complaining you impatient child!!) The construction 'only/just + several' does not work as it is self contradictory. All that said, I am willing to concede that there may be a divergence in usage between UK and US English here. I particularly noticed the use of 'only/just + several' while teaching English to advanced level students in Asia, where the majority of teachers come from a US English background. So students may simply have been applying what they were taught. Curiously, when I asked US English speakers if they considered this construction odd or incorrect most said no; however I never recall coming across a native speaker, UK or US, using 'only/just + several' unprompted!