When you start to learn Swedish, it doesn’t take long until you run into words like “tycker om” and “kommer ihåg”. Swedish is full of that kind of verb phrases, and we call them “particle verbs” (partikelverb). The particle can look like a preposition (på, in, upp), but can also be a word that is only used in combination with a verb. For example, the particles “ihjäl” and “ihåg”, will only be found in particle verbs not by themselves, or as a preposition.
A great thing with the particle verbs is that you can be very precise. Let me show you what I mean with a few examples:
läser läser ut
read read something to the last page
klä på sig klä om sig klä upp sig klä ut sig
dress change clothes dress up dress up in a costume
Particle verbs and pronunciation
With particle verbs it is very important that you stress/emphasize the particle. It’s the stress that tells us if it’s a particle verb or not. For example, you “like” something, you have to say “Jag tycker om glass”, stressing “om”. Otherwise, it will sound like “I think if ice cream”, which doesn’t make any sense.
There are lots of particles, and it’simpossible to go through all of them here, but we’ll take a look at some common ones.
“om” often means that you are doing something over again. For example:
Filmen var jättebra. Jag vill se om den.
“Om” can also mean that you are passing someone or something:
Gubben i Volvon var så långsam så jag körde om honom.
“På” often means to switch something on, your TV for example:
“Sätt på TV:n! Melodifestivalen börjar snart. ”
The most common meaning of “till” is that something happens suddenly, or lasts a very short while:
“Jag blev rädd och hoppade till.”
“Kan du titta till bäbisen?”
(titta till = check)
The best way to interpret “bort”, is probably with “away”. We use it to express that someone is leaving, or that something is removed.
“Jag ska resa bort i helgen.”
“Tvättmedlet tar bort alla fläckar från kläderna.”
(ta bort = remove)
“Igång” is similar to English “get going” or “get started” with something. In a meeting at work someone might say:
“Jaha, ska vi sätta igång då? ”
“Jag har kommit igång med träningen igen.”
“Upp” can be used in many ways as a particle, I will show you a couple. First of all, it means the direction “up”:
“Han går upp för trappan.”
“Upp” can also mean “finish” something like food, a drink or money:
“Jag festade upp alla pengarna i lördags.”
(I spent all my money on drinks last Saturday.)
“Jag åt upp all maten på tallriken.”
“Ut” means, except for the direction, that you are doing something until it is completely finished. Two examples:
“Boken var jättebra, jag läste ut den på en helg.”
“På lördagarna sover jag alltid ut.”
If you want more help learning Swedish, check out Sara the Swedish Teacher