As a Swedish language instructor, I often get questions about the difference between “fler” and “mer”. To solve this problem we need to learn the difference between countable nouns and uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc., that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot “count” them. For example, we cannot count “milk”. We can count “bottles of milk” or “liters of milk”, but we cannot count “milk” itself. Here are some more uncountable nouns:
- smör (butter)
- ris (rice)
- socker (sugar)
- kaffe (coffee)
- music (music)
- konst (art)
- kärlek (love)
- elektricitet (electricity)
- information (information)
In the examples above the nouns are uncountable both in Swedish in English, but sometimes that’s not the case. The word “news” is for example an uncountable noun in English but a countable noun in Swedish:
en nyhet, nyheter (countable noun)
en möbel, möbler (countable noun)
What does this have to do with the difference between “de flesta” and “det mesta”? The answer is that to express “the most” for countable nouns we use:
många – fler – flest – de flesta
(many – more – most – the most)
With a countable noun it could look like this:
många elever – fler elever – flest elever – de flesta eleverna
(many students – more students – most students – most students)
Anna har många elever i sin klass.
(Anna has many students in her class.)
Lisa har fler elever än Anna i sin klass.
(Lisa has more students than Anna.)
Göran har flest elever av alla.
(Göran has the most students.)
De flesta eleverna kommer från Tyskland.
(Most of the students come from Germany.)
With uncountable nouns we can use a little and much:
I’ve got a little money.
I haven’t got much rice.
In Swedish it would be:
mycket – mer – mest – det mesta
(a lot/much – more – most – the most)
Here are a few examples with “mycket”, “mer”, “mest” and “det mesta”:
Anna dricker mycket kaffe.
(Anna drinks a lot of coffee.)
Lisa dricker mer kaffe än Anna.
(Lisa drinks more coffee than Anna.)
Göran dricker mest kaffe.
(Göran drinks the most coffe.)
Det mesta kaffet som Göran dricker kommer från Colombia.
(Most of the coffee that Göran drinks comes from Colombia.)
Thank you for reading and have fun learning Swedish!