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  5. "Oftast lagar vi mat själva."

"Oftast lagar vi mat själva."

Translation:Usually we cook by ourselves.

March 24, 2015


  • 36

I prefer to cook my food and not to cook myself -- ouch! Better English would be "Usually we prefer to cook by ourselves."


I would say "...for ourselves", since "...by ourselves" to me implies "alone" as opposed to "with someone else", whereas "...for ourselves" to me says "as opposed to letting someone else cook for us".


This is how I interpreted it. I don't think "by ourselves" implies the same meaning at all.


I think that's on purpose for fun. :) I assume that your translation is accepted, too.


'Usually we cook by ourselves' is accepted, but we don't accept adding prefer to here, I think that would be adding a bit too much that isn't there in the Swedish sentence.


Fair enough. If you want to add it as a second-level comment, I can withdraw mine.


I think the original comment by km1 was not that the sentence should include "prefer" but that "cooking myself" refers idiomatically to suffering a burn, and literally to being cooked. In spite of the lengthy comment by the Californian below, it is technically grammatical to say "I cook myself" but not culturally accepted to describe cooking "for" myself (cooking my own food) or cooking "by" myself (without other people in the kitchen to distract me). There -is- one other use for "I cook myself," as a contrastive or emphatic phrase. It parallels the native speaker's claim to expertise (which could be phrased "well in contrast to all you second-language English speakers, I speak native English myself, and I think....").


But does our food not make a difference, then myself is not the object.

I cook the food myself vs. I cook myself

I will tell him myself vs I will tell myself

I water the flowers myself vs I water myself


Yes, that would eliminate any misunderstanding.


I don't mean to use my status as a native English speaker to condescend or to elevate my opinion on this matter at all, but I'm convinced that what I'm saying is right and I'd like to explain it better, but I think it's kind of tricky to explain to a non-native (it's even tricky to explain to another native!)

But I thought of a better example that may help.

The difficulty here is in English, when you use the word ourselves or myself, it wants to act like an object, as kirakrakra points out, but it doesn't have to.

A good example would be the phrase "I dabble myself." If someone asks you, "do you play poker?" You might reply, "I dabble (in it) myself." The object here (in it) can be omitted. "I dabble myself" is perfectly fine, and clear. You could also say "I myself dabble (in it)."

I completely understand the confusion here, but I fully support the mods deciding to accept "Usually/often we cook (for/by) ourselves." It's perfectly acceptable English despite sounding so strange. (imho!)

  • 36

Right. Please consider making 'Usually we cook by ourselves' the main translation to avoid teaching poor English :)


"Usually we cook ourselves" isn't bad English. It just has two literal meanings, one of which is automatically discarded because it is ridiculous.

1) The obvious meaning, that we cook, as opposed to having someone cook for us.

2) That we cook ourselves AS the meal, which is, patently silly, although could be good material for a joke.

Edit: Just want to make this crystal clear here. I am a native speaker from California and using the word "ourselves" here without "for" is perfectly fine, not uncommon and the meaning is clear. Adding "for" making it "Usually we cook for ourselves," is also common and clear. Saying "by ourselves" adds another completely different meaning here.

Edit 2: Just to keep this very clear, especially for non-native English speakers, lots of "English Teachers" have taught incorrect grammar rules for decades. For example, 'splitting infinitives' was thought to be incorrect, and taught to be incorrect, but it's perfectly fine to outrageously split any infinitive you want. A quick google search will show another "English Teacher" confirm that "we cook ourselves" is grammatically correct, though funny.(https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/161270-We-cook-ourselves) And lastly, I think lots of native speakers in English tend to confuse their own ways of avoiding ambiguities in the language with being the preferred ways of using the language. They're not. Now go out and cook yourselves silly, please.


As yet another native Californian, and a writer, I have to say that, grammatically, "We cook ourselves" has only one meaning. How did our English teachers teach us this? They asked to ask: 'What do we cook?' And, in this case, we'd reply (and laugh) "We cook ourselves."

I don't know about you, but the only time I can think to say that might have been at the beach, falling asleep in the sun without applying lotion.. "What happened to you?" "I cooked myself at Huntington Beach."


As another native speaker from California, I find "we cook ourselves" to sound weird but not wrong. Personally I'd never say it; I'd always say "we cook for ourselves" — which really should be an accepted answer (but isn't).

EDIT: Thanks @dagummace for pointing out the change in meaning. The likeliest ways I'd say it, if cooking for someone else, would be "Usually we do the cooking" or "Usually we make the food ourselves."


Usually we cook pea-soup but today we will cook ourselves


I would add to this in saying that "for ourselves" makes the meaning more specific - that we will be the ones eating it. So, while I first objected to having no preposition, I support it, now.


