Verb Inflection

The verb is inflected for tense-mood and voice. The five tense-mood categories of Swedish have traditionally been grouped under three mood categories, indicative, subjunctive and imperative, with a tense distinction between present and past (preterite) in the first two. Here they are treated separately, but are called tenses when they have a temporal meaning and moods when they have a modal meaning.

The present tense is a neutral form which is used when no other form is motivated. It is generally used when the action takes place at the moment of speech (factive) or could take place at that time (potential). The ending is -er, but -r after a vowel, e.g. las-er 'reads', spring-er 'runs', kasta-r 'throws', sy-r 'sews'. No ending is used after /r/ and in a few modal verbs, e.g. lar 'teaches, learns', kan 'can'.

The past form is used when the action is either a past event or state (past tense), or imagined at the moment of speech (modal past). The past tense therefore functions as a subjunctive for the weak verbs and can replace the subjunctive of the strong verbs, too. The ending is -de for weak verbs, but -te after voiceless consonant and sometimes after /-n/, and -dde after a stressed vowel, which is shortened, e.g. kasta-de 'threw', vav-de 'weaved', las-te 'read', ron-te 'experienced', sy-dde 'sewed'. The same shortening takes place when the stem ends in a dental, e.g. vat-a 'moisten', vat-te, led-a 'lead', ledde. Strong verbs form their past tense by vowel shifts, which are only partly predictable from the present stem, e.g. spring-alsprang 'run'.

The subjunctive mood of strong verbs is used when the action is imagined (either potential or unreal). The ending -e is added to a special subjunctive stem, formed by vowel shift, e.g./<5 'get' fing-e, spring-a 'run' sprung-e, bli 'become' blev-e.

The optative mood (or present subjunctive) occurs mostly in lexicalized expressions and in archaic language. It is used to express wishes by the speaker, but also has a flavour of declaration or magic formula. The ending -e is added to the present stem, e.g. lev-e 'live'.

The imperative mood is used for ordering the listener to perform the action of the sentence, and the action is normally both potential and desired by the speaker. The form has no ending and consists of the present stem, e.g. kasta 'throw', spring 'run'.

Non-finite Verb Forms

The infinitive is used as a nominal constituent, and the supine in connection with the temporal auxiliary ha.

The infinitive has the ending -a after a consonant, and no ending after a vowel, e.g. las-a 'read', sy 'sew'. In the first conjugation, the final /a/ can be analysed as a derivational element rather than as an infinitival ending, e.g. hopp-a 'jump\fri-a 'proposed marriage'.

The supine form has the ending -f, -tt for weak verbs, e.g. vav-t 'woven', ro-tt 'rowed', and -it for strong verbs, e.g. riv-it 'torn'. It was grammatically separated from the neutrum past participle in the eighteenth century, although there is a difference for strong verbs only, e.g. skrivit (sup.) 'written', skrivet (part.).


There are two verbal voice categories of non-finite as well as finite verb forms, i.e. the active and the passive (5-form). Voice inflection changes the valency of the verb, i.e. the rules for choice of subject and object.

S-forms are constructed by adding -s to the corresponding active form, except in the present tense, where the tense ending disappears, e.g. kasta-s 'be thrown', kasta-s 'is thrown', kastade-s 'was thrown', kastat-s 'been thrown', riva-s 'be torn', riv-s, rev-s, rivit-s. In the present tense, the voice ending is -es after a stem ending in /s/, and optionally in formal style after other consonants, e.g. las-es 'is read', riv-es.

Instead of single voice forms, phrasal voice expressions are often used, combinations of a copula and a past participle. The copula bli is used with perfective verbs, and vara (sometimes alternatively bli) with imperfective verbs, e.g. boken blev forstdrd/forstordes 'the book was (being) destroyed', han var anseddlblev ansedd/ansdgs som en hederlig man 'he was regarded as an honest man'. With perfective verbs, vara corresponds to a perfect-tense form, e.g. boken varfffrstdrd/hade forstorts 'the book had been destroyed'.

0 0

Post a comment