All posts by fnab

Yesterday bought I a new jacket

This sounds a bit funny, doesn’t it?  Only because two small words have changed place. In a perfect world it would have been sufficient to have the correct amount of sentence elements to build a sentence without bothering about where to place them. Who said life is supposed to be easy….

In a Norwegian main sentence a verb in present or past will always be in the second place in the sentence. Just like in this headline. (If it’s a compound verb like present perfect it might be divided by a sentence adverbial)

If you compare these two sentences: I bought a new jacket yesterday/ Jeg kjøpte en ny jakke i går   the sentence structure is identical. However; if you choose to start the sentence with the adverbial, suddenly they will no longer have the same structure:Yesterday I bought a new jacket/ I går kjøpte jeg en ny jakke.  The simple reason is that the Norwegian verbal is not able to leave its position; it is bound to be in the second place forever.

Whatever you want to express, remember: the Norwegian verbal is a prisoner, judge to life imprisonment in the second place in a main sentence.

“The Norwegian trick of dropping every G in sight when they pronounce”

This headline is borrowed from one of my students and describes what he finds especially frustrating with our language.

Norwegian has a lot of silent letters (letters that are written but not pronounced) and the letter G is one of them. The main problem is that this G is not always silent, but if it appears in the end of a word, it is probably not pronounced. (at least not in standardized Norwegian called bokmål)

Many Norwegian adjectives end in a G, and you are not supposed to pronounce it. Words like “hyggelig” (nice) and “lykkelig”(happy) are pronounced “hyggeli” and “lykkeli” . Even when they are declined and get a plural ending, you will not hear the G. If you want to tell about some nice persons: “hyggelige personer” the correct way to pronounce it will be: “hyggelie personer” .

Cold and rainy? Visit a Kaffebar!


Coffee is serious business in Norway. It is culture, art and socializing.

Norway has for a long time been one of the countries with the highest amount of coffee drinkers. 9 out of 10 adults drink coffee, and every year we consume approximately 1200 cups each.

Even if all families have a decent coffee maker at home, and coffee is the natural choice to offer someone popping in, coffee shops are good business as well. In every city and town in Norway, you will find one or more Kaffebarer, and in Oslo they are at almost every corner.


A former student of mine compared Starbucks with our coffee shops in one of her blog posts, and her conclusion was this: “The similarities between Norway’s kaffe culture and Seattle’s coffee lore end, however, at the front door.”  I have no idea about how the coffee culture is in Seattle or other places in the US, but I know that here work is work, and coffee is conversation and relaxing.

The pictures in this post are from the local coffee shops here at Torshov in Oslo. As Oliver Strand writes in his coffee blog in New York Times: “The fact is, you don’t need to try that hard to get a good coffee in Oslo. You could go to any of the more than 20 locations of Kaffebrenneriet and get a drink made with more skill and better ingredients than almost anything you’ll find in Paris or Rome, or a number of places you think of as having a vibrant coffee culture.”


Just look out for a Kaffebar, go inside and order a freshly made cup of quality coffee, and relax :-)


A Norwegian spring has much in common with an unfaithful Don Juan. One day is brilliant; warm and sunny, and then suddenly it is snow everywhere. A few days ago the summer came visiting, and I decided to seize the moment in quite different surroundings than my office.


Standing at the opera and looking east you will see a hillside covered with forest. This is Ekebergskråningen, Oslo’s oldest settlement area. People have been living here since the Stone Age, and today parts of this area are a nature reserve with a huge biological diversity. And it is only 10 minutes away from the city centre.

I went with tram number 18 from Jernbanetorget up to Jomfrubråten, and walked through the forest back to Sjømannskolen. It was beautiful!


The forest floor was covered with anemones, everything else was green and really nothing can beat the fresh smell in a springtime forest.


Besides, the view up there is worth the trip alone.A small digression: have you seen the film Max Manus? Then you will probably recognize this view. He stood up here, looked down at the harbour and planned his sabotage action.


Back at Sjømannskolen, I crossed the road and went up to Ekebergrestauranten . This is a lovely building from 1929, and counted as one of the finest examples of classical functionalism in Norway.


The restaurant it self is considered as one of the better ones in the city. Of course with a matching price level. The view, on the other hand, is totally free.

Today, with snow outside, I am happy for my few sunny hours outside the office.  A nice memory to keep me warm until the summer decides to return:)

Last weekend I walked to Paris :-)

Many foreigners in Norway seem to be in amazingly good shape and able to walk everywhere. Or perhaps we should look for another explanation?

The two small words to go/å gå  is the source of the confusion. One upon a time they were closely related, like twins, before they gradually went in different directions. Sometimes they still meet in phrases related to attend something (go to the cinema/gå på kino ) but most of the time they express different activities.

Å gå  means to walk in Norwegian, not to travel. When someone tries to translate I went to Paris with Jeg gikk til Paris , they are actually saying that they walked to Paris. Hopefully they had a nice trip.

Instead of using gå  when you want to tell where you have been or are planning to go, you ought to use dra  or reise.  A rule of thumb is to use reise  if you are talking about a long journey and dra   if it?s just a short distance. (Jeg reiste til Paris/I went to Paris but Jeg dro ned til byen /I went downtown ) Since the word dra  is more flexible and can be used both for short and long distances, you can choose to concentrate on that and forget about reise.

Have a nice trip!