This is the first part in a series of three (3) posts that will tell you all about how to say “this” and “that” in Swedish. In this first part, I will talk about how to say “this”.
So, how do you say “this” in Swedish? There are two ways: den här and denna. Both have the same meaning but grammatically they are used slightly differently. In this first post, I will talk about den här.
When used before a noun, den här must be accompanied by the definite form of the noun specified. For example:
den här stolen – this chair
First, you have den här, “this”, and then stolen, which could be translated literally as “the chair”. “This the chair” may not make any sense in English, but that is exactly how you express “this chair” in Swedish. In other words, it would be incorrect to say:
*den här stol
In this construction, the noun must be in definite form. It might help to think of the definite form not as literally the “the”-form, but as a form that confirms that it is a certain stol you are referring to. In this way, it makes total sense to use the definite form with a pronoun such as “this”.
The form den här is used with nouns of common gender, or “n-gender”. For nouns of neuter gender, or “t-gender”, den här must be substituted for det här. As an example:
det här pianot – this piano
Note that pianot, like stolen, is and must be in definite form.
Finally, for plural nouns, regardless of gender, the form you use is de här, literally meaning “these”:
de här stolarna – these chairs
de här pianona – these pianos
Since we are talking about several chairs and several pianos, and we are specifying which particular chairs and pianos, the plural definite form is used here. It’s not just stol (“chair”) or stolar (“chairs”), but stolarna “the chairs”. And it’s not just piano (“piano”) or pianon (“pianos”), but pianona (“the pianos”).
All three forms, den här, det här and de här, can also be used independently. If you are referring to a specific thing of common gender, you can simply say den här:
Jag vill ha den här. – I want this (one).
If you are referring to something of neuter gender, you can simply say det här. Imagine pointing at two different houses on the street:
Jag vill köpa det här huset, men han vill köpa det här. – I want to buy this house, but he wants to buy this one.
The neuter det här can also be used to refer to the current general state of affairs:
Jag älskar det här! – I love this!
Det här suger! – This sucks!
And, of course, de här can also be used independently:
De här kvinnorna sprang förbi tidigare. – These women ran by earlier.
Hope I was able to teach you something! Next time I will talk about how to use denna, another word meaning “this”. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!