"Efficiency is important."
Translation:Det är viktigt med effektivitet.
Effektivitet är viktigt is also a perfectly acceptable sentence. However, we like to use the formal subject det in order to change the word order of the sentence, and in those cases, the preposition med tends to appear very frequently, so this is a very typical Swedish construction.
With value judgements, very often one wants the information structure to be like this: I want to tell you that something is X, and that thing is Y. In English, you often do this by saying things like 'It's important to have/be …', so the same phenomenon occurs for you too.
Generally, the information principle is to mention previously known things first, and new things later. For similar reasons, in cases with value judgements of this kind, the information that you want to convey is not primarily that 'efficiency is important', it is that 'it is important for there to be efficiency', if you can feel the difference.
The Swedish sentence is the base sentence. In this case the closest possible English counterpart would probably be as it is above, since you would probably not say It is important with efficiency in English, and if we'd translate it as It is important to be efficient, we would have kept the word order, but added too much of something else.
Effektivitet är viktigt works the same way as Det är viktigt med … – you get a general statement, so it turns into the neuter form. In the definite, we'd always stick to common gender for common gender words: Effektiviteten är viktig – here we're talking about some specific efficiency.
You can be sure it's a general statement if you have a singular noun with no article and no other modifier. If you have some modifier that anchors it, it will be gendered again: Projektets effektivitet är viktig. So basically it's because any undefined singular noun will be interpreted as a general statement.
I came to ask the same as Tom. In English effectiveness and efficiency are not synonyms- you can be effective in achieving a desired result, but go about it in an inefficient way. Does Swedish have a way of distinguishing those two concepts? (We also have efficacy, to really mix things up!)
My recent understanding of med as a preposition is that it can express oneness, or unity with something. So my understanding (after some thought) if thia sentence is sonething like, "it is important to be one with-" or to embody, "the efficiency.
You know, maybe i ought to take the english course, because I havr no earthly clue whether any of my punctuation or grammar was any good there. Hopefully the point gets across anyway!