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Conditional vs. Future Preterite

Oh dear, I've got 4 lessons left in the whole tree and never thought I could be so completely confused at this stage!

So if I have this right, skulle + infinitive can just mean two completely different things? Does it all just depend on context?

For example "Jag skulle ringa honom" could mean "I would call him" or "I was going to call him?"

Or do I have this totally wrong? There are no notes on the Conditional section so it's hard to compare explanations. Any help would be appreciated!

April 2, 2015



No, you are right. skulle can make both a conditional and a past future.

Jag skulle göra det om du dök upp "I'd do it if you showed up."
Jag skulle göra det men så dök du upp "I was going to do it but then you showed up."

The past future can also be formed with tänkte. They correspond to the 'present' future forms ska and tänker. There is no past version of kommer att (kom att means something else).

Jag ska göra det - Jag skulle göra det
Jag tänker göra det - Jag tänkte göra det
Jag kommer att göra det - N/A (you'd rephrase it or use skulle)


Oof. That's tough!

It definitely makes sense when the rest of the sentence provides more context. But would anyone ever just say "Jag skulle göra det"? It seems like there could be legitimate cases where that could confuse even a native speaker!


Theoretically there's always a possibility, of course, but I'd say context fixes this in the absolute majority of cases. You wouldn't just say Jag skulle göra det speaking of nothing at all, would you? :)


This is interesting & very worthy of a deeper understanding. Thanks for asking this. I'm happy to be following this thread. :)

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