Swedish Possessive Pronouns

Posted on 30. Jun, 2009 by in Grammar

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

but

  • mitt hus – my house

and

  • 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

and

  • hans hus – his house

and

  • 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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3 Responses to “Swedish Possessive Pronouns”

  1. David 12 August 2009 at 7:01 pm #

    And of course, most Swedish speakers do not say “vår – vårt – våra; er – ert – era” in everyday parlance but “våran – vårat – våra; eran – erat – era”. And just to make things a bit more confusing, if you encounter someone who is to be addressed with Your+title (as in “Your Majesty”) you must always use “Ers” instead of “Er” (but standard Ert in the exceedingly few cases where the title has neuter gender)…

  2. Dhiraj Pallin 20 September 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    How do you use hans for nouns that have the same plural as the stem… e.g.

    his sword – hans svärd
    his swords – ????

  3. Cj 18 May 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    It’s good to know that the word money (pengar) in Swedish is only in plural form. While reading this blog, I suddenly asked my Swedish boyfriend on what is the singular word for money and he instantly answer ”Peng…”. Eventually he figured out there is no singular form for money :D


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