Confused about how to use “tror” and “synes in Danish?

If you are, you’re not alone.

To confuse the use of “tror” and “synes” is a really common mistake – one of the most common ones for people learning Danish, actually – and one that I hear my students make, no matter if they’re beginners or more advanced Danish learners.

The tricky thing about “tror” and “synes”, compared to English, which is the language that many foreigners in Denmark use on a daily basis, is that in English, you don’t have the same distinction as we have in Danish. 

In English, you often use “I think” when you want to express your opinion and also when you are guessing/assuming something. 

In Danish, we would use “jeg tror” in one of these cases and “jeg synes” in the other case.

So, let’s get you out of the confusion so you can start using the two verbs correctly in Danish…

(It’s actually not that difficult when you know it!)

TROR

We use TROR in a few different ways:

Tror – When you’re almost sure

We use “tror” for things that we’re almost sure or quite sure of.

For example:

“Ligger H. C. Andersens hus i Odense?”  “Ja, det tror jeg.”

Here we use “tror” because we think that H. C. Andersen’s house is in Odense. We’re almost sure. 

Another thing to mention for the use of “tror”:

We use TROR for things that have a RIGHT and a WRONG ANSWER

For something you can go and verify.

With the example of H. C. Andersens house, you can actually check if the house is in Odense or not. There is a right and wrong answer; the fact that his house is in Odense is either correct (“Yes, his house is indeed in Odense” (which is the case!)), or it’s not correct (“No, it’s not in Odense” (which is not the case)). 

What you think, using “tror”, is verifiable. 

Tror – When you have no personal experience

We also use “tror” when we don’t have personal experience with something, when we haven’t tried something ourselves. 

We have heard others talk about it, but we don’t know by first hand what this thing is like, for example:

“Jeg tror kinesisk er svært at lære”.  (I think Chinese is difficult to learn). 

I use “tror” here because I have never tried to learn Chinese but I have heard others say that it is difficult to learn.

In this case, “jeg tror” can be translated to: “It’s my impression that…”

Tror – When talking about the future

The last use of “tror” is when we talk about things we think will happen in the future.

For example:

“Vi skal holde jul i Jylland med hele familien i år. Jeg tror det bliver rigtig hyggeligt!”

Or:

“Nøj, nogle grå skyer! Jeg tror det bliver regn!”

As you see, “tror” has an OBJECTIVE side to it. When we use “tror”, we can check or verify if what we think is true. Either now or in the future (we know 5 minutes later, if it started raining or not , to refer to the last example).

SYNES

“Synes”, on the other hand, is SUBJECTIVE. 

Synes – To express opinion

We use “synes” when we want to express our opinion.

For example:

“Jeg synes København er en smuk by”.

Here, we use “synes” because you think Copenhagen is a beautiful city. It is your personal opinion.

Contrary to the use of “tror”, there is no wrong or a right answer. Maybe your colleague, on the other hand, does not think Copenhagen is beautiful. 

 

So, there you have it…

I hope you found this post on how to use “tror” and “synes” helpful and that you’ll now be able to use them more confidently when you speak Danish.

Let me know in the comments what your biggest take away was, your biggest aha-moment from reading this post!

 

Tror or synes exercise

Insert TROR and SYNES in the sentences. In one case there are several options.

  1. “Jeg __________ dansk er et svært sprog”.
  2. a. “Hvad tid starter festen?”   b. “Jeg _________, den starter kl. 18.00”
  3. a. “Hvor kommer din Christian fra?”   b. “Jeg _________ han kommer fra Tyskland.”
  4. “Har du ikke fået ny jakke? Jeg _________ den er rigtig pæn til dig!”
  5. a. “Hvad skal vi spise i aften?”  b. “Jeg _________  vi skal bestille mad fra det vietnamesiske sted nede ved stationen.”
  6. a. “Kommer du til forældremødet i morgen?”   b. “Ja. Det _________ jeg. Men jeg skal lige spørge min chef først, om jeg må gå lidt før i morgen.”

 

Correct answers:

  1. synes/tror  2. tror 3. tror  4. synes 5. synes  6. tror