Norwegian Language Blog

When is your birthday? Posted by on Nov 23, 2018 in Conversation

(Free image from Pixabay; no copyright.)

Asking about somebody’s fødselsdag (birthday) might not be the first thing you do. Still, when the topic does pop up, it’s good to be prepared! 🙂 Otherwise, the knowledge of how to say datoer (dates) could come handy when planning … dates.

You can ask the question itself in two different ways – both meaning ”when’s your birthday”:
Når er bursdagen din? (Also: Når har du bursdag?)
Når er fødselsdagen din?
Some would say bursdag is a bit more colloquial or ”everyday-ish”.

As you probably know, there are tolv måneder (twelve months), also in Norwegian! 🙂 The names are quite similar to the English ones, except that they don’t start with a capital letter (unless at the beginning of a new sentence!)
januar [yanooar]
februar, mars
april [aprEEL]
juni [YOOnee]
juli [YOOlee]
august [avGOOST]
september, oktober, november, desember

Jeg har bursdag 6. januar/3. august/21. november! [”I’ve got birthday” Jan. 6th, Aug. 3rd, Nov. 21st]

As you can see, writing dates in Norwegian is kjempelett (super easy) – even easier than in English! 🙂 In order to pronounce them, we need ordenstallene (the ordinal numbers) from 1 to 31. Since we’re talking about specific dates (”the 6th of January” rather than ”a 6th of January”), all the ordenstall take the e- ending – so it is første instead of først. (You do remember this ending for adjectives etc. describing specific nouns, right? Think en rød hatt ”a red hat” vs. den røde hatten ”the red hat”.)

første, andre, tredje, fjerde, femte
sjette, syvende, åttende, niende, tiende
ellevte, tolvte, trettende, fjortende, femtende
sekstende, syttende, attende, nittende, tjuende (or tyvende)
tjueførste, tjueandre, tjuetredje, tjuefjerde, tjuefemte
tjuesjette, tjuesyvende, tjueåttende, tjueniende, trettiende
Watch out: The dates may appear with or without the word den (the) in front… When speaking about Norway’s birthday, for example, den 17. mai sounds a lot more formal than just 17. mai for ”May 17th”.

Other things you could answer:
Jeg har bursdag snart/i dag/i morgen (My birthday is soon/today/tomorrow)
Det er en hemmelighet (That’s a secret)

So, do you know how to say your birthday in Norwegian? 🙂

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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. Rick:

    Perhaps you could include pronunciation using IPA. It’s so easy!

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Rick @Rick – Perhaps! 🙂 I’m not familiar with all aspects of IPA (for example how do you write the tone of Norwegian words?) – but I will think about it. First and foremost, the blog should be easy and accessible for the readers (also those readers who are not linguists).

  2. Kjersti:

    Another way you can ask about someones birthday is “Når har du bursdag?”
    Fødselsdag is not commonly used in most parts of Norway.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Kjersti @Hei Kjersti, du har helt rett. You’re right! 🙂 I try to stay in touch with Norway, but sometimes things ”slip”. (Living in Denmark also makes it very easy to become too ”riksmål-ish”.) I’ll fix!

  3. Jannik:

    Thanks for your post but:
    Ordenstall = ordinal, not cardinal numbers. Those would be 1,2,3 etc not 1st, 2nd..

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Jannik @Jannik, thanks for feedback; I will correct! 🙂