Norwegian A2 course

“Som” sentences

“Som” sentences

The “som” clauses are used to describe or give additional information about something. Look at this example:

  • Martin har en hund som heter Bobby. – Martin has a dog that is called Bobby.

The “som” part gives us additional information about the dog – his name.

Luckily, in Norwegian, there is only one word for “which”, “that” and “who” in such sentences – “som”.

Here are more examples for you:

  • Jeg har en sønn. Han studerer i Tyskland. – Jeg har en sønn som studerer i Tyskland.
  • I have a son. He is studying in Germany. – I have a son who is studying in Germany.
  • Andreas har en bror. Broren er gift. – Andreas har en bror som er gift.
  • Andreas has a brother. The brother is married. – Andreas has a brother who is married.

We can also use two simple sentences “Martin har en hund. Hunden heter Bobby.” – “Martin has a dog. The dog’s name is Bobby”, but they sound very choppy and we don’t really speak like that. That’s why we use dependent clauses – to add more information, avoid repetition, and give a better flow to our speech.

When can we omit “som”?

Compare these sentences:

  • Andreas har en bror. Broren er gift. – Andreas har en bror som er gift.
  • Du har kjøpt en kjole. Jeg liker kjolen. – Jeg liker kjolen som du har kjøpt.

In the first sentence “som” substitutes the subject (“broren”)

  • Andreas har en bror. Broren er gift. – Andreas har en bror som er gift.

In the second sentence “som” substitutes the object:

  • Du har kjøpt en kjole. Jeg liker kjolen. – Jeg liker kjolen som du har kjøpt.

When “som” replaces the object, we can omit it (similarly to English). If we omit “som” in the following sentence, it will still be perfectly clear.

  • Jeg liker kjolen (som) du har kjøpt. – Jeg liker kjolen du har kjøpt.
  • I like the dress (that) you have bought. – I like the dress you have bought.

However, we can’t omit “som” when it replaces a subject.

  • Andreas har en bror er gift. (literally, “Andreas has a brother is married”)

We need «som» here, otherwise, the sentence will not make sense:

  • Andreas har en bror som er gift. – Andreas has a brother who is married.

If you are unsure, it is always a good idea to use “som”. Otherwise, ask yourself if the sentence will make sense if you remove “som”.

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