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Learn Norwegian

Letter

Phonetic
symbol

English equivalent

ah

a in father

b in be

d in do

e
eh
a

e in bet
ai in air
a in bad
e in stepped

in unaccented syllables:

Example

g
j

h
-

(silent before a consonant)

ee
i

ee in see
i in sit

y in you

k
before i or y: ch

k in key
ch in German ich

l in lap

m in more

n in nice

u
o

long variant: oo

p in pot

r (rolling)

s in see

t in top

oo

ou in you

v in velvet

a in bad

er

e in her

f in fit

g
before i or y:

g in go
y in you

h in house
-

oo in oolalah
o in hot

short variant: o

r in rice (but rolling)

a in all

Note the difference between o and u.

Double consonant makes the previous vowel short.

Diphtongs:
ei

ey (but with -sound)

ai

aj

i in hi

au

ei in German ein

Special letter combinations:


sj

sh

sh in she

skj

sh

sh in she

sk

sk

kj

tj

ng

eg

j
eg

ig

in end of sentences: y

ld

l in lap

nd

n in nice

rd

(retroflex) d

d in hard

rl

(retroflex) l

almost like English l

rn

(retroflex) n

n in corn

rs

sh

sh in she

rt

(retroflex) t

sk
before i or y:

sk in sky
sh in she

sh

ch

ch in German ich

before i, y, e or :

ch

ch in German ich

ng
in end of sentences:

ng in thing

ey (-sound)
eg

otherwise:

otherwise:

ei in German ein
eg in leg
y in lovely
ig in pig

ig

t in flirt (almost)

The next thing we're going to learn is to make questions in Norwegian.


To make a question there is one thing you have to do: Switch the order of the subject and
the verb. An example explains this better than anything else:

Du
Bor

bor
du

i
i

Norge. = You live in Norway.


Norge? = Do you live in Norway?

This is not difficult, but it's important to remember! Otherwise you'll sound like a brother of
Tarzan. Also in English you change the word order in questions in some cases (ex: "Are you
there?").

Some questions also include a question word, of course. Here you have them all:

Hva?
Hvorfor?
Hvem?
Hvor?
Hvordan?
Hvilken?
Nr?

What?
Why?
Who?
Where?
How?
Which?
When?

In expressions like "how many?", "how much?" and "how old?", the word "hvor" is used:
"Hvor mange?" "Hvor mye?" "Hvor gammel?"
The question word is placed at the beginning of the sentence, but remember, also in this
case the verb has to be in front of the subject. Like this:

Hvor

bor

du?

= Where do you live?

So instead of saying literally "Where you live?" or "Where do you live?", in Norwegian you
say: "Where live you?"

It would be a pity if you always had to agree. That's why we have denying
sentences. In English you normally add the words "do not / does not" to make a
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denying sentence. In Spanish, for instance, it's even easier, you just add "no"before
the verb.
In Norwegian this word is used:

ikke
You put it right after the subject and the verb:
Jeg bor i Norge. = I live in Norway.
Jeg bor ikke i Norge. = I do not live in Norway.
Han snakker norsk. = He speaks Norwegian.
Han snakker ikke norsk. = He does not speak Norwegian.
You do the same in questions, but remember that the subject and the verb now have
switched order:
Er de fra Norge? = Are they from Norway?
Er de ikke fra Norge? = Aren't they from Norway?

The short words are always important to know in every language, so here you're
offered some of the words that you'll need to use often.
You have already learned these two:
i
fra

in
from

Here are a few other short words that you should learn:
og
eller
til
men

and
or
to
but

Hi!

Hello!

- Do you speak Norwegian?

Yes, I speak Norwegian.

- What's your name?(What are


you called?)

My name is Ole.

(I am called

Ole.)

And You?

- My name is Per.

Where are you from?

- I am from Norway.
Do you live in Norway?

No, I don't live in Norway.


I live in London.

- Goodbye!

