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Norwegian Possessives. ARGHHHH!!! D:

Having real trouble getting my head around norwegian possessives. Haven't dared go past lesson three, I'm already confused enough! While the Duolingo lessons are GREAT, some times I wish I just had another person to ask questions to face to face. If there is anyone out there who can explain the possessives to me I would be so appreciative.

Why does the possessive adjectives sometimes go before and sometimes after the object that is possessed?

For 'Sin-Si-Sitt-Sine' the Notes and Tips say "[it] describes something that the subject has or owns, not somebody else." yet they give "Hun elsker faren sin" as an example. Her father is another person not something she owns, so why on earth use 'sin'?

Thanks, Ani

June 3, 2015



"They all translate to his, her, its, or their and can only be attached to objects in a sentence. Sin/Si/Sitt/Sine describes something that the subject has or owns, not somebody else."

I'm not sure if this is what you were confused by, but when I initially read this, I thought the same as you--her father is a person, not an object. However, I think that by "object" they actually mean the object of the sentence (which means the person or thing that the verb is acting on), not the object as a thing. In the sentence "She loves her father," "She" is the subject of the sentence and "her father" is the object of the sentence. That is why Sin/si/sitt/sine would be used.

Also, when they say "not somebody else" they mean that it's something THE SUBJECT owns, not something that somebody else owns--so it's not that the object of the sentence cannot be a person, it's just that the person/thing that is the object must belong to the subject if sin/si/sitt/sine is used.

So if we had two sentences like:

Alice loves Alice's father

Alice loves Betty's father

we might express them in English in the same way and rely on context to explain the difference:

She (Alice) loves her (Alice's) father= she loves her father

She (Alice) loves her (Betty's) father= she loves her father

In Norwegian, however, you would have to distinguish the difference between the two:

Alice elsker Alices far= Hun elsker faren sin

Alice elsker Bettys far=Hun elsker faren hennes

I'm also a beginner, so please correct me if this is wrong, but otherwise, I hope this makes sense!

P.S. If you aren't familiar with thinking about grammar particles and haven't heard "subject" and "object" used this way before, a simple explanation can be found here: http://grammar.about.com/od/basicsentencegrammar/a/sentenceunit.htm


Alice elsker Alices faren= Hun elsker faren sin Alice elsker Bettys faren=Hun elsker faren hennes

That should read:
Alice elsker Alices far= Hun elsker faren sin
Alice elsker Bettys far= Hun elsker faren hennes


Yes! Thank you! I'll edit the original.


You are right, it refers to the object of the sentence. In a subject, it's always "hans/hennes/deres"(eg faren hennes er gammel), whereas in an object there's this "own vs sb else's" difference.


For the word order, I believe it's just a matter of preference. What matters, though, is that it takes a different form depending on the order. If I want to talk about my dog, I could say "min hund" or "hunden min." But if I put the possessive after, then I need to make sure I'm using the definite form hunden.

For sin/si/sitt/sine think of it like this. Kari and her husband are out for a walk. Then Kari sees Ingrid with husband. Then Kari kisses her husband. Whose husband is Kari kissing? If we say "Kari kysser mannen sin," we know that she's kissing her own husband. That's what it means by "something the subject has or owns." If you were to say "Kari kysser mannen hennes," it would mean that she's kissing Ingrid's husband! Scandal!


Word order is not a matter of preference. The possessive should be after the noun most of the time, except when you want to emphasize the possessiveness: "Det er min hund!" = "It is my dog!"


Ah, then I stand corrected. And thank you for that!


Can you please explain to me how can we construct a possessive sentence using " sin/si/sitt/sine "? Can we translate these sentences " jenta sin genser. jenta si bok. jenta sitt hus. jenta sine klær. " like " the girl's sweater, the girl's book, the girl's house, the girl's clothes " ? Isn't that right ? But how ? Can we also have a possessive meaning with sin, si, sitt or sine ?


A native speaker may correct me, but I don't think any of those sentences you've written are grammatically correct. You use sin/si/sitt/sine in situations where the person has already been established, so "the girl's sweater" would simply be "jentas genser." To use sin, you might say "jeg ser Marie, og hun har genseren sin" - I see Marie, and she has her sweater.


Thanks so much for your help, Snommelp. I thought the same thing grammatically but this thread made me confused, i researched deeply but i didn't find anything. The related thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8767245


Yes I find then confusing too, but I will do my best to help you:)

Your first question: The reason why the possessive adjectives go in front and after of the object that is possessed is because they can be indefinite or definite. If the object is indefinite the possessive adjective will go before the object. If the object is definite, the possessive adjective will go after the object.

Your second question: Sin - si - sitt - sine are when the subject is owned by the possessor. 'Hun elsker faren sin'. With this, it's just how it goes. Put it like this: She "belongs to " or the father "belongs to her" because he is her father, so that is why you would use that.

I hope I helped! If you have any more questions, please ask me!

Tusen takk


Sorry this thread is very old. But hope you see this anyway. How can an object like "father" be definite or indefinite? Like in Duolingo's example, they list both "faren min" and "min far" as both meaning my father. How is one of those indefinite since they both refer to a very specific person?


In the explanation section it says that the definite form is more colloquial while the indefinite one is more formal (and also emphasizes the possessor).


More than you (probably) ever wanted to know: http://folk.uio.no/helgelo/possproun.pdf

So apparently it's a matter of research interest, not just for language learners. Basically what fveldig said is right, with a few exceptional cases where you need one form or the other. The paper mentions other languages as well.


Oooh I love more than I ever wanted to know! Exactly what I was looking for.


Thanks to Snommelp, fveldig, Brownone, Anachron, Ellida, Alec and MacMustard for your help and insight. I live with a native speaker but you just CANNOT beat an explanation from another learner. <3

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