Swedish Level 6 - Förmåga vs färdighet? Which word is being requested?

I assume that there is a difference in meaning between these two words, but the English prompts in Swedish level 6 make it difficult to distinguish which word I should supply.

The same is true for “att prova” vs “att försöka”. It seems that I have to memorize in which level each word was introduced in order to give the appropriate response. Is there a difference between these words that can be used to help explain which word is being sought?

“att prova” vs. “att försöka” - I assume that the prompt for both words is “to try”???

Here are some examples:

“du har inte ens försökt!” - you haven’t even tried!

So, “att försöka” is the meaning of try when it means to make an attempt to do something.

Whereas, “att prova” is used more in the sense of trying out or trying on something - say, clothes or a new dish.

In 8,000 Most Common Words, part 1 (the first 3,000 words), I have tried to disambiguate these two words by using examples and longer explanations. It drove me nuts when I first started this course (at this point, over three years ago, there weren’t any memrise-created courses, only community-created courses) and I got the same prompt for different words.

Here’s the entry from ord.se for “att prova” (pro version, it costs me 2€ per month, but there is a free version, too):



“en förmåga” vs “en färdighet”

I don’t know what the prompts are for these words, but I imagine they are probably something like “a skill” or “an ability”.

I would say the following: “en färdighet” is more like the English word, “skill”. It is something that you learn how to do, like driving or swimming or being able to touch type. There is a phrase, “övning ger färdighet” - practice makes perfect (literally: practising gives skill).

“en förmåga” is an ability, but it doesn’t have to be learned as such, you might just have it as an innate talent. There are quite a few fixed phrases (aka “lexical chunks”) that contain this word, such as:

“jag har handlat efter bästa förmåga” - “I did the best I could” would be one translation.

Here is the entry for “en förmåga” from ord.se pro:


As you can see, “en förmåga” can also refer to a person, “a talent”, whereas “en färdighet” does not have that meaning at all.

I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you over at 8,000 Most Common Swedish Words :slight_smile:
(hope you don’t mind the shameless plug!)



Thank you so much! Yes, you guessed the prompts provided correctly. I
hate being wrong just because I can’t correctly which word they want,
based on the prompt. Your explanations are very helpful in helping me to
distinguish these near-synonyms.

I wish there was a way to give feedback that leads to lesson improvement.
I also find it frustrating when you can’t tell if they want the common or
neuter form of an adjective. In some cases, it may be that they have the
adverb in mind, but the prompt sounds like an adjective in English.

I have never visited the “Common Swedish Words” site, but will do so.

Thank you, again.


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This is the first part of the 8,000+ Most Common Swedish Words course:


I have put your first post here in the forum for “Swedish 1 - 6” and I hope it will be seen in the next few days. I will tag @LenaE there, too, and I am sure she will do something about it soon.

Hi there, I would say there is a difference between the words you are asking about. ‘Förmåga’ means an ability, which could be something your born with and don’t have to practice at all. ‘Färdighet’ is not as commonly used, but it’s part of the popular idiom (‘Övning ger färdighet’) which you learn in level 6. It’s a skill you have to learn, and so need to practice.
‘Prova’ means to try, but also to try on. ‘Försöka’ also means try, but you can’t use it when being shoes! Hope that was helpful, and good luck with your Swedish learning, cheers Lena

Thank you. That makes sense, and it backs up what Amanda said. My main
problem is that the prompts are usually out of context and a bit vague, so
it is often hard to know which word is being sought among several synonyms
or closely related concepts. Another example is “to like”: is “att tycka
om” or “att gilla” the answer? How can I tell from that prompt, unless I
memorize which term in introduced at which level (which seems like a silly
and unnatural thing to make learners do)?

Anyway, I appreciate your help, and I hope that my feedback might lead to
improvement in the program.


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I think Larry wanted you to check whether these words have been given the same translations, which makes it very frustrating when you are reviewing words because you will be marked wrong, even though the other word you chose has the same translation.

For example, if “en människa” and “en person” are both translated only with “a person” (which is of course a correct translation), you will be marked wrong if you write “en person” when “en människa” is required and vice versa. But we have no way of knowing if the prompt is the same for both words.

For the first part of the 8,000+ Most Common Swedish Words course, I have added some phrases and in some cases just (loan word) or (not a loan word), in the hope that this will help people to realize that “en människa” is required - because of the additional information “not a loan word” - or “en person” is required when you see “loan word” after the word.