There are two official variations of written norwegian: bokmål and nynorsk. The differences are small, but important to a lot of norwegians. Bokmål is by far the most common, and evolved from danish written language. Nynorsk is a newer spelling invented sometime in the 1800's by a norwegian priest, writer, and linguist called Ivar Aasen, who took a sample of common dialects, and synthesized a written language with most of their common elements. The actual proportion of people using nynorsk instead of bokmål is constantly debated in Norway, but it is definitely below 0.5, and definitely above 0.1. Surveys have been done, but the other side seems to be able to find faults in it, no matter how it is done. This guide is for bokmål.
There are also many spoken variations (dialects) of norwegian, and even to norwegians, some of them can be really hard to understand if you are not used to them. Because of radio, TV, and other mass communication, the situation is normalizing towards a language more similar to how it is written (bokmål or nynorsk), and you can expect most norwegians to be able to speak like this, when they have to be understood by others. Norwegian is also pretty similar to danish or swedish. In extreme cases, the differences between some norwegian spoken dialects can be larger than the differences between those languages.
Note, wherever pronounciation is suggested, I stick with idiosyncratic norwegian spelling that you should read in the pronounciation guide, as described by the sections vowels, consonants and diphtongs (no exceptions). In the case diphtongs are really wrong in the idiosyncratic spelling, I will stick to that (i.e. I will use ei even if it is pronounced æi). I will also use hyphens between each syllable. If the consonants following a vowel decides whether a vowel should be long or short, I will place it at the correct side of the hyphen. Otherwise, I will try to place it where it makes the most sense as I say the word loud.
Except for the basics secion, only words that have a slightly weird spelling in norwegian will have pronounciation examples added. To resolve the o-ambiguity, I will always use o for long o and å for short o. Similarly, I will always use æ in the situations where e is pronounced as æ.
I will make no attempt to convert this to english spelling, as getting the vowels right is very tricky in english spelling.
Hallo. (Hall-o) Hallo is rarely used as a greeting, more typically it is used on the phone as a "are you still there?" reply.
Hei. (...) This is the almost universal greeting in Norway, unless it involves a handshake. In a more formal setting where handshakes are involved, select one of the below alternatives, depending on daytime.
Hello. (at morning)
God morgen. (Go må-årn)
Hello. (all day)
God dag. (Go dag)
Hello. (at evening)
God kveld. (Go kvell)
How are you?
Hvordan går det? (Vord-an går de?) Must be said very casually, or it may be interpreted as a question. Hei, hvordan går det?, is safe, but Hei first, and then asking Hvordan går det after getting a reply almost certainly will be considered a real question.
Fine, thank you.
(Jo) takk, bare bra. (...)
What is your name?
Hva heter du? (Va he-ter du)
My name is ______ .
Jeg heter ______ . (jei he-ter _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
Hyggelig å treffe deg. (Hygg-e-li å treff-e dei)
Vær så snill. (...)
Tusen takk. (...)
Bare hyggelig. (Bar-e hygg-e-li) More like the english: my pleasure
Yes (in reply/opposition to a no in a discussion).
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Unnskyld (meg). (Unn-skyll mei)
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Unnskyld (meg). (Unn-skyll mei)
I'm sorry. (for a slight mistake)
I'm sorry. (I really didn't mean it)
Jeg beklager så meget (Jei be-klag-er så me-get)
Jeg er lei meg. (Jei ær lei mei) Not used nearly as often as in english, this sincerely means you are sorry, or can even be interpreted to mean you are sad (usually not associated with guilt).
Ha det bra! (Ha de bra)
It was nice seeing/meeting you. Goodbye.
Det var hyggelig å treffe deg. Ha det bra! (De var hygg-e-li å treff-e dei. Ha de bra!)
I can't speak norwegian.
Jeg snakker ikke norsk. (Jei snakk-er ikk-e nåsjk)
I only know a little norwegian.
Jeg kan bare litt norsk (Jei kan ba-re litt nåsjk)
Excuse me. Do you know how to speak English?
Unnskyld, kan du snakke engelsk? (Unn-skyll, kan du snakk-e eng-elsk?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Er det noen som kan engelsk her? (Ær de no-en såm kann snakk-e eng-elsk hær?)
