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  5. "Det är mina halsdukar."

"Det är mina halsdukar."

Translation:They are my scarves.

February 3, 2015

76 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jacobos89

How is it that Det means both 'it' and 'they'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

Det basically means "it" in a single or plural sense. English doesn't have a plural "it", so in English we say "they".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snikof

Isn't "they" is spoken about people? Snd about non life stiff "these" or "those"????


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

The plural of "he" is they, the plural of "she" is they, and the plural of "it" is they.
"These" and "those" are plurals for "this" and "that". They are a different type of word.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark988016

What about "De är mina halsdukar"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

That only works if you're already talking about them so that they've been introduced, grammatically speaking. And even then, most natives would just default to the det är construction instead anyway.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zmrzlina

It has to do with how English and Swedish prefers the sentence to be constructed.

(But considering how English has merged plural and singular 2nd person pronouns to you for both, anglophones perhaps shouldn't be all too confused. ;) )


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MandiePitre

So, if I understand correctly, would you look at the noun the pronoun is referring to and just assume whether "it" or "they" is being used?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

From what I've learned, if you've already mentioned the noun, then you pick den/det/de appropriately to match the noun. It's only when you're first introducing something in a construction like this that you use the generic det.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MandiePitre

When you say it has to do with how the sentences aee constructed.. in Swedish, would you look at the other noun (object or subject) to decide whether the pronoun would be singular or plural?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KruGny

I think this sentence just wants to display two way in which "Det" can be utilized both in plural n singlar stance.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkHopman

Why am I getting penalised for using the singular in the multiple choice question? Certainly they should both be correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

The wrong answers are randomly generated so we can't see what you saw. Since the Swedish sentence says halsdukar in the plural, that word will have to be plural in English too, if that is what you mean.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkHopman

No, it was one of those questions with a drop-down menu of options. Listed were halsdukar and halsduk. Shouldn't the latter be as correct as the former?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jwbards

If you saw the same drop-down as I did, it was Det är mina <blank>. The mina is plural. For halsduk to be the right answer it would have been min.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Faloufa1

Sounds a lot like "Halstücher" (German)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Sure - both hals and duk come from very old Proto-Germanic roots, so they have cognates in modern German.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Whimsical-Star

Can det be used to mean 'that' as well?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

Yes. In the case where you could be pointing to something, "that" is usually translated to den där or det där. In the more metaphorical case, yes, "that" can translate to det. Take for instance Att vara eller icke vara. Det är frågan., the Swedish translation of the famous Shakespearean quote. (icke is an archaic form of inte.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tjack87

How do we know when to use 'De' or 'Det' for they? All other exercises (for example, 'they like bread') has been 'De tycker om bröd. Is Det also acceptable in those other exercises too?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

You probably need to read this and understand how unintoduced things are presented to the listener using det: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9708920
In this exercise, they is the plural of it. It is not the plural of he/she, like in your examples. When in the presenting case, det can be singular or plural and can be either gender.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AteGrijpstra

In my opinion 'That are my scarves' is not a correct translation. Perhaps: 'Those are my scarves' (?)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

"That are my scarves" is definitely wrong.

"They" is always correct in this case, and "those" could be correct depending on context. "Those" is used to contrast the items in question: e.g. "Do you see the scarves with the stripes on the ends? Those are my scarves."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/manu.oberoi

why can't we say "Dem" or "De" instead of Det in this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

dem is wrong, because that's the third person plural objective case, or "them" in English. ("Them are my scarves" is spoken in some dialects, but would be considered incorrect by most.)

de as a definitive article would be wrong: "The are my scarves". de (spoken as dom) as the third person plural subject should be accepted.

Unlike English "it", det is used for both singular and plural, when det refers to abstract things. An abstract thing could be in the sense of det regnar ("it is raining") or when the actual item or items haven't been introduced yet. In this case that abstract things would be mina halsdukar. I think the point of this sentence is to demonstrate this usage.

I would appreciate feedback from a native speaker :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

I disagree, De är mina halsdukar sounds wrong. Possibly if you point right at them and stress de very strongly. This is still the presenting construction where we use det when we start talking about something, regardless of gender and number of the thing. Just like we say Det är min bok, not Den är min bok.

I wrote a much longer post about this here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9708920


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

Ah, okay. So while De är in this context is grammatically correct, it's not idiomatically correct. Makes sense to me. I hope it works for manu.oberoi.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

Yeah, if you dress two people up to 'cosplay' your two scarves (pun intended), this would even be a very good sentence to describe them, so it's not wrong in itself.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GubsaSemer

Can i say "it is my scarf "


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

No. The Swedish sentence has a plural pronoun (mina) and noun (halsdukar), so the English must have a plural pronoun (they/those) and noun (scarfs/scarves).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HumblyRumbling

Wait but we've learned De is they - and I've also read on a few occasions that when Det is said the T is often silent, so I'm sure when spoken there isn't a huge difference between the två,

But officially, why isn't it De är? Is De only used when referencing people and not objects?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

Only det is used to introduce a topic like here. It doesn't matter if the thing is neuter, common gender, or plural, we always start out with det.
det är min hund 'it/that is my dog'
det är mitt hus 'it/that is my house'
and
det är mina böcker 'they/those are my books'
det does not refer to the dog, house, books or whatever, it's just used to start the sentence.

