Introduction to Nynorsk/Pronouns and verbs

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The personal pronouns[edit]

Table of personal pronouns. The possessives and genitives are presented in the following manner: masculine | feminine | neuter | plural

Personal pronouns
Person Subjective case Objective case Genitiv or possessive English
Singular 1. eg meg min mi mitt mine I
2. du deg din di ditt dine you
3. m. han hans he
3. f. ho ho or henne hennar she
3. n. det (dess) it
Plural 1. me or vi oss vår vårt våre we
2. de or dokker dykk or dokker dykkar or dokkar you (plural)
3. dei deira they

Introduction to verbs[edit]

Most verbs in Nynorsk have a particular vowel ending in infinitive, which will here be referred to as the infinitive ending. The are two such to infinitive endings: -a and -e. As an example, take å spela and å spele, which means "to play". This book will use the infintive ending -a: å spela. å is the infinitive marker and works in a similar or identical way to its English counterpart.


One of the most important verbs is vera (or vere, with the other infinitive ending) and means "to be". Its inflection is highly irregular:

å vera
Infinitive Present tense Past tense Past participle / [Pluperfect] Present participle
vera er var [har] vore verande
be is was [have] been "being"1
1: "being" is usually no good translation for verande, which is most often used in the two adjectival senses "staying" and "suitable [to stay at]". Examples: Vert verande! ("Stay there!") and Der er ikkje verande. ("It's not suitable to stay there.")

Note that Nynorsk does not inflect verbs in number and person like English does; in Nynorsk it is both Eg er ("I am") and Dei er ("they are"). When used as adjectives (past participle), however, a lot of verbs are inflected in number and gender (but never in person). har means "have" and is used in the same way as English have to create pluperfect forms: Eg har vore der. ("I have been there."). Note that the pluperfect minus har equals the neuter form of the past participle.

Many verbs in Nynorsk have an irregular inflection, but a lot of verbs do fall into two regular categories:

regular verbs
Class Infinitive Present tense Past tense Past participle / [Pluperfect] Present participle
v1 kasta kastar kasta [har] kasta kastande
- throw throws threw [have] thrown throwing
v2 lysa lyser lyste [har] lyst lysande
- be alight is alight was alight [have] been alight being alight
v3 bu bur budde [har] butt or budd buande
- live lives lived [have] lived living

Note that for the second class, v2, the past participle differentiates between number and definiteness:

past participle, v2
Singular indefinite Singular definite Plural
lyst lyste lyste

Example: Elva er lyst (sg. indef.) opp av måneskinet. ("The river is lit by the moonlight.") and Elvane er lyste (pl.) opp av måneskinet. ("The rivers are lit by the moonlight.")

Irregular verbs[edit]

The irregular verbs are characterised by a changing root vowel, just like in English. Below is a list of several irregular verbs. As noted earlier, the pluperfect form is har + the neuter form of the past participle (e.g. Dei har kome means "They have come", cf. the table below).

irregular verbs
Infinitive Present tense Past tense Neuter past participle Present participle Meaning in English
ta(ka)1 tek or tar tok teke or tatt takande take
finna finn fann funne finnande find
kunna kan kunne kunna kunnande can
ko(m)ma2 kjem kom kom(m)e kom(m)ande come
sjå ser såg sett sjåande see
halda held heldt halde haldande hold
gje(va) gjev gav gjeve gjevande give
dra(ga) dreg or drar drog drege or dratt/-dd3 dragande pull
1:Several verbs have a longer, older form and a shorter, newer form. The shorter form is typically the most common form. In this case, the two forms are taka and ta. Additionally, there is the form take, with -e as the infinitive ending. The -a in ta is not an infinitive ending; i.e. there is no such form as *te
2: This is another feature that will bother you as you study Nynorsk: parallel forms whose only difference is an m. In this case, the two forms are koma and komma; with yet one more parallel forms for each: kome and komme. koma is the older form, but is still in widespread use.
3: Subsitute -tt for -dd to get the last form. The three forms are thus drege, dratt and dradd

Some verbs are only partially irregular due to the changes they have gone through since Old Norwegian. Some of them are listed below.

semi-irregular verbs
Infinitive Present tense Past tense Neuter past participle Present participle Meaning in English
ha har hadde hatt havande have
går gjekk gått gåande walk, go
stå står stod stått ståande stand
får fekk fått fåande get, receive

Generally, the present tense is used differently in Nynorsk compared to English. In English one would typically say "He is coming." rather than "He comes.". In Nynorsk, it's only the latter sentence structure that is used in regular verb use: Han kjem. The same holds for other English constructions with verbs like "are/is" and "do", and often "will". E.g. the English sentence "Are you coming?" is Kjem du? in Nynorsk. Likewise "What do you see?" is Kva ser du?, which translated literally would be "What see you?". "I will fix it" is Eg ordnar det, where å ordna is v1 and means "to fix"; so the literal translation is "I fix (present tense) it".

Imperative[edit]

For the v1 class of verbs, the imperative is traditionally equal to the infinitive, like in English: kasta det! ("throw it!") In most contemporary texts, however, the imperative for the v1 class is formed in the same manner as all the other classes:

  1. If the verb has no infinitive ending, the imperative is identical to the infinitive: sjå! ("look!")
  2. If the verb has an infinitive ending and the two letters that precede it are two different consonants, the infinitive is typcially used as imperative in order to make the pronunciation easier: lagra! ("save!", as in a computer interface), but the infinitive ending can also be removed: lagr! ("save!")
  3. If neither of the two previous conditions are met, the imperative is normally created by removing the infinitive ending from the infinitive: kom! ("come!")

Examples[edit]

Try to figure out the meaning of the following sentences by using the tables above. The answer is accessed by hovering the mouse pointer over the sentence.

  1. Eg går heim. (heim = home)
  2. Me ser det.
  3. Han fann fjernkontrollen. (fjernkontrollen = the remote controll)
  4. Kvar har du vore? (kvar = where)
  5. Ho fekk ei gåve. (ei gåve = a present)
  6. Har de sett boka mi? (boka = the book)
  7. Huset er vårt. (huset = the house)