God morgen. (Go må-årn) See hello above
God kveld. (Go kvell) See hello above
God natt. (Go natt) Never used as a greeting, unless you you want to make a joke. This is potentially troublesome. If you must greet someone at night, use Hallo, Hei, or Hyggelig å møte deg (Nice to meet you), or even God dag (even though it's in the middle of night).
Hvor er toalettet/baderommet? (Vor ær toa-lett-et/ba-de-romm-et?)
Leave me alone (please).
Kan du (være så snill å) la meg være alene. (...)
Don't touch me!
Ikke rør meg! (...)
I'll call the police.
Jeg ringer politiet. (...) Note: This really means dial the police on the phone. Since there aren't many street cops in Norway, if it's really an emergency, it would make more sense to simply cry Hjelp! (Help), and hope a random person will come to your rescue.
Politi! (...) See above...
Stopp tyven! (...)
I need your help.
Jeg trenger din hjelp. (...) Might sound too strong. See below for a more reasonable alternative...
May I ask you for a little assistance?
Kan jeg spørre deg om litt hjelp
It's an emergency.
Det er et nødstilfelle. (...)
Jeg har gått meg bort. (...) Even though this is under the problems section, this phrase comes out sounding like you have wandered the woods for days without food or rest, having no idea where you are or where to go (in which case it would be obvious anyway). Either that, or you're 5 year old, in which case getting lost from your parents is equally serious. See below for a more reasonable alternative.
Can you tell me where I am?
Kan du fortelle meg hvor jeg er? (...)
Can you tell me the way to ___?
Kan du fortelle meg veien til ___? (...)
I lost my ___.
Jeg har mistet ___ min. (...) While almost any kind of carry-on item can be called bag in english, in norwegian it means a duffle bag. You usually have to be more specific, here are a few alternatives, as part of this sentence, you should also read the part in parenthesis to get the grammar right.
sju (...) Another variant (below) also in common use.
syv (...) Another variant (above) is slightly more common.
tjue (kju-e) Note: Used in new counting system (see below)
tyve (...) Note: Used in old counting system (see below)
Larger numbers than twenty can be written several ways in norwegian. Sometimes each word is written separately. Sometimes hyphens are used. And sometimes, the whole number is written as one large word. There are two ways of counting from 21-99.
New counting system
The new counting is what most people use nowadays. And probably what they would consider using to someone having problems understanding. This is what you should learn.
tjue en (kju-e en)
tjue to (...)
tjue tre (...)
Old counting system
The old counting system is slightly more illogical, but still quite a few people use it. It's popularity increases with the age of the speaker. Most people will probably revert to the new counting system if they realize the speaker is not fluent in norwegian, but here it is for completeness.
en og tyve (en å tyv-e)
to og tyve (to å tyv-e)
tre og tyve (...)
Regardless of counting system
(ett) hundre (...)
(ett) hundre og 21 (100 å 21)
to hundre (...)
tre hundre (...)
ett tusen (...)
ett tusen og 21 (ett tu-sen å 21)
ett tusen ett hundre (ett tu-sen ett hun-dre)
ett tusen ett hundre og 21 (...)
en million (en milli-on)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
nummer _____ (tog, buss, etc) (nomm-er)
There is no universal AM/PM usage in norway. If people are not familiar enough with english to understand you saying the time in english, they will probably not understand AM or PM either.
Note that whenever you say one o'clock, you use ett instead of en.
The simplest way to say time is to use the 24 hour system.
klokka åtte null null (...)
klokka nitten tretti sju (..)
klokka ett null en (...)
Alternatively, there is the classical 12 hour system, which every country does different. Unless you really want to learn norwegian, skip to the next section.
Since AM/PM is seldom used, to disambiguate time, you can look at the previous section (called Time). It can be hard hard to choose the correct preposition/grammar to use for these (which depends a lot on context, past, future, etc), so the easiest is to simply append it after having said the time.
The clock-hour can be divided as follows
klokka 10 (...)
fem over 10 (femm åv-er ti)
ti over 10 (...)
kvart over 10 (...)
ti på halv 11 (...)
fem på halv 11 (...)
halv 11 (hall 11)
fem over halv 11 (...)
ti over halv 11 (...)
kvart på 11 (...)
ti på 11 (...)
fem på 11 (...)
_____ minutt(er) (...)
_____ time(r) (...)
_____ dag(er) (...)
_____ uke(r) (...)
_____ måned(er) (må-ned/månt-er)
_____ år (...)
i dag (...)
i går (...)
i morgen (i må-årn)
denne uka (...)
forrige uke (fårr-je u-ke)
neste uke (...)