Much longer explanation here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9708920


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fatih120

Whoah. I never wondered what the plural of scarf was.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anna286760

GOSH KAREN STOP STEALING MY SCARVES THEIR MINE


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jesskim8

If det is both "they" and "it", then why isn't halsduk also correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

Multiple versions of this exercise lead to the same comments. I think the version you are talking about expects you to know that "mina" can only be used with plural "halsdukar", not with singular "halsduk", so there is only one correct answer to the multiple choice question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bemmi

Shouldn't it be 'those are my scarves' not 'they are...'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

The Swedish is ambiguous. Both they and those would be valid translations, depending on context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

I was just thinking about this kind of thing. Would you care to try to explain how you see the difference between they and those in a sentence like this? Or give some examples?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

I was also contemplating this, because of another exercise. I was trying to figure out if "Det där är" could be those are and "Det är" could be they're.
They can be an anaphor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaphora_(linguistics) eg "Do a tree's leaves turn brown before falling? Yes, they do." It would sound weird to reply "Yes, these do" or "Yes, those do" unless adding some gestures or emphasis to compensate. Leaving it uncoupled from a concept of proximity, it works as they. It's the same with a more definite object like "My eyes hurt; they do that sometimes". Another sentence: "Leaves fall, after they wither." could optionally begin with those leaves or these leaves, but not with anaphoric they.
Since you taught me that the "Det är construction" is used for something that is not yet introduced, I decided it might not be able to translate to they in those cases. Det ar seems the opposite of anaphoric.
Just my thoughts. I began by questioning whether I even knew the difference in my native English and I'm still not convinced I know what I'm talking about ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

Thanks for your input! I need to think some more about this general subject, I should probably dig up my old Silver Bible (big English grammar book) too and see if they have anything to say about it. I'm planning to write a more general topic about this and that to try to sort it out a little more for students. For instance when you say things like 'I told him that' or 'I know that', it's possible to say det där in Swedish, but we'd be much more likely to say det instead in most contexts.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

They can be interchangeable. I would use those when pointing to something, or when referring to an object in the same or previous sentence, e.g. "The scarves on the table? Yeah, those are mine." In any other case, and always when referring to people, I would use they.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

Thanks! How would "The scarves on the table? Yeah, they are mine" sound to you? somehow more formal/less natural in most contexts, or wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

Thanks Mark, this is really interesting. (and subtle)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkBorkBorkBork

To my ears, you could say that and not be wrong. It doesn't affect formality, but it is a subtle hint you're not a native speaker (at least not from Canada).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Clotilda-Monet

Why is "These are my scarves" wrong ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

These implies proximity. If you can reach out and touch it, you might say these and if it is far away you might say those. However, when you use they or it you are neutral; the pronoun includes no extra information about proximity. De här would be these.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dayat90246

So "mina" is used when the noun is in plural form? Such as, mina halsdukar and min halsduk?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ludmila617028

Those are my scarves


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

That would be de där or just de - though Swedish would likely rephrase the latter into e.g. De där halsdukarna är mina = "Those scarves are mine".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/colecg20

Could we say "De är mina halsdukar" or does it have to be "det"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

It's wrong unless you are referring to something that has already been introduced into the conversation.
The "Det är construction" introduces new things to the context. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9708920


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrs116407

Should not it be "De är mina halsdukar" or "Det är min halsduk"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

No, please see the many other comments on this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mona333688

What if I want to say "These are my scarves"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

"De här är mina halsdukar." or
"Det här är mina halsdukar."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

No, it's either det här är mina halsdukar or de här är mina halsdukar, but the former would be overwhelmingly more common.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

I distinctly remember typing both as possibilities so I dunno how my comment got mangled but thanks for correcting my typo anyway.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/grootzoogdier

Either those or these, 'they' would not be used in English in way.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

It's generally less idiomatic but it's certainly not hard to construct an everyday conversation where this exact sentence is perfectly normal. Besides, the point is to teach the Swedish det är construction with plurals, and if we changed the translation you wouldn't be asked to translate back into det är from English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thorr18

Only they is proximity-neutral.
These and those are called proximal and distal determiners, because they contain information about how close an object is to the speaker. That extra information is not found in this Swedish exercise and so including it would make for a sightly bad translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Schwedias

Why is "This are my scarves" not accepted?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

"this" is grammatically singular in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sander10712

I feel like "That are my scarves" should be counted as correct as well


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

No, that's not grammatical in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robbadob

scarves = plural
that = singular
They need to agree.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valeria420579

You don't say 'they are my scarves' in English, should be 'these' instead... and det is equivalent to both


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

det is not equivalent to "these", no. You'd want de här for that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valeria420579

Well then, maybe it should be det här in the exercise as well? Cause it's really weird translation for English, you don't use 'they' in such context. Thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

But you're learning Swedish, not English. If the sentence construction is important to Swedish but unidiomatic to English, I am not going to change it to something else to make the translation easier.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valeria420579

Sure I am learning Swedish, but am I supposed to use poor English for this purpose? I don't think so. The translation should be natural, the linguistic aspects of both languages should be taken into consideration. Apparently, I am also not the only user confused by the awkwardness of the phrase, so maybe you guys should think of a way to make it more natural for both languages. Use det här, with 'these here' instead, if you must. 'they' is used for persons and living things, not objects.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

I don't entirely disagree with you, but if the idiomatic English phrase corresponds better to something else, it's a bad idea to use it, because you will learn the wrong meaning of the Swedish sentence.

Besides, it's not poor English. "They are my [...]" is a perfectly natural English phrase given context. There are literally millions of hits for the construction on Google, and a quick review shows this kind of usage from native speakers in the USA, the UK, Canada, South Africa, and so on.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valeria420579

Still, 'they' is most likely to be used for persons and living things (subjects?), not objects, that's why it's so confusing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Absolutely. To be clear, I'm not arguing that the sentence is great, just that "these" shouldn't be accepted since det here can only mean "those", not "these". And we do accept that - we just can't put it as the default because that will mess up the reverse translation, as Duolingo picks whatever the default English translation is for that.

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