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Time references

In this lesson, we'll continue to learn to master some common time references used in Swedish. In this lesson's dialogue, you've seen examples of time references such as i en timme, på en timme, and om två timmar, which all have different meanings. Before we look closer at how to use each of these time references, we'll review the sentences used in this lesson's dialogue in which these appear.

Examples from this dialogue:

  1. I en timme. "For an hour."
  2. Jag måste ta bussen som går om två timmar. "I have to take the bus that leaves in two hours."
  3. Vi är klara på en timme. "We'll be done within an hour. "

For all of these time references, we need to use different prepositions, such as i, på, and om, together with numbers that represent the amount of time, such as ett ("one"). We also need to use the name of a time unit, such as sekund ("second"), minut ("minute") or timme ("hour"). In order to understand and use the types of time references that appear in this lesson's dialogue, we'll start by reviewing the numbers one to ten, and then we'll look at some units of time. Finally, we'll look at how to use these together with the propositions i, på, and om to create different types of time references.

We'll, therefore, start to review numbers one to ten.

Number / Swedish / English

1 / en / "one"

2  / två / "two"

3  / tre / "three"

4 / fyra / "four"

5 / fem / "five"

6 / sex / "six"

7 / sju / "seven"

8 / åtta / "eight"

9 / nio / "nine"

10 / tio / "ten"

Now let's also look at units of time, both in their singular and plural forms.

Swedish singular /  Plural /  English singular /  Plural

sekund /  sekunder / "second" / "seconds"

minut /  minuter  / "minute" / "minutes"

timme /  timmar / "hour" / "hours"

Now we'll move on and learn how to use the preopsitions i, , and om together with the numbers we learned and the units of time to create time references such as i en timme ("for an hour"), på en timme ("within an hour"), and om en timme ("in an hour"). We'll start with the preposition i, which, for the purpose of creating time references such as those appearing in this lesson's dialogue, corresponds to the English "for." I, together with a number and a unit of time, is therefore, used when we want to talk about how long something has been going on. Let's look at some sentences that illustrate this.

For example:

  1. Jag sprang i en timme."I ran for one hour."
  2. Anna städade i två timmar. "Anna cleaned for two hours."

We'll now move on to look more closely at how to create a time reference using the preposition på, together with a number, followed by a unit of time. The preopsition is often translated into English as "on," but when we use it to create a time reference, it instead corresponds to the English "within" and is, therefore, used when we're talking about how long something will take. Let's have a look at some sentences that illustrate the usage of this time reference.

For example:

  1. Jag är klar på tre minuter. "I'm done within three minutes."
  2. Han har gjort allt på fyra timmar. "He has done everything within four hours."

Finally, we're going to look at how to create a time reference by using the preposition om, together with a number, followed by a unit of time. The preposition om, in this context, corresponds to the English "in" and is, therefore, used when we're talking about something that will happen in a certain amount of time.

For example:

  1. Bion börjar om tio minuter. "The movie starts in ten minutes."
  2. Posten stänger om fem sekunder. "The post office closes in five seconds."

Don't hesitate to look into these other pages after completing this lesson: Future Tense, Learn Swedish Sentense Structure. Subject, Verb and object., Location & How to Get Someone's Attention.

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