Søndag (...) (The week begins on monday in Norway)
Taxi! (...) Cultural note: Shut up and behave like a civilized person. Either call one by phone, walk to a taxi stop, or wave your hand if you see one (with a lighted roof-sign) driving past.
Take me to _____, please.
Kan du kjøre meg til _____. (...)
How much does it cost to get to _____?
Hvor mye vil det koste å kjøre til _____? (...) Note: Unless it's a really long (several hours) and thus ridiculously expensive drive where you can make a special deal with the driver, it's gonna cost as much as the meter shows. Expect an approximate reply if any.
Take me there, please.
Kan du kjøre meg dit? (...)
Do you have any rooms available?
Har du noen ledige rom? (...)
How much is a room for one person/two people?
Hvor mye koster et enkelt/dobbelt-rom? (...)
Are bedsheets included in the price?
Er sengetøy inkludert i prisen? (...)
I would like some bedsheets
Kan jeg få med sengetøy? (...)
I don't need/I bring my own bedsheets
Jeg trenger ikke/Jeg har mitt eget sengetøy (...)
Does the room come with...
Har rommet ... (...)
...eget bad? (...)
...egen telefon? (...)
May I see the room first?
Kan jeg få se rommet først? (...)
Do you have anything _____?
Har du et _____ rom? (...)
...mer stille (...)
OK, I'll take it.
OK, jeg tar det. (o-kå, jei tar de)
I will stay for _____ night(s).
Jeg blir her _____ natt/netter. (...)
Can you suggest another hotel?
Har du et annet hotell å foreslå? (...)
Do you have a safe?
Har du en safe? (har du en seif)
Do you have a locker?
Har du ett låsbart skap? (...)
Is breakfast/supper included?
Er frokost/middag inkludert? (...)
What time is breakfast/supper?
Når er det frokost/middag? (...)
Please clean my room.
Kan du vaske rommet mitt. (...)
Can you wake me at _____?
Kan du vekke meg klokka _____? (...)
I want to check out.
Kan jeg få sjekke ut nå?. (...)
Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?
Godtar du amerikanske/australske/kanadiske dollar? (...)
Do you accept (British) pounds?
Godtar du (britiske) pund? (Go-tar du brit-isk-e punn)
Do you accept credit cards?
Godtar du kredittkort? (...)
Can you change money for me?
Kan du hjelpe meg å veksle penger? (...)
Where can I get money changed?
Hvor kan jeg få vekslet penger? (...)
Can you change a traveler's check for me?
Kan du veksle en reisesjekk for meg? (...)
Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
Hvor kan jeg få vekslet reisesjekker? (...)
What is the exchange rate for ___?
Hva er valutakursen for ___? (...)
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
Hvor er nærmeste minibank? (...) ATM = minibank
A table for one person/two people, please.
Kan jeg få et bord for en/to personer? (...)
Can I look at the menu, please?
Kan jeg får se på menyen? (...)
Can I look in the kitchen?
Kan jeg få se kjøkkenet? (...) Note: This is usually a grave insult. If you feel that bad about eating there, go somewhere else instead.
Is there a house specialty?
Hva er spesialiteten deres? (...)
Is there a local specialty?
Er det en lokal rett jeg bør smake på? (...)
I'm a vegetarian.
Jeg er vegetarianer. (...)
I don't eat pork.
Jeg spiser ikke svin. (...)
I only eat kosher food.
If this is a concern, try another country. Shechita is forbidden in Norway, and meat needs to be specially imported. Try to order fresh fish ("fersk fisk") or something vegetarian instead. Tell the waiter you are an orthodox jew ("ortodoks jøde"), and try to reach an understanding. You will have to compromise, as you can't expect the cook to keep a separate set of pans/knives/etc just for you. If it is a large expensive restaurant, they might be able to do so, but if you are very pedantic about this, you should prepare your own food from carefully selected food in grocery shops.
I'm on a diet. Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard)
Jeg slanker meg. Kan jeg få så lite fett som mulig? (mindre olje/smør/fett) (...)
dagens rett (...)
a la carté
a la carté (...)
kaffe og kaker (...) Note: I believe the norwegian equivalent would be coffe and cakes. You could of course still order tea, if you prefer that.
I would like _____.
Kan jeg få _____. (...)
I want a dish containing _____.
