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Norwegian strong past tense verbs Posted by on Dec 31, 2010 in Grammar, Language

Yes, another verb post.  Boring as it may be, verbs are very important!  Strong verbs are a bit trickier than weak verbs because they do not follow a pattern-strict memorization is key;)  They are especially tricky because some of them involve a vowel change.

Some examples:

English Infinitve Past tense
to see å se
to receive å få fikk
to sleep å sove sov
to drink å drikke drakk
to become å bli ble
to partipate in or to do å drive drev
to go å dra dro
to understand å forstå forsto
to give å gi gav
to do å gjøre gjorde
to come å komme kom
to say å si sa
to write å skrive skrev
to stand å stå sto
to sing å synge sang
to take å ta tok
to meet å treffe traff
to be å være var

Note that most of these involve a vowel change.  If you can manage to memorize the 4 classes of weak verbs first, you will be much better off because then when you see a strong verb, you will pretty much know it because you will know that it doesn´t fit into the pattern of weak verbs:)

Try to use them in a sentence:

Jeg gav broren min en plakat til jul. I gave my brother a poster for Christmas.

Familien min dro til Florida tidlig i desember for å besøke tanta mi.  My family went to Florida in early December to visit my aunt.

Han en orm da vi var på parken. He saw a snake when we were at the park.

Jeg traff mora mi på kafe for å spise lunsj.  I met my mom at a cafe to eat lunch.

Mange drakk vin på festen.  Many drank wine at the party.

Vennina mi kom til Minnesota for å være med på nyttårsfesten.  My friend came to Minnesota to come to the New Year´s party.

Jeg forsto at han ville sove. I understood that he wanted to sleep.

Hun sang i dusjen. She sang in the shower.

Jeg skrev julekort i år. I wrote Christmas cards this year.

De ble sur da han sølte golvet.  They became (got) upset when he soiled (spilled on) the floor.

Vi gjorde alt vi kunne sånn at alle hadde det bra i går.  We did all we could so that everyone had a good time yesterday.

Han sto rett i veien. He stood right in the way.

I often wonder how these strong past tense verbs were formed in the first place.  It´s interesting for me to think about these kinds of things.  Why change the vowel?  Unfortunately, I have no clue.  Do you?

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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. Louis Janus:

    Kari, you can read more about the origin and development of strong verbs in Germanic (and Indo-European) families here:

    I don’t know if you noted that 1) weak verbs are the productive class in Norwegian — that is any new verbs that come into Norwegian are weak, 2) most strong verbs are commonly used. (I assume there is a connection between 1) and 2) above,

    The terms strong and weak originated with the comparative grammarians in the 19th Century.

    The cognate strong verbs in Norwegian are usually strong verbs in English (and the other Germanic languages). It has happened that a verb like treffe is becoming weak in several dialects, where trefte is commonly heard.

  2. Nike Chaussures:

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me to comprehend.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Nike Chaussures Hello Nike,
      I’ll try to see what I can do! (Don’t expect any new posts on verbs until August, though, as I’m on holiday.) Stay tuned!