"The students live in a green building."

Translation:De studerende bor i en grøn bygning.

January 4, 2015

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I'd like to know the answer to this question, too.


It's a definite article. In Danish, they are usually -ne (hundene) after a plural word, but can also be de in front of it (de store hunde), usually if you are adding an adjective like in my example. In this case, I think it's just because studerendene is too long and complicated to say.

(I'm not a linguist, just speak Danish fluently, so I'm not a 100% sure the explanation is right, but I know it's the correct use of "de" here.


I think it's because "studerend" is an adjectival noun formed from the gerund of "studere", so it is treated like an adjective, not like a normal noun. (Think English, "the rich", "a rich one", you can't just say "rich" as a noun.)

This is similar to how German's adjectival nouns work, "studieren", "Der Studierende" = "study", "the student".

But I'm not a linguist or a native speaker, just a language fanatic, so even I'm not so sure.


Yes, you are correct. The word "studerende" is an adjective in this case, and in this case, it's coming from the passive form of the verb 'at studere' (to study). The same way, you may use any adjective to form the subject of the sentence, really; "De røde vandt kampen" (The red [ones/team] won the match) or "Jeg tager den lille" (I take the small [one]) where you construct the subject from indicative pronoun + adjective. (The indicative/pointing pronoun would be

  • 'dette' or 'det' (matching Eng. this/that) if the noun/thing you're talking about although omitting is neutral sg.,

  • 'denne' or 'den' (this/that) if the omitted noun is m/f sg. and

  • 'disse' or 'de' (these/those) if you're talking about a plurality, which is the case for 'De studerende'.

The great news is that you have now learned anothet bonus language, as this works exactly the same in Norwegian :-)

One final comment to the 2nd example used above, "De store hunde": This isn't really the same construction, obviously, as "hund" is a real noun. The word 'hund' (dog) itself indeed takes the regular -[e]ne ending in regular declension;

En hund - hunden - hunde - hundene. (A dog - the dog - dogs - the dogs.) For some reason, however, Danish takes the indefinite plural form of the noun whenever it's paired with a preceding adjective (i.e. the adjective gets the definite form whereas the noun becomes indefinite). Don't ask me why! (This is different in the other Nordic languages where the noun remains in its definite form, so it seems the Danes tweaked the language in more recent times.)

However (and this part again applies to all the Nordic languages, except for Icelandic/old norse), when preceding a noun with an adjective, the indicative pronoun must precede the adjective-noun pair, i.e. you cannot use adjective + noun construction without a leading pronoun. (In English you may say The big dogs or these/those big dogs, i.e. choose between article and pronouns, but as the Nordic lingos don't have any definite articles, you'll have to do with indicative pronouns. However, the semantic meaning is really closet to English 'the' unless the pronoun is really stressed or you are physically pointing etc.) In Danish:

  • 'Hunden løb' --> The dog ran.
  • 'Hundene løb' --> The dogs ran.
  • 'De store hunde løb' --> The big dogs ran.

The last sentence in Norwegian (closest to Danish) and Swedish:

  • Nor: 'De store hundene løp' (note that the -ene ending is kept even with a preceding adjective)
  • Swe: 'De stora hundarna sprang' (the -arna ending is also unchanged when an adjective is added)


Sorry for possibly using wrong terminology above...I think what I called 'indicative pronoun' is probably correctly called demonstrative pronoun in English.

Also, I do observe that the wiki referred to above talks about 'adjective-articles' and says "the adjective-article is the unaccentuated representative of the demonstrative pronoun". Well...being a native Norwegian spending a lot of time in both Denmark and Sweden, I have never heard anyone use the term "adjective-article" before, but it might actually be helpful as to describe the translation to English 'the' whene the pronouns are not accentuated/stressed/emphasised.

The wiki content in general seems old and partly obsolete, however; Except for in poetry, nobody will e.g. put an adjective after the noun today (not even in legal/formal writing).


I don't think it works like that (about "hard to pronounce") I'd rather suppose that it is an adjective, but idk


You're right. And again, in case of both adj + noun:

I don't really know why Danish changes from the definite to the indefinite form of the plural noun whenever an adjective is introduced...


Could grøn bygning here also mean "green" building as in "sustainable/ecologically sound" or is this usage uncommon in Danish?


You're right, this can be used for environmentally friendly (or typically energy efficient) as well, yes :-)


Isn't "studenterne" also acceptable here, as students are also called that in common speech?


It's worth noting that the Danish word "student" often refers specifically to students at a gymnasium (high school), and even more specifically to those students who are currently graduating or have graduated from a gymnasium. Other students and at other times are usually called "studerende" instead, or "elever" (mostly in primary school).

When you graduate high school in Denmark you're called a "student", kinda like a title. The rest of the time, and again at college/university, you're a "studerende".


I had the same problem. I just looked it up in Gyldendals and it seems we are both right!


When på and when i please? Im totally confused


Pretty arbitrary and there aren't any firm rules, you just have to learn them as you go unfortunately.


They are residents of the building, so you'd use i instead of på. På would be more fitting if they were just visiting


No, that's not true. The choice is following the unique noun, really...if you say 'på en grøn bygning', it would literally mean they were on the roof (on top of the building).

Unfortunately, I'm afraid prepositions just need to be individually learned in basically any language, and we even have some differences in usage across the Nordic languages (and even dialects). It can be really annoying to foreigners.

Some examples of 'på' (at/on) and 'i' (in):

  • 'Jeg går i skole' (I'm in school, as a generic answer to "what do you do [for a living]). Norwegian would use "Jeg går på skolen."

  • 'Jeg er i butikken' (I'm at/in the shop/groceries). At least in Norwegian, 'på' would be equally good...not so sure about Danish.

  • 'Jeg er i en bygning' (I'm in a building)
  • 'Jeg er på arbejde' (I'm at work)
  • 'Jeg er på toget' vs. 'i bilen' (literally wrong to be "on" a train, but the same in English...also on the metro, on the bus)
  • '...på en cykel/båd' (on a bicycle/boat)
  • '...på vej hjem' (on my way home)

In some cases Danish have "irregular terms" also:

  • I switch the radio on --> 'Jeg tænder for radioen' (vs. Norwegian 'Jeg slår på/av radioen, i.e. similar to English on/off)
  • I switch off the radio --> 'Jeg slukker for radioen'


Why not studerenderne?


Well, it's actually not a bad idea...you're constructing a noun, which is what you would expect. However, I find it really heavy to say, and you're going from verb via adjective, adding pieces in both steps. The noun is 'student' (m.sg.) which turns into 'studenterne' in plural. However, the word has got a very specific meaning in Denmark, as opposed to being used for a generic student. (See another comment above...youth finalising high school rather than being any university/college student.) This is specific to Denmark, wheras in Norway and Sweden 'student' would be similar to English 'student' (mostly used for university/college level whereas we mostly use 'elev' (pupil) for lower education across Scandinavia).


"Students" also means "elever" so "the students" correctly translates to "eleverne" which was marked as an error.

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