How to ask questions in Norwegian
In this article you will learn how to extract information in the style of "Torlock Holmes"! There is more to questions than chatting someone up. Information can be gleaned, mysteries can be solved. Or perhaps you just want a simple Yes or No answer?
One of the first things you learned to say in Norwegian was
Hva heter du?
So you already know for sure, that question words in Norwegian often begin with “Hv”. They don’t always, but often. Here are the Hv- question words:
“Hv” – spørreord
Hvem Who Hva What Hvor Where Hvordan How Hvorfor Why (literally wherefore… a bit like Shakespeare, innit…) Hvilken Which, what
When someone asks:
Hvem har gjort det
You typically WANT answer who dunnit if you know it.
When someone asks:
Hva gjorde du mellom klokken 17 og klokken 18 sist fredag?
You probably can't remember…
Hvor har jeg lagt fra meg forstørrelsesglasset?
I hope you find your magnifying glass…
Hvordan kan det ha seg at du SOV gjennom ti revolverskudd?
I'm a heavy sleeper!
Hvorfor MÅ jeg lære norsk?
Don’t get me started…… etc…
A couple of unique ones:
Translates to How many (literally where many?) weird… same with
How much (does it cost)
Note that the Hv- words in Norwegian have a Wh – equivalent in English. That's because back in the Viking days our languages were siblings. Now we’re more like distant cousins…
Spørreord uten Hv
I can think of ONE exception from the above – it’s a Wh- word in English, but for some reason that didn’t translate to "Hven" in Norwegian. Rather, the word is Når = When
Ja- og Nei- spørsmål
Norwegians are people of few words (Yours Truly is a proud exception). For many Norwegians, asking a question is simply a painful, necessary way of getting a vital confirmation or “defirmation” from someone. Then they scuttle back to their wool stuffed hovels... But look what happens if you start your sentence with Hvem or Hva or another Hv- word? It is downright IMPOSSIBLE for me to answer with Yes or No! Darn it – I have to pass up some information!
Hvilken sjokolade liker du best?
Oooops, I meant to ask: Liker du Kvikk Lunsj – Yes or No?
Hvem er din favorittpopstjerne?
Oooops, I meant to ask: Do you like Lady Gaga – Yes or No?
For Norskbloggen’s “viral” article on how to say "Yes" in Norwegian, click here.
Getting a simple answer
So, what ARE the good question words that guarantee Yes/No answers? Think about it in English for a second – the cousin language probably has the same system…
Have you done it? Yes/No
Har du gjort det? Ja/Nei
So HAR is a good one Another word which works great is "is" (Er):
Er det du som heter Sherlock?
Tor will have to say Nei, coz he’s only in costume - - - Er is a great word to start with … Another one:
KOMMER du snart?
Hang on… Is there a hidden clue here? What do the three words Har, Er, Kommer have in common? Can’t answer that one with Yes or No, can ya?
Correct – they are VERBS!!! This is a major breakthrough in our investigation!
All Verbs can be question words! All Verbs can be question words! All Verbs can be question words!
Just put a Verb first in the sentence, and you have indeed formulated a question!!! A Yes/No question at that. Now we can all go home!!! But just a moment – before you go:
Final word of wisdom
Hv- words and the exception Når all have the power to create complete sentences of their own:
Hæ? (means "Hva" in many parts of Norway…)
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