Norwegian Grammar

Introduction to the Norwegian grammar


Numerous ancient borrowings

During the 800s and 900s, Vikings from Scandinavia invaded England and brought much of their vocabulary into the languages. The pronoun they and most words beginning with sc-, such as scowl, sky, score and scorn, were borrowed during this period from the Old Norse language, from which developed modern Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

The basics of Norwegian grammar

Norwegian is a language that is more inflected than English but much less so than Latin or Russian. A point must be made of the gender system. While English and German have both preserved the three-way distinction between masculine, feminine and neuter nouns, in more conservative forms of Bokmål (literally “book tongue” - one of the two official forms of Norwegian) the first two have become fused into what is variously referred to as the “common” or “non-neuter” gender. The feminine gender still exists optionally, however. Nouns have two numbers and can also be declined for definiteness and indefiniteness, which would correspond in English to whether a noun is used with the definite article (the) or the indefinite article (a(n)). Case exists in German and Dutch, but in Norwegian it is marked only for definite nouns and only in some dialects. Adjectives have two sets of endings according to whether they modify a definite or indefinite noun. Pronouns have their own inflections, distinguishing solely between the nominative and accusative forms.

The verb system is another simple aspect of Norwegian grammar. It is not marked for person (therefore the pronoun must be included) and has separate forms for the present, past, subjunctive and imperative. The passive voice - in contrast to that of English (“It is found”) - is a simple form (“Det finst”).

Many simple words in Norwegian can be combined to form larger ones. For instance, terrasse (terrace) and dør (door) combined to form terrassedør (terrace door).

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