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  5. "Sometimes I surprise myself."

"Sometimes I surprise myself."

Translation:Ibland överraskar jag mig själv.

January 29, 2015



Why are only verb-subject-object constructions accepted for this question?


The V2 rule. Once you start out with ibland, the verb needs to go right after that to be in second place in the sentence. If the English sentence had been I surprise myself sometimes, the translation would have been Jag överraskar mig själv ibland., still with the verb in second place.

So the only way to have a SVO main clause is to have the subject first in the sentence.


Is "Jag överraskar ibland mig" incorrect?


Yes. To begin with, överraska is not a reflexive verb, and that means you need to add själv. For reflexive verbs like tvätta sig, you don't need själv because it is implied. For non reflexive verbs, you need them. I think it's the same in English, at least I wouldn't say I sometimes surprise me (unless as a clear contrast to another sentence, but we're talking about sentences without context here).

If you want to rewrite the sentence and put jag first, I'd say Jag överraskar ibland mig själv is not wrong per se, but it's a rare word order, the normal way of saying it would be Jag överraskar mig själv ibland. The placement of adverbials is tricky in Swedish, but last in a sentence is a classic place for time adverbials.


Thank you for that. Not sure it's all sinking in.

In the sentence "De är kanske bröder?" it puts 'maybe' at the beginning of the sentence en English, even though it appears in the middle in Swedish - so I was attempting to replicate that word order here thinking that was correct.


So in that case I'm being expected to put the adverb at the beginning even though it isn't there in the S->E, but then in E->S, I'm supposed to leave the adverb at the beginning, but then if an adverb is classically at the end, I can't put it at the end in the S->E because it marks me wrong for putting 'maybe' at the end, but it sounds as if that should be normal?

Is there some overall rule I'm not seeing in all this? Because right now it just seems very arbitrary and confusing.


I just don't think They are maybe brothers is a really acceptable word order in English, or at least not as natural as Maybe they are brothers.

In Swedish, both De är kanske bröder and De kanske är bröder are very natural word orders, but Kanske de är bröder is not (it's ok, but not really natural). So I'd say that is a case where word order does not work the same in both languages. But in most cases they do, and in this case for instance, I don't think there's anything odd at all in having the adverbial first in both languages.


No, I don't think it's odd to have the adverb first at all, I'm just trying to understand how to know where the adverb is meant to go when it seems to move around in Swedish just as much as it does in English, it just moves differently which is messing me up!


I think some of us are confused about this sentence because överraskar is in the reflexive verb exercises even though it is not a reflexive verb (reason why it requires själv!).


Why do you need mig and själv here? Aren't they fulfill the same function here?


My second comment on this page explains this.


I read it but still didn't quite understand.

If it is not a reflexive verb, as you said, I would've thought mig would be omitted here and be replaced by själv.

To me I understand mig as part of a reflexive verb construction, so it sounds to me like I said "myself myself" twice for some reason.

bland överraskar jag själv

If I omit the mig what does it mean?

Sorry, I found this subject a bit difficult for me to comprehend.


With a reflexive verb it would be like this:
hon tvättar sig = 'she washes (herself)' (English verb is also reflexive)
han rakar sig = 'he shaves (himself)' (English verb is also reflexive)
hon har på sig kläder 'she has clothes on' (English verb not reflexive)

With reflexive verbs, it's implied that you do the action to yourself, so sig is enough. But överraska is just an ordinary verb, which has an object that happens to be the same as the subject in this case, and therefore we point that out by adding själv.

Ibland överraskar jag honom 'Sometimes I surprise him'
Ibland överraskar jag mig själv 'Sometimes I surprise myself'

So in English, the difference between reflexive verbs and verbs that just happen to have the same subject and object isn't very clear, I think that's where the confusion comes from. In Swedish though, reflexive verbs are a grammatical category. Still, it works the same in that you too have myself which contains both 'me' and 'self' (= mig själv) so that I would have thought that the real reflexive verbs would be more surprising, since they don't work the same. E.g. we don't say hon uppför sig "själv" when you say 'she behaves herself'. It's just hon uppför sig.

I hope this is a little more helpful, if not, don't hesitate to ask again!

PS about using själv on its own. Colloquially we say Jag är själv to mean 'I am on my own'. We can also use själv like: Jag läser själv meaning 'I am reading by myself', as in, no one does it for me. So Ibland överraskar jag själv isn't really a sentence but it would mean 'Sometimes I surprise by myself' – where the object of the sentence is missing, and it leaves you wondering who you're surprising.


What is the difference in meaning if I substituted 'någongång' here for 'ibland'?


någongång is a colloquial way of writing the expression någon gång which means 'some time', 'at some occasion'. It can also be used to mean 'ever'. Om jag flyttar någon gång = 'If I ever move' or Kommer du någon gång? 'Are you (ever) coming?' (as in: very impatient).

So it doesn't fit here.


Vad då med några gånger? De sa fel!


Why is "Ibland jag överraskar mig själv" incorrect?


The conjugated verb must come in second position (V2 rule).


Same, Duo, same...


why does "förvånar" not work?


i have the same question. surprise = överraska, astonish = förvåna?


does "mig själv" always translate to "myself?"


Be careful!
Swedish mig själv can (almost?) always be translated as myself
But English myself is not always translated as mig själv:

Jag skar mig = I cut myself
Själva jag kom = I myself came = Even I came
Jag kan göra det själv = I can do it myself


I still dont understand when själv is used


Is 'själv' necessary here? I put "Ibland överraskar jag mig" and was marked wrong.


See the comment from Arnauti on this very page 5 years ago:
To begin with, överraska is not a reflexive verb, and that means you need to add själv. For reflexive verbs like tvätta sig, you don't need själv because it is implied. For non reflexive verbs, you need them.

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