Absolute beginner #7 - Using negations

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Jag heter inte Sven.
My name is not Sven.
Jag är inte 20 år gammal.
I'm not 20 years old.
Jag är inte norsk.
I'm not Norwegian.

In our seventh absolute beginner lesson, we are going to take what we have learned and flip everything upside down with the negation inte.

Negative statements

Inte is put, just like in English, after the verb in a sentence, however Swedish does not use the helper verb göra (to do) with a negation to construct negatated sentences. This makes Swedish sound a bit like bible English, however, it’s the same for a multitude of languages, like German, French, Spanish, etc.

Jag gillar inte fisk.
I don't like fish.
Han är inte trött.
He isn't tired.

Negative subclauses

In subclauses, a fancy term for sentences that begin with so-called subjunctions (another fancy term for words like because and that), Swedish make use of the so-called BIFF rule. It’s an acronym for “I bisats kommer inte framför det finita verbet” and just means that the verb that is conjugated will have the negation inte placed in front of it.

Eftersom jag inte gillar fisk.
Because I don't like fish.
Eftersom han inte är trött.
Because he's not tired.
The BIFF rule does not only apply to inte but is valid for sentence adverbs in general.

Negative questions

The negation inte turns a bit magical when it comes to questions and can be moved around a lot. Putting it in the first position, instead of the word, gives it the same feeling as putting surely in front of a statement in English: Inte gillar du fiskbullar? (Surely you don't like fish balls?)

Having inte after the verb or after the subject gives the sentence roughly the same neutral feeling. What you need to know at this point is that you can construct negative questions in the same way as you construct your negative statements: by putting inte directly after the verb.

Är du trött?
Are you tired?
Är inte du trött?
Aren't you tired?

Recap conversation

Hej, vad heter du?
Hello, what's your name?
Jag heter Joakim.
My name is Joakim.
Trevligt att träffas.
Nice to meet you./How do you do.
Var kommer du ifrån?
Where do you come from?
Jag kommer från Sverige.
I come from Sweden.
Hur gammal är du?
How old are you?
Jag är 33 år gammal.
I'm 33 years old.
Är du student?
Are you a student?
Nej, jag är inte student.
No, I'm not a student.