No, definitely not by ourselves. That means we cook when we are alone. The proper way to say this is "We usually cook for ourselves." But really, I've never heard anyone say this and I've never even thought it. What I would say is, "We usually do our own cooking."


"We usually make our own food" seems to make more sense to me. 'Cooking ourselves' is a weird way to say it.


Why so many words for 'usually'? Are Oftast/brukar/vanligtvis all synonymous and interchangeable? Tack!


"usually", "normally", "typically", "often", "habitually", ... :)


"Brukar" is a verb and so isn't quite interchangeable. Not sure about the others.


Would like to add another voice in favour of "for ourselves". Maybe it's a west coast thing but I would never say "by ourselves"


I assume this is the equivalent to "meistens" in German?


I entered "we often cook cook for ourselves" and was rejected. This would seem to mean the same thing.


No, it isn't, at least as far as I'm concerned.

If how I understood this sentence is correct, you'd have to say "We often cook food by ourselves", which means that "we" cook the food (by) ourselves without the help of anybody else.


I thought 'we usually do the cooking ourselves' might be a good translation, but was marked wrong.


hej i was curious when is the actual moments when i'm supposed to use oftast and when brukar is more appropriate. thanks in advance to anyone who wants to help me out! :)


Generally speaking, brukar is for something you do regularly or habitually, and oftast means most of the time that you actually do something. Please note that there's lots of overlap.


Rather than say 'usually' (which I would use as a translation for 'brukar'), why not say "more often than not we do the cooking" ?


Other than the word order (feels like there should be a comma in there) that sounds fine to me. But "oftast" can definitely also be translated to "usually." Jag brukar samåka=I usually carpool.


"Usually we cook ourselves" means we start the pot boiling and then jump in.


Most often we cook by ourselves is an acceptable answer while We cook by ourselves most often is not.....


It seems like cooking "for ourselves" is better than "by ourselves."


Reflexive pronouns + by meaning alone

We often use reflexive pronouns with by to mean ‘alone’ or ‘without any help’:

Why don’t you go by yourself?

The children made the entire meal by themselves.


A discrete way to ask a foreign guest to leave one alone in the kitchen.


In Polish we say:

"Zwykle gotujemy SAMI, ale czasem moja mama gotuje dla nas."

Where "SAMI" means that we are those people who cook and it is not important here for whom we cook, but who performs the cooking action.

I think it should be:

"Usually we cook BY OURSELVES, but sometimes my mother cooks for us." (with BY)

"Oftast lagar vi mat själva, men ibland min mor kockar för oss."

If I say in Polish:

"Jest tak gorąco, że my gotujemy SIĘ w tych ubraniach/w tym Jacuzzi/w saunie."

I think it should be:

"It's so hot, that we cook OURSELVES in the clothes/in the Jacuzzi/in the sauna" (without BY)

and something like that:

"Det är så varmt att vi KOKAR SIG SJALV" i kläderna/i jacuzzin/i bastun."

In summary, I believe that "Usually we cook BY ourselves." is the only correct translation.

Am I right? :)


Personally, as a native Californian, I don't think so. I follow your logic here and I think it's sound. But, for me, it doesn't quite work that way in English.

Let me start with your middle example: "...we cook ourselves in the clothes/in the jacuzzi..."

In that instance, my gut instinct is to put it in the passive voice. I'd say "It's so hot, we're getting cooked (in these clothes/in this jacuzzi/in the sauna."

As far as why I wouldn't say BY ourselves... BY presents the same problem as FOR. It emphasizes a different meaning. "We usually cook by ourselves" means we, just us and no one else, make food, alone. "We usually cook for ourselves" means we take care of the cooking (instead of going out and someone cooking for us.)

If I were to choose between BY and FOR, I'd choose FOR, as the closest meaning to "We usually cook ourselves."

But, the emphasis of "we usually cook ourselves" is slightly different. It states that we usually cook for ourselves, but without an emphasis that we do it for ourselves as a service, or even as some kind of preference, to others cooking for us. In a way, "We usually cook ourselves" is agnostic, while "we usually cook for ourselves" highlights the choice.

BY, FOR, or just OURSELVES, are all correct, and the semantic differences are small preferences for the speaker to make.

=) thoughts? I like this topic.


Thank you for your explanation. Of course, I, as a Pole, for whom English is not a native language, do not feel all the subtle differences (e.g. whether it is better to use the passive voice). However, I managed to find a few examples of the active voice used for the similar sentences.

