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.

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