Bye!

en
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to

tre

fire

fem

seks

sju

tte

ni

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ti

And we can't forget this one:

null

Now we'll move into something which is a little more complicated, and a little
more different from English. You probably know what nouns are, and now we're
going to see how they act in Norwegian.
As you might have noticed already, many words aren't too different from English.
Some examples of a few Norwegian nouns:

Hus

Tre

Ball

This is how you conjugate a noun in English:


Singular
Indefinite

Singular
Definite

Plural
Indefinite

Plural
Definite

a house

the house

houses

the houses

Klokke

In English the -s ending means plural, and the is the definite article. The only thing
that may cause problems for foreigners is the use of a / an, and some irregular
plural forms.
The problematic thing in Norwegian is that it has, like most other Indo-European
languages, several genders. And it doesn't only have two, but three genders. They
are called masculine, feminine and neuter.
It's pretty impossible to know which gender a noun is, so in this tutorial we'll
always tell you the gender of the new nouns, by adding (m), (f) or (n) after the
words. You'll find this in most dictionaries as well.

Noun conjugation
Take a look at some Norwegian nouns:
Singular
Indefinite

Singular
Definite

Plural
Indefinite

Plural
Definite

masculine

en gutt
a boy

gutten
the boy

gutter
boys

guttene
the boys

feminine

ei jente
a girl

jenta
the girl

jenter
girls

jentene
the girls

neuter

et hus
a house

huset
the house

hus
houses

husene
the houses

From the table we can figure out the following rules:

The indefinite articles in Norwegian are en, ei, and et.

A big difference from English is that the definite article is added in the end of the
word as a suffix. The singular suffixes are -en, -a, and -et. If the nouns originally
ends with a vowel, you remove it before adding the suffix.

To make the indefinite plural in Norwegian you add the suffix -er, except for most
one-syllabled neuter nouns, which often don't get any suffix at all.

If you add -ene at the end of the word you have made the definite plural.

Everything can be illustrated clearly with a table:

Gender

Singular

Singular

Plural
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Plural

Indefinite

Definite

Indefinite

Definite

masculine

en -

-en

-er

-ene

feminine

ei -

-a

-er

-ene

neuter

et -

-et

-(er)

-ene

As you can see, this is not difficult if you know the noun's gender. Try to memorize this,
and write it down if you have a notebook.

man
woman
boy
girl
brother
sister
house
ball
clock
car
country
day
flower
tree

mann (m)
kvinne (f)
gutt (m)
jente (f)
bror (m)
sster (f)
hus (n)
ball (m)
klokke (f)
bil (m)
land (n)
dag (m)
blomst (m)
tre (n)

Some nouns are irregular, which means that they don't follow the rules in table we
made earlier in this lesson. This is a well known problem also in English, for
example "men" and "women". In both of them the vowel changes in plural, and
they don't get any -s in the end.
These are the most important irregular ones in Norwegian:
man

en mann

mannen

menn

mennene

tree

et tre

treet

trr

trrne

brother

en bror

broren

brdre

brdrene

sister

ei sster

sstera

sstre

sstrene

These should just be memorized, but if you don't bother doing that right now, you
can write them down and take a look them when you need them.

Many nouns end with -er in Norwegian. These are always masculine (except
"sister", of course), and their conjugation is slightly different in plural:
player

en spiller

spilleren

spillere

spillerne

Vocabulary

to have

ha

har

to see

se

ser

to walk / to go g

gr

to say

si

sier

to do

gjre

gjr

And a couple of other words:


very
many

veldig
mange

In English the -ing suffix is used to express that an action is happening during a
longer period. This kind of suffix is used in many other languages too.
Examples: I am walking, I am talking, etc...
In Norwegian you can simply forget it. This is the translation of the above
sentences:
I am walking.

Jeg gr.

I am talking.

Jeg snakker.

As you see, this system doesn't exist in Norwegian, you simply use the present
tense. Knowing this, it should be easy for you to translate this question and answer
(remember the punctuation):

What are you doing?

I'm learning Norwegian


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We are talking.

Very many cars.

Where are they?

She has two brothers.

I'm doing it.

Eight men from England are


living in Norway.

We are ten players.

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Tone and yvind see a tree.

Are you talking?

I have many flowers.

Welcome to the third lesson, and get ready for some bigger numerals. We'll go
far...all the way up to 20.
11 elleve
12 tolv
13 tretten
14 fjorten
15 femten
16 seksten
17 sytten
18 atten
19 nitten
20 tjue

To describe something we use the words that the teachers always tell us to use more
frequently - adjectives. Words such as big, small, long and round are adjectives. It's
said that they make your stories more alive, and they improve your grade with at
least one point. You have probably participated in making adjective stories.
In Norwegian, like in English, the adjective is placed in front of the noun.
Examples are always nice:
En stor ball = A big ball
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So far there's no problem. But in Norwegian the adjectives are conjugated as well
as the nouns. An example of this is:
Store hus = Big houses
All right, so let's make some rules. The following shows the adjective suffixes:
Singular
Indefinite

