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Expressing the “same” in Swedish Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Grammar, Swedish Language, Vocabulary

You walk into your office one morning and one of your colleagues says, “Hey, look! We are wearing the same shirt at the same time!”. Daily office life is just remarkable, isn’t it?

In English, wearing the “same” shirt and wearing it at the “same” time as someone else are both expressed by the same word “same”. The Swedish cognate to “same” is samma. Observe:

Vi har samma tröja [på oss] i dag! – We have the same shirt [on] today!

However, when you say this sentence in Swedish, you’re actually claiming that there is a single shirt on both of you, as if you’re sharing it because you don’t have a separate one for each person. That’s the tricky thing about the word samma, so close to English but in many cases so incorrect!

In such cases as these, the Swedes use the word likadan, conjugated as likadant in neuter form and likadana in plural/definite form. Since there are actually two shirts involved (even though they look the same), you use the plural form of both likadan (likadana) and tröja (tröjor) as such:

Vi har likadana tröjor [på oss] idag! – We have the same shirt [on] today! (meaning two separate shirts that are alike)

(Note: It is becoming increasingly common in Sweden to use samma instead of likadan, despite its traditionally incorrect usage, so be prepared to hear it expressed so in speech.)

If you have the same shirt on at the “same” time, naturally you would use the word samma, since you are wearing them at one and only one time, not two times that are alike:

Vi har likadana tröjor på oss på samma gång! – We have the same shirt on at the same time!

A shorter and just-as-common way of saying “at the same time” is the word samtidigt. You may choose whichever you prefer.

There are also instances of another word meaning “the same”, which is really just the words det “the” and samma “same” shoved together, forming detsamma. This word is used most often as so:

Ha det så bra! – Have a good one!
Detsamma! – You, too! (The same to you!)

Detsamma also appears in certain expressions, most commonly in med detsamma, meaning “immediately”:

Kom hit med detsamma! – Come here immediately!

Questions about how to express “the same” in specific contexts? Feel free to comment, and I will try to answer everyone’s questions med detsamma!

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About the Author:Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


  1. Iliana:

    Thanks so much for a really informative article! It did make me chuckle – the notion of wearing the same shirt together! The Swedes must love our errors on expressions like that!

    Just wondering how you might express the following:
    – Would you rather drink beer than wine?
    – No, to be honest I like them both the same; sometimes I’ll have a beer but at other times I fancy wine, like tonight.
    – So, same again then?

    Also, do the Swedes have an equivalent expression for “same meat, different gravy”?

    Thanks so much!

  2. Jürgen:

    We’ve got the same problem in German.


    “dasselbe” means samma

    “das gleiche” means likadan,

    but people often use “dasselbe” instead of “das gleiche”

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