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  5. "Man tar vad man har."

"Man tar vad man har."

Translation:One takes what one has.

August 2, 2015



The thing about this proverb is that it is more likely that you'll hear it pronounced "Man tager vad man haver" which is how you said it in old Swedish. It means the same, but using the old pronunciation is usually more common for this proverb.


Is this a Swedish proverb? I'm having a hard time understanding what exactly it's supposed to mean. Googling the English translation did not help. Do those two "man"s in the sentence represent two different people?


Yes, it's a proverb. Basically, it means that you have to make do with what you have. It's commonly attributed to Cajsa Warg, who wrote a very widespread cookbook in the 18th century, but she never actually used the phrase. Both occurrences of man refer to the same person.


It's clear now. Thanks a lot.


I still don't understand. Does it mean "one uses what one has"?


Yes, in the sense of "one makes do with what one has".


Quite similar to the English one takes what one gets.


Yes, and we have that expression too: Man tar vad man får.


Is "man" here used as a "generalizing pronoun" like "man" in German, "on" in French, or "you/one" in English?


Yes, exactly.


Perhaps I'm missing something obvious here but, what does this phrase, or any of the words in it, have to do with the focus of this lesson ( Det Har/Nagot/Alla etc)?


Pardon my ignorance, but what skill is this sentence in? The forum threads don't actually display that, and I can't check, since I'm no longer a contributor.


It is in the determiners lesson.


Thanks! Yeah, that's probably been misplaced, then.


Sounds like a Swedish "pay the iron price"!


... not really. :p


A play on words? All three letters with a center "a"?


I don't think it's a play on words, but it's possible it's a semi-rhyming mnemonic device. :)


What is the difference in meaning between, "Man tar vad man har" and "Man tar vad man får"?


Well, with ha meaning "have" and meaning "receive" or "may":

  • Man tar vad man har = One takes what one has
  • Man tar vad man får = One takes what one gets, or
  • Man tar vad man får = One takes what one is allowed to


Thank you!

So, there is a slight difference of meaning, just as in English.


Which one would you say as you sigh into the miserable hand you were dealt in a game of 500?


Only the first option is an established saying, but neither really applies to card games.


Why isn't it like "En tar vad en har." or "Ett tar vad ett har?"


English uses "one" as a generalising pronoun; Swedish uses man. Usage of en is on the rise (to avoid gender connotations with man) but it's not common enough to warrant inclusion in the course.


Ah, I get it now. Thanks for the help.


A better translation would be: one takes what one has (to offer)


That's the default translation.


Why can't "Man takes what man has" be acceptable too?


That's not really what it means, nor is it very good English.

The Swedish man here is the general "you", which English can also express as "one". It doesn't mean "man" as in the the sex or gender here.


In the sentence of wyrmwood it could also mean 'humans take what humans have'. Man being a word for the human race. I agree though that it is not exactely the same as 'one takes....'.


I mean that the parenthesis and additional word (to offer), not in the actual translation be included...perhaps below the actual translation. Idioms in the duolingo spanish class are difficult because they only have an american translation and not a direct one. In spanish, one often misses the beauty of the idiom as it is stated in its original language. It seems like this is the opposite. Sometimes it is good to see both together. It helps to understand word order and translation between cultures.


Wouldn't the English translation be "you take what you get" or "you make it with what you have"? The"correct" doesn't make much sense to me


Please refer to my above comment which explains the meaning of the proverb.


I agree. "One takes what one has" is not idiomatic for me, either. (Maybe it is the way to say it in other English-speaking places. I don't know.) Where I live, we use a couple of set phrases, just slightly different from what you suggested:

You take what you can get.


You make do with what you have.


I was wondering if it was the "you only have what you can take" or if it was "make do with what you have".

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