Singular
Definite

Plural
Indefinite

Plural
Definite

Masculine/
feminine

-e

-e

-e

Neuter

-e

-e

-e

As you see, the adjective keeps its original form only if the noun is masculine or
feminine singular indefinite. This table will be important in many aspects of the
language, not only for adjectives, so write it down some place and try to memorize
it.

ou probably thought that definite articles aren't used in Norwegian, but when the
noun is definite and there is an adjective in front of it, then you need it. In other
words: You can't say "store husene", you need an article in front of it.
And the articles are:
Singular

Plural

Masculine /
feminine

den

de

Neuter

det

de

The article is placed in front of the adjective. The example with the big house was
so good that we can complete it. We use the suffixes from the table from the
previous page:
Et stort hus
Det store huset
Store hus
De store husene

A big house
The big house

Definite!

Big houses
The big houses

Definite!

This is called "double definition", because both the article and the suffix tell us that
this noun is definite. And to repeat: Double definition is used only when an
adjective (or a number) is present, not otherwise.
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Together, the article, the adjective and the noun form a so-called noun phrase.

Too much information in short time, it's on its time to clean up in the brain again.
This table shows the definite articles and the suffixes you have to add to the
adjective. The articles are in blue, and the suffixes in black (and the smileys, which
represent the adjective, are in green):
Singular
Indefinite

Singular
Definite

Plural
Indefinite

Plural
Definite

Masculine/
feminine

den

-e

-e

de

-e

Neuter

-t

det

-e

-e

de

-e

So when you want to describe a noun, you first use these rules replacing the weird,
little smiley with the adjective you prefer, and then you put the conjugated noun
behind the whole bunch.
Adjectives can of course be written in the end of a sentence too, using the verb "to
be", like this:
The boy is big
Gutten er stor
The house is big
Huset er stort
The boys are big
Guttene er store
The houses are big
Husene er store
You can see that in this case you have to use the rules for indefinite adjectives,
although the noun is definite. So when the adjective stands alone, we can say that
it's always conjugated as if it was indefinite (first and third column of the table),
and no articles are used in front of the noun.

Here is a vocabulary containing some important adjectives:

good
bad
big
small
nice
ugly

god / bra
drlig
stor
liten
fin
stygg
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Note that even god gets the -t ending in neuter gender, although godt might look
stupid to you.

What?! More exceptions?!!

There are of course some exceptions from the adjective


rules:

Bra always has the same form (oh yeah, true, a funny word for English
speakers).
Adjectives ending with -lig do not get the -t suffix. The same rule is for
some other words, like glad (happy) and all adjectives ending with -e.
Adjectives ending with two equal consonants lose one of them when they get
the -t suffix (stygg - stygt).
Adjectives ending with a vowel do not get -e suffix, and get -tt instead of the
normal -t suffix.
The adjective liten is conjugated like this:
Singular

Plural

Indefinite

Definite

Indefinite

Definite

liten (m), lita (f), lite (n)

lille

sm

sm

Here are the names of some of the colors in Norwegian:

Grnn

Gul

Bl

Rd

Svart

Hvit

Oransje

Lilla

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The colors are also adjectives, so when you describe a noun with a color, you must
remember the suffixes. For example:
Et rdt hus = A red house
Grnne baller = Green balls

Oransje and lilla are exceptions, and do never get any suffix. Remember
that bl ends with a vowel, and therefore doesn't take the -e suffix, and that its tform is bltt.
Perhaps someday you'll hear this on a football game in Norway:
"Vi er rde, hvite, bl..." (We are red, white, blue...)

This page is about the genitive. And what's the genitive? Answer: a grammatical
form that indicates the possession of something. In English this is normally
indicated by 's, or by a single apostrophe:
Lisa's house
John's car
James' mother
But these phrases, let's use the last one as an example, can also be said like this in
English: The mother of James.
In Norwegian an "-s" is added, as in English, but without the apostrophe. However,
if the name is ending with an -s or an sound similar to s, only a single apostrophe is
added, like in English. What now? Yes, the examples:
Geirs mor = Geir's mother
Annes hus = Anne's house
Anders' biler = Anders' cars
Note that this s-form is widely used in Norwegian, also in expressions like "The
capital of Norway" (Norges hovedstad).
Instead of the -s, you can add a whole word: "sin". This is always optional, but can
be especially useful when you are talking and the name is already ending with"-s".
If the object is of neuter gender, you don't say "sin", but "sitt". If it's plural you
use "sine". Compare with the adjective suffixes you just learned. Here you find
them again, just with a double t.
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Geir sin mor = Geir's mother


