"Ingen vet vad som kommer att hända."

Translation:Nobody knows what is going to happen.

March 13, 2015

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Could you explain why the "som" is needed here? Tack så mycket!


That's... actually a very good question. Never thought about it. As far as I can tell, it attaches to "what" and "who[m]" when those are used in combination with a temporal aspect. So you get "inget vet vad som kommer att hända", "ingen vet vem som har kommit", etc.

But I would not place any large bets on it, and I would love to see if anybody else has any better explanations.


I found some Swedish grammar book that says that vad, vem, vilken etc. are followed by som when they are the subject of a relative clause, which seems to be the case here.


So in fact, "vad" is a conjunction here and "som" is the subject


Think of "vad som" as meaning "that which". (See my other comments on this page.)

You can analyze "vad" as an indefinite pronoun, followed by the relative pronoun "som".

You can say instead that the relative pronoun is the two words "vad som" together when the relative pronoun is the subject of its clause.

But in any case, in the Duo sentence here, "vad" is not a conjunction. It is an indefinite pronoun that is a direct object in its clause: "Ingen [subject] vet vad [direct object]".


James, you are right that using a language and describing/analyzing a language are two different things. It is the difference between riding a bike and talking about riding a bike.

Some people like to hear about "rules", others do not. If you find the analyses difficult to follow, I suggest you just ignore them rather than mocking them. The important thing is to get a lot of practice reading Swedish and listening to native speakers.


"When used as the subject of a relative clause, vad is followed by som." (Philip Holmes and Ian Hinchliff, Swedish: A Comprehensive Grammar,


I have great respect for Holmes and Hinchcliff. They treat "vad som" as a single relative pronoun that is the subject of a relative clause.

However, I think it is also possible to treat "vad" as the direct object of the previous clause, followed by "som" as the subject of the following clause, as in the English "that which". See my other comments on this page.

But this may be hairsplitting. The result is the same in either case.


It's used as a relative pronoun.


Where's the relative pronoun in the english translation? I'm expecting words like who or one.


In the English sentence, it's "what" here. But English might well use who too.


mokane, the relative pronoun here is som. (Or, in some analyses, the entire phrase vad som).

In English, the most common relative pronouns are that, who, and which.

The word one is never a relative pronoun in English. It is an indefinite pronoun. That is probably what you were thinking of.

Besides som, as a relative pronoun Swedish has vilken/vilket/vilka.


both 'vad' and 'som' are used when the relative pronoun acts as the subject in the relative clause.


Just to clarify what you are saying: As the subject of a relative clause, you cannot choose either "vad" or "som"; rather, you must use the two words together -- "vad som".


Really curious about this. Mods?


English is unusual in allowing "what" by itself to be used both as an interrogative pronoun and as a relative pronoun that is the subject of a clause.

To help remember the usage here, you can think of "vad som" as parallel to English "that which": "Nobody knows that which is going to happen".


In french, this could be written as "Personne ne sait ce qui va..." so the "vad som" works like the "ce qui"?


See my other comments on this page. When the subject of a clause, the relative pronoun is vad som = that which = ce qui.


Why is "Nobody knows what will happen" is not correct here?


Would it also be correct Swedish to say, "Ingen vet vad kommer att hända"? In the relative pronouns lesson tips, it gives the example "Vet du vad jag tänker på?" which uses vad in a subordinate clause on its own, instead of vad som. I am wondering if the "som" is optional.


Mary, no your suggestion is not correct. The relative pronoun is "vad" when the pronoun is the object in its clause. The relative pronoun is "vad som" (both words needed) when the relative pronoun is the subject in its clause.

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