"What would you do if you were me?"

Translation:Vad skulle du göra om du var jag?

February 10, 2015

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Why is it om du var jag and not om du var mig?


Waaaay back in my high school Latin class, this is what was described as a predicate nominative. If your clause is essentially an equation (A = B, or A != B), then the form of the noun on each side of the "is" word ("were," in this case) needs to be the same; if one is a subject, then the other is a subject. Since "you" is a subject in "if you were me" then the other end of the equation has to be a subject form, too.

So, I completely understand why the Swedish here has to use "jag" instead of "mig", because "jag" is the subject form and "mig" is the object form (just as "I" is the subject form in English, and "me" is the object form).

What irritates me about this question is that the English sentence is not grammatically correct. It may in fact be common usage in English to use "me" there, but it is not correct. (These days it's also common usage to use "there" instead of "their" as a plural possessive pronoun, but it's still wrong.)

If Duolingo is going to count the Swedish wrong for using the wrong form of the pronoun, they need to be correct with the English part, too. (That's my två öre.)


This distinction bugs me, and I find it difficult to distinguish when is the correct case for it. Notably, in English, we hardly ever say "I" in cases like this, even though it is actually more correct. I remember being taught to say "you and I" always, though actually I think this is not correct in some contexts (they were probably trying to teach kids to not say "me and you" instead of "you and I/me").

I /think/ (someone correct me if wrong please) that it depends on the context of the pronoun. A context where "you" is the subject would then require an "I" in such sentences, whereas one where "you" is not the subject it would require a "me".

Some examples: If you were I. Dave and I rode a bike. The bikes were given to Dave and me. Who rode with you? Just Dave and I. Who rode with you? It was just Dave and me.

These examples feel really unnatural to me, but I think they're right and illustrate the point.

Considering that in modern, informal English practically no-one does this correctly (presuming I am correct) in all cases, I imagine Swedish might be similar (can anyone confirm this?) but if not people would still understand.


mig might be increasing in the specific construction in this question under the influence of English (I actually recently answered a questionnaire about this for someone's research) but it's still very unnatural to have mig in many cases where it's totally natural in English.

For instance Me, I think that … – don't think I've ever heard this one with mig in Swedish. Your examples It was just Dave and me and Dave and I rode a bike – totally don't work with mig for me and I don't think anyone else says that either (unless of course the first one assumes a verb: It was just Dave and me that they beat up). As for Om du var mig – some native speakers will probably think this is OK or correct, and maybe it's getting more common, but it's still not very common and I wouldn't consider it Standard Swedish (or at least not standard enough to teach in the course).


Thanks for the info. :)

[deactivated user]

    I think Neofish2 is confusing subject pronouns with object pronouns. The subject first person pronoun is always I, while the object pronoun is me. It is true, though, that native speakers, especially young ones in the United States, often use the object pronoun as subject. For example, "me and my brother". However, the correct grammatical form is "my brother and I".


    ...except when they are the object of the sentence - then it is correct to say "they gave my brother and me a present" (for example)


    "Vad hade du gjort om du var jag" should also be correct. Although it's not word-for-word it's still an accurate translation.


    Yeah they are missing that way of forming conditionals on a couple of these exercises.


    I had the multiple choice question, and selected "Vad skulle ni göra om ni vore jag?", which was incorrect. Based on wiktionary, I had thought that var corresponds to the english was, while vore corresponds to were. That seems to not be the case- what is vore, and should I ever use it?


    "Vore" is the only subjunctive form used in Swedish (except some set phrases), meaning "would be" or in some English instances "were". For all other verbs, it's always formed with skulle + infinitive.

    Det vore kul att spela fotboll med dig = It would be fun playing football with you.


    So I could think of vore as being skulle vara? (I assume actually saying skulle vara would be a mistake).

    It sounds like Swedish doesn't make the distinction between were and was that English does, where were is for more hypothetical or theoretical situations (If I was hungry; If I were you).


    Yes, vore = skulle vara. But using "skulle vara" is not a mistake, and it is also in use with the exact same meaning. They're wholly interchangeable.

    Swedish does make that distinction, that's what "vore" and "were" are about. It's a subjunctive.


    Thanks. This has actually led me down a bit of a rabbit hole reading about English- like a lot of native speakers, I had a bit of a mistaken idea about the subjunctive. The distinction I meant was between things that are hypothetical but likely, and things that are hypothetical but impossible:

    • "I would eat surströmming if I was hungry"

    • "I would eat surströmming if I were Swedish"

    So we say "If wishes were horses" and the song is "If I were a rich man", but "If she was there, I didn't see her".

    As it turns out, this possible/impossible distinction isn't really a thing, but it will take me a bit more thought to work out exactly why without my own brain tripping me up to say "But it's obvious!". Possibly its to do with muddying the distinction between something that is a hypothetical versus something that is concrete but unknown.

    So, to get back to the point, would both of these use "om jag var"?


    Personally, I think both would use "var" as the primary choice. But they could use "vore" too and it still sounds good.


    I think you're right that the possible/impossible distinction isn't a thing. I believe "were" is for what I'll call counterfactuals - "if I were a dinosaur, if I were president, if I were a doctor" whereas "if I was" relates to unknown circumstances - "I don't know why I can't remember anything from last night, but if I was drinking, then it can't be good"; "if she was here, then there will be some evidence" (as opposed to, "if she were here, we could talk to her" and, "if she had been here, there would be some evidence"). But many speakers (at least Americans) do not make the distinction anymore for subjunctive (and I'm told it's not a true subjunctive in English, actually) and just use "was" in either case.

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