Many times it seems like the small words cause the most confusion when learning a
language. When learning Swedish, “att” seems to be extra tricky, so in this article I want to
share some common ways to use “att”.
“Att” as an infinitive marker
First of all “att” has the function of infinitive marker (infinitivmarkör), when a verb is in
Det är roligt att läsa.
(It’s fun to read/Reading is fun.)
Det är svårt att uttala “ö”.
(It’s difficult to pronounce, “ö”./ Pronouncing, “ö” is difficult.)
“Att” meaning “that”
When creating so called indirect speech you use “att” when we are referring to what a third
party is saying, wondering, wishing, etc. Speaking English, you could use “that” in this
situation. Like this:
Han säger att det är kallt ute.
(He says/is saying that it’s cold outside.)
Hon undrar om hon får titta i sitt lexikon under provet.
(She wonders/is wondering if she can look in her dictionary during the test.)
Att in the subjunction “därför att”
We also find, “att” in the subjunction “därför att” which means “because”. If we begin the
subordinate clause (bisats) with, “därför att” it will explain the reason of what is going in the
independent clause (huvudsats).
Daniel vill gifta sig med Åsa därför att han älskar henne.
(Daniel wants to marry Åsa because he loves her.)
“Att” in the subjunction “för att”
“För att” looks very similar to, “därför att” and what is even more frustrating to someone
learning Swedish is that the two often are pronounced almost exactly the same! Many
Swedes (probably myself included) say something like, “f’ratt” for both “därför att” and “för
att”. Listen carefully out there and you will hear it They do have different meanings.
Whilst “därför att” means “because”, “för att” means “in order to”. Here are some examples:
Agneta bantar för att bli smal.
(Agneta is on a diet (in order) to become skinny.)
Now compare the example above to how we use “därför att”:
Agneta bantar därför att hon känner sig tjock.
(Agneta is on a diet because she feels chubby.)
Well that was all for today. I hope everyone is having fun learning Swedish! Don't forget to check out our new Swedish bookshop. We ship worldwide!
Sara the Swedish Teacher