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The reflexive Possessive Pronouns: SIN – SI – SITT – SINE

VERUSKA: Do you remember when we talked about reflexive verbs? Back then we said that in the third person, singular and plural, that means he, she and they.
Norwegian has a special form for the reflexive pronoun: Seg - which loosely can translate into himself, herself, and themselves. For example, Han barberer seg. He shaves himself. Hun vasker seg. She washes herself. De kler på seg. They get dressed. Well, in Norwegian we also have a reflexive possessive pronoun. Sin - Si - Sitt - Sine. The reflexive possessives. Reflexive possessives. What are they? In the third person, singular and plural, there is a reflexive possessive pronoun called SIN. It is used when the subject of the sentence owns the object, or you might say, it is used when the subject and the object refer both to the same person.
Let’s visualize this. Sissel har en tannlege.
Dette en tannlegen til Sissel. Sissel has a dentist. Sissel is the subject and tannlegen is the object. Sissel ringer til tannlegen. Sissel calls her own dentist. In this case, both subject and object refer to Sissel. Or you might say that Sissel owns the object, her own dentist. Grammatically of course. To express this kind of ownership we use in Norwegian the reflexive pronoun SIN. Sissel ringer til tannlegen SIN.
Let’s take another example: Lars har en bil. Dette er Porschen til Lars. Lars owns a car. Lars elsker bilen. Lars loves his own car. Lars elsker bilen SIN.
Why is this important? Because the reflexive pronoun in Norwegian gives a more precise indication about who owns what by highlighting the relationship between owner, and what is owned, in a way the normal possessives cannot do. It is difficult to understand without a context
the real meaning of sentences like: He loves his wife, or she loves her husband. Let’s take another example. Sissel er gift med Lars. Sissel elsker Lars. Sissel elsker mannen sin. Lars elsker Sissel. Lars elsker kona si. They love each other, and they are true to each other. Prima.
But there is another couple: Anne er gift med Morten. Anne is married to Morten.
Morten loves his wife, and is true to his own wife. Ergo, Morten elsker Anne. Morten elsker kona si.
Anne elsker mannen hennes. But who’s Hennes? In English, this sentence would translate to Anne loves her husband. But which husband are talking about here? Without a context this sentence, even in English, can be grammatically uncertain. But in Norwegian however, because we use the possessive “Hennes”, and not the reflexive possessive SIN, we can understand without a doubt that Anne loves another woman’s husband, and not Morten. Hennes could refer to Sissel from the previous slides, for instance. But in any case, we know that Anne elsker IKKE Morten. You see? Using the reflexive possessive SIN makes all the difference. To further complicate things, the reflexive possessive pronoun agrees in gender and number with the owned object.
SIN is the masculine singular form, SI the feminine singular, SITT the neuter singular form, and SINE the plural form.
Examples: Sissel har et hus. Hun liker sitt hus. Hun liker huset sitt. Sissel owns a house. She loves her own house. Lars har bygget et bord. Han liker sitt bord. Han liker bordet sitt. Lars has built a table. He loves his table. Sissel og Lars et barn. De elsker sitt barn. De elsker barnet sitt. Sissel and Lars have a child. They love their child. Sissel og Lars har ogsa to døtre. De elsker sine døtre. De elsker døtrene sine. Sissel and Lars also have two daugters. They love the daughters.
Huset sitt eller sitt hus? You can place the reflexive possessive after the owned object, then the noun takes the definite form, like in - Sissel elsker huset sitt. Or you may place it before the object, then the noun takes the indefinite form, like in - Sissel elsker sitt hus. Usually, we prefer to use the first option “huset sitt”, but in more formal context the later form is used, “sitt hus”. Note that sin - si - sitt - sine can’t be used in the subject position.
For instance: Sissels hus er flott. Hennes hus er flott. Her house is beautiful. “Sissels hus” is in the subject position, and you cannot use SIN in this case. You have to use “Hennes”. Sissel elsker huset sitt. Sissel loves her own house. In this case Sissel and “huset sitt” refer to the same person. Subject and object both refer to Sissel. In this case, you cannot use anything else than “Sitt”.
If you have to use a possessive in subject position, you must use hennes, hans, and deres according to whether the subject is male, female or plural. So we have now gone through all types of possessive pronouns in Norwegian. And we hope that this presentation helped you clarify the meaning and use of the special reflexive possessive pronouns SIN - SI - SITT or SINE.

In week 1, we introduced the Possessive Pronouns:

The different forms of MIN (my/mine), DIN (your/yours) and VÅR (our/ours), and the invariable forms HANS (his), HENNES (her/hers) and DERES (your/yours plural + their/theirs).

In this week’s grammar video, we’re going to take a closer look at a very special possessive form, the reflexive possessive SIN – SI – SITT – SINE.
Not all languages have reflexive possessives. Some languages don’t have possessives at all! So don’t worry if you feel this topic is difficult to understand.
Feel free to take your time! Read this text and watch the video as many times as you need. We will try our best to clarify and explain along the way.
So, in the 3. person singular and plural (han, hun, de/he, she, they), there is a reflexive possessive pronoun called SIN.
We use the different forms of SIN when the Subject of the sentence, we say, owns the Object or you might say when the Subject and the Object in a sentence refer to the same person.
Basically, SIN, SI, SITT, SINE refer back to the Subject in the sentence, while the forms we learnt last week HANS, HENNES, DERES refer to something other than the Subject in the sentence.
Take a look at these sentences:
1) Sissel ringer tannlegen sin Sissel calls her (own) dentist → Sissels tannlege
2) Sissel ringer tannlegen hennes Sissel calls her dentist Cecilies tannlege? (another person)

In 1), we use SIN because both Subject and Object refer to the same person: Sissel. In other words, SIN refers back to the Subject in the sentence, right?

In 2), we have a different story:

HENNES doesn’t refer back to Sissel. HENNES tells us that Subject and Object refer to two different persons. We don’t know whom HENNES is referring to, but we can understand that it has to be another person and not Sissel. The context will then give us clues to understand who this person may be.

And voilà!, we have now a clever grammar tool to help us identify without doubt who is owning what. Well, as long we apply the rules correctly, of course!

The reflexive possessive pronouns SIN – SI – SITT – SINE agree in gender and number with the owned noun, so we have to make sure to use them in the right way:

SIN is the masculine singular form

SI is the feminine singular

SITT is the neuter singular


SINE is the plural form regardless of gender.

Let’s summarize this in a table:

Sissel ringer til tannlegen sin Sissel ringer til sin tannlege Sissel calls her own dentist
Sissel elsker dattera si Sissel elsker si datter Sissel loves her (own) daughter
Sissel liker huset sitt Sissel liker sitt hus Sissel likes her (own) house
Sissel elsker skoene sine Sissel elsker sine sko Sissel loves her (own) shoes


As all the other possessives, we can place SIN-SI-SITT-SINE both after or before the noun. Just remember to use the correct form of the substantive, definite form in the first case, indefinite in the latter.

Watch the video for more examples!

And download our PP-presentation if you prefer to have it all in paper.


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Norwegian for Beginners 3

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