Swedish: det vara bara ... som

kfz2010

Senior Member
Chinese
In the following sentence from Henning Mankell:

Men en dag var hon tillbaka igen, och det vara bara genom att i smyg gå igenom hennes fickor och bläddra i hennes pass som han kunde följa hennes resor.

Why it uses "vara bara", not e.g. "var bara"? And what does "som" mean here?

Thanks.
 
  • Swedish Anna

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Sweden
    Hejsan!
    It should be var bara, so it is simply an error.

    Som is a relative pronoun.
    The same construction is possible in English.
    It was only by going through her pockets that he could follow her travels.


    Han kunde följa hennes resor bara genom att gå igenom hennes fickor.

    He could follow her travels only by going through her pockets.

    Det var bara genom att gå igenom hennes fickor som han kunde följa hennes resor.
    It was only by going through her pockets that he could follow her travels.


    Den här boken hjälpte mig. Det var den här boken som hjälpte mig.
    This book helped me. It was this book that helped me.
    .
     

    Swedish Anna

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Sweden
    No, som can never be replaced with att.
    The that in the English sentences here is a relative pronoun. (Other relative pronouns are who, whom and which.)

    Gösta hjälpte mig. Det var Gösta som hjälpte mig.
    Gösta helped me. It was Gösta who helped me.
     

    kfz2010

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    There seems difference in these two cases:

    Det var Gösta som hjälpte mig. Here "som" is the subject of the subclause, referring to Gösta.
    Det var bara genom att gå igenom hennes fickor som han kunde följa hennes resor. Here "som" is not any part of the subclause, therefore could be replaced by "att"? Or why it uses "som" here?

    Also found some other examples of "det vara bara":

    Men det var ju inte en fin kväll, det vara bara en normal kväll.

    Det vara bara ord som slank ur henne över ett glas vin, hon började prata om något annat direkt efter.


    Is there something omitted in it, such as "det ska vara bara"?
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    There seems difference in these two cases:

    Det var Gösta som hjälpte mig. Here "som" is the subject of the subclause, referring to Gösta.
    Det var bara genom att gå igenom hennes fickor som han kunde följa hennes resor. Here "som" is not any part of the subclause, therefore could be replaced by "att"? Or why it uses "som" here?

    You can't use "att" instead of "som" in either of those sentences.

    Also found some other examples of "det vara bara":

    Men det var ju inte en fin kväll, det vara bara en normal kväll.

    Det vara bara ord som slank ur henne över ett glas vin, hon började prata om något annat direkt efter.


    Is there something omitted in it, such as "det ska vara bara"?

    Most likely just more errors. They're grammatically incorrect.
     
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