Norwegian: som


Senior Member
Hei alle sammen!

I came across this sentence in a dictionary: "det var ikke tvil i hans sjel om hvem som hadde rett". I guess it means, there was not a doubt in his mind as to who was right. As the sentence is in a dictionary, there's no context as such, in case needed.

My question is about the necessity of "som" in this sentence. If I had written this sentence, being just a learner, I would have written the sentence as " ... om hvem hadde rett". Sometimes, "som" is straightforward, standing for "which, who" of English. But in sentences like this, I am flummoxed, as "hvem" is already acting for "who" here. Is the "som" must here? And why is "som" used here anyway?

Thanks in advance!
  • Svenke

    Senior Member
    Such expressions as "hvem som hadde rett" consist of a question word + a clause which is like a relative clause: hvem [som hadde rett].

    In the clause, one constituent is always "missing". Here it is the subject: [NN hadde rett].
    When the missing constituent is the subject, som has to be used.
    Otherwise, som may be omitted, and it usually is omitted.

    Here, the missing constituent is the object: Veit du hvem [(som) jeg beundrer mest]?
    Cf. [Jeg beundrer NN mest].
    This sounds better if som is omitted.

    These rules are the same as for ordinary relative clauses:
    Den mannen [som står der], heter Karl. (not: Mannen står der, heter Karl)
    Den mannen [(som) jeg beundrer], heter Karl



    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot, @myšlenka ! It was a very helpful thread! I will need to practice quite a bit with this construction though, as it is the first time that I am encountering syntax in which there appears to be a double relative pronoun (though of course as someone said in that thread, "som" is kind of a complementizer ...).

    Thanks also, @Svenke ! The other examples that you gave wouldn't have raised any doubt in my mind. It is the type of sentence as "hvem som hadde rett" that is causing a problem, as it's difficult for me to intuitively put "som" there once "hvem" is already there.