Norwegian Language Blog

´hos´a Norwegian word with many meanings Posted by on Sep 20, 2010 in Language

I find the word hos quite interesting.  Until recently I didn´t know it had so many betydninger( meanings).  The other day a Norwegian was asking me if I thought Norwegian was a hard language to learn.  I explained that although French and Spanish are the only other languages of which I have some comprehension, I have found Norwegian to be quite an easy language to learn.  We discussed the simplicity of Norwegian grammar and verb conjugation (or lack thereof rather) and the size of the Norwegian vocabulary: very small.  He said that he didn´t think English was very hard to learn, but the English vocabulary is so much larger.  He said, ´I don´t understand why you need so many different words.  We have much fewer words.  Many words have multiple betydninger, but as long as you can follow the context, it´s no problem.´ He is absolutely right-we certainly don´t need so many words to express ourselves.

Back to hos, a word that has many betydninger.  It can mean at, from, of, with, by, and among.   I can´t think of a word in English that has so many betydninger .  It works so well though, because everyone understands which meaning hos has in a sentence based on what else is said.  Now that you know the different betydninger of the word hos, I´ll show you examples of the word in sentences, all of which have slightly different betydninger.

Hvordan står det til hos dem? How is it going with them?

Skal du sove hos Børge i kveld? Are you going to sleep at Børge´s tonight?

Jeg brukte masse penger hos dyrelegen i år. I spent a lot of money at the vet this year.

Boka ligger inne hos meg. The book is in my room.

Tålmodighet er et godt egenskap hos henne. Patience is a good quality of her´s.

Wibeke søker råd hos psykolog. Wibeke seeks advice from a psychologist.

Jeg skal spise middag hos Tove i kveld.  I´m going to eat dinner at Tove´s tonight.

Hos, it´s a great word!  Simple but has so many betydninger!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. BM:

    I like to simply think of ‘hos’ as having the meaning “at a location”. Of course, this isn’t always translated the same way into English, but the meaning is consistent.

  2. LGB:

    I always thought that it’s not a fair thing to compare the meaning of a single word with other language. I think “hos” (or any other word) has a more or less well defined meaning. It’s possible that compared to English it’s just English which uses another word all around where Norwegian uses “hos” all the time, it does not mean that “hos” has all those meanings you’ve mentioned. As far as I remember there was an example sentence that ends with “… hos meg” meaning “with me” but to be correct it more or less meaning that “at my place” (I can be wrong for sure!). In my brain it always turns out that “hos” means something like “at”, like “at my place” etc etc. Sorry maybe I can’t express myself well enough but maybe you could get my point. I am interested in your opinion on my theory because I am only a hobby learner I have been in Oslo/Norway just for two weeks in my life, and not too much other Norwegians around here in Hungary to speak with them 🙂

  3. John:

    This word confuses me a bit. I’m a beginner. Is it used very often? Are there any specific moments it’s used instead of the other words? Or in specific dialects, etc?

  4. Catherine:

    Very helpful article thank you. I sometimes think that “hos” has a similar meaning to the word “chez” in French!