Danish Pronouns Made Simple
There’s very little you can do in any language without pronouns. They’re some of the first words we learn in our native language, and they’re essential for communication. Pronouns are used to replace nouns, and they can be used in place of a person’s name and of objects.
If you’re studying Danish, you might be wondering about the various pronouns used in the language and how to use them correctly. This can seem like a daunting task, but don’t worry – we’re here to help. And the good news is, that Danish has an easy pronoun system that you’ll be able to pick up in no time.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the Danish pronouns and explain how they’re used. We’ll also provide some example sentences to help you get a better understanding of how they work in context.
How Danish pronouns work
Danish, unlike many other languages, has a pronoun system that native English speakers will recognize and appreciate. This is one of the things that makes Danish grammar relatively easy to wrap one’s head around.
Technically, there are only 2 observed cases in Danish, though in theory there are 3, as you cannot discount the object case.
What are grammatical cases?
Grammatical cases deal with the different ways that a noun can be used in a sentence, and how it changes form to show this. For example, in the sentence “I am going to the store”, the word “I” is the subject case, as it is the one doing the verb (going); whereas “store” is in the object case, as it is what is being acted upon (by going to it).
What are the 3 grammatical Danish cases?
Danish’s 3 cases are:
- the subject case (used when the noun is doing the verb)
- the object case (used when the noun is being acted upon)
- the possessive case (used when the noun shows possession of something)
This is pretty much identical to English, so you shouldn’t have too many issues with it. We will, however, break everything down for you.
Personal (subject) pronouns in Danish: nominative case
The nominative case is used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence, meaning it is doing the verb. For example:
- I am eating a banana = Jeg spiser en banan
- You are drinking milk = Du drikker mælk
You would use personal pronouns in place of a proper (John, Sarah, etc.) or common noun (cat, woman, etc.), as they stand in for the person or thing performing the action.
Object pronouns in Danish: accusative/dative
Though neither the accusative nor dative case is observed, there still is such a thing as an object pronoun, i.e., when the pronoun is not the subject but instead receives the action. For example:
- I see him = Jeg ser ham
- He helps me = Han hjælper mig
The words we’ve underlined are the object pronouns. Have a peek at the table below to see all of them.
Reflexive pronouns in Danish
Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject is also the object of the verb. For example:
- I am washing (myself) = Jeg vasker mig
- He is shaving (himself) = Han barberer sig
The 2 sentences above use intransitive verbs, meaning there is no direct object. It should be noted that the Danish word “selv” is often used in place of the reflexive pronoun, particularly when the verb is transitive, as in the following sentences:
- I am doing it myself = Jeg gør det selv
- She opens it herself = Hun åbner det selv
Check out the table below to see all of the Danish reflexive pronouns.
|himself / herself / itself||sig|
Possessive pronouns in Danish: genitive case
Possessive pronouns are used when you want to show ownership of something. There are 2 ways that these work.
Firstly, in place of the noun to which they refer, in which case they can only be used when it’s clear what is being spoken about. Look at the example below:
Speaker one: Our house is big = Vores hus er stort
Speaker two: His is small = Hans er lille
As you can see, it’s obvious from the context that the 2nd speaker is referring to the house.
Possessive adjectives/determiners in Danish
The second way that Danish shows possession is through the use of a determiner (or adjective), which goes in front of the noun. In English, these are words like “my”, “your”, “his”, “her”, etc. For example:
- It is my book = Det er min bog
- We have her jacket = Vi har hendes jakke
These work in the same way as regular adjectives, so they must agree with the noun in terms of gender and number. As you’ll see in the table below, some possessive adjectives have 3 forms depending on the gender of the noun to which they refer, or how many things are being referred to.
|my, mine||mit / min / mine|
|your, yours||dit / din / dine|
|its||dets / dens|
Reflexive possessive adjectives in Danish
There are also reflexive possessive adjectives, which show that the subject also owns the object of the sentence. For example:
- He sees his son = Han ser sin søn
- They open their store = De åbner deres butik
Notice how, in the first sentence, the word ‘his’ is different from the regular possessive pronoun you saw previously? Though most of the reflexive possessive adjectives are the same as their possessive pronoun counterparts, when it comes to ‘his/hers/its’ and ‘theirs’, there’s a noticeable difference. See for yourself.
|my||mit / min / mine|
|your (singular)||dit / din / dine|
|his / her / its / their||sit / sin / sine|
We hope this guide has been useful in breaking down the various Danish pronouns for you. We understand that it’s a lot of information to take in, but luckily this aspect of Danish grammar is relatively straightforward. It could be a lot worse, believe us…
If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Danish grammar, the following book might be of interest to you:
Danish Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook
And if you’re interested in learning some Danish vocabulary, check out Danish Language Basics: Useful Danish Phrases For Beginners And Travelers, or Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Seasons, Weather, and Time in Danish.
Hav det sjovt!