v7: njuta

Who said the participles story was finished? In English, the present participle can also be used as a noun, it which case it’s called a gerund. However, since the gerund always has the same form (-ing ending) as the present participle, it has been suggested that gerund-participle is a better term for this form of the verb (also see Language Log, here and here, for further discussion). Swedish has no equivalent form to the gerund.

In English, there are many verbs, such as like (tycka om), which can be used with either the infinitive or the gerund-participle:

I like to swim.
I like swimming.

However, there are some, such as enjoy (njuta av), which only take the gerund-participle:

I enjoy swimming.

In Swedish, since there is no gerund, the infinitive is always used:

Jag tycker om att simma.
literally: I like to swim.
Jag njuter av att simma.
literally: I enjoy to swim.

There’s no obvious reason why some English verbs take the infinitive and some don’t, just another list to learn, which is why mistranslations are reasonably common, and you’ll find such Swenglish expressions as I don’t mind to wait, or You missed to answer question four. But now you know exactly why it happens.

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 13:57  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ok, your description made this clearer for me, thanks!

    The problem I’m having now, is that I don’t know when to use ‘att’ and when not to.

    For example:
    det började bli mörkt – it started to become dark.
    jag vill se det – I want to see it

    why is att not used before se here? Is this another random list to learn? 🙂

    • After thinking about it for a while, I decided this might be something to do with ‘modal verbs’, verbs that describe how another verb is to be carried out, and which go before another verb. In the above case ‘vill’ is a modal verb which acts upon ‘se’.

      So it seems to me that you don’t use att after a modal verb. Just a guess though!

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