Swedish: Man får inte puttas. ("One should not push." vs "One should not be pushed.")

verifying

New Member
english
Consider the following sentences in Swedish, with the intended meaning in parenthesis.

Man får inte puttas. (One should not push.)
Man får inte bittas. (One should not bite.)
Hunden bits inte. (The dog does not bite.)

I have heard these sentences be spoken with the meanings specified above, mainly in contexts related to kids, such
as kindergarden, and related to pets. My question is: What is the grammatical form of the verbs above. And, more importantly,
how do I differentiate this form from the passive voice? In other words, why are the sentences above not translated as below?

Man får inte puttas. (One should not be pushed.)
Man får inte bitas. (One should not be bitten.)
Hunden bits inte. (The dog is not bitten.)

And in case I would really want to write "One should not be pushed", how would I translate this sentence to Swedish?
I have asked these questions to some Swedish teachers but they also became puzzled, so I decided to post it here in hope
some specialist in Swedish grammar can help.
 
  • DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    Hello and welcome to the forums!

    The grammatical term in Swedish for this kind of verbs with an -s ending in infinitive is "deponensverb" or "deponens"; in English, it's known as deponent, or deponent verb.

    In some cases, e.g. "andas" and "svettas", no counterpart without the -s ending exists, so there's no ambiguity here. In many cases though, the deponent and the passive form are identical, so your confusion is certainly understandable. However, the ambiguity mostly exists in theory; in practice, the meaning is almost always immediately clear to native speakers.

    Let's take a look at your examples:
    Man får inte puttas.
    Theoretically, this could mean "Being pushed is not allowed", but the absurdity of that concept is one of the reasons why it's never interpreted like that.
    And in case I would really want to write "One should not be pushed", how would I translate this sentence to Swedish?
    In Swedish we can also use the auxiliary verb "bli" to express the passive voice, so you can always use "bli" if you think there's any risk that a verb in the passive voice might be confused for a deponent. Thus, the answer to your question is: "Man får inte bli puttad."
    Man får inte bitas.
    Again, "Being bitten is not allowed" is pretty bizarre. Unless an agent is named (i.e. unless "av" plus the person or animal who bites is included in the sentence), "bitas" will always be understood as an active form.
     
    Last edited:

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    Deponent verbs can denote an habitual action in Swedish. So Hunden bits means the dog is in the habit of biting, which makes more sense than The dog is (being) bitten.
    Vi ses means something like See you later and not We're (being) seen.
     

    Warped

    Senior Member
    Finnish, Swedish
    Deponent verbs can denote an habitual action in Swedish. So Hunden bits means the dog is in the habit of biting, which makes more sense than The dog is (being) bitten.
    Vi ses means something like See you later and not We're (being) seen.
    I agree, but the "ses" in "Vi ses" is a reciprocal verb rather than a deponent one. :)
     
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