Norwegian/Lesson 2

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Norwegian | Table of Contents - Introduction - Lesson 1 - Lesson 2 - Lesson 3

Lesson 2 ~ Grunnleggende grammatikk

Gender of Nouns

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Norwegian Bokmål has three genders - feminine, masculine and neuter. Each noun is associated with one specific gender only. There are no simple rules for knowing which noun belongs to which gender; the only way to learn which is which is to memorize it. However nearly all feminine words can also be used as masculine words. In fact the dialect of Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, has no feminine gender and the same goes for the moderate version of Bokmål and Riksmål (the traditional written form of Bokmål, still is used by many). For example the noun ‘dame’ (‘lady’ or ‘woman’) can be inflected as: ei dame/en dame - dama/damen (a woman - the woman) and ‘dør’ as ei dør/en dør - døra/døren (a door - the door). In addition very few common words actually belong to neuter. That means that you can assume that nouns are masculine and just memorize those that are neuter.

In English nouns are inflected only by using a/an/the. That is because the word ‘cat’/cats’, for example, is the same in both the indefinite and the definite form. In Norwegian it is done by inflecting the noun instead. Notice also that the ending 't' of the definite singular neuter is silent.

Basic inflectional patterns

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Here are examples from each of the three genders. Inflection pattern is marked with bold text.

Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
f ei skål skåla skåler skålene
m en hest hesten hester hestene
n et brev brevet brev breva/brevene

However, in Norwegian Bokmål, there's an alternative method of inflecting nouns, which basically turns feminine nouns into masculine. This is both accepted and common to do. If you choose to do this, you should also avoid using the a-form of the definite plural neuter.

When speaking, native speakers will often mix between masculine and feminine inflection of nouns. For example, you could say: en klokke - klokka (a clock - the clock). Here, the indefinite singular form is in the masculine ("en klokke" instead of "ei klokke") while the definite singular form is in the feminine.

Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
f en skål skålen skåler skålene
m en hest hesten hester hestene
n et brev brevet brev brevene

Check out Appendix 1: Advanced Noun Inflection to see all the ways the nouns can be inflected.

Definite and Indefinite Articles

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The Indefinite Article

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In English the indefinite articles are "a" and "an" (singular) or "some" (plural).

In Norwegian, the indefinite singular articles are dependent upon the gender of the noun being addressed. The indefinite plural article is the same for all genders. In the previous tables, you've already been introduced to the singular indefinite articles.

Singular Plural
f ei/en flere/noen
m en flere/noen
n et flere/noen

Personal Pronouns

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These are very similar to the English personal pronouns. You'll quickly recognize them

Subject (nominative) Object (accusative)
Norwegian English Norwegian English
1st Person Singular Jeg I Meg Me
2nd Person Singular Du You Deg You
3rd Person Singular Han
1st Person Plural Vi We Oss Us
2nd Person Plural (also polite) Dere You Dere You
3rd Person Plural/
Polite 2nd Person Singular
De They Dem Them

The Polite 2nd Person Singular forms 'De' and 'Dem' and the Polite 2nd Person Plural form 'Dere' are always capitalized, unlike the other pronouns, which follow normal rules for casing. For example whilst "Jeg elsker dem" means "I love them", "Jeg elsker Dem" means "I love you". As a sidenote, the use of these polite forms is becoming rarer and they are very seldom used in everyday language.

Both “den” and “det” mean “it”. If the noun is masculine or feminine “den” is used and “det” is used if the noun is neuter.


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Learning verbs in Norwegian is easier than most other things you have learnt so far. Unlike English, verbs in Norwegian inflect only for tense and mood. Here's an example - the verbs "to be" and "to run":

  English Norwegian
I am      Jeg er
You are      Du er
He is      Han er
She is      Hun er
It is      Den/Det er
We are      Vi er
You are      Dere er
They are      De er
  English Norwegian
I run      Jeg løper
You run      Du løper
He runs      Han løper
She runs      Hun løper
It runs      Den/Det løper
We run      Vi løper
You run      Dere løper
They run      De løper