All posts by Charlotta

Vara eller bli

Det kan vara svårt att veta om det blir rätt med “vara eller bli”. (For short explanation in English pls scroll down)

I dag fick jag en fråga om verben vara och bli. Hur ska man tänka?

Tänk så här:

Vara är ett tillstånd.

Bli innebär en förändring; någonting händer/inträffar.


Om du vill jämföra med engelskan kan du tänka på

vara = to be

bli = to become

Det är inte alltid som det fungerar att översätta direkt mellan engelska och svenska.


Här följer några exempel:


När det blir vackert väder ska jag vara utomhus hela tiden!

–> Vädret är dåligt nu, men när det ändrar sig (förändring) kommer jag att vara ute (tillstånd).


När det är vackert väder, är jag utomhus.

–> jag är alltid utomhus (tillstånd) när det är vackert väder (tillstånd)


Vi var ute i fredags, och blev serverade av en charmant yngling. 

–> vi var ute i fredags (tillstånd), och blev serverade (något hände) …


Han var alltid så trött, men har blivit piggare sedan han blev pappa. 

–> han var alltid så trött (tillstånd), men har blivit (förändring) sedan han blev pappa (förändring, händelse)


Kika på första meningen igen; “Det kan vara svårt att veta om det blir rätt med “vara eller bli”.

–> Det kan vara svårt att veta(tillstånd), om det blir rätt (något inträffar/händer) …


Här kan du öva själv!  Det är en länk till Natur och Kultur.

In English

“vara” is used when speaking of a state, a condition

“bli” is used when a transition occurs (into a state),


vara: Hon är ledsen. (she is sad – a state of mind)

bli: Hon blev ledsen. (she was happy, but something happened and she was suddenly sad)

Svensklektionerna var intressanta, men de blev ännu bättre med exempel! (the Swedish lessons were interesting (state), but became even better (something happens) when examples were provided.

vara eller bli

SVT Språkplay to help with Swedish

Watching TV or movies is a good way of learning a language. You

  • practice listening skills
  • you can read the subtitles to practice …
  • … and see spelling to  understand how to connect sounds and writing.
  • You also learn about the culture (that is if you are watching a program made in the country of your target language), which is a significant part of learning a language.

You probably know that SVT, the Swedish Public Television, has an app and a website called SVT Play, where you can find and watch programs in every possible category. Not all are eligible though to be broadcasted outside of Sweden due to legal rights.

However this post is about SVT Språkplay. It is an app initiated by SVT, aimed at learners of the Swedish language, predominantly newly arrived, immigrants and refugees. Språkplay is only available in Sweden.

Using SVT Språkplay you get suggestions regarding what to watch as a learner. There are captions in which you can click, look up and save words according to your current level (A1-C2) of Swedish. The words are color coded; green means you know the word already, yellow is for learning right now and will also include the word in a test you can take, and red is for learning later. You can change the color of the words yourself.

The app contains 18 of the most common immigrant languages in Sweden.

App store:

SVT Språkplay 

Pictures from the app:

Personal qualities – Personliga egenskaper

Personal qualities (for Swedish, scroll down)

A personal quality vocabulary comes in handy when we want to describe someone. How is this person? Maybe you want to talk about a friend, or even about yourself when applying for a new position. The list to which you find a link below is from Sweden’s Public Employment Agency, “Arbetsförmedlingen”. It is suggested to be used as inspiration when in process of applying for a new job. Of course this serves as a resource for acquiring new vocabulary even if we don’t talk about employment. Read, translate and learn! Which ones describe yourself?

personal qualities 


Personliga egenskaper

Hur beskriver du en person? Hur beskriver du dig själv? Det är svårt, eller hur!? Det är riktigt svårt om du inte känner till ord som beskriver en persons egenskaper.

Nedan finns en länk till Arbetsförmedlingens lista över just personliga egenskaper. Du kan använda den som inspiration, till exempel när du söker jobb. Orden kan användas i både personliga brev och under en arbetsintervju. Om du använder orden när du söker jobb är det bra om du talar med egna ord och exempel istället för att bara säga “jag är innovativ”.

Orden är naturligtvis inte bara för jobbsituationer. Vissa ord passar även in som beskrivningar av andra saker än personer.

Hur många ord kan du redan? Ta reda på vad “nya” ord betyder. Fundera på vilka som beskriver dig själv. Lär dig en bokstavskategori varje dag!

personliga egenskaper



Mysigt att mysa

Denmark has ”hygge” and us Swedes have ”mys”. “Mys” is explained in the Swedish Academy Glossary as – my own translation – well-being coming from snug and cozy environment, or a nice, cozy activity. Think fika; hugging and kissing; drinking a glass of wine; sitting in front of the fire; being snowed in yet warm and safe; reading a book with your child on the couch; resting under a woolly blanket; having a cat lying on your chest, purring; flickering candles; having a family picnic in a sunny opening in a forest.

We use the word in different combinations, creating new words. Below you find a list of what I came to think of.

ett fredagsmys = explained here

mysbyxor = pants in comfortable material, for leisure

ett mysplagg = garment in comfortable material for leisure

en mysdress = garments in comfortable material for leisure; word much used in the 70’s

en mysbelysning = dimmed lights for a cozy ambience

en myshörna = cozy corner for relaxation

ett mysrum = cozy room for down time, particularly used in preschool for reading or resting (we are not likely to have a spare room in our houses or apartments to use just as “mysrum” 🙂 )

en mysfaktor = ”coziness factor”

ett myspys = a cozy moment, might involve hugs and kisses and even more but does not have to

en mysstund = cozy moment, for instance with your toddler to snuggle up, and enjoying some ”mys”

omysigt = not cozy

en mysrysare = a soft horror movie or book

The verb “mysa” has two meanings. One is having a cozy time (compare all of the above), and the other is to beam (contentment).