Anne sitt hus = Anne's house
Anders sine biler = Anders' cars
There is also a third way to express possession, which is widely used as well. It's a
bit more complex, and looks like this:
Definite form of the object + "til" + The owner
Mora til Geir = Geir's mother
Huset til Anne = Anne's house
Bilene til Anders = Anders' cars
An important thing to note is that this third way to express genitive can only be
used when a person is the owner of the object, never in expressions like "The
kingdom of Norway" and "The king of Norway". These are special, and look like
this: "Kongeriket Norge" and "Kongen av Norge / Norges konge".
to be

vre

er

to speak / talk

snakke

snakker

to be called

hete

heter

to learn

lre

lrer

to live

bo

bor

to have

ha

har

to see

se

ser

to walk / to go g

gr

to say

si

sier

to do

gjre

gjr

And here you have some new ones:


to eat

spise

spiser

to drink

drikke

drikker

to play

spille

spiller

to like

like

liker

to love

elske

elsker

ou know what that verb tense in the header is called? Imperative. It's the tense you
use when you tell someone to do something. In English, it's a bit hard to spot,

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because there's no obvious difference between the present tense and imperative.
Look at this, and you'll understand:
Present

Imperative

I eat fish.

Eat fish!

You come here every


day.

Come here every day!

I don't
speakNorwegian.

Don't
speakNorwegian!

I'm sure you're going


to learn this.

Learn this!

So in English, the present tense and the imperative look the same. In Norwegian
they don't.
As you should have noticed, all Norwegian verbs in infinitive end with a vowel
(turn back one page if you haven't noticed). This vowel is always -e, as long as the
word consists of more than one syllable. One-syllabled words can end with any
vowel.
The rule to form the imperative in Norwegian is:
1. If the verb consists of more than one syllable, remove the last -e.
2. If the verb consists of only one syllable, do nothing.
Easy! That means that the imperative form of the verb se ("to see") is...

Se!
And the imperative of the verb lre is...

Lr!
To make it negative, put ikke in front of the verb:
Don't speak English! = Ikke snakk engelsk!
Don't see! = Ikke se!

water

vann

beer

food

mat
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fish

fisk

football

fotball

guitar

gitar

And some adverbs:


fast

fort

slowly

sakte

much / a lot

mye

With what you now know, translate the following imperative sentences. Click
"Check answers" when you're ready (to clear the field if you commit a typo, just
click on it). And as always, don't give up before you have them all right!

drink water!

don't drink beer!

eat food!

speak slowly!

don't play guitar!

walk a lot!
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Word list

English
and
bad
ball
be (v)
be called (v)
big
black
blue
boy
but
brother
bye
car
clock
country
day
do (v)
drive (v)
eight
few
fine
five
flower
four
from
girl
good
good
goodbye
green
he
hello
hi
house
how
how many
how much

Norwegian
og
drlig
ball (m)
vre (v)
hete (v)
stor
svart
bl
gutt (m)
men
bror (m)
ha det
bil (m)
klokke (f)
land (n)
dag
gjre (v)
kjre (v)
tte
f
bra
fem
blomst (m)
fire
fra
jente (f)
bra
god
ha det bra
grnn
han
hallo
hei
hus (n)
hvordan
hvor mange
hvor mye
20

how old
I
in
it
it
learn (v)
live (v)
man
many
much
nine
no
Norway
Norwegian
nice
not
one
or
orange
own (v)
red
see (v)
seven
she
sister
six
small
sorry / excuse me
speak / talk (v)
ten
thanks / thank you
the
the
the (pl.)
they
three
to
tree
two
ugly
very
violet
walk (v)
watch
we

hvor gammel
jeg
i
den
det
lre (v)
bo (v)
mann (m)
mange
mye
ni
nei
Norge
norsk
fin
ikke
en
eller
oransje
eie (v)
rd
se (v)
sju
hun
sster (f)
seks
liten
unnskyld
snakke (v)
ti
takk
den
det
de
de
tre
til
tre (n)
to
stygg
veldig
lilla
g (v)
klokke (f)
vi
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what
when
where
which
white
who
why
woman
yellow
yes
you
you (pl.)
zero

