Norwegian Language Blog

Greetings Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Hei! is the universal greeting in Norway. It is pronounced with a rising tone, as if you’re really enthusiastic about something! (I guess there’s a reason why the Swedes always make jokes about Norwegians being hyper! 🙂  ) In most of the country, it sounds like it’s halfway between the English greetings hi! and hey!
In some parts of Vestlandet, however, it sounds just like English hi, so just say that, if you’re unsure! (But keep the enthusiasm!)

Hallo? is something you might say when receiving a phone call and you’re not sure who it is (like hello? in English). It’s also okay to say hallo! when shaking someone’s hand, if you feel hei! is too happy-go-lucky. If you see a friend of yours higher up the mountain, hallo! is also an excellent attention shout to use while waving your arms.

God morgen! [gohMORen] works just like good morning in English: A nice thing to say when the person next to you has just woken up from sleep, or when you see your colleages or friends for the first time in the morning. (Go’ morgen is even the name of a popular yoghurt with in-the-box cereals.)

God dag! [goDAG] does not exist in English: It literally means ”good day!” and can be used during any of the light hours – in theory, at least. My gut feeling tells me it’s a bit old-fashioned to use a lot in 2012, and that you should rather go for hei or hallo… (Feel free to disagree in the comments!)

God kveld! [goKVELL] means ”good evening”, and is used, well, when you wish to wish someone a good evening…

Say god natt! [goNATT] (good night) only if your intention is to really go to sleep… If you do meet someone while walking in the dark, use hei, hallo or god kveld.

Ha det bra! [ha-deh-BRA] is used when taking leave. It means ”have it good!”, that is, ”I wish that you may have a good time!” Most Norwegians shorten it to

Ha det! [HAH-deh] (Bye!)

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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. guy:

    den här plats är mycket god och interessant, men jag tänker att du helst separa mellan information om Norge(kultur, mentalitet, natur se et setra), och språklektionena. Jag, för exempel, vill huvudsakligen läsa språken snabbt, och det är mycket svårt för mig det här sätt finna vilka blad är språkblad och vilka är inte.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @guy Hello,
      thanks for your comment, guy!
      You’re right that I’ve been mixing language lessons with general information about Norway. I think that makes learning a language more interesting. However, I do see your point about getting to the language more quickly! I’ll be thinking about this.
      Hope to see you back here soon!


  2. Charles Hile:

    As A gift I want to know how you would say ” Welcome to My Home ” or along the lines, ” my house is your house”, in Norwegian. My friend has built a new home and I want to give him a plaque or sign with the inscription welcoming guest to his home. His father was born in Norway. I’d appreciate any help someone might provide. Thank You.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Charles Hile Hei Charles,

      you could try ”Velkommen til mitt hjem” (Welcome to my home) or ”Mitt hjem er ditt hjem” (my home is your home). I think I’d choose the first one, that has the most Norwegian ring to it.

      Good luck!


  3. carlq:

    Is there in norwegian an expression “hus oss” which corresponds to the French “chez nous?”

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @carlq @carlq – yes, you can say ”hos oss”. For example: ”hjemme hos oss” (at home ”by us” = at our place).