Danish: Alternatives to 'han eller hun'?


Senior Member
if you are speaking in general terms regardless of a person's gender, are there any other alternatives in Danish besides 'han eller hun'? For example, 'The reader can skip this chapter if s/he wants to.' - Læseren må godt springe dette kapitel over hvis .... vil'. One non-native speaker suggested 'den' to me for this case (i.e. 'hvis den vil') - is that possible? I know Swedish has 'hen', but it seems to be little used even there. (If any speakers of other Nordic languages read this, I'd be interested to learn what alternatives they can think of in their respective languages, too.)
  • You can sometimes use "den" or "denne", but not in the example you are mentioning. It is usually only used in very formal texts, like ...

    Ansoegningen skal vaere forsynet med personlig underskrift af deltageren eller dennes vaerge.

    There is still no generally accepted equivalent to "hen" in the Danish language.

    (sorry, I am on an English keyboard right now)
    From a Norwegian point of view: The usual options are "han eller hun" and "han/hun" (or "hun eller han" and "hun/han"). However, the problem can often be solved by writing the whole sentence in plural, in your case "Læserne ... hvis de vil".

    You should be careful with "den". "Denne" is fine in Sepia's sentence, but "den" will in many cases be wrong. Since "den" normally refer to things, it will often seem strange (or even disrespectful) to use it to describe human beings.

    (edited) Just like "The reader can skip this chapter if it wants to." in English.

    And "hen" is not generally accepted in Norwegian, either. It is rather seen as a symbol of extreme political correctness.
    Last edited:
    På norsk vile jeg ha skrevet: - Læseren må godt springe dette kapitel over hvis man vil
    Thanks to everyone who has responded. So it seems that the general consensus is that 'den' can't be used like this in reference to a person and is only appropriate in reference to a thing, like English 'it' (apart from special cases, e.g. with a following dependent clause as in 'den, der læser bogen, må godt springe dette kapitel over'). That was my feeling, too, but I wanted to have some confirmation from native speakers.