hva
nr
hvor
hvilken
hvit
hvem
hvorfor
kvinne (f)
gul
ja
du
dere
null

Fun fact: verbs can be combined. Not only in Norwegian of course. Check out these
English phrases:
I like to eat fish.
I love to play football.
The verbs are underlined.
We have already seen these two verbs in Norwegian: like, elske.
And in Norwegian it works in exactly the same way!
I like to eat fish. = Jeg liker spise fisk.
I love to play football. = Jeg elsker spille fotball.
So the formula is that the first verb goes in present tense (if we are talking about the
present), and then the second verb goes in its infinitive form, with the infinitive
marker (), exactly as it does in English.
You should be able to translate these two now:

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You like to eat much.

I love to talk fast.


Du liker spise mye.
Jeg elsker snakke fort.

"Modal verbs" sounds hard, but it's not. The modal verbs are used as the first of two
combined verbs, and they work exactly like "like" and "love" in the previous
examples, with one exception: you don't use the infinitive marker.
We can have a look at some examples from English:
We must win this game!
This will be the best vacation ever!
As you see, we have combinations of two verbs, without "to" between them.
Now we'll give you some Norwegian modal verbs. We don't really need them in
infinitive yet, so you'll have them only in the present tense, which is the tense we'll
be working with. Be aware that the English translations aren't always modal verbs
in English.
want to

vil

must / have to

can

kan

This gives us the following examples:


I want to eat fish. = Jeg vil spise fisk
You have to (must) learn Norwegian. = Du m lre norsk.
We can speak Norwegian. = Vi kan snakke norsk.
It's the same as before, you just have to skip the "" when the verb is modal.

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The future
All this takes us back to the future. Why? Because the future tense in Norwegian, as in
English, is formed by combining verbs.
In English we have this:
I am going to eat fish.
I will eat fish.
The two mean almost the same, and they both refer to the future. As you can observe, in the
first case we have a normal verb combination consisting of a verb in present tense ("am")
and a verb in infinitive with its infinitive marker ("to eat"). This means that the main verb,
"eat", is something that is going to happen in the future. In the second example, we have a
modal verb, "will", plus the main verb, "eat", this time without the infinitive marker
because, just because the verb is modal.
In Norwegian, there is a special modal verb for the future tense:
"future"

skal

This one is used when we're talking about something that is decided to happen, i.e. that we,
or someone else, can kind of control it.
Examples:
I am going to eat fish. = Jeg skal spise fisk.
They are going to play football. = De skal spille fotball.
You are going to read. = Du skal lese.
We are going to watch a film. = Vi skal se en film.
Or even without a second verb:
We are going to Norway. = Vi skal til Norge.

If the future happening is something more involuntary or less controlled, we need to use a
different strategy in Norwegian. Examples of this are phrases like:
It will rain tomorrow.

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You will love this fish.


These are things that will just happen, with less planning.
On the next page, we'll see how to express this. Meanwhile, learn these few words:
to rain

regne

regner

to snow

sn

snr

tomorrow

i morgen

soon

snart

More future
The future that is less controlled, and maybe a bit more uncertain, is expressed with the
following formula:
kommer til + + main verb in infinitive
It might be a bit hard to distinguish these two types of future, so here you have a series of
examples of the latter type:
It will rain tomorrow = Det kommer til regne i morgen.
You will love this fish. = Du kommer til elske denne fisken.
You will like the food. = Du kommer til like maten.
You will learn Norwegian very fast! = Du kommer til lre norsk veldig fort!
As you see, in the English translations, we have been using "going to" for the most
controlled future, and "will" for the less controlled one. This doesn't always hold, but it
works as a rule of thumb.
You'll be able to practice the two future construction in the exam on the next page. But first,
the observant reader must have noted the following: We have learned the verb "to love", but
we still haven't learned how to say the most basic of all phrases: "I love you"! Ok, here it
comes:

Jeg elsker deg!


Note the object form of "deg" (which would have been "du" in its subject form)...or just
learn the phrase

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Snakk fort! Ikke spis blomstene. Lr norsk! Jeg liker spille fotball Vi elsker bo i
Norge. Du m snakke sakte. Hun vil se huset. Jeg elsker deg! Vi skal spise fisk i
morgen. Det kommer til sn i morgen. Dere kommer til snakke det snart. Han
kan snakke norsk.

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