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Three genders 

Every noun in Norwegian is assigned a specific gender, of which there are three: masculine, feminine and neuter. While it is easy to predict that e.g. 'a man' is masculine and 'a woman' is feminine, there is no way to predict the gender of other objects, such as 'a car' or 'a table', so this needs to be memorised (although, people will still understand you if you make mistakes).

The gender of the noun also affects the indefinite articlewhich comes in three variants - one for each gender: eneiet.

Masculine ('hankjønn')

en stol (a chair)

en bil (a car)

en mann (a man)

Feminine ('hunkjønn')

ei bok (a book)

ei dør (a door)

ei dame (a lady)

Neuter ('intetkjønn')

et vindu (a window)

et bord (a table)

et barn (a child)

Indefinite form - plural

Plural forms also depend on the gender. In masculine and feminine, /er/ is added to the stem, while there is no ending in the neuter form.








An exception to this rule is neuter nouns ending in /e/. The neuter noun will then be conjugated like masculine and feminine nouns.





Note that nouns ending in an unstressed /e/, will only take /r/ in plural, while /er/ is added when the final /e/ is stressed.







et eple - epler

et bilde - bilder

(an apple - apples)

(a picture - pictures)

en lege - leger

ei klokke - klokker

(a doctor - doctors)

(a clock - clocks)

en kafé - kafeer

en idé - ideer

(a cafe - cafes)

(an idea- ideas)




en bil - mange biler

ei dør - mange dører

et bord - mange bord

(a car - many cars)

(a door - many doors)

(a table - many tables)


Definite form

In contrast to English and many other languages, there is no definite article (i.e,. 'the') before a noun in Norwegian. Instead, definite nouns have gender specific-endings.







en bil - bilen            (a car - the car)

ei dør - døra             (a door - the door)

et bord - bordet       (a table - the table)


biler - bilene        (cars -  the cars) 

dører - dørene    (doors - the doors)

bord - bordene    (tables - the tables)

A masculine or neuter noun ending in an unstessed /e/, only takes /n/ or /t/ in singular, and /ne/ in the plural form.

                  e.g.:       en lege - legen (a doctor - the doctor)               leger - legene (doctors - the doctors)                                         et sete - setet (a seat - the seat)                          seter - setene (seats - the seats)


                  but:       en kafé - kafeen               kafeer - kafeene    


In the feminine form, a final /e/ is changed to /a/ in the definite singular form.

                  e.g.:       ei jente - jent(a girl - the girl)                         jenter - jentene (girls - the girls)


Note that in the definite singular neuter form, the final /t/ is normally not pronounced

(huset     [huse]).

bestemt form

Indefinite or definite form?

The definite form is used when you talk about one specific item. There could, for instance, be many windows in your house, and if someone asks you to open a window, it is not specified which window you are asked to open - just any of the windows. 

When the window is already open, however, and it starts getting cold, you may be asked to close the window  - meaning not just any window, but that specific window that is already open. This use of the definite form is the same in Norwegian.


   and then:

- Kan du åpne et vindu?           (Can you open a window?)

- Kan du lukke vinduet?            (Can you close the window?)

While this use to the definite form is pretty straightforward, there are instances where the use of the definite form is highly idiomatic - or at best - only vaguely makes sense. It makes sense that someone is going to the airport - as long as there is only one airport in town, while it makes less sense that someone is taking the bus, when there could be many busses to choose from.


In the same manner, people could inform you that they are going to the store, without talking about any specific store. It could be that they are referring to the store they normally go to, but then again, not necessarily. 

This kind of oscillation between indefinite and definite form is also seen in Norwegian, and in many instances (but not always!) you can choose whether to use the indefinite or definite form, as you will see examples of on page 49 - and sometimes also whether to use the indefinite article or not.

Nouns ending in /el/ and /er/

Nouns ending in /el/ or /er/ differ from the general rule of conjugation. Study the examples below and pay attention to the plural forms.



en onkel - onkelen

en regel - regelen

en sykkel - sykkelen

(an uncle - the uncle)

(a rule - the rule)

(a bike - the bike)




onkler - onklene

regler - reglene

sykler - syklene

(uncles -  the uncles) 

(rules - the rules)

(bikes - the bikes)

Nouns ending in /er/ follow two different patterns, where the second group consists of nouns made from verbs (typically professions, e.g.,: lærer, baker) and people named by their nationalities (e.g.,: tysker, kineser).




ei søster - søstera

en finger - fingeren

en vinter - vinteren


en lærer - læreren

en tysker - tyskeren

(a sister - the sister)

(a finger - the finger)

(a winter - the winter)

(a teacher - the teacher)

(a German - Germans)




søstre - søstrene

fingre - fingrene

vintre - vintrene


lærere - lærerne

tyskere - tyskerne

(sisters -  the sisters) 

(fingers - the fingers)

(winters - the winters)

(teachers - the teachers)

(Germans - the Germans)

er el


The genitive is expressed in two different ways in Norwegian:


     1.   You can use the noun in the definite form + the preposition til.

                        e.g.:              Håkon er faren til Marit.                   (Håkon is Marit's father.)
                                                 Broren til vennen min er lege.         (My brother's friend is a doctor.)

     2.   You can add /s/ to the name followed by the noun in the indefinite form.


                        e.g.:              Håkon er Marits far.                           (Håkon is Marit's father.)

                                                  Min brors venn er lege.                     (My brother's friend is a doctor.)

Note that with genitive-s, the apostrophe is not used in Norwegian.

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