Norwegian Language Blog

Negation Posted by on Oct 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

The time is ripe to talk about negation, although many of you have probably caught on to the methods of negation på norsk-that is-how to deny that something is true.  There are several different words to use, the most common of course is ikke, which means ‘not.’   One can also use knapt (hardly) and alldri (never). 

There are a few regler (rules) that we should look at before I start just rattling off examples of how to use these negation words in sentences.  Usually, the negation word falls after the verb in the sentence (and if there are two verbs, i.e. a modal verb and an active verb, it would fall between them).  Man bør ikke reise til Minnesota (notice ikke comes after the modal verb ‘should,’ bør)

If there are several adverbial phrases in the sentence, the negation word comes in the final position before the end, which in the following case, is a prepositional phrase.  For example, Du kommer nesten aldri i tide (You almost never come on time). 

The negation word can come at the beginning of the sentence as well, however, ikke and knapt must be part of a clause that modifies another phrase.  For example, Ikke en bil var der (Not one car was there) or Knapt fem år har gått forbi siden han døde (Barely five years have gone by since he died).  Aldri can stand alone at the beginning of a sentence, without being part of a clause that modifies another phrase- Aldri har jeg gjort noe så skremmende (Never have I done something so scary).

Since ikke is the most common negation word used, let’s concentrate on ikke.

If the word ‘if’ is used, for example ‘If the computer doesn’t work…’ ikke is placed before the verb, Hvis datamaksinen ikke fungerer…

One can say hvis ikke… if not…

Another common phrase is ikke sant?  which means basically ‘isn’t that right?’

Jeg vil ikke jobbe i dag, men jeg må hvis jeg vil tjene penger, ikke sant?  I don’t want to work today, but I must if I want to earn money, right?



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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. Mia:

    Alltid to l i alltid, aldri to l i aldri. 😉