Norwegian Language Blog

Think, think, and think-why 3? Posted by on Dec 5, 2008 in Language

Tror, synes, tenker.  Think, think, think.

I usually say that Norwegian grammar is pretty easy, but one component for which I sympathize with beginners is the English word “to think.”  In truth, English employs many different words that have the same meaning.  For example, “to  weigh”  We can weigh a certain amount of pounds, or we can weigh our odds, or we can weigh something down.  The following is an example of one general meaning that is represented by 3 different words: tror, synes, tenker.  All three of these words are verbs that can be used to say express thinking.�

There are differences between the meanings of tror, stynes, and tenker that set them apart from each other.  Tror is used when the subject believes something to be true.  For example “I believe in God” (Jeg tror på Gud)Synes is used when the subject has an opinion about something/somebody.  For example, “I think she’s nice” (Jeg synes at hun er snill).  Tenker is used to signify the action of thinking.  “I’m thinking about what they said” (Jeg tenker om det de sa.

Many beginners of the Norwegian language confuse these three words when they want to express something about thinking or feeling.  In addition to the few examples that I gave in the preceeding paragraph in Norwegian, there are many other different ways to use the words.  Jeg tror på Gud (I believe in God) or Hun synes at time er kjedelig (She thinks that class is boring) or Vi tenker på deg (we’re thinking of you). 

When it comes to these three words that describe different ways in which we think, it is always a good idea to consult a dictionary or a Norwegian grammar reference.

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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. Nikki:

    I’ve been looking for something to explain this for the longest time. Tusen takk!

  2. Marlon:

    How about, I think I will make coffe today. Jeg tror?

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Marlon Jeg tror jeg vil lage kaffe i dag! 🙂

  3. Spencer:

    Fantastikk – tusen takk!

  4. Anna:

    “Jeg tenker på det de sa.”

    “Hun synes at timen er kjedelig.”