Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: What is the difference between the perfect and imperfect tense in Swedish?
Jesper: And how do you know which one to use?
Michael: At SwedishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Lars Lundin lost his keys. He tells Mark Lee about his problem.
"I have lost my keys."
Lars Lundin: Jag har tappat bort mina nycklar.
Dialogue
Lars Lundin: Jag har tappat bort mina nycklar.
Mark Lee: Jag tappade också bort mina nycklar en gång.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Lars Lundin: Jag har tappat bort mina nycklar.
Michael: "I have lost my keys."
Mark Lee: Jag tappade också bort mina nycklar en gång.
Michael: "I lost my keys once too. "

Lesson focus

Michael: The concept of verb tenses is crucial in effective communication. Two tenses that we are all familiar with are the perfect tense and imperfect tense. In the English language, the perfect tense refers to an action that occurred at an unknown time in the past and has already been completed, thus, the term "perfect." On the other hand, the imperfect tense refers to an action that is yet to be completed, which explains the term "imperfect." Most languages have the imperfect and perfect tenses of the verb, although the rules for both may differ for each language. In Swedish, for example, the rules are quite different compared to English. In English, we use the past participle of the verb to form the perfect tense. In Swedish, the perfect tense, for instance, or
Jesper: perfekt
Michael: corresponds to the perfect tense in English. However, its main difference is that it doesn't use the past participle. Instead, it uses the supine form of the verb, or
Jesper: supinum
Michel: Meanwhile, the imperfect tense in Swedish, or
Jesper: preteritum
Michael: is equivalent to the simple past tense in English.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Lars Lundin "I have lost my keys."
(pause 4 seconds)
Jesper as Lars Lundin: Jag har tappat bort mina nycklar.
Michael: Here, Lars is using the present perfect tense with
Jesper: har tappat
Michael: The action described here began in the past and already has a result. And, as mentioned, this tense is formed by putting the verb in the supine form. To do that, we need to start with the verb's imperative form, which is
Jesper: tappa
Michael: or "lose," and then add -t at the end. Once we have that, we simply add
Jesper: har
Michael: before the verb. And so we have "have lost,"
Jesper: har tappat
Michael: Note that there are exceptions depending on the verb group.
[Recall 2]
Michael: And now let's have a closer look at how Mark Lee answered, "I lost my keys once too."
(pause 4 seconds)
Jesper as Mark Lee: Jag tappade också bort mina nycklar en gång.
Michael: The action described here is in the simple past tense, which is formed using the imperfect form of the verb. Just like in the perfect tense, we put the verb in the supine form, but, this time, we add 'de' to the root form of the verb. Thus,
Jesper: tappa
Michael: becomes
Jesper: tappade
Michael: Take note that 'de' is not used if the verb ends with a voiceless consonant, such as p, t, and k. In that case, we attach 'te' instead.
[Summary]
Michael: In this lesson, you have learned that the Swedish perfect tense, or
Jesper: perfekt
Michael: works similarly with the English perfect tense, only that it uses the supine form of the verb instead of the past participle. You've also learned that the Swedish imperfect tense, or
Jesper: preteritum
Michael: works the same way as the English simple past tense.
Expansion
Michael: If you have noticed, Swedish doesn't use the simple past tense when describing an action that occurred in the past and has already been completed. In this case, the present perfect or the past perfect tense is used, such as in the dialogue earlier. Let's try another example. In English, if you're going to say, "Lars lived in Europe for two years," you say that as
Jesper: Lars har bott i Europa i två år.
Michael: What if we want to use the past perfect tense? In that case, we will use
Jesper: hade
Michael: before the verb. For example, "Mark had studied in Sweden before moving to New York" becomes,
Jesper: Mark hade studerat i Sverige innan han flyttade till New York.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Jesper: Vi ses!
Michael: See you soon!

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