How to argue in Norwegian

Sometimes the person you’re trying to convince is yourself! Tor is a peaceful guy. (And he always follows the traffic rules!) But today he finds himself in a situation where he needs to know how to argue in Norwegian.

How to argue in Norwegian -

Arguments are often unnecessary, but we cannot help it — sometimes we do end up in a deadlock of disagreement, like  

- Yes…

- No.

- Yes!

- No!


This would not be the best way to argue with a policeman, not even if Norway, but it’s often how children negotiate. Or adults who know each other well…  

Let us have a silly argument in Norwegian! Are you ready? I bet you think it goes like this:  

- Nei

- Ja

- Nei

- Ja


Well, you’re WRONG. - Wanna argue with me about that?  

Thing is, we Norwegians LOVE winning an argument (who doesn’t), so we have made ourselves a secret weapon.  



That’s it. It’s a great word! It means: More Yes than Yes!  

The main difference between “Ja” and “Jo” is that “More Yes than Yes” is always stronger than Yes.  

So our simple Norwegian word fight would go like this:  

- Ja!

- Nei!

- Jo!


Simple and fun.  

It’s a bit like Rock - Paper - Scissors. Don’t know that game? Check it out here!  

Rock can CRUSH the Scissors Scissors can CUT the Paper Paper can WRAP itself around the Rock  


  1. Ja is trumped by Nei
  2. Nei by Jo
  3. And Jo is hard to beat…

  - Is there a “more No than No” word as well? I hear you ask.  

Unfortunately not. You have to do something else:  


Make the word longer!

Children will stretch out the Ja or Nei as a way of upping the game.  

Kid 1 says:

Nehei (pronounced “Næh-hei!”)

To top that one, Kid 2 says

“Jo-o!” or “Jo-ho!”

Kid 1:


Kid 2:

Jo ho-ho!

...which is quite funny…

And then there is nothing left for the second child than to say:



I’m not kidding.  

Maybe you haven’t gotten close enough to Norwegians to see them behave like this, but I can assure you it is QUITE entertaining!  

When children get old enough to have engineering degrees, this kind of behavior gives way to complete and somewhat polite sentences (unless they are running for President in the United States…)  

But the “Jo” is never far away when we want to assert our “Yes”.  


The ever useful “Jo”

“Jo” is also handy when you‘re not exactly arguing, but want to be so convincing that no one would dream of arguing with you.  

“Jo” is an intensifier, like “indeed” or “absolutely”, Think “as you well know” or “I don’t need to tell you”.  

Vi har jo ikke råd til det We can not afford that (as you well know)
Jeg har jo allerede sagt det I’ve already said that (as you well heard)
Du har jo ikke sett ham på fire år! You have (indeed) not seen him for four years!


Sometimes the person you’re trying to convince is yourself!  

Jeg la jo nettop lommeboken min her (I know) I just put my wallet here…
Jeg sendte jo inn dette skjemaet allerede I already submitted this form, (I promise you..)


“Jo” can also be used as simple positive reinforcement.  

Det var jo veldig kjekt That sure was nice!


And finally, “Jo” can also express or suggest intent:  

Da kan jeg jo egentlig bare slutte her So it’s probably best that I finish here
Hvis du likte denne artikkelen, kan du jo dele den med noen! If you liked this article, you could always share it with someone!


Too easy? Step up the game with Norskpoddens next level episode; Hvordan krangle på norsk!

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Yngvil Vatn Guttu

Yngvil Vatn Guttu
25 Oct, 2016