"Too little is being built."

Translation:Det byggs för lite.

March 1, 2015

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This is one of those fun ones where how it gets constructed in Swedish and how the sentence with the same meaning is constructed in English are fairly different. I don't suppose anyone has any tips for how to remember "it is built too little" means "too little is being built," apart from just "think more Swedish"?


The main reason we do this is word order. We absolutely want to have the verb in second place. But we also care a lot about information structure, so putting too little at the start doesn't seem like a great option. It's more helpful for the listener to get the general thing I'm talking about first (building) and my comment about (there's too little of it going on) it second. (This is sometimes called 'topic' and 'comment' in linguistics).
Since the V2 rule makes our sentence structure a bit inflexible, it's very useful for us to have this placeholder pronoun det that helps us move things around in the sentence anyway.

In more casual language, another natural way of saying this in Swedish would be De bygger för lite and in English 'They build too little' – where you'd also get the same comfortable information structure.


What is this sentence supposed to say? I'm no native English speaker, so may someone tell me?


That people are not constructing enough buildings in a city for example.


You clearly don't live or househunt in Sweden :-(


I also thought the sentence wasn't litteral... I thought it was something like "[we are just talking and talking and] too little is being built [out of it]". (meaning, not moving from planning to acting)


We have an idiom that's kind of about that: mycket snack och lite verkstad - much talk and not enough workshop.


What is the difference between "byggs" and "byggas"?



byggs is the present passive, byggas is the infinitive passive.


Thanks! Can you give example sentences with both so I can get a better grasp?



  • Det byggs nya hus söder om staden = New houses are being built south of the city
  • Jag vill att det ska byggas nya hus söder om staden = I want new houses to be built south of the city


Excellent, thank you!


The "tips" only show future, present, past, and perfect present, not infinitive.


I think that I (finally) get it: "det byggs" is a comparable expression to "det finns" or "det står"! Is it that Swedish requires an explicit subject in (almost) every sentence, where as English gets by with implicit/absent subjects in some cases?


Cannot we change the word order to 'för lite byggs det'?


No, sorry. Only if you're Yoda. :)


Had tumsi written "Change the word order ... we cannot?" and you would have to agree. ;-)


Agreed, I would have.


Write "För lite byggs." and it would be correct.

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