Swedish: word order and "där"

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Jellby, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Jellby

    Jellby Senior Member

    Spanish (Spain)
    Hello all,

    I just started learning Swedish and, my teacher corrected something like this:

    (1) "Jag cyklar till laboratoriet, där arbetar jag."


    (2) "Jag cyklar till laboratoriet, där jag arbetar."

    From what I have read (we haven't seen that in class yet), the second would mean "... to the laboratory where I work". But, if I wanted to say "... to the laboratory, there I work", would the first be correct? Does it look weird? Should I maybe have used a fullstop instead of comma?

    Thanks :)
  2. JohanIII

    JohanIII Senior Member

    "... to the laboratory, there I work" = "... till laboratoriet, där arbetar jag." - that's a good translation.
    But they are both equally weird.
    It would certainly make it better with a full stop for the Swedish, but I wouldn't say it like that (the sentences feel too short).

    As the English is incorrect, try writing what you want to say in Spanish instead.
  3. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    This word order is correct, but not with the , as Swedish uses the comma seldom. It does mean "... to the laboratory, there I work", as där can be used for both where and there.
    This is the only situation where I would use the inverted arbetar jag (except in questions), to describe how or what kind of work I do , even if it's more common today to use "... laboratoriet där jag arbetar dagen lång/..." (without the comma).
  4. zyzzy

    zyzzy Senior Member

    You are either using incorrect punctuation or incorrect word order.

    If you want to say "... to the laboratory" and "there, I work", then those are two separate main clauses that could be joined together like this:

    ... till laboratoriet. Där arbetar jag.
    ... till laboratoriet och där arbetar jag.
    ... till laboratoriet; där arbetar jag. (a bit formal)

    Using a comma instead is considered sloppy or wrong. So, the teacher thought you wanted to use a relative clause "..., where I work", and then the word order needs to be "där jag arbetar":

    ... till laboratoriet, där jag arbetar.

    "där arbetar jag" is of course a variation of the normal Swedish word order "jag arbetar där", with extra emphasis on the "där".
  5. Jellby

    Jellby Senior Member

    Spanish (Spain)
    Thank you for your answers. It's not strange that the sentence is too short, since I'm a real beginner :) But anyway, the full sentence was:

    "Vid klockan nio cyklar jag till Ångstromlaboratoriet, där arbetar jag som forskare."

    (I didn't have it at hand when I wrote the first post.)

    What I wanted to say is simply that I ride to Å-lab, and that I work there. So using "och" is probably closer to what I intended. Can't you use a comma for this kind of compound sentence in Swedish? In other words, would this be correct?:

    "Jag cyklar till laboratoriet, jag arbetar där"

    (apart from the fact that it's a very short and simple sentence and it would probably benefit from some joiner like "since" or "because".) My intention was just the above, but with "där" at the beginning.

    I guess that answers the question. But it's strange that the teacher thought that, since we haven't seen any relative yet (I only found that "där" can be a relative too by looking it up in the dictionary).

    So "där" can be used without the relative meaning (i.e., as "there" and not "where"), without inverting subject and verb? Or maybe the difference is not so clear in Swedish, since the word is the same?
  6. Cactus87 New Member

    My first post here after reading here for quite some time!

    Normally I'd probably write the sentence that you want to write in the following way

    Klockan nio cyklar jag till Ångströmslaboratoriet där jag arbetar jag som forskare.

    Vid niotiden cyklar jag till Ångströmslaboratoriet där jag arbetar som forskare.

    Please note that we don't separate between "where" and "there" but rather translate them differently to English depending on its relative position to the verb. "Where" can, to my knowledge never be used after the verb in English which makes it more natural to translate "där" to "where" in those situations. In Swedish, "där" could still mean either but grammatically you'd have to use "där jag arbetar som forskare" when it follows a sentence where the place that "där" refers to (that is, Ångströmslaboratoriet) have been disclosed. You can only say it the other way around if its a completely new sentence (with a pause in between). Otherwise it would be grammatically flawed.

    I'd also suggest that you stick to saying either "klockan nio" or "vid niotiden" as "vid klockan nio" sounds a bit strange. "Klockan nio" is a bit more precise but "vid niotiden" (means sometime around nine) could mean anything from 08.40 to 09.40 and it's more commonly used in situations where the exact time is (A) a bit uncertain or (B) not really relevant. Newspapers always write "vid niotiden" when they describe incidents that happen around that time, for instance.
  7. Jellby

    Jellby Senior Member

    Spanish (Spain)
    Please choose one ;)

    That's pretty much the difference between "where" and "there" in English (or their equivalents in Spanish), but I guess the pause must be more explicit than a simple comma in Swedish. Thanks.

    Thanks again, we had not seen that in the course, only that "vid" is used for "around".
  8. Cactus87 New Member

    Obviously the second one should be removed :D

    Maybe I was a bit unclear on what I meant. Let my refrase myself:

    In the written language we could choose between writing either “där jag arbetar” or “jag arbetar där”. Foreigners that master English would probably have little difficulties in choosing between the two as they can be directly translated to/from English (i.e. “…where I work” and “I work there”). When it sounds more natural to say “where I work” it’s almost always equally natural to say “där jag arbetar” in Swedish, and vice versa.

    “Där” has the same properties as “och” when it acts as a relative clause and as such we never start a sentence using the word. We don’t even let it follow a comma unless the comma itself is absolutely warranted by the context. There are three types of commas allowed in the Swedish language:

    1) Probably the easiest to understand. Used for counting stuff in a random or organized fashion, for instance when we describe what we bought in the food store (= jag köpte glass, fisk, köttbullar och frukt).

    2) Comma to enhance the understandability of a very long or highly complicated text (e.g. in tertiary education). We tend to use commas in these types of situations as the reader otherwise is likely to encounter difficulties in understanding the text fluently. If the reader has to read to same passage more than once to fully grasp what it says, then the author has made a mistake. Often encountered in textbooks and essays.

    3) Comma that is used in all types of sentences as a natural substitute for parantheses (brackets). Normally we encounter these types of commas in newspapers or magazines where the secondary clause adds details about the subject which is not entirely relevant for the text. For instance, papers write stuff like “Barack Obama, nyligen vald till USA:s president, besökte igår Sverige” (Barack Obama, recently elected president of the United States, yesterday visited Sweden). Removing the secondary clause entirely would have zero effect on the actual message in the sentence (that is, Obama visited Sweden yesterday).

    “Där” could be placed directly after a comma when we use the comma in the way described in (2) or (3). For example: “Barack Obama flyttade igår från West Wing, där han arbetat de senaste femton åren, till en herrgård utanför Indianapolis” (Barack Obama moved yesterday from West Wing, where he has worked the previous fifteen years, to a mansion outside of Indianapolis).

    In your case the sentence that you have written makes it redundant to use comma at all (it’s neither complicated nor lengthy). “Där” already binds the two clauses together and as you can’t remove the clause altogether without changing the significance of the sentence, they can’t follow each other either. If you remove the secondary clause nobody will understand why you take your bike to Ångströmslaboratoriet!

    It’s not wrong to use “vid” but as a 25-year old man living in Stockholm it sounds a bit too formal in my ears. My parents would probably say it but I’d rather say “runt klockan nio” (means the exact same thing). The only time I use “vid” is when I say “vid åttatiden” or “vid niotiden” but even here I could use “runt” if I wanted too.

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