Jeg vil ha en rett med _____. (...)
(ferske) grønnsaker (...)
(fersk) frukt (...)
ristet brød (...)
May I have a glass of _____?
Kan jeg få et glass _____? (...)
May I have a cup of _____?
Kan jeg få en kopp _____? (...)
May I have a bottle of _____?
Kan jeg få en flaske _____? (...)
May I have some _____?
Kan jeg få litt _____? (...)
(sort) pepper (...)
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
Unnskyld, kelner? (...)
Jeg er ferdig. (...)
It was delicious.
Det smakte utmerket. (...)
Please clear the plates.
Kan du ta med tallerknene. (...)
The check, please.
Kan jeg få regningen?. (...)
Do you serve alcohol?
Serverer dere alkohol? (...)
Is there table service?
Kommer dere til bordene? (...)
A beer/two beers, please.
Kan jeg få en/to øl? (...)
A glass of red/white wine, please.
Kan jeg få et/to glass rødvin/hvitvin? (...)
A pint, please.
Kan jeg få en halvliter? (hall-i-ter)
In a bottle, please.
Kan jeg få det på flaske? (...)
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
Kan jeg få _____ og _____? (...)
club soda (...)
appelsin juice (app-el-sin jus)
Cola (brus) (...)
Do you have any bar snacks?
Har du noe bar snacks? (...)
One more, please.
Kan jeg få en til?. (...)
Another round, please.
En runde til! (...)
When is closing time?
Når stenger dere? (...)
Do you have this in my size?
Har du denne i min størrelse? (...)
How much is this?
Hvor mye koster den? (...)
That's too expensive.
Det er for dyrt. (...)
Would you take _____?
Ville du godtatt _____? (...) Note: Bargaining of this type is going to get you nothing but puzzled looks and bad attitude towards you in Norway. It costs how much the price-tag says, unless the goods are damaged, or in some other way deserve a lower price. Trades between individuals, insurances, cars, volume rebates, hotels in the off-season, and a few other things might be exceptions.
I can't afford it.
Jeg har desverre ikke råd. (...)
I don't want it.
Nei, jeg trenger den ikke. (...)
(I think) You're cheating me.
(Jeg tror) Du lurer meg. (...) I would strongly advice against telling anyone this, unless you are quite confident it's true. Even then, I think it would be better to consult a native third-party before you start throwing allegetions around.
I'm not interested.
Desverre, jeg er ikke interresert. (..)
OK, I'll take it.
OK, jeg tar den. (...)
Can I have a bag?
Kan jeg få en pose? (...)
Do you ship to ____?
Kan du sende ting til ___? (...)
Jeg trenger... (...)
...en tannbørste. (tann-bøsj-te)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...smertestillende. (f.eks Paracetamol eller Ibux) (...)
...hostesaft. (...) translates back to cough lemonade. If that doesn't come close to what you need, go to a doctor.
...???. (...) Go to a drugstore (norwegian: "apotek"), or doctor (norwegian: "lege"), and explain your condition.
...en barberhøvel. (...)
...en paraply. (...)
...ett postkort. (...)
...en penn. (...)
...engelske bøker. (...)
...engelske blader. (...)
...an English-language newspaper.
...en engelsk avis. (...)
...an English-Norwegian dictionary.
...en engelsk-norsk ordbok. (...)
I want to rent a car.
Kan jeg få leie en bil? (...)
Can I get insurance?
Kan jeg få forsikring? (...)
stop (on a street sign)
parkering forbudt (...)
gas (petrol) station
I haven't done anything wrong.
Jeg har ikke gjort noe galt. (...)
It was a misunderstanding.
Det var en misforståelse. (...)
Where are you taking me?
Hvor tar dere meg? (...)
Am I under arrest?
Er jeg arrestert? (...)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
Jeg er en amerikansk/australsk/britisk/kanadisk borger. (...)
I demand to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
Jeg forlanger å få snakke med den amerikanske/australske/britiske/kanadiske ambassade/konsulat (...)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
Jeg vil ha en advokat. (...)
Can I just pay a fine now?
Kan jeg bare betale boten nå? (...) Note: Usually you can't. That would mean bribery was accepted. One exception; public transportation in Oslo (maybe elsewhere too) if you forgot to buy a ticket.
This is where you'd give more information on learning the language, such as links to online courses or textbooks, or suggestions for in-person courses to take.