Norwegian Language Blog

Just do it! Giving orders in norsk Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

Bring my bag! Do it now, will you? Sometimes, there’s little time to be polite, and we need to give somebody a direct order. In English, we simply use the dictionary form of the verb (move! call! wait!) In Norwegian, it’s almost just as easy to make the imperativ (imperative) or ”order form” (well, no, I’m not talking about online shopping!) 🙂

Do this: Find the right verb in your dictionary, remove the final -e, say it!

Now, try it:

  • å hjelpe [yelpeh] (to help) > Hjelp meg med bagasjen! (Help me with my luggage!)
  • å sette seg (to sit down) > Sett deg her. (Sit down here.)
  • å lære (to learn) > Lær norsk, da! (Come on, learn Norwegian!)

Easy, right? The imperative stays the same, no matter how many persons – or animals! – you talk to:

  • å flytte seg (to remove oneself, to get out of the way) > Flytt dere, dumme geiter! (Get away, you stupid goats!)

But… What if the dictionary form (AKA the infinitive) doesn’t have a fancy -e extension? Well, then it’s just like you know it from English: no change:

  • å se (to see) > Se så vakre blomster! (Look how beautiful [are the] flowers!)
  • å gå (to go) > Ikke gå før jeg kommer tilbake. (Don’t go before I come back.)

But… What if the word looks weird without the -e?

Yes, that’s one of the fun details of Norwegian! 🙂

Imagine ordering somebody to sykle (ride a bike), then klatre (climb) somewhere… Wouldn’t it be impossible to pronounce?

Sykl til huset og klatr opp i treet! (Ride your bike to the house and climb up into the tree!)

Surprise – it’s actually official Norwegian. Fortunately, Språkrådet (the Laguage Counsil), also OK’s keeping the -e in such ”tongue-twistey” cases:

Sykle til huset og klatre opp i treet!

Gjør det da! (Just do it, then!) 🙂

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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.