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Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 3 Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Grammar, Swedish Language


Hej på dig! I’m back with Swedish Grammar: This and that, Part 3. In parts 1 and 2, I explained two different ways to say “this” in Swedish. Now it’s time to explain “that”.

If you recall from Part 1, the first way I taught you how to say “this” was den här. Den här is used for common or “n-gender” nouns. Det här is used for neuter or “t-gender” nouns, and de här is used for all plural nouns, regardless of gender.

To say “that”, you basically just take each of these forms and replace här with där. So, for common gender nouns, you get den där. For example:

den här stolenthis chair
den där stolenthat chair

For neuter gender nouns, you get det där:

det här pianotthis piano
det där pianotthat piano

And for plural nouns, regardless of gender, you get de där:

de här stolarnathese chairs
de där stolarnathose chairs


de här pianonathese pianos
de där pianonathose pianos

Fantastiskt! And just like den här and its declined forms, den där can also be used independently:

Den där var min favorit.That one was my favorite.
Jag tänker inte äta det där! – I’m not going to eat that!
De där går inte att köpa just nu.Those you can’t buy right now.

Similarly to det här, det där can be used to refer to the state of affairs in a mentioned situation. In contrast to det här, though, it refers to a situation that isn’t occurring in the speaker’s current time and place. This sounds complicated, but the difference is actually expressed in the exact same way in English: Whereas one might say “This is fun!” about one’s own current situation, one might say “That’s fun!” about a situation that is not their current one. For example, two friends are on a rollercoaster. One of them shouts:

Det här är kul!This is fun!

Later, she tells a colleague that about the rollercoaster. Having been on the rollercoaster before, the colleague comments:

Det där är kul!That is fun!

Hope that made sense!

As a general concept, “here” and “this” are related. When you talk about “this”, you are talking about something that is close to you either physically or mentally. In the same way, “there” and “that” are also related. When you talk about “that”, you are talking about something that is farther away either physically or mentally. Hence, det här means “this” and det där means “that”.

Awesome! Now you’ve mastered the basic ways to say “this” and “that” in Swedish. Grattis! Ha så kul!

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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.


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