Some examples using the verb in differents tenses:

Vi myser inomhus idag; det är kallt ute.

I går myste/mös Hanna och Jakob med te och en brasa.

Mormor myste mot barnen. (the beaming-version of the verb)

Hon hade myst 30 minuter med en filt i soffan, när telefonen ringde.


The verb is “att mysa” – Katten myser i solen.

The adjective is “mysig” – Det är en mysig villa. Det är ett mysigt hus.

The adverb is “mysigt” – Ljuset skiner så mysigt.


Say the word Fredagsmys and every Swede knows what you are talking about. An easy Friday evening get-together, to mark the end of the work/school week and the beginning of the weekend. Family or friends, easy cooking, snack and a TV-screen are ususally involved.  It could also include a board game. Tacos is a classic, as well as chips/crisps and dip; at least that´s what the commercials want us to believe. Veggies and fruit works too. Fredagsmys is part of our modern culture, probably substituting the Sunday dinner family gathering. The location and activity does not have to follow the description above; the importance of the matter is that it includes “mys”.

Week numbers

In Sweden we are very fond of speaking in terms of weeks rather than dates. This can be rather confusing if you are not used to it.

“Vi åker bort vecka 10.” – we are leaving week 10

“Provet är vecka 5.” – the test is week 5

“Veckobrev v.35” – weekly letter of week 35

“Affären är stängd v. 29-31” – the store is closed week 29 through 31

I use a separate app to keep track of what week it is since it is not in my regular calendar.


Välkommen februari; but please stay away vabruari

February in Sweden is a month of both pleasure and pain – pleasure as in winter break (Sportlov) with possible skiing, and pain as in the month when kids apparently get sick the most – it is the peak month of parents staying at home from work to care for sick children.

The winter break is known as Sportlov, and occurs from week 7 to week 12 depending on where in Sweden you live. If the Sportlov is in February we also call it Februarilov. Week numbers? What?

Ok; back to the topic of February. Recall the sick children?

When parents take leave of absence from work to care for a sick child it is called

“Vård av sjukt barn.” = care of sick child in Swedish.

An abbreviation hereof is VAB (Vård Av sjukt Barn)

In everyday Swedish language these words have become a verb; “att vabba” = to “vabba”

“Jag måste vabba idag” means that I have to take leave of absence to care for my sick kid; well, you get the picture; we need a shorter way of saying it since a sick child leaves little room for long talks.

Remember the word februari (=the month of February) from the text above? Put together what you have learnt from the info above and you will understand why we sometimes jokingly refer to it as “vabruari”. Even if it is no joke.

And yes, I posted a photo of my tulips instead of a sick child.

False friends

I wish you’d never suffer from false friends. Now, I can’t help you with all of the varieties, but here is an explanation of the linguistic ones.

I am fascinated by words, especially the written word, and languages. The more languages I learn the easier it gets. It’s captivating to recognize similarities between languages, and to explore possible roots in common. Could it be a cognate or a false friend? Now if that doesn’t sound intriguing … 😉

I´ll explain it to you.

Cognates are words in different languages that have a common linguistic heritage. Examples are night natt nuit notte Nacht. Loanwords does not count.

Cognates within a language are known as doublets. Doublets are words that look similar, existing within the same language. Meaning of the words is irrelevant – they don´t have to mean the same thing, but could of course. An example is shirt and skirt in English.

False cognates are words that to the eye and ear appear to have the same origin but don´t. The meaning of the words is irrelevant here – it doesn’t matter if they are false friends or have the same meaning. An example hereof; mamma and pappa in Swedish – not related to similar words in other languages, merely stemming from baby language! (Svensk etymologisk ordbok – the Swedish etymological thesaurus, digitalized at

False friends are words in different languages that appear to have the same meaning but don´t.


actual (Eng. real, authentic ) meaning “faktisk” in Swedish

aktuell (Swedish) meaning present, current

You can find a list containing Swedish and English false friends here.

Primary sources

My brain. 🙂

Want to know more on Swedish language training with me? Head over here!

Benefits of learning via Skype

Benefits of learning via Skype

Are you looking for Swedish language training in Gothenburg or Stockholm? Have you considered 1-on-1 private lessons over Skype?

Having lessons via Skype means you save time on not commuting to class. You can pick but also vary your location. I have had students doing their lessons from home, from work, from school or university, from hotels, from the tram and bus, and while taking a walk. Needless to say; from all over the world.

Another benefit is the factor of comfort. Many of my students engage with me initially because they want to become more comfortable speaking Swedish. Especially to children and teenagers I find that a known, home environment is highly positive when taking the first steps to building a relationship with a new language as well as starting with a new teacher.

Working with Skype provides means of communication not only orally but also written, and by sharing documents and links. I give my students instant written feedback (spelling, example sentences, new vocabulary) during the whole session. It’s easy to share notes, links, documents and resources, and to go back afterwards and revise.

I might just go ahead and say it. Lessons via Skype are intense. No distractions, full focus on listening and looking at the teacher and the chat log on the screen . Sometimes we shut the camera off to further practice listening comprehension.

Contact for inquiries

Read more on Skype lessons with Globatris here.