"This is my cohabitant."

Translation:Det här är min sambo.

March 10, 2015

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Why can you not say "Den här"? Isn't this sentence definitely referring to a person?


I am wondering the same.


You will find some good answers if you keep looking in the comments of similar sentences. But I'll have a quick crack at explaining it the way I understand it.

First a quick grammar refresher:

Subject = the person or thing doing the action Verb = the action being done (Optionally, Object = the person or thing it's being done to.)

So in the sentence "Karl kisses Karin", we have subject = "Karl", verb = "kisses", object = "Karin".

In this sentence we have subject = "This", verb = "is", object = "my cohabitant". That seems a bit abstract, but it's really the same structure.

A sentence (indeed, a single clause) must contain at least a subject and a verb. This is true in both Swedish and English. It's probably not true in all languages. I imagine that in some languages you could just say "Is my cohabitant." But Swedish and English demand a subject, and so to fill that space we need a "formal subject" of "this" or "it" before the verb "is".

Now the important thing to note is that the subject and the object are two separate things. That's obvious in the case of Karl and Karin, but when the verb is is rather than kisses, because it's the verb that indicates identity, your mind gets tricked into thinking that because the two are the same thing, they should also be grammatically the same thing. But grammatically they are just as separate as Karl and Karin, because they are still the two entities subject and object.

Finally, with all that understood (phew!), this simple rule comes into play: the formal subject is always neuter.


Thank you for that explanation! Have a few lingots.

I may add that saying "den här" about people sounds strange and possibly quite creepy. Like, "this one is my cohabitant". It sounds like it's just an object of yours.


I know rwhodges has already seen this, but for other users, hr1982 wrote a good answer explaining how it's incorrect to say that my cohabitant/min sambo is an 'object' in this sentence, but posted it at the wrong level, so it doesn't show up here. Scroll to read that comment.

tl;dr; my cohabitant/min sambo are, in both languages, predicative nominatives (you could also call it a predicate, or a predicate expression). The Swedish term today is predikativ, the older term was [subjektiv] predikatsfyllnad.

The typical example of this is like here, when you say 'X is Y', but there are other cases too.


Another grammar-head here. When I saw the post saying "my cohabitant" was the object, I thought, "No, it's not. It's the complement. But probably no one else cares."

I have looked up predicative nominatives, and that term is also correct - but a bigger mouthful. Specifically, "my cohabitant" is a subject complement (https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-complement-grammar-1689891) Another example:

May I speak to John Doe?
This is he.

That's why your grandmother corrected you! She knew her subject complements/predicative nominatives!

I notice that Spanish and Swedish speakers have no problem with such grammar, but English-speakers tend to use objects: It's me. It's them. She was him. (Yes, you have to use your imagination for that one.) I theorize it's the influence of French: C'est moi. C'est eux. Elle était lui.)


Actually, at least in English, while in the sentence "He saw a psychiatrist," "psychiatrist" is the object, in the sentence "He is a psychiatrist," "psychiatrist" is a predicate nominative.

I tell my students to see if the verb is functioning as an equals sign (=).

There are also predicate adjectives. "She smelled the flower" -- "flower" is the object.

"She smelled wonderful" -- "wonderful" is the predicate adjective.


That's interesting (though it somewhat spoils my simplistic explanation! ;). I guess it's not surprising that such a common construct should warrant a special grammatical class. But now you've made me curious: do you know whether the distinction between object and predicate nominative can be useful (in a practical sense) to a learner of either English or Swedish?


She smelled wonderful" -- "wonderful" is the predicate adjective.

This might be an example of where it's useful. 'wonderful' is indeed a predicate adjective in English, but in Swedish, it's an adverb, which just modifies 'luktar', so it gets the -t ending. - It might not be so useful for learning Swedish, but it's an explanation of the English usage with verbs like 'taste' and 'smell' which otherwise seems illogical ;)

Also of course it's easier to understand the difference between adjectives in the attribute and predicative position, if you have an idea about what predicative means in the first place. (this explains why it's Det stora huset 'the big house', attributive, but Huset är stort 'the house is big', predicative')


Just out of curiosity, in English, we differentiate between "The cookies smell good (smell yummy)" and "the bloodhood smells well (is skillful at smelling)." Would they be the same in Swedish?


luktar gott is definitely only in the 'yummy' sense. It's possible to say luktar bra to mean 'smell well', but that could be ambiguous. Or you could use an unambiguous adverb like skickligt. I'd just express it perifrastically though: hunden är bra på att lukta/känna lukter 'the dog is good at smelling', that sounds most natural. Not sure if dog people have some specialized expression.

We use expressions like känner lukten av more often than you'd do in English. For example, if someone enters a room and says 'I smell roses' (to mean 'I feel the smell of roses'), I'd say Jag känner lukten av rosor (or just det luktar rosor of course). On the other hand if you're 'smelling roses' in a flower shop (in the sense: 'putting them under your nose to inhale the aroma'), that is luktar på rosor with a preposition.


I realise now that there is probably a good application for understanding the predicate nominative too. The answer to the question, "Who lit the fire?" ("Vem tände elden") ought to be (assuming you're the guilty party), "It was I." ("Det var jag.")

That actually sounds a little bit poncy in English, as though you're deliberately being a grammar holdout: we would in fact usually say, "It was me." But I don't think Swedes would use mig here. (The examples in Duo certainly don't.) So hr1982's point that you'll get the pronoun wrong if you think of the predicate nominative as just the object does indeed hold for Swedish.


Yes, that's a good example. We don't use mig in Swedish there (I think they can in Danish, so you might hear it in southern dialects, but it's definitely not something most native speakers would ever say). – In English at least it explains why both ways work, otherwise you'd expect to only ever hear me (like most native speakers of English probably wouldn't say 'the dog bit I').


None, as far as I know. However, many native speakers would say "the dog bit Karen and I". That's because they spend their whole childhoods being corrected when they say things like "Me and Karen went to the playground." That grates on most of us with a basic grasp of grammar though.


I don't know about in Swedish, but in English, although we don't have noun cases, it can make a big difference if you want to be really correct when using pronouns.

If the verb is an "equals sign," the things on both sides should be "equal." Subject = Subject, but not Object.

In "The boy hugged me," "me" and "the boy" are not the same person, and, indeed, "me" is the object pronoun.

In "That boy was I," "that boy" and "I" are the same person, which is why one uses the subject pronoun (I), and one really shouldn't say, "That boy was me."

Another example, which comes more naturally, I think: "The women in question were she and I" sounds much better than "The women in question were her and me."


Does this have the connotation of platonic roommate or intimate live-in but not married?


The latter. By definition it's an unmarried couple who live together.


Is it explicitly couples? I have 2 domestic partners (romantic partners that I live with) I will likely never get married.


Det är min sambo was marked incorrect. Is it?


'Det' on its own would make the sentence "that" is my cohabitant. To get "this" you need "det har".


Thanks for confirming. That is what I always thought, but another similar question surprised me the other day by expecting "det" , so I thought I'd try it here. I can't remember which one now; it may have been that it was expecting "det" where I expected "det där" to be correct, which of course is another thing.


I would rather say 'Det här' stands for 'This is' in English and it is not grammatically connected with the following object. And 'Det/Den' or 'Detta/Denna' indicates the subsequent object (here sambo), thus grammatically connected with it. So roughly the difference is like between 'This is a girlfriend' and 'She is a girlfriend'.


I'm Australian : we would never use 'cohabitant'. We would say 'partner'.


Sambo is the funniest word in Swedish. I am more or less sure, that my neighbors hate me since whenever I see that word I just loudly scream SAMBOOOO with weird accents.

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