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Understanding infinitive

So I have already repeated the infinitive lesson a couple of times but I still don't get when I'm supposed to use att and when not? Is there some grammatical rule of thumb? Or does it depend on the the verb?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

February 18, 2015



1) Modal auxiliaries - no att: böra, kunna, lär, måste, skola, torde, vilja.

2) Other verbs that behave like modal auxiliaries - no att: behöva, bruka, få, hoppas, lova, låta, råka, tänka, tyckas, synas, försöka, orka, slippa, töras, våga, önska. Notice that can be used in two different meanings: a) Du får inte köra så fort = You may not drive so fast. b) Han fick mig att gråta = He made me cry.

3) Ordinary verbs that are used without att: börja, sluta, besluta, lära, lära sig

4) Object + infinitive - no att: Låt alla blommor blomma = Let all flowers bloom. / Vi såg honom gömma plånboken = We saw him hide the wallet.

I hope this helps. :)


Thanks for this. Screenshotting also. I feel like the "tips" sections of lessons are weirdly short, like they avoid going into detail for fear of making it too textbook-y. But that detail really is necessary sometimes, especially when I can't pass the dang lesson :)


I agree with you - to some extent. I have to mention, though, that the Swedish team has really put some effort in their tips section when compared to some of the other courses I am taking in DL.


Oh definitely. Don't want to minimize their work at all. In fact I think I liked the lack of nitty-gritty stuff in the beginning, when I was getting into it. But now that I'm hooked, I want to know everything!


Yeah,much like you at the beginning all i wanted was an explanation as brief as possible,but now that i'm getting better and i'm getting further in the tree i appreciate more detailed explanations and tips.Luckily there are few people that are very helpful and they cover what may not be in the lessons,so much appreciation for both the team and common people.


The Swedish course is absolutely the best of all Duolingo courses!


I agree! It's the best course here!


This is great. Added some of this to the lesson notes. Thank you so much for helping the community out. :)


Tack, tack. Din kommentar gjorde mig väldigt lycklig. I hope that was at least understandable Swedish. :)


Wow, based on your initial post I assumed you were a native Swedish speaker.

Anyway, kiitos paljon!


I have an excellent study book, which I use alongside Duolingo. For those of you whose mother tongue is Finnish, the book is called Fullträff. I highly recommend it.


Clarifying question: When you say 'modal auxiliaries do not require att', does that mean they may be used and it would still be correct? Or do you mean should never be used? Does that extend across all of those categories? This question stems partly from the 'mark all correct choices' types of quizzes, but also whether I should listen for it in everyday speech.

How closely do these rules correspond to the rules for infinitives in English? As far as I can tell, they're the same except for #3 in the list.


"Require" was just a poor choice of a word on my part. I mean that they are never used. (I have edited the comment now.) The one exception to this is , which has two different meanings, one used with att and another without.

Group 2 is the the most difficult group for English speakers, because in English some of these verbs...

  • ...are used with to - Jag orkar inte springa I do not have the energy to run. - Du försöker springa. You try to run.
  • ...are used without to - Jag brukar sjunga i duschen. I usually sing in the shower. - Låt mig hjälpa dig. Let me help you.
  • ...are used with -ing - Jag slippade springa. I avoided running.



Thanks for clarifying, that seemed to be the case from the discussion. I forget which question it was, but I thought there was one in which both including and excluding 'att' were correct. I'll see if I come across it again.

I see what you mean about group 2. I think 'orkar' and 'brukar' are unusual in not having English verb equivalents to start with. But could "Du försöker springa" also be translated as "You try running"? The -ing version is my first step in translating these and it seems to work okay for now. Then the examples you gave become "I don't have the energy for running", "I am usually singing in the shower".


I am not certain about "You try running", because it sounds like giving a sports a try. I would translate it as Du provar löpning . Your other two sentences sound fine to me. But please remember that I am not a native Swedish speaker. Also, I have been taught Finland-Swedish, which is a little different from Sweden-Swedish. :)


The one exception to this is få, which has two different meanings, one used with att and another without.

Could you please explain which is which and what they mean?

  • få = may
  • få x att = to make x do something



It helps a lot! saving screenshot


My bookmarks are full of stuff like this lol... This will probably help me to suck less when I come to a relevant lesson for this.


What about "Jag tycker om att lyssna på radio"? Do i need "att" because "tycker om" is not really the present form of the verb "tyckas" you put in the no-att list? .


Yes. They are two different verbs with different meanings. Just like hoppa/hoppas and syna/synas. :)


modal auxiliaries, would you also call them a hjälp verb?


The link to this 'Understanding infinitive' answers the question I have just made regarding the use of 'att'. Many thanks. It is most helpful.


All this discussion is incredibly helpful, but i think the real problem at this point is to figure out how to spot a modal-like verb.

Is it just a list that i need to find and memorize?


They should all be listed in the top comment. :)


Can someone give some examples of when you DO need to use att?


Here are some examples taken from our lessons and exercises:

Using att+inf after an auxiliary verb, but not a modal or modal-like auxiliary:

Jag gillar att köra bil. (I like driving [a car])
Jag hatar att städa. (I hate cleaning)
Hon tycker om att skriva. (She likes to write.)
Jag älskar att måla! (I love to paint!)

Using att+inf after a verb phrase, to complete its meaning:

Det räckte att fråga varför. (It was enough to ask why.)
Hon ber honom att fortsätta. (She asks him to continue.)
Vad har du valt att göra? (What have you chosen to do?)
Den gamla damen hjälpte oss att hitta hotellet. (The old lady helped us find the hotel.)

Using *att+inf after an adjective to complete its meaning:

Det är inte svårt att laga mat. (It is not difficult to cook.)
Det är svårt att tro. (It is hard to believe.)
Det är viktigt att använda samma kalender. (It is important to use the same calendar.)
Det är bäst att stanna hemma. (It is best to stay at home.)

Sometimes the infinitive follows not just att but för att, på att, or med att:

Han är här för att arbeta. (He is here to work.)
Han är för trött för att springa i dag. (He is too tired to run today.)
Du är bra på att sjunga. (You are good at singing.)
Det finns inget syfte med att göra så. (There is no purpose in doing so.)

For more examples, see http://www.ord.se/oversattning/engelska/?s=attl=SVEENG


That's brilliant. Thanks!

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