Swedish: besluta sig

Jag har beslutat mig för att tvätta min bil varje söndag.
(I've decided to wash my car very Sunday.)


In the above sentence, could someone please explain:

1) Why the verb, "att besluta" is in the reflexive form, ie, why it's "beslutat mig" and not just "beslutat"
2) Why it's "för att" and not just "att" - my understanding is that "för att" translates as "in order to", which doesn't seem to make sense given the meaning of the sentence ?

Tack.
 
  • AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    For me, I would translaye the jag har beslutat mig för att ... as I have made/reached the decision to ... , something decided after serious considerations and/or discussions with others.
    I would use Jag har beslutat att tvätta ..., or perhaps Jag har bestämt att tvätta ... for I've decided to wash ... , for an easy decision such as when to wash my car.
    The Swedish phrase is att besluta mig/sig för något, it's not att besluta + för att.
     
    Thank you for the reply.

    A bit more reading would suggest that att bestämma (without the mig/sig) could translate to decide insofar as to have the final say, as apposed to att bestämma sig, meaning to make your own mind up. With besluta meaning both, but more official. Does this seem reasonable ?

    Just to clarify the use of för att in my example, are you saying that this is basically incorrect with the för not being needed ?

    Regards
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I have to say I kind of love these sorts of questions. I've been abroad for a while so these are things I'd just say in Swedish without thinking about it, but now that I read the question I end up wondering what the differences are.

    I would probably say that once you add "mig för att" it makes it more personal in the sense that you've decided something that relates to you specifically. It's something you've decided to do yourself, just like washing that car, or take piano lessons and so on. You would I think not use the phrase if you made a decision that is more 'external'. So if you made a decision for your family's vacation you probably wouldn't say "Jag har beslutat mig för att vi skall resa till Tyskland i sommar". That wouldn't really make sense to me. So that's one difference I think, although I'm sure there's a grey area.

    As for "besluta" versus "bestämma" I'd probably use a different word than "offical" to describe "besluta". It's maybe a bit weird, but to me a person who makes decision in an organization for example is "en person som bestämmer", but if you refer to their actual decisions you'd call them "beslut" and you'd likely consider making a key decision "fatta (ett) beslut)" rather than "bestämma sig".

    To me "besluta" sounds a bit 'bigger' or more 'serious' - maybe. I'd use "bestämma" when talking about going to the movies, which movie to see etc. Not sure if that makes sense.

    I'd love to hear from other native Swedish speaking people about this.
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Sorry, not a native Swedish speaker here, but I'm interested in this question because it's essentially identical in Danish,
    Jeg har besluttet/bestemt at + infinitive or besluttet/bestemt + direct object
    Jeg har besluttet mig/bestemt mig for at + infinitive or besluttet/bestemt mig for + direct object.

    So, for at / för att is only used with the reflexive form, beslutte sig for at (+ infinitive), as AutumnOwl pointed out. I would agree with MattiasNYC that this form is more personal but also in a way more emphatic...and less formal than the shorter non-reflexive form, beslutte at/bestemme at. I'm not sure I sense any difference in the level of difficulty with which a decision was made in the two variants. I think it´s similar to other constructions that use the reflexive form...such as, Nu skal jeg have mig en kop kaffe.

    What do you think, Swedes? :)
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    Just to clarify the use of för att in my example, are you saying that this is basically incorrect with the för not being needed ?
    In your question in the first post, you had divided the phrase as "besluta mig" + "för att", and "för att" translated it as "in order to". The för in this case doesn't belong with the att, the för belongs to bestämma sig/mig för (något), as well as in besluta sig/mig för (något). The att is part of att tvätta (min bil). Jag har beslutat mig för "I have decided" + att tvätta bilen "to wash the car". The för, as well as mig, are correct, but can be use, or not.
    Jag har beslutat mig för att tvätta bilen.
    Jag har beslutat mig att tvätta bilen.
    Jag har beslutat att tvätta bilen.

    To me, all of these are correct, but the first one is the most formal in my opinion, what I would use in a formal text.
     
    In your question in the first post, you had divided the phrase as "besluta mig" + "för att", and "för att" translated it as "in order to". The för in this case doesn't belong with the att, the för belongs to bestämma sig/mig för (något), as well as in besluta sig/mig för (något). The att is part of att tvätta (min bil). Jag har beslutat mig för "I have decided" + att tvätta bilen "to wash the car". The för, as well as mig, are correct, but can be use, or not.
    Jag har beslutat mig för att tvätta bilen.
    Jag har beslutat mig att tvätta bilen.
    Jag har beslutat att tvätta bilen.

    To me, all of these are correct, but the first one is the most formal in my opinion, what I would use in a formal text.

    Thank you very much. After thoroughly reading through yours and the other contributors' replies, I can now better appreciate the role that för plays when making the decision making more personal. Seeing the för att together misled me somewhat.

    Regards
     
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