Useful Norwegian words and phrases

How do you say hello, goodbye, thank you or sorry? How do you introduce yourself? Check out this post to learn words and expressions that are useful in many situations.

How people greet each other in Norway

Hei!

This is the most common way of saying hello in Norwegian. In this short article, I will share some of the most useful Norwegian words and expressions with you. Sound files are included so that you can get a grasp of Norwegian pronunciation as well.

The words you see in the illustration at the top are commonly used to greet each other in Norway. You can say Hei to anyone, whether you know that person or not.

The other person in the drawing says Heisan. That is very informal, meaning “Hey there”. We can imagine that they have met accidentally on the street and that the conversation continues like you can see below. You will find the translation and a sound file below the drawings.

norwegian greetings
“Nice to see you” – “Likewise. How is it going?”
how are you in norwegian
“Just fine. How are you?” – “Not too bad”

We can imagine that this conversation goes on for some time. But after a while, it would be time to leave:

goodbye in norwegian
“I have to leave now. We’ll talk again soon” – “See you soon. Bye!”

The Norwegian alphabet has 29 letters, including three extra vowels – Æ, Ø, Å. Each vowel represents a different sound, and this needs to be learned if you want to master Norwegian pronunciation.

How to introduce yourself

Norwegians usually speak English very well. However, we are also very proud of our own country and our own language. Therefore, we will always appreciate it if you just say some words in our language. Below, you’ll find some other very useful Norwegian expressions for beginners.

ExpressionsTranslation
Jeg heter KnutMy name is Knut
Hva heter du?What is your name?
Jeg kommer fra England/USAI come from England/the US
Hvor kommer du fra?Where do you come from?
Jeg snakker bare litt norskI only speak a little Norwegian
Snakker du engelsk?Do you speak English?
Unnskyld, kan du gjenta?Sorry, can you say it again?

Do you want to know what this sounds like? I demonstrate (almost) the same phrases in this video:

The pronoun du (meaning “you”) is used when talking to one person. Nowadays, people in Norway tend not to be very formal. In previous times, the pronoun “De” was common when talking to strangers. That is not the case anymore; you can say du to anyone, even to the Prime Minister.

Thanks – the Norwegian way

In Norwegian, polite expressions are kept “short and simple”; you should not add too many “unnecessary” words. “Please” is one example of English words that cannot easily be translated. Instead, you would usually turn your request into a simple question. Sometimes, you can also use the word vennligst (literally meaning “friendliest”); vennligst vent means “please wait”.

English-speaking people are also used to saying “sorry” in many situations, in which it would sound ridiculous in Norway. Unnskyld should be said only when you need to draw someone’s attention, or when you genuinely feel sorry for a mistake. You say Jeg beklager if you need to explain the situation a little.

ExpressionsMeaning
Vær så god!Here you go
Ja takkYes, please
Nei takkNo, thanks
Tusen takkThanks a lot
Takk skal du haThank you
En kaffe, takk!A coffee, please!
UnnkyldSorry
Jeg beklagerI’m sorry, but…

In the next video, I demonstrate the expressions above, and a few others that you will find below:

There are quite a few Norwegian expressions with takk for which there may not be any equivalent in your language. Here you find some of them:

ExpressionsLiteral translation
Takk for maten“Thank you for the food”
Takk for i dag“Thanks for today”
Takk for meg“Thanks for me”
Takk for sist“Thanks for last time”

If you have been invited to dinner, you should say Takk for maten at the end of the meal. Before going home, it is also common to say Takk for meg to express that you want to leave. If you meet the same people again after a week or so, it would be common to say Takk for sist.

Takk for i dag (“thanks for today”) is often said at the end of the day after work. It is a way to thank your colleagues for the time that you spent together.

However, be careful not to say Takk for alt (“thanks for everything”); that is only said when someone has passed away!

Unique Norwegian words

Many words tell us something about Norwegian culture and society. People in Norway are attached to nature, and many of them also have their own cabin, in Norwegian called hytte. Sometimes people go for a weekend to a hytte with a group of friends. That is what you would call hyttetur. The word tur refers to any kind of excursion, but most often to a place where you would be surrounded by nature. If the excursion goes to the mountains (called fjell), you are on a fjelltur. During the winter, many people also go for a skitur, which is cross-country skiing anywhere with suitable conditions.

During a fjelltur or skitur you also need to have a break once in a while. Then it may be time to eat the matpakke, which is a packed lunch with some slices of bread. On these slices, you put pålegg, which literally (almost) means “put on”.

matpakke palegg
Matpakke with pålegg
WordsMeaning
hytteturexcursion to a cabin
fjellturmountain hike
skiturcross-country skiing
uteværweather suitable for being outdoors
matpakkepacked lunch
påleggsandwich filling
kaffetørstthirsty for coffee
utepilslager beer in an outdoor café
skål!cheers!

Utepils literally means “outdoors lager”, and refers to beer that you drink in an outdoors café on a sunny day. Norwegians always know how to enjoy the sun, also on days that are not really warm. Of course, you can still take a cup of coffee instead – if you are kaffetørst.

I don’t know whether the sun is shining or not where you are now. Anyway, I hope that you have enjoyed this introduction to the Norwegian language. I will finish by saying “Goodbye”.

Ha det bra!


Do you want to learn more?

Do you feel inspired to learn more Norwegian? You are welcome to follow a private tailor-made Norwegian course at Lynganor. The lessons will always be at your level and adapted to your needs. Check out the rest of this site to learn more!


Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are interested! I will be happy to assist you further.

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