Norwegian Language Blog

4 Easy Ways To Be Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


It’s been a while since I last talked to you about grammatikk (grammar). For some learners, that’s just a necessary evil. I always argue that learning grammar can be just as fun as exploring the culture or learning vocabulary. Let’s talk about å være (”aw vare”, to be).

One of the first Norwegian words you’ll hear, is the present tense er (is, are, am):

Jeg er kjempeglad! (I’m very happy!)

Hvem er du? (Who’re you?)

Familien min er på ferie. (My family is on holiday.)

De er i Spania. (They’re in Spain.)


Easy, right? In order to make questions, you just move er up front:

Er du jenta fra USA? (Are you the girl from the US?)

Er dere ferdige? (Are you finished?)

Er han hjemme, tror du? (Do you think he’s at home?)


Negative phrases are made by inserting the little word ikke right behind er:

Nei, jeg er ikke fra USA. (No, I’m not from the US.)

Nei, han er ikke hjemme i dag. (No, he’s not at home today.)


When making questions, the word ikke stays at its place!

Er han ikke hjemme på torsdag heller? (Is he not at home on Thursday either?)


Stuck in the past

The past tense works in the same way. You just replace er by var (was, were)!

Hvor var du i går? (Where were you yesterday?)

Hun var ikke maler i 1997. (She wasn’t a painter in 1997.)


Has been, had been…

When you want to tell people where or what you have been, the words to use are har vært [har VARE-t]. In the past, that’s hadde vært (had been). It all works pretty much as in English:

Pål har vært sjømann i sju år. (Paul has been a sailor for seven years.)

De hadde aldri vært på Glittertind før. (They had never been on Mount Glittertind before.)


Vær forsiktig!

Be careful!

  1. There’s no direct way to say I am waiting… or Are you coming? in Norwegian. Instead, you just say Jeg venter… (I wait) and Kommer du? (Come you?)
  2. Very often when telling where something is (located), Norwegians will use the words ligger (lie[s]), sitter (sit[s]) or står (stand[s])

Sarpsborg ligger i Østfold. (Sarpsborg is in Østfold.)

Jeg sitter i stua! (I’m in the living room!)

Vinen står i skapet. (The wine is in the cupboard.)

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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.


  1. scharon de almeida adamson:

    I must agree that grammar is fun. It also gives insight about the culture and that is fun too. Thanks for the post!

  2. janelle v:

    praktisk ord som er veldig hjelpsom hverdag. takk