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Talking about the future Posted by on Jan 8, 2015 in Grammar

2015 is upon us, so I thought it would be a great idea to look a bit ahead – grammatically speaking, that is! As you may be aware, verbs in Spanish and Esperanto and many other languages have a distinct future tense (yo cantaré/mi kantos = I’ll sing). In English, we’ve got to make compound tricks like I’ll sing or I shall sing or I’m going to sing. You’ll see that norsk is quite similar to English in this respect! 🙂

Courtesy of SkiStar at Flickr.

Courtesy of SkiStar at Flickr.

Norwegians often talk about framtida/fremtiden (the future) in presens (present tense):

  • Kongen kommer på søndag. (The King will arrive on Sunday.)
  • Om tjue år har alle hytter trådløst internett. (In twenty years all cabins will have a WiFi connection.)

A really common compound is kommer til å (’comes to to’), which can be translated as ”is going to”:

  • Snøen kommer til å lave ned! (The snow is gonna pour down massively!)
  • Tror du de kommer til å gifte seg i år? (Do you think they’re gonna marry this year?)

In Nynorsk Norwegian, the compound is kjem til å. This was used to make the peculiar phrase Nokon kjem til å komme (Someone is going to come, literally ’Someone is coming to come’), which is the name of a play by the famous Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse.

There are also less ”heavy” compounds, namely those starting with vil and skal. Even if they’re historically identical to the English words will and shall, they’re used a bit differently. I think some examples will be more useful than a long forklaring (explanation):

  • Vil det noen gang bli fred i verden? (Is there ever going to be peace in the world?)
  • Vi vil alltid være gode venner. (We’ll always be good friends.)
  • Til neste sommer vil jeg kjøpe meg en båt. (Next summer I’ll buy myself a boat./Next summer I wanna buy myself a boat.) – Vil means both ’want to’ and ’will’, so there’s often a bit of ambiguity with this word!
  • Hvor skal dere? (Where are you guys going [to go]?)
  • Vi skal besøke tante. (We’re going to visit auntie.)
  • Skal jeg hjelpe deg? (Am I gonna help you? = Do you need some help?) – The ”skal future” doesn’t seem to be so far away, does it? 🙂
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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.


  1. Elena:

    Thank you for the article! It is so helpful! Could you, please, write about “liten-lite-lita-litt-lille-små”? (:

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Elena @Elena
      Yea, I’ll do a blog post about that! Thanks for the tip.