Ett = One (1) & A; Etta = One-room flat

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Ett = One (1) & A; Etta = one-room flat

Like en, ett is an interesting and perplexing word in Swedish language: interesting because it has more than one meaning, and perplexing because – one has to know which is an ‘en’ word (en man – some one or a man, en dam – a lady), and which is an ‘ett’ word (ett hus – a house, en lägenhet – an apartment).

All the words in Swedish language either precede with the indefinite article en or ett, so, which word takes en and which word takes ett? This leads to a question are there more en- words or more ett- words? There are more en- words than the ett- words. How many percentage of words in Swedish are en-? One source says about 80% are en- words, another says 70 to 80% of words are en-words.  Sara Hörberg a Swedish language teacher notes that there are about 75% en- words, and Evert Wängberg a translator and language teachers, emphasizes that there are about 65% words are en- words.

The logic behind a word taking in an indefinite article (en- or ett-) is an interesting pathway to explore. And, you will know more, socially and linguistically, as you go along the journey of learning Swedish. Once upon a time, Swedish had three particles: masculine, feminine and neutral like in German but now it is simplified to only two: en- and ett-words.

ARTICLES: Are there articles in Swedish language like A, AN, THE? Yes, there are definite and indefinite articles. En & ett are indefinite articles like A & An.

As you know, in English all the nouns take either ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending upon whether the word starts with a vowel sound or letter, or consonant.

In Swedish language en and ett are indefinite articles. Some words (noun) take -ett and some take –en, and there is no pattern. One has to learn which word takes en and which word takes ett (and there are linguistic and social reasons behind it).

Det är ett spännade och viktigt projekt Mats och jag kommer få genomföra tillsammans. It is an exciting and important project Mats and I will be carried out together.

 

SINGULAR

PLURAL

Obestämd form Bestämd form Obestämd form Bestämd form
INDEFINITE SINGULAR DEFINITE SINGULAR INDEFINITE PLURAL DEFINITE PLURAL
Ett äpple Äpplet Äpplen Äpplena
AN APPLE THE APPLE APPLES THE APPLES
Ett köp Köpet Köp Köpen
A SHOP THE SHOP SHOPS THE SHOPS
Ett fusk Fusket Fusk
A CHEATING THE CHEATING CHEATINGS
Ett tråd Trådet Tråd Träden
A TREE THE TREE TREES THE TREES
Ett skåp Skåpet Skåp Skåpen
A CUPBOARD (cabinet, Closet) THE CABINET CABINETS THE CABINETS

 

As you have noticed in the above table, the nouns of ett- words are changing their forms in two ways in their definite and indefinite forms (inflection of nouns in English is called declension, and inflection of verbs is conjugation). When an ett- word ends with a vowel – the inflections are: ett äpple – äpplet – äpplen – äpplen – äpplena; when an ett- word ends with a consonant – the inflections are: ett bröd (bread) – brödet – bröd – bröden.

 

SINGULAR

PLURAL

Obestämd form Bestämd form Obestämd form Bestämd form
INDEFINITE SINGULAR DEFINITE SINGULAR INDEFINITE PLURAL DEFINITE PLURAL
Inflection of ett- words ending with a vowel:
Ett äpple Äpplet Äpplen Äpplena
AN APPLE THE APPLE APPLES THE APPLES
Ett möte Mötet Möten Mötena
A MEETING THE MEETING MEETINGS THE MEETINGS
Inflection of ett- words ending with a consonant:
Ett köp Köpet Köp Köpen
A SHOP THE SHOP SHOPS THE SHOPS
Ett barn Barnet Barn Barnen
Ett ägg Ägget Ägg Äggen
AN EGG THE EGG EGGS THE EGGS
And, there are exceptions such as when a noun has more than one meaning, such as:
Ett land Landet Land Landen
A PLOT OR PATCH THE PLOT PLOTS THE PLOTS
Ett land Landet Länder
A COUNTRY THE COUNTRY COUNTRIES

 

ETTA:

Etta has two distinct meanings.

Ett means one, and first. The inflections of ett are: en etta – ettan – ettor.

Ljus och välplanerad etta med stor balkong och fri utsikt… (Bright and well-planned one with large balcony and unobstructed views…)

Charlotta kom etta i tävlingen. Charlotta came first in the competition.

Etta refers to one-room flat or an apartment.

Andersson bor i en etta. Andersson lives in a one-room flat (note: an).

Andersson ville byta sin etta mot en större lägenhet. Andersson wanted to exchange his one-room flat or apartment with a bigger one.