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  5. Possessives: Before or After?


Possessives: Before or After?

I guess I was wondering which way of writing possessives is most common in bokmål, putting the pronoun before the indefinite form, or putting it after the definite form? I guess I prefer writing 'min far' better than 'faren min', but I'd like to know which actual Norwegian speakers prefer.

September 12, 2015



You'll hear "faren min" more often than "min far". The latter sounds more formal.


I think you will hear "min far" more often in Bergen than in other parts of Norway? It really is not to stress that it is my father, but rather a regional difference in choice of expressions.


Yes, min far vs faren min is also a choice of dialect as well as sosiolect (the latter will be more pronounced in for instance Oslo, where min far is considered more upper class than faren min). It seems that a lot of the Southern cities (Kristiansand and such) prefers min far. But then again the Southern dialects have a lot of Danish influence.

All things Bokmål tends to be colored by how it's done in Oslo and central Østlandet, as that's where most of the Bokmål-people live.


I agree. In some dialects "min far" is common. I think this order is used for "far", "mor", "onkel" and so on, but not necessarily for any noun.


I discussed this with my Norwegian friend just this week. The example was "in your garden"

i din hage / i hagen din

Her response:

i din hage = høres litt pompøst og formelt ut. Litt "fint". (Sounds a little pompous and formal. A little "fine".)

i hagen din = slik 99% av folk snakker (the way 99% of people talk.)


That's really helpful. Thank you. I wonder why "i din hage" sounds pompous to Norwegians, but "i hagen din" doesn't? To me, "i din hage" is the same as saying "in your garden" in English, which doesn't sound very pompous to me. Oh, well. I'm not Norwegian, so I won't "hear" it in the same way Norwegians do, I guess.


"din hage" is either old-fashioned or formal, so it's odd hearing people say it. I bet you'll get used to it with some practice.


That is true in most contexts, but in sentences like "I min hage er det bare røde blomster, og i din er det bare gule" where "min" and "din" is emphasised because of the comparison, it will not sound pompous at all.

Some more examples: "Skal vi ha festen i din hage denne gangen?" It is implied that there are several gardens to choose from, and "din" is placed in front as the more important word.

"Skal vi ha festen i hagen din denne gangen?" In written language, this looks more like: "Its decided that the party will be at your place, but will it take place in the garden?

In spoken Norwegian, the sentence "Skal vi ha festen i hagen DIN denne gangen?" [Stress on "din"] has the same meaning as "Skal vi ha festen i din hage denne gangen?"

I realise that this must be tricky, and is probably best learned by exposure rather that rules :-)


I think I remember reading elsewhere on the forums that it depends how much you want to emphasize the possession. I think "faren min" just tends to read normal, but you would use "min far" if you really wanted to emphasize that it was my father you are talking about.

Take this with a grain of salt though, I'm not a native speaker, I just vaguely remember hearing about this "rule."


100 % correct.

Unless you want to emphasise whose [x] you're talking about, e.g. Jeg snakker om din far, ikke min, it sounds very conservative and alienating to speak this way.

There are some formal contexts in which e.g. Mitt navn er is more 'appropriate' than Jeg heter or simply stating your name. In my personal opinion, such 'rules' are more about keeping pretentious elitist traditions alive than anything else, and it should thus be avoided. Having said that, both Min [x] and [x]en min are correct, and you will be understood either way, so don't worry about confusing the two until you get a natural feel for which one you prefer in a given situation.


I prefer to write something like "faren min" instead of "min far". It feels more complete.


You're the same as me. I'd rather use 'min far' than 'faren min,' but I would rather use possessives that native speakers would use more commonly.


I think I prefer it that way just because it feels natural as an English speaker (and its how its done in Danish which I started first). But get what Alex737 is saying about it feeling more complete the other way.

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