In this article we will take a look at the possessive pronouns “sin”, “sitt” and “sina”, and how
they are different from “hans”, “hennes” and “deras”. Let’s start with this classic example:
1. Patrik kysser sin fru.
2. Patrik kysser hans fru.
In English, both sentences translates to “Patrik is kissing his wife”. In Swedish however, you
make a distinction between “his own wife” = sin, and “his”, as in someone else’s wife. This
might get clearer if we change “sin” and “hans” for names:
1. Patrik kysser Patriks (sin) fru.
2. Patrik kysser Henriks (hans) fru.
In other words, if Patrik is the subject of the sentence, and he is also “the owner” of the
object, then we express that ownership by using “sin” instead of “hans”.
It is of course not only “hans” that sometimes should be replaced with “sin”. This is also the
case for “hennes”, “dess”, “ens” and “deras”. It is also good to know that “sin” changes to
“sitt” if the object is an ett-word, and to “sina” if the object is plural. Like this:
Patrik har målat sitt hus i sommar.
(Patrik has painted his house this summer.)
Patrik ska hämta sina barn på dagis.
(Patrik is going to pick up his children at kindergarten.)
Now we are going to take a look at some more complicated sentences, because that’s
usually when it gets tricky with “sin” and “hans”. Take a look at these sentences:
Patrik tycker om maten som sin fru lagar.
(Patrik likes the food that his wife cooks.)
Olle sitter uppe, eftersom sin dotter inte har kommit hem än.
(Olle is waiting up, since his daughter is not home yet.)
Anna och sin pojkvän ska äta på restaurang ikväll.
(Anna and her boyfriend are going out for dinner tonight.)
All three sentences are wrong! We cannot use “sin” instead of “hans” or “hennes” in any of
them! (At this point some students are ready to leave the classroom ) The explanation for
example one and two is that we cannot look at the whole sentence and figure out subject
and object, we have to look at each clause of the sentence. So let’s do that:
“Patrik tycker om maten”
…is our main clause (huvudsats) in which “Patrik” is subject.
“som hans fru lagar”.
…is a subordinated clause (bisats) and “hans fru” is the subject in it. Only an object can use
the pronoun “sin”, “sitt” or “sina”. The same explanation goes for example number two:
“Olle sitter uppe”
…is the main clause (huvudsats) and “Olle” is the subject.
“eftersom hans dotter inte har kommit hem än.”
… is the subordinated clause (bisats) in which “hans dotter” is the subject, and therefore
cannot be “sin”.
In the third example …
“Anna och hennes pojkvän…”
… both “Anna” and “hennes pojkvän” are subjects, and therefore we cannot use “sin
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