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Sterke verber Posted by on Oct 20, 2009 in Grammar

Strong verbs.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned previously, you cannot tell by looking at a verb if it is sterk or svak.  Additionally, there isn’t exactly an easy way to learn the past tense of sterke verber; memorization is the only answer.  Unlike svake verber, sterke verber do not follow any kind of pattern.  Isn’t it interesting to think about how all of these words came to be?  Did someone decide that there were going to be 2 different ”classes” of verbs and that one would follow a pattern and the other class wouldn’t?  The history of the evolution of the Norwegian language probably has enough content for another dozen posts, so I’ll end my curiosity there for now.  Back to sterke verber…

The following is a list of sterke verber in the infinitive and the past tenses (as with svake verber, sterke verber receive an ‘r’ after the stem in the present tense…more on this later).  Notice the forskjeller (differences) between the infinitiv and the preteritum-lots of vowel changes in the stem.

INFINITIV                          PRETERITUM

(go)                                gikk

sitte (sit)                            satt

se (see)                             

bli (become)                      ble

drikke (drink)                    drakk

(get/receive)                  fikk

skrive (write)                     skrev

står (stand)                        stod

synge (sing)                       sang

være (be)                            var

forstår (understand)           forstod

Again, there is no rhyme or rhythm to this sterk verb madness.  The only thing you might have noticed that seems like a pattern is with the words står and forstår, in which the vowels in the stems both changed to ‘o’ and there is a ‘d’ at the end in the preteritum.  If the stem is the same (in this case, står), chances are the change will be the same from infinitiv to preteritum.

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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. BM:

    There seem to be some emerging patterns, though. Probably not enough to do anything other than learn them all individually. Here is what I observe:
    i -> e in open and heavy syllables
    i -> a in super-heavy syllables
    å -> ikk in open syllables
    å -> o in heavy syllables (possibly also super-heavy)

  2. Kari:

    Yes, those are certainly good observations and definitely something to take into consideration when one is memorizing these verbs. I, personally, don’t have the capacity to memorize all the little rules like that, so I prefer to memorize the whole verb, but whatever works for someone is great!

  3. BM:

    I tend not to memorise rules either, but the existence of recognisable patterns reassures me that I can just read and review normally, and the patterns will sink in. I can’t abide writing out and conjugating verbs in full; I much prefer to just let words slowly wash over me, and let my brain take the time itself to work out and apply the patterns.

  4. alice:

    que significa verber?? disculpen mi pregunta no se nada sobre este verbo pero en si a que hacer referencia la palabra Verber

  5. alice:

    disculpen nuevamente pero mi anterior comentario es por que mi apellido es Verber y no sabia que hace referencia a un verbo

    gracias de antemano