Danish Language Blog

Nothing and everything Posted by on Aug 24, 2018 in Grammar

(Free image from Pixabay; no copyright.)

Sometimes *everything* seems chaotic, and *nothing* makes sense. Fortunately, the language we speak provides us with words to communicate these extremes. Let’s look at the Danish all-inclusive menu of nothingness…

In order to ”remove” things when speaking Danish, ingen (no one) and ikke (not) are your best tools.
Combine ikke with noget (anything) or nogen (anyone), and there’s nothing you can’t eliminate! 🙂
Der er ingen hjemme. (There’s nobody at home.)
De havde ingen penge. (They had no money.)
Hun kendte ikke nogen i den store by. (She knew no one in the big city. / She didn’t know anybody in the big city.)
Du går ingen vegne [vye-neh]! (Don’t you go anywhere!)
Men jeg har jo ikke gjort noget! (But I haven’t done anything!)
Det ved jeg ikke noget om… (I know nothing about that…)
Mias familie har en hundehvalp, men vi har ikke nogen. (Mia’s family has got a puppy, but we haven’t got any.)

Instead of ikke noget (nothing) it’s also possible to say intet and ingenting. Intet sounds a bit more affirmative and maybe literary, but there are no strict rules here…
Der er intet i verden så stille som sne. (There’s nothing in the world as silent as snow. – A saying which comes from an old song. 🙂 )
Hvad tænker du på? – Ingenting. (What are you thinking about? – Nothing.)

When feeling linguistically inclusive, use some variety of alle (everybody, literally ”everybodies”), alt (everything) or hver(t) (each).
Alle har været så søde og rare! (Everybody’s been so kind and friendly! – Note that the adjectivs take the plural form!)
Alle børnene legede på stranden. (All the children were playing at the beach.)
Alt var stille. (Everything was quiet.)
Hver dag er en ny dag. (Every day is a new day.)

Of course it is also possible to talk about time in extreme ways! 🙂
Jeg vil altid elske dig. (I will always love you.)
Hvorfor vasker du aldrig op? (Why do you never do the dishes?)

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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.