How to get the attention of a Norwegian

So, you need to practice your Norwegian. Talking to a native speaker is recommended. But how do you actually START a conversation with a Norwegian specimen? Knowing how to strike up a conversation is knowing an important piece of social code. Let’s follow Tor to see how he approaches other people when he needs to talk to them…  

How to get the attention of a Norwegian -

This blog post is about something very simple: how to open a face-to-face conversation with simple means. More and more of our interaction happens via phone or online. One of the benefits of that is that we can express ourselves in writing and the recipient can decide when to address incoming phone calls and text or email messages.  

But when you’re in the same room as someone, (whether they’re on the phone tending to one of those messages or not), there are some really simple verbal ways to get a Norwegian’s attention:  

Small words have big results

The Norwegian language has a variety of small words and longer sentences which all come close to meaning "Excuse me" or “May I have your attention”…   Situations vary. But below you will find what you need, whether you’re sitting comfortably at home in your own living room, standing next to someone in the cantine or at the coffee machine, knocking on your boss’s door or trying to get off the bus.  

These little “openers” will get your listener’s attention as clearly and efficiently as a ringing phone or a knock on their door.  


  Just say the Norwegian word for “You…” and then leave some space open for the other person to notice and invite you to continue.

This is probably the most efficient and therefore the most common way to address people you know well when you want their attention.

It could be your significant other, your friend, familiar colleagues…   Spoken with an upward inflection this is the friendly, non–confrontational attention–getter.   With a downward inflection, you’ve more power behind what you say, and the impression could be that you’re going to give an order.

So unless you follow it up with something really enthusiastic or interesting – you may sound a little pushy!   And if there is more than one person in the room and you want to address them all at once, we have a word for that as well – you guessed it:  


  Now you immediately have EVERYONE'S attention.  

Being polite…

Next, you should consider  

Unnskyld… = Excuse me…

  In other contexts "Unnskyld" can mean "I am sorry", or "I beg your pardon", but not here…   "Unnskyld" has an element of politeness and respect, and again, you can play with the upward or downward inflection to come across as more or less “meek and humble”. It all depends on the situation.   And “unnskyld” together with “du” is a perfect pairing…  

Du, unnskyld


Du, unnskyld meg men…

  Now when you have their attention, you can follow up with one of the following questions, and watch the conversation starting to flow…  

Hallo, der Hello, there
Hei, du… øøøøø… Hi, erm…
Har du et øyeblikk? Do you have a moment?
Har du tid et lite øyeblikk? Do you have time for a short moment?
Forstyrrer jeg? I am disturbing you?
Kan jeg få forstyrre deg litt? May I disturb you a little?
Passer det nå? Is this a good time?
Kan jeg komme inn? Can I come in?
Jeg skulle gjerne ha spurt deg om noe… I would really like to ask something…

  And many more – but these will do for now… Now you’re good to go out in the Big World and start talking to the Norwegians!!!   Was this useful? Please comment in the box below–   Don't forget to share this article with friends and fellow learners of Norwegian!

Would you like to learn more Norwegian?

Sign up today and learn Norwegian with our game-based online language course «Samanehs reise», from beginner level to fluent speaker!

NOK 399 per måned


Single Player Norwegian course

Yngvil Vatn Guttu

Yngvil Vatn Guttu
25 Jan, 2017