I have never suspected that possessive pronouns (possessiva pronomen) can be the cause of so many emails! In my post about birthdays, I used a couple of possessive pronouns, and seemingly all of you who had my email address got in touch saying something along those lines “Yo Anna, if you are going to use some goofy examples, don’t you think it would be a good idea to explain first why sometimes ‘din’ is ‘ditt’ or ‘dina’? Because we are not, like, you know, mind readers and stuff.”
Ahhh… Those Swedish personal pronouns… They sure are fun! And don’t worry, they are not as complicated as you think. And by the way, I think I did cover them somewhere on this blog last year.
But since your wish is my command, let’s review those bits, because you are right, they are important, and getting them right makes all the difference between sounding like an idiot and speaking like someone who actually cared enough to learn it properly.
In English, it’s straightforward and easy. Whether you are talking about “my car” or “my children” – “my” stays the same, no matter what.
In Swedish, it’s a bit more involved than that, simply because Swedish nouns are divided into “en” and “ett”. And because most possessive pronouns behave just like adjectives, they need to be treated like adjectives. And hence, most of them get the “t” ending when accompanying “ett” nouns and “a” ending for plural nouns.
Take a look:
- min bil – my car
- mitt hus – my house
- mina skor – my shoes
Unfortunately, not all possessive pronouns follow this simple pattern. If they did, our lives would be just too easy, right?
Here’s one example:
- hans katt – his cat
- hans hus – his house
- hans pengar – his money (money is plural in Swedish)
And unfortunately, this one is not the only one. There’s more of them pesky little buggers who don’t like to conform.
Here is the complete table of possessive pronouns:
- my – min – mitt – mina
- your (singular) – din – ditt –dina
- his – hans – hans – hans
- her – hennes – hennes – hennes
- its – dess – dess – dess
- our – vår – vårt – våra
- your (plural) – er – ert – era
- their – deras – deras – deras
“Dess” is the possessive pronoun of “den” and “det” but it’s not used very much. Normally, the concept of “its” is expressed in some other way, like for example:
Jag har en katt. – I have a cat.
But instead of saying “Dess päls är vit.” – Its fur (coat) it white.
We would rather say
Den har vit päls. – It has white fur (coat).
There is also a mysterious (at least mysterious to many Swedish learners) pronoun “sin” but I think we should cover it in its very own special post.
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