How to use “sin,” “si,” “sitt,” and “sine” in Norwegian

The Norwegian language has unique possessive pronouns that might appear intricate to learners. Especially challenging are the pronouns “sin,” “si,” “sitt,” and “sine.” This article aims to shed light on their correct usage.


1. The Basics: What do they signify?

“Sin,” “si,” “sitt,” and “sine” are reflexive possessive pronouns used to indicate that something belongs to the subject of the sentence. In English, the equivalents would be “his own,” “her own,” “its own,” or “their own.”


2. Understanding Each Pronoun:

  • Sin: Used for masculine nouns.
    • E.g. “Han vasker bilen sin.” (He washes his own car.)


  • Si: Reserved for feminine nouns.
    • E.g. “Hun vasker skjorta si.” (She washes her own shirt.)


  • Sitt: For neuter nouns.
    • E.g. “Barnet spiser eplet sitt.” (The child eats its own apple.)


  • Sine: This plural form can be used with nouns of any gender.
    • E.g. “De leser bøkene sine.” (They read their own books.)


3. Rules of Usage:

  • Subject Relationship: The object of the sentence must belong to the subject. If this isn’t the case, use “hans” (his), “hennes” (hers), or “deres” (theirs) instead.
    • Incorrect: “Hun vasker skjorta si.” (She washes her shirt. ) (if the shirt belongs to someone else).
    • Correct: “Hun vasker skjorta hennes” (when the shirt belongs to another woman).


  • Exclusivity to the 3rd Person: These pronouns are exclusively used in the third person and don’t apply to the first (jeg/min) or second person (du/din).


  • Position in Sentences: Contrary to English possessive pronouns, these Norwegian reflexive pronouns come after the noun they modify.


4. Pitfalls to Avoid:

  • Mistaking with “hans” or “hennes”: It’s essential to differentiate. For example, “Han ser hatten hennes” (He sees her hat). Here, the hat belongs to another woman, not the subject.
  • Misidentifying Gender: It’s crucial to use the gender-appropriate pronoun: masculine (sin), feminine (si), neuter (sitt), and plural (sine).


5. Tips for Mastery:

  1. Construct Sentences for Practice: Distinguishing between “Hun elsker hunden hennes.” and “Hun elsker hunden sin.” can help you differentiate between “her dog” (belonging to another) and “her own dog.”
  2. Immerse Yourself in Reading: Reading Norwegian texts can offer a real-world context, enabling you to grasp these pronouns’ natural usage better.
  3. Ask for Feedback: Native speakers or proficient teachers can provide invaluable feedback to help refine your understanding and usage.



While “sin,” “si,” “sitt,” and “sine” might initially appear daunting, consistent practice and engagement can help in mastering their use. It’s essential to recognize the relationship between the subject and the object and to place the reflexive pronoun correctly. With determination, you’ll soon grasp their nuances. Best of luck in your linguistic journey!

FAQs on Using “sin,” “si,” “sitt,” and “sine” in Norwegian

1. Why can’t I use “sin” or its variants for the 1st and 2nd person?

  • “Sin” and its variants are reflexive possessive pronouns specifically designed for the third person. For the 1st person (I/my) and the 2nd person (you/your), you should use “min” or “din” and their respective forms.

2. Can I use “sin” or its variants even if the object belongs to someone other than the subject?

  • No. These pronouns specifically indicate possession by the subject of the sentence. If the object belongs to someone else, you should use other pronouns like “hans,” “hennes,” or “deres.”

4. What happens if I mistakenly use “si” instead of “sin” or vice versa?

  • While your sentence may still be understandable, it will sound incorrect to native speakers. Consistent practice and feedback will help reduce such mistakes.

5. Are there other reflexive pronouns in Norwegian besides “sin,” “si,” “sitt,” and “sine”?

  • These are the primary reflexive possessive pronouns. However, Norwegian also has reflexive pronouns like “seg” (himself/herself/itself/themselves) which function differently.

6. In what contexts would “hans” or “hennes” be more appropriate than “sin” or its variants?

  • Use “hans” or “hennes” when the object in question belongs to someone other than the subject of the sentence. For example, “Hun tok boken hans” means “She took his book,” indicating the book belongs to another man, not the woman in the subject.

7. Can I always use “sine” since it’s the plural form?

  • Only when referring to multiple objects. For singular objects, you must use “sin,” “si,” or “sitt” based on the gender of the noun.

8. Why is the placement of these reflexive pronouns after the noun so crucial?

  • It’s a fundamental rule of the Norwegian language. Just as English speakers would find “book his” odd instead of “his book,” Norwegian speakers find it natural to place reflexive possessive pronouns after the noun.

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