9 Grammar

9 Grammar

Word order

Main clause

A main clause is an independent sentence. It contains a subject (the person or thing that carries out the action) and a verb. Often there are other grammatical units in the sentence, such as an object and an adverb.

In a narrative clause the finite verb (= verb in present or past tense) is the second element. Different elements can be placed in the front field such as the subject (sentence 1), adverbs indicating time or place (sentence 2), question words (sentence 3) and other elements.

In sentences like 2 and 3, the subject has to move to its assigned place after the verb.
In questions without a question word (hva (what), hvem (who) etc.) the front field is empty and the sentence starts with the verb (sentence 4).

Adverbs like ikke (not) are normally placed after the finite verb.

Front verb subject adverb verb object adverb
1. Han vil   -  ikke spise kake i kantina i dag
2. I dag vil han ikke spise kake i kantina
3. Hvorfor vil  han  ikke  spise kake i kantina i dag?
4. Vil  han  ikke  spise  kake i kantina i dag?
1. He does not want to eat cake in the canteen today.
2. Today, he does not want to eat cake in the canteen.
3. Why doesn't he want to eat cake in the canteen today?
4. Doesn't he want to eat cake in the canteen today?

Note that the subject is placed after ikke in inverted sentences when it is a noun (here: Peter).

Front verb adverb subject verb object adverb
I dag vil ikke  Peter spise kake i kantina
Today, Peter does not want to eat cake in the canteen.

Subordinate clause

A subordinate clause also contains a subject and a verb, but it is not an independent sentence. It goes together with a main clause.
A subordinate clause normally starts with a subordinating conjunction. Some frequent subordinating conjunctions are: fordi (because), at (that), hvis (if), om (if – together with the verb å spørre (to ask)), da (when), når (when).

In subordinate clauses the word order is fixed. The subordinating conjunction is followed by the subject of the sentence. Other elements can not be moved to the front field.

Adverbs like ikke  (not) are placed in front of the verb:

  conjunction front
(subject)
adverb verb object adverb
1. Peter er stresset fordi foreldrene   kommer  
2. Peter sier at han  ikke  kan ta en pause
3. Peter blir glad hvis  Eva   hjelper ham
4. Eva spør Peter om han ikke liker kake
1. Peter is stressed because his parents are coming.
2. Peter says that he can not take a break.
3. Peter will be happy if Eva helps him.
4. Eva asks Peter if he does not like cake.

The subordinate clause may also be placed in the front field of the main clause. As for main clauses, the subject then moves to its assigned place after the verb:

Front verb subject  
1. Hvis Eva hjelper ham,  blir  Peter glad
2. Fordi foreldrene hans kommer,  er  Peter stresset
1. If Eva helps him, Peter will be happy.
2. Because his parents are coming, Peter is stressed.

Fordi derfor = because - therefore

The use of fordi and derfor might seem a bit confusing.

1) Fordi

Fordi indicates reason. It is a subordinating conjunction and starts a subordinate clause:

Han er stresset fordi foreldrene hans kommer på besøk.
He is stressed because his parents are coming for a visit.
Han vil gjerne utsette møtet fordi han skal til legen.
He would like to postpone the meeting because he is going to the doctor's.

or:

Fordi foreldrene hans kommer på besøk, er han stresset.
Because his parents are coming for a visit, he is stressed.
Fordi han skal til legen, vil han gjerne utsette møtet.
Because he is going to the doctor's, he would like to postpone the meeting.

2) Derfor

Derfor indicates consequence and is an adverb. Derfor is followed by the verb:

Foreldrene hans kommer på besøk. Derfor er han stresset.
His parents are coming for a visit. Therefore he is stressed.
Han skal til legen. Derfor vil han gjerne utsette møtet.
He is going to the doctor's. Therefore, he would like to postpone the meeting.

Short answers

In English you might answer questions like this:
Yes, I have. No, I haven't. Yes, I do. No, I don't, etc.

In Norwegian you make short answers in the following ways:

1) To answer questions starting with har (has/have) and er (am/is/are) you use har and er in the answer:

Har du et kart?
Do you have a map?
Ja, det har jeg. Nei, det har jeg ikke.
Yes, I have. No, I haven't.
Er du norsk?
Are you Norwegian?
Ja, det er jeg. Nei, det er jeg ikke.
Yes, I am. No, I'm not.

2) To answer questions starting with modal verbs you use the modal verb in the answer:

Kan du snakke norsk?
Can you speak Norwegian?
Ja, det kan jeg. Nei, det kan jeg ikke.
Yes, I can. No, I can't.
Skal du dra på konferanse?
Are you going to a conference?
Ja, det skal jeg. Nei, det skal jeg ikke.
Yes, I am. No, I'm not.
Vil du se byen?
Do you want to see the city?
Ja, det vil jeg. Nei, det vil jeg ikke.
Yes, I do. No, I don't.
du sjekke e-posten?
Do you have to check the e-mail?
Ja, det jeg. Nei, det jeg ikke.
Yes, I do. No, I don't.

3) When the questions contain other verbs than the ones mentioned in 1) and 2) you use
gjør (do/does) in your answer:

Skriver du et essay?
Are you writing an essay?
Ja, det gjør jeg. Nei, det gjør jeg ikke.
Yes, I am. No, I'm not.
Leser du tekstboka?
Are you reading the textbook?
Ja, det gjør jeg. Nei, det gjør jeg ikke.
Yes, I am. No, I'm not.
Snakker du norsk?
Do you speak Norwegian?
Ja, det gjør jeg. Nei, det gjør jeg ikke.
Yes, I do. No, I don't.

Note the following:

When the subject in the questions is det (it) or den (it) the verb in the short answer is followed by det or den:

Er det kaldt?
Is it cold?
Ja, det er det. Nei, det er det ikke.
Yes, it is. No, it isn't. 
Er den ny?
Is it new?
Ja, det er den. Nei, det er den ikke.
Yes, it is. No, it isn't.

When the questions contain a negation you use jo instead of ja if your answer is positive:

Kommer du ikke fra England?
Are you not from England?
Jo, det gjør jeg.
Yes, I am.