A Simplified Grammar of the Swedish Language/Part II/Verbs

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In a simple affirmative sentence the verb follows its subject, with which it agrees in number and person; as, min moder gaf tjenaren brefvet, 'my mother gave the servant the letter;' hans fader och broder hafva (ha) afrest, 'his father and brother have gone away.'

In secondary and interrogative sentences, the verb precedes its subject; as, De sista åren af Gustafs regering förflöto i ro, undertager man ett krig med Ryssland, 'The last years of the reign of Gustavus passed in peace, if we except a war with Russia.' Kommer icke soldaten här? 'Is the soldier not coming here ?'

Where the sentence begins with an adverb, the verb precedes its subject; as, derpå begaf han sig till generalen, 'thereupon he betook himself to the general.'

The indicative present is used to express a certain or conditional future as well as a mere present; as, min son kommer i afton, 'my son will come this evening;' kommer han, så går jag icke, 'if he should come, I will not go.'

This tense is also used instead of the preterite or imperfect, to express a continued action at a past period; as, jag bor i Stockholm sedan min ungdom, 'I have lived in Stockholm from my youth upwards.'

On the other hand, the preterite is sometimes used in cases where in English the indicative present is employed; as, det var liistig! 'that's a good joke!'

The compound tenses are sometimes used instead of the future; as, jag har strax slutat, 'I shall have done immediately.'

This use of the compound instead of the simple tenses is regarded as a Germanism which should be avoided; thus the sentence Konungen har i går hållit statsråd, would be more correctly rendered Konungen höll statsråd i går, 'the king held a council of state yesterday.'

The conjunctive is not much used in modern Swedish, its place being often taken by the various defective auxiliaries, which constitute a striking characteristic of the language; as, må, månne, måste, 'may;' må det gå dig väl! 'good betide thee!' månne någon gifver mig det! 'perhaps some one may give it to me!'

It is used in an optative sense in a few forms of expression; as, Gud välsigne dig, 'may God bless thee!' länge lefve konungen, 'long live the king!'

The imperative is often expressed by the help of the auxiliary , 'to get,' 'must;' as, du får ej gå, 'you must not go!' 'do not go!'

The auxiliary att hafva is often omitted before the past participle in compound tenses; as, sedan solen (har) gått ned, inträder mörkret, 'when the sun has gone down, darkness comes on;' shräddaren skulle sytt gossen en rock, 'the tailor should have made the boy a coat.'

The infinitive is often used in the place of a gerund; as, han läser för att lära, 'he reads for the sake of learning;' consten att måla, 'the art of painting.' Att, 'to', may be omitted before the infinitive when it constitutes the thing-object of a personal object; as, min broder lärde mig simma, 'my brother taught me to swim.'

The participle present is sometimes changed to the passive form in such sentences as, han kom ridandes, 'he came riding.'

It may also be used adverbially or as a preposition; as, luften är tryckande het, 'the air is oppressively hot;' angaende denna vigtiga sak, 'concerning this important matter.'

This participle, which always ends in ande or ende, is very commonly used in the sense of an adjective; as, en svinlande höjd, 'a dizzy height.'

The past participle, which ends in d, t, or en, may be used similarly; as, en förtjent man, 'a deserving man;' den älskade qvinnan, 'the beloved woman;' en erfaren läkare, 'an experienced doctor.'

The supine, which always ends in t, and has been derived from the neuter of the perfect participle, is always used in conjunction with the verb hafva, 'to have;' as, han har tänkt på henne, 'he has thought of her.'

An impersonal passive or deponent is used in the following manner: det dansades hela natten, 'dancing was going on all night;' ännu mer förvånades han, 'he was still more surprised.'

Transitive verbs generally admit of being used in the passive as well as the active form, as, älska, älskas, 'to love,' 'to be loved;' but intransitive verbs can usually only be employed in an impersonal form in the passive, when they acquire a significance peculiar to the Scandinavian languages; as, det dansas här i afton, 'there will be dancing here this evening.' They may, however, be used with är and var in an active sense; as, konungen är afrest till Norge, 'the king has gone to Norway.'

In Old Swedish the passive was expressed by the use of the auxiliaries verda (varða), 'to be,' as it may still be rendered by vara, or more generally by blifva, 'to be,' as, han har blifvit sårad, 'he has been wounded,' instead of han har sårats.

Some verbs can only be used reflectively; as, att beflita sig, 'to strive;' many verbs admit of being used both reflectively and actively; as, att inbilla sig, 'to imagine;' man bör icke inbilla en annan sådan något, 'one ought not to make any one believe such a thing.'

