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Lesson Transcript


Alisha: How do you ask for the time in Swedish?
Jesper: And how do you tell the time?
Alisha: At SwedishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following scenario: During a school break, Sasha Lee asks her classmate Stefan about the time. They don't want to be late for their next class. Sasha asks,
"What time is it?"
Sasha Lee: Vad är klockan?
Sasha Lee: Vad är klockan?
Stefan Ström: Kvart över tre.
Alisha: Once more with the English translation.
Sasha Lee: Vad är klockan?
Alisha: "What time is it?"
Stefan Ström: Kvart över tre.
Alisha: "A quarter past three."

Lesson focus

Alisha: Asking for the time is one of the most fundamental things in Swedish. In this lesson, you'll learn how to ask for the time and answer questions about it.
Jesper: But, before this, we need to discuss some basics.
Alisha: That's right. You need to know that people in Sweden use the twelve-hour- and twenty-four hour-clock systems interchangeably. There is no special rule for which system to use, and, even though Swedish has words for AM,
Jesper: förmiddag,
Alisha: literally meaning "before midday," and, for PM,
Jesper: eftermiddag,
Alisha: literally meaning "after midday," you will rarely hear people adding those words if they talk about time in Swedish. People mostly recognize the actual time from the context of the statement. So, it's logical that, if you say,
Jesper: vi träffas klockan tre,
Alisha: meaning "We'll meet at three o'clock," people won't assume that you will wait at the agreed meeting point in the middle of the night. But if you're not sure, you can always help clarify things by using the twenty-four hour-clock system and ask,
Jesper: Menar du 15:00?
Alisha: meaning "Do you mean 15:00?"
[Recall 1]
Alisha: Now, with this being said, let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Mark asks "What time is it?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Jesper: Vad är klockan?
Alisha: meaning "What time is it?" Well, if you look at the Swedish question, you won't find the Swedish word for "time," which is,
Jesper: tid.
Alisha: This is because Swedish literally asks "What is the clock?"
This is the most basic and most common way to ask about the time. You could modify it, to make it more polite, by adding "Excuse me" in front of the questions,
Jesper: Ursäkta mig, vad är klockan?
Alisha: meaning "Excuse me, what time is it?" Another very common variation of this question is
Jesper: Hur mycket är klockan?
Alisha: literally meaning "How much is the clock?"
[Recall 2]
Alisha: Now, let's take a look at our second sentence.
Do you remember how Stefan says "a quarter past three"?
(pause 4 seconds)
Jesper: Kvart över tre.
Alisha: literally meaning "quarter over three."
The same as in English, we have set phrases for different periods of time. Let's start with the easiest one, which is the same as in English, "quarter," or
Jesper: kvart.
Alisha: It works the same way as English with phrases like "quarter past,"
Jesper: kvart över;
Alisha: or "quarter to,"
Jesper: kvart i,
Alisha: literally meaning "a quarter for," marking fifteen minutes after or before a full hour. So, for instance, "quarter past eight" is
Jesper: kvart över åtta.
Alisha: Then, there is something that might bring some confusion among English speakers. While in English we say "It's half past eight," counting the time that passed from the last hour, Swedish would count how much time remains until the next hour. So "half past eight" in Swedish is
Jesper: halv nio,
Alisha: literally meaning "half nine." With that in mind, let's see how to say the time that's five minutes before and after half past eight. So "8:25" in Swedish is
Jesper: fem i halv nio,
Alisha: literally "five for half nine," but you should think of it as "five to half past eight." Next, what's "8:35"?
Jesper: fem över halv nio,
Alisha: literally "five over half nine." Again, think of it as "five past half past eight."
Alisha: In this lesson, you learned two different questions to ask for the time, and also how to answer in many different ways.
Practice Section
Alisha: Let's review what we heard in this lesson. I will say the target sentence in English, then you should respond by saying the sentence out loud in Swedish. Jesper will then model the correct answer. Listen to him carefully, with the focus on pronunciation, and then repeat.
The first sentence is "What time is it?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Vad är klockan?
Alisha: Did you get it right? Listen to Jesper again, and repeat.
Jesper: Vad är klockan?
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Vad är klockan?
Alisha: The second sentence is "It's a quarter past three."
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Kvart över tre.
Alisha: How did you do this time? Again, listen to Jesper and repeat.
Jesper: Kvart över tre.
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Kvart över tre.
Cultural Expansion
Alisha: There is one more thing before we go, when talking about time, you will also hear,
Jesper: Hur dags?
Alisha: literally "How day?" but it means "At what time?" or "When?"
Again, in these expressions, you don't see the word "time,"
Jesper: tid.
Alisha: But if you really want to use the word "time," there IS one more variation of the question that might make more sense to you, which is
Jesper: vilken tid?
Alisha: literally "which time?" but it means "at what time?"


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

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