Learn Swedish – Phrases (Past tense of modal verbs 2)

Phrases (Past tense of modal verbs 2)

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In Swedish, the past tense of modal verbs is formed by adding the suffix “-de” to the infinitive form of the verb. Here are some examples:

Modal Verb Infinitive Past Tense
kunna (can) kunna kunde
vilja (want) vilja ville
måste (must) måste måste
bör (should) bör borde
få (may) fick

As you can see, the past tense of modal verbs is not formed by changing the verb’s stem, as it is with regular verbs in Swedish.

Here are some examples of modal verbs in the past tense in Swedish:

  • Jag kunde inte komma igår. (I couldn’t come yesterday.)
  • Hon ville inte prata med mig. (She didn’t want to talk to me.)
  • Han måste stanna hemma från jobbet. (He had to stay home from work.)
  • Jag borde ha studerat mer inför provet. (I should have studied more for the exam.)
  • Hon fick inte gå ut och leka när hon var sjuk. (She wasn’t allowed to go out and play when she was sick.)

It’s worth noting that some modal verbs in Swedish, such as “ska” (shall/will), do not have a distinct past tense form. Instead, the present tense form is used in both present and past contexts. For example:

  • Jag ska gå till affären. (I will go to the store.)
  • Hon sa att hon skulle ringa mig senare. (She said she would call me later.)

Listen to the following sentences :

Swedish Sentence English Translation
Jag kunde inte komma på festen igår. I couldn’t come to the party yesterday.
Han ville inte tala om det som hade hänt. He didn’t want to talk about what had happened.
Jag måste gå och hämta mina barn nu. I had to go and pick up my kids now.
Han borde ha sagt sanningen från början. He should have told the truth from the beginning.
Jag fick inte gå på bio när jag var sjuk. I wasn’t allowed to go to the movies when I was sick.
Hon kunde inte sova igår kväll. She couldn’t sleep last night.
Han ville inte köpa den dyra bilen. He didn’t want to buy the expensive car.
Jag måste stanna hemma och vila idag. I had to stay home and rest today.
Han borde ha läst boken innan han såg filmen. He should have read the book before watching the movie.
Jag fick inte använda mobiltelefonen på flygplanet. I wasn’t allowed to use my cell phone on the plane.

I hope this helps you understand how to use the past tense of modal verbs in Swedish! Let me know if you have any other questions .