Swedish in shops!

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by thevesper, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. thevesper New Member

    English - England

    I know the standard "Jag skulle vilja ha..*" but in terms of things that might be said to me - how are things like "Do you want a bag?" or "Do you have x loyalty card?" said? I remember going to Paris and having no idea what the guy was saying to me in a shop after he said the amount to pay :)

    *is this still the standard way to ask for something - it seems quite formal when you translate it literally? What's the equivalent of the 'Can I get some x please?' that you hear a lot in English speaking countries?


  2. Jakub Groncki Member

    Polish - Poland
    Yes, it seems quite old-fashioned and somewhat formal. I have hardly ever heard people saying so. The most common form is "jag vill ha". "Do you want a bag" would be simply "Vill du ha en kasse/påse" and "Do you have a loyalty card" would be "Har du kundkortet/bonuskortet/stammiskortet?".

    The equivalent of "Can I get some x please" could be (simply, of course :D) "Kan jag få/ha x (, är du snäll)?".
  3. JohanIII

    JohanIII Senior Member

    Hi thevesper, welcome to the forums!

    "Can I get some x, please?" is a basic expression, one of the first you'd learn - as is "Jag skulle vilja ha...".
    "Kan jag få ..., är du snäll." is the literal translation - and used mainly in the same ways.

    Now, asking about "Swedish in shops!" and 'how are things like' ..., the question is - and answers really can get - unwieldy, if expanded upon.
    These phrases are used in slightly different ways, and (as I think you suspect) can't just be literally translated in each instance.

    I suggest you sneak a peek in some tourist language books (Berlitz &c), where this is typically the starting point - shop-language.
  4. Delfinen Senior Member

    Swedish Sweden
    I would use "Skulle jag kunna få..." asking for something, when I talk to someone I don't know in a shop. "... är du snäll" is an alternative of course, but is more something I use when I feel I need to add something to be polite, as I realize didn't sound enough polite at first, like when I tell my children to do something "Ta undan dina kläder.... är du snäll". I don't feel that it comes as natural as please, per favore or bitte.
  5. zyzzy

    zyzzy Senior Member

    In a situation where the other person is not expecting you to want something from them, I would use "Ursäkta, skulle jag kunna få...?"

    Asking a waitress for more water: "Ursäkta, skulle jag kunna få mer vatten?"
    Asking a stranger to borrow the newspaper: "Ursäkta, skulle jag kunna få låna tidningen?"

    I could use "Ursäkta, kan jag få..." to the waitress (since she's really there to assist me), but probably not to the stranger (who is not there to assist me).

    When the other person is expecting you to want something, you can of course be less polite. I tend to use "Jag skulle vilja ha..." in most situations, like in a shop, because I want to be polite. It's got politeness built into it, since it's phrased as a wish that I hope (but not demand) that the other person might help me fulfill.

    "Jag vill ha..." is a more relaxed alternative, but I think it's more neutral and even potentially impolite in some situations or to some people, as if you consider the other person to be a mere minion expected to do whatever you want. That said, in a restaurant, with the waitress standing next to me waiting to take my order, it would be perfectly fine to use "Jag vill ha...".

    And when it's your turn to order at a street food stand or in a bar, it's even possible to pretty much just order: "En stor grillad med mos" or "En stor grillad med mos, tack".

    But the level of politeness is not all in a phrase, after all. Starting out with a friendly "hej" will do most of the trick.

    Be very careful with "... är du snäll"! It's more of a polite way to order your kids around, and if you used it on me, I might even resent you! Even "Skulle du kunna vara snäll att..." can be perceived as bossy.

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