“Still a little frost nibbled, we ate hurriedly, pulled on fluffy white robes and went to cook ourselves in the spa.” “Here we lay out and baked ourselves in the blistering sunshine…” http://www.thelondoner.me/2014/09/white-water.html

“(And we always make time to cook ourselves in the desert sun for an hour or two a day, of course!)” http://www.stackednewyork.com/blog/2015/6/9/stacked-in-vegas

Due to the fact that our basic Swedish sentence was in the active voice, I am looking for answers how to distinguish (both in Swedish and English) between:

We say in Polish:

  1. “My gotujemy SAMI.” This means that WE are the people, who cook,

  2. “My gotujemy DLA SIEBIE.” This means that we cook FOR OURSELVES,

  3. “My gotujemy SAMI dla SIEBIE.” Or “My gotujemy SAMI SOBIE.” This means that WE are the people who cook and we cook FOR OURSELVES,

  4. “My gotujemy SIĘ.” This means "WE cook OURSELVES," (WE suffer BEING COOKED).

I hope that, although the Polish language does not belong to the group of Germanic languages, it still is an Indo-European language, and we can come to some consensus here. :)


Yes, thank you, what an interesting perspective you bring!

I think English just has more tolerance than other languages for ambiguities; it especially has more tolerance in comparison to languages that have more complex case structures, like Polish, and many other Indo-European languages, especially the Eastern ones!

I also think Swedish is similar to English in this way, at least in my limited experience of Swedish so far.

EDIT: I also want to point out that you brought up fine examples of "cooking ourselves" in the active voice, and while grammatically correct, and functionally perfect, they strike me as almost literary and a turn of phrase that I would use verbally only when purposefully being cheeky.



  1. VI SJÄLVA kokar/ VI kokar SJÄLVA

  2. VI kokar FÖR OSS SJÄLVA (We are alone when we cook)

  3. VI kokar ÅT OSS SJÄLVA (we cook and the food is for us)

  4. VI kokar OSS SJÄLVA (Usch så hemskt!)


Note typo above: kockar (not kokar)


Actually, kockar means "cooks" as in "chefs", while kokar means "cooks" as in "boils".


Note: No typo above. "Kokar" is correct. ;)


"Vi lagar mat själva."

Does this mean that two people are standing side-by-side cooking and nobody else is there?

Or does it mean that I am alone in my own kitchen making dinner, and my friend is alone in her kitchen making dinner?


Definitely the former. :)


I have reported 'Usually, we cook for ourselves' which someone has already brought up, because that would be the most natural way of saying it in English for me. I know that TECHNICALLY you could say that 'for ourselves' means that the food is for us and not someone else, but if you're going to be that technical, then it should not accept 'usually' either. I understand that it accepts 'we usually cook ourselves' which would actually mean like Hannibal Lecter style, DEPENDING on tone. If the stress was on 'selves', then it would sound normal, if the stress was on 'cook' then it would sound like you were planning to eat your own body. Basically what I'm saying is, it's a sentence with some subtleties that in English would most commonly be negotiated with "cook FOR ourselves..."


Being Dutch I understand the 'själva' part intuitively. 'Oftast' has me confused however. Does it literally mean 'most often'? Could it be used in comparisons? Eg. They cook often by themselves and the neighbours cook by themselves more often but we cook by ourselves most often? (Somehow this example doesn't work well in English. In Dutch it would be something like. Zij koken vaak zelf, de buren koken vaker zelf, maar wij koken het vaakst zelf.) Also I'm having a hard time getting from 'most often' to 'usually'. Or is that something that is just the way it is?

On a side note, that sentence reminded me of this song https://youtu.be/WyYC9qRlJxY


Yup, that's right.

  • ofta = often
  • oftare = more often
  • oftast = most often


surprised that "most of the time we cook ourselves" was actually accepted...maybe the cannibals...no one else around ... then preparing their last meal ??? ;-)


It does not accept "often" in place of usually for some reason, but I believe this is a correct word to use.


In Sw. "oftast" is a superlative of "ofta" and should be a superlative in English most often


There is a slight difference in English between "often" and "usually."
They both mean that something happens many times.

We use "often" when something happens half the time or more. "We often go to Florida on vacation." Maybe out of 10 vacations, we went to Florida 6 times.

We use "usually" when something happens more often, perhaps 80% of the time. It also implies regularity. It is predictable. It is a habit. It is normal or "usual."

I think "ofta" translates best to "often" and "brukar" translates best to "usually."


JeanBean! I would simply use ofta for often and vanligen for usually(vanligen from vana a habit). At least they all are adverbs though the Swedish ones do not have as exaxt numerical significance as their English counterparts apparently have


apparently, "most often" was marked wrong. I think it's correct and I've reported it. Time to flex the language a bit, don't you think? After all, I would think "usually" can be interchanged with "most often". Do it.


We do accept "most often", and there's no error report from you. Usually, this happens when people make a common mistake for which we have an explanation in place - but Duo currently isn't showing explanations...

Do you remember exactly what you put?


Some years ago we had an english test for chosing better students to send to US for technical courses,the same translation test was there too.the test would give higher point to those who had choosen ....for...

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