A Simplified Grammar of the Swedish Language/Part II/Adjectives


The masculine singular and plural termination -e is generally changed to -a for the sake of euphony in speaking. It should, however, be retained when the adjective is used as a noun, or when it follows the latter as a distinctive cognomen, or is used as a vocative; as den gode, 'the good (man);' de vise, 'the wise (men);' Gustaf Adolf den store, 'Gustavus Adolphus the Great;' I ädle män! 'ye noble men!' Where the adjective is used to express a noun, it takes s in the genitive; as, de gamles son, 'the old people's son.'

Some adjectives are defective or irregular in their mode of declension; as, grå, 'grey,' which may remain unchanged, or take an a in the plural; as, grå ögon or gråa ögon, 'grey eyes.' Små, although the plural of liten, litet, 'little', may be used in the singular masculine and feminine in a collective sense; as, små fisk, 'small fish;' småskog, m., 'underwood.' As a noun or an adverb, smått is of common occurrence; as, Jag har smått om tid, 'I am pinched for time;' det regnar smått, 'it is (a small rain) drizzling.'

Survivals of the older forms are to be found in such expressions as, till fullo, 'in full;' på ljusan dag, 'in broad daylight.'

Adjectives ending in a, e, se; as, bra (abbr. of braf), 'fine;' lika, 'like;' öde, 'desert;' gängse, 'current,' do not admit of being declined.

A similar rule applies to present participles and adverbs used in the sense of adjectives; as, ett leende barn, 'a laughing child;' inhyses hjon, 'a dependant,' 'a person living free of cost in another person's house;' inbördes krig, 'intestine war.'

Certain superlatives are used only in prayer or invocation, and in epistolary and official communications; as, den aller Högste, 'the Most High;' stormäktigst, 'most mighty;' allernådigst, 'most gracious;' tropligtigst, 'most obedient;' underdånigst, ' most humbly.'

The comparative degree may be expressed by the help of the conjunction än 'than;' as, Adolf är äldre än sin syster Maria, 'Adolphus is older than his sister Mary.'

A comparison between two persons or things is not expressed with the comparative but the superlative; as, hvilken af de tvänne qvinnorna är yngst? 'which is the younger of the two women?'

As in English, a certain definite preposition must follow the adjective, to give it the special meaning required; as, ledsen vid, 'weary of;' glad öfver, 'glad of;' kunnig i, 'conversant with.'

The preposition may be omitted with some adjectives; as, Albert är mäktig det svenska språket, 'Albert is master (of) the Swedish language;' min Moder blef henne qvitt, 'my mother got rid (of) her.'