You could use a break

If you’re at a longer meeting in Sweden, you might hear one of these sentences as a suggestion for a short break:

Jag föreslår att vi tar en kort paus.
Jag föreslår att vi tar en liten bensträckare.
Jag föreslår en bensträckare.
Låt oss ta en bensträckare och så ses vi igen här om tio minuter.
Vi tar en [liten/kort] bensträckare på fem minuter.

The word “bensträckare” literally means “the act of stretching your legs”, or “the straightening out of your legs”, and is an informal word used synonymously with “a short break”. Note that although bensträckare implicitly already is short, “liten” (little) or “kort” (short) might still be used in front of it. In either way, it’s in my experience usually not used for breaks longer than ten fifteen minutes.

To politely ask for a short break, you may phrase yourself like this:

Kan man få föreslå en kort paus?
Kan man få föreslå en kortare paus?

The last sentence literally reads, “May I suggest a shorter break”, but it’s the same as saying that you just need a very short break. Although kortare means shorter, in this context, you are usually not comparing the length of this break to the length of another specific break (unless you say something along the lines of “Kan man få föreslå en kortare paus än den vi hade i morse? Vi har många punkter kvar på agendan”). You simply mean that you would be happy if you would get a break, albeit a very short one.

You might come across the phrase “teknisk paus” (“technical break”). That one is used to humorously refer to an explicit toilet break, at least among some people I know. Often it’s only five minutes long or so, depending on the number of toilets available…

Jag föreslår en teknisk paus.
Får man föreslå en teknisk paus?
Kan man få föreslå en teknisk paus?

The word “rast” is used mainly for recess (a break between two classes at a school), but also for when you’re driving a car and make a stop somewhere to eat, smoke or just stretch your legs. “Paus” is however also frequently used for the latter, in my experience.

Vi tog många raster/pauser på vägen hit.

Another example is the word “rasta”, which means to walk your pet, e.g. your dog. Literally to give the dog a pee/poop/stretching-of-legs break.

Jag rastade Fido i morse.
Det är din tur att rasta Fido.
Hunden behöver rastas varje dag.
Förbjudet/Icke tillåtet/Ej tillåtet att rasta hundar i lekparken

Finally, I list examples using the words paus, rast (and words derived from these words), providing little or no further explanation.


Ni ser ut att behöva en rast.
Behöver ni en paus eller kan vi gå direkt på nästa punkt [på dagordningen]?
“Ingen rast och ingen ro” – the Swedish way of (mildly) complaining that there is too much to do…
Vi höll på i tre timmar utan paus.
Tryck på pausknappen, är du snäll – Please press the pause button
Du bör inte köra med än i en och en halv timme i sträck innan du tar paus/rast.
Barnen hade snöbollskrig på lunchrasten.

Don’t hesitate to comment on this post if you have questions or if you disagree with anything I write.

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