Compound verbs are generally declined like the corresponding verbs from which they have been derived; as, håller, höll, and anhåller, anhöll, etc., 'hold,' and 'detain.' But where they have been derived from German, or other foreign sources, they do not follow the inflection of the corresponding Swedish verb; as, hushålla, 'to keep house,' which is not derived directly from hus, 'house,' and hålla, 'to hold,' but from the German ' haushalten, ' and makes husholdte.

Verbs which can be used both transitively and intransitively generally follow the second conjugation in the former and the fourth conjugation in the latter case; as, han hjelpte andra och stjelpte sig sjelf, 'he helped others and ruined himself;' det halp icke, han stalp, 'there was no help for it, he was ruined.'

Some verbs can be used both as intransitives and impersonal reflectives; as, det får han ångra, 'he will repent of that;' det ångrar mig, 'I regret.'

The irregularities of Swedish verbs scarcely admit of being reduced to any definite classification, but are dependent on various conditions, such as a foreign origin; mere disregard of grammatical construction; or retention of some only of the characteristics of the Old Northern, as may be seen from the following examples:

att bringa, to bring, bragte, bragt.
att förgäta, to forget, förgat, förgätit.
att dö, to die, dog, dött.
att gå, to go, gick, gått.
att ligga, to lie, låg, legat.
att qväda, to sing, qvad, qvädit.
att se, to see, såg, sett.
att sofva, to sleep, sof, sofvit.
att tälja, to count, talde, talt.
att veta, to know, visste, vetat.
att äta, to eat, åt, ätit.

Compound verbs are either separable or inseparable; as, att tillhöra, or att höra till, 'to belong to,' and att beklage, 'to complain.' To the former class belong verbs composed of a preposition, adjective, or other independent part of speech; as, att genomborra, 'to bore through,' att frigöra, 'to free;' while to the latter belong generally all verbs compounded of a particle and another verb; as, att erkänna, 'to acknowledge.'

The first conjugation, which includes five-sixths of all the Swedish verbs, embraces nearly all weak verbs having a, o, u, or å as their radical vowel, followed by a consonant; as, fråga, 'to ask.' To this conjugation belong also generally verbs compounded of particles, or having two or more syllables; as, afskeda, 'to dismiss;' arbeta, 'to labour.'

To the second conjugation belong many verbs having a soft radical vowel, as e, i, y, ä, or ö; as, leda, 'to lead;' spilla, 'to spill;' pryda, 'to adorn;' svälla, 'to swell;' föda, 'to give birth to.'

The third conjugation, which now is without the final a in the infinitive, is of comparatively modern origin, that characteristic termination having been present in the Old Swedish; as, att boa, instead of bo, 'to dwell;' att troa, instead of tro, 'to believe.'

The fourth, or strong mode of conjugation, which is the most ancient and most flexible of any, comprises five distinct classes of verbs; as, (1) verbs in which the imperf. indicative ends in short a; (2) in long a; (3) in o; (4) in e; (5) in ö. As —

Imp. Indic. Past. Part.
binda, to bind, band, bundit.
gifva, to give, gaf, gifvit.
taga, to take, tog, tagit.
skrifva, to write, skref, skrifvit.
klyfva, to cleave, klöf, klufvit.

Some verbs may be declined according both to the first and the second form of conjugation; as, (att) dela, 'to share,' which may be written imperf. delade or delte, participle past delat or delt. Other verbs vary between the other conjugations, as —

Imperfect. Supine.
(att) duga, to be fit for, dugde or dög, dugat or dugt.
(att) heta, to be called, hette or het, hetat.
(att) lefva, to live, lefde or lefte, lefvat or left.

There is a tendency in modern Swedish to transfer verbs of the fourth or strong form of conjugation to the first or second weak form. Similarly, modern usage tends to reject the harder radical vowels in favour of their softer derivatives, taking ä for å, ö for u, etc.; while for the same considerations of euphony the j is frequently dropped, as in böd, originally bjöd, imperf. indicative of bjuda, 'to bid;' söng, originally sjöng, imp. ind. of sjunga, 'to sing.'

Contractions are of frequent occurrence even among the best speakers and writers; as, bli, ta, dra, gi, for blifva, taga, draga, gifva; blir, tar, drar, for blifver, tager, drager, gifver; and vi, de, bli, ta, dra, I blin, tan, dran, for vi, de bifva, taga, draga, I blifven, tagen, dragen.

The personal termination er is always dropped in gala, 'to crow;' mala, 'to grind;' fara, befara 'to go, travel;' skära, 'to cut;' stjäla, 'to steal,' etc.