I want to point out that this is a construction which is used much more in Swedish than in English. Since Swedish lacks the ”reads / is reading” (i.e. present simple vs. present progressive) distinction that is used in English, there are other means of expressing progressiveness. One very common way of doing this is using sitta, stå and ligga (sit, stand, lie) + the verb, depending on which position the person is in while doing the action. This is almost like an auxiliary verb and is usually left out when you translate to English.
- I går skrev jag ett brev. (Yesterday I wrote a letter.)
- I går satt jag och skrev ett brev. (Yesterday I was writing a letter.)
- Jag låg och läste i min säng hela dagen. (I was reading in my bed all day.)
- Han stod och läste på skylten. (He was reading the sign.)
Because of this, the translation I was reading is more natural in English and also an accepted answer. There are other means of expression progressiveness in Swedish, but this is one of the most common ways of doing it.
Very helpful! I want to ask though, does one conceivably use any 'position verb' other than ligga/sitta/stå/gå before the progressive verb? Or is it that a select handful of them are 'stuck' in this construction in Swedish to make it predictable?
(I included gå because someone gave an example using it in another discussion in this lesson, though it's not in the 'tips' section.)
Is there a way to know which form the second verb has to be in?
Jag håller på och äter. 'I am (busy) eating.' "äter" is in present form.
Jag håller på att lära mig svenska. 'I am (in the process of) learning Swedish.' "att lära" is infintive.
Most of the examples in this exercise, the second verb has been in present form. Is there a rule for the infintive exceptions?
In many cases you can say either och + present tense, or att + infinitive.
- Jag håller på att äta.
- Jag håller på och äter.
These mean pretty much the same thing.
Thanks for the comments. Just to say that in English there is a similar grammatical form, could it be that 'I am sitting to read (with the intention of reading)=? Jag sitter att läsa.' and 'Jag sitter och läser.' ?= 'I am sitting reading (a description)
We use för att for that meaning. Usually it would be like Jag satte mig för att läsa 'I sat down to read' or Jag satt [någonstans] för att läsa 'I was sitting [somewhere] (in order) to read'.
I agree with the last poster that the normal way to express the use of the double verb in Swedish is to render it into English using a double present participle without the conjunction. "He is sitting reading", or "she is standing singing in front of the tv" convey that bit more information than merely conveyed by "he is reading" and "she is singing" just as the Swedish does, but in a more idiomatic way. Easy to translate and easy to remember the Swedish construction.....perfect.
WE do not usually include the 'and' in sentence like this. We will quite often say I am sitting reading or He is lying down reading. Can the sentence without the and be marked as correct?