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Verbs in the Mirror Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Grammar

Koser dere dere? (Are you enjoying yourselves?) No, the double dere (you guys) isn’t a mistake – it’s a fun reflex of the Norwegian system of refleksive verb (reflexive verbs). There is a difference between I wash myself and I wash the dog, so speakers of many languges found a way to refer back to … themselves. A reflexive verb in Norwegian is used with the corresponding reflexive pronoun – for example å kose seg (to enjoy oneself, to have a good time):

Den ser seg i speilet… (Photo courtesy of Brianfagan at Flickr, CC License.)

jeg koser meg – vi koser oss

du koser deg – dere koser dere

han, hun, den/det koser seg – de koser seg

Note that seg corresponds to either himself, herself or themselves in English.

Some of these verbs are used both with and without the reflexive pronoun: Jeg vasker meg. Jeg vasker hunden. Many of them, however, are reflexive 99% of the time, and may even change their meaning if you forget the extra pronoun – be ware! Han reiser seg (He gets up) isn’t the same as Han reiser (He’s travelling). A few verbs are always reflexive, such as å grue seg (to dread). Here are some very common Norwegian reflexive verbs:

å skynde seg – to hurry

å glede seg – to look forward to

å gifte seg – to marry

å forelske seg – to fall in love

å sette seg – to sit down

å legge seg – to go to bed (Da går vi og legger oss. Then we’ll go to bed.)

å kjede seg – to be bored

å konsentrere seg – to focus

å klare seg – to manage, to be allright (Vi klarer oss! We’ll be okay!)

å grue seg – to dread

å oppføre seg – to behave

å skamme seg – to be ashamed

å pynte seg – to adorn oneself

å øve seg – to practice

å sole seg – to sunbathe

å ha på seg – to wear (Hun hadde på seg en blomstrete kjole. She wore a flowery dress.)

å like seg  to thrive (De liker seg i Norge. They’re realy thriving in Norway.)

å klippe seg – to get a haircut

å slanke seg – to slim, to get slimmer

å ønske seg – to wish

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About the Author:Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


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