Norwegian Question Words Posted by Bjørn A. Bojesen on Apr 30, 2021 in Conversation, Grammar
After some musings about Norwegian society, it’s time to get back to what you’re actually learning: språket (the language). I was surprised to discover that neither the previous blogger Kari nor I had written about spørreord (question words), so let’s fill that gap immediately! 🙂
What is a question word? Well, the answer lies in the first word… While English speakers typically use an WH- word to dig for information other than ”yes” or ”no”, in written Norwegian most of the question ord [ohr] (words) start with HV-1Dear Nynorsk fans, this blog focuses on Norwegian Bokmål. In Nynorsk, sure, it’s KV-. (though the H is not pronounced):
HVA er det beste du vet? (WHAT is the best thing you know?) [va]
HVEM har lyst på iskrem? (WHO wants an ice cream?) [vem]
HVILKEN vil du ha? (WHICH ONE do you want?) [veelkn]
HVOR ligger Oslo Plaza? (WHERE is Oslo Plaza?) [vohr]
HVOR MYE koster lefsene? (HOW MUCH do the lefser cost?)
NÅR skal vi spise? (WHEN are we going to eat?) [nawr]
HVORFOR feirer vi 17. mai? (WHY do we celebrate Constitution Day?) [vo(r)for]
HVORDAN skal vi komme oss hjem nå? (HOW are we going to find our way back home now?) [vordan]
Please note that these words vary a lot according to dialect, and you’ll often hear Norwegians using question words with a K sound instead of the (H)V sound: KA heter du? (= HVA heter du, WHAT’s your name). KOR er mamma? (= HVOR er mamma, WHERE’s Mum?)
If you like reading norske bøker (Norwegian books), you’ll probably notice some ”literary-style” questions that Norwegians wouldn’t say the same way when talking. For example:
HVIS bil er det? (WHOSE car is that?) [viss]
In everyday Norwegian, that would be:
HVEM SIN bil er det?
That said, the good ol’ ”split question words” that you subconsciously know in English are also very much alive in Norwegian:
HVOR kom snøen FRA?
WHERE did the snow come FROM?
Finally, some of these question words have their own natural ”answering words”:
Hvor? HER!/DER! (Where? HERE/THERE!)
Hvor mye? SÅ MYE! (How much? THIS MUCH/SO MUCH!)
Hvordan? SLIK! (How? LIKE THIS!)
Hvorfor? DERFOR! (Why? ”THEREFORE”/THAT’S WHY!)
- 1Dear Nynorsk fans, this blog focuses on Norwegian Bokmål. In Nynorsk, sure, it’s KV-.
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