Short Answer & Discourse Particles

Short answer

In English, when you’re asked a question, you might give a short answer in reply, such as “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t.”. In Norwegian, there are a few ways to write short answers.

  1. To answer questions starting with har and er, you use har and er in the answer.

    Spørsmål Svar Question Answer

    Har du ei fiskestang?

    Ja, det har jeg.

    Do you have a fishing rod?

    Yes, I have.

    Nei, det har jeg ikke.

    No, I don’t.

    Er du norsk?

    Ja, det er jeg.

    Are you Norwegian?

    Yes, I am.

    Nei, det er jeg ikke.

    No, I’m not.

    Er han ny?

    Ja, det er han.

    Is he new?

    Yes, he is.

    Nei, det er han ikke.

    No, he isn’t.

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

    Spørsmål Svar Question Answer

    Kan vi gå på kino?

    Ja, det kan vi.

    Can we go to the theatre?

    Yes, we can.

    Nei, det kan vi ikke.

    No, we can’t.

    Skal du gå på konserten?

    Ja, det skal jeg.

    Are you going to the concert?

    Yes, I am going

    Nei, det skal jeg ikke.

    No, I’m not going.

    Vil du se byen?

    Ja, det vil jeg.

    Do you want to see the city?

    Yes, I do.

    Nei, det vil jeg ikke.

    No, I don’t.

    Må du ringe ham?

    Ja, det må jeg.

    Must you call him?

    Yes, I must.

    Nei, det må jeg ikke.

    No, I don’t.

  3. When the question contain other verbs than the ones mentioned above, you use gjør in your answer:

    Spørsmål Svar Question Answer

    Liker du musikk?

    Ja, det gjør jeg.

    Do you like music?

    Yes, I do.

    Nei, det gjør jeg ikke.

    No, I don’t.

    Skriver du ei bok?

    Ja, det gjør jeg.

    Are you writing a book?

    Yes, I am.

    Nei, det gjør jeg ikke.

    No, I’m not.

    Snakker du norsk?

    Ja, det gjør jeg.

    Do you speak Norwegian?

    Yes, I do.

    Nei, det gjør jeg ikke.

    No, I don’t.

NOTE: When the subject in the question is det / den / de, the verb in the short answer is followed by det / den / de.





Er det kaldt?

Ja, det er det.

Is it cold?

Yes, it is.

Nei, det er det ikke.

No, it isn’t.

Person peker på en sitron:

Er den sur?

Ja, det er den.

Person points at a lemon:

Is it sour?

Yes, it is.

Nei, det er den ikke.

No, it isn’t.

Er de gamle?

Ja, det er de.

Are they old?

Yes, they are.

Nei, det er de ikke.

No, they aren’t.

Discourse Particles

Discourse particles are words which are used - most often in the spoken language - to express an attitude or as a comment on the part of the speaker, to what is being said. The most common discourse particles in Norwegian are the following:

Da, jo, mon tro, nok, nå, vel, visst

It is not always possible to provide a literal translation for each of these words. A lot of it depends on the speaker, the listener’s perception, and the context of the sentence. As a rough guide, however, the following translations may generally be used to convey their intended meaning:

Discourse Particle General Meaning


Surely (Note: also can mean “when,” explained in lesson 28.)


(As) you know; yes (to negative question)

Mon tro

I wonder


Probably, I suppose

As a matter of a fact


I think; you’ll agree


I think; it appears; supposedly


Jo is a confusing concept for many Norwegian learners. It can be used in a couple of ways.

First, it is used to answer positively to a negative question.

Spørsmål Svar Question Answer

Regular question

Snakker du norsk?


Do you speak Norwegian?


Tegner du?


Do you draw?


Liker du spill?


Do you like games?


Negative question

Snakker du ikke norsk?


Don’t you speak Norwegian?

Yes (I do).

Tegner du ikke?


Don’t you draw?

Yes (I do).

Liker du ikke spill?


Don’t you like games?

Yes (I do).

It can also be used to express or emphasize something that is obvious.

Eksempel English

Person 1

Person 2

Person 1

Person 2

Det er kaldt i dag.

Det er jo vinter.

It is cold today.

It is winter (obviously).

Dressen er dyr.

Det er jo Armani.

The suit is expensive.

It is Armani.

Maten er sterk.

Det er jo indisk mat.

The food is spicy.

It is Indian food.

Da, Jo, Nå

Da, jo, and nå are often used to express some conviction, on the part of the speaker, about what is being said:

Eksempel English


Han er da i Oslo.

He’s surely in Oslo.

Isabella er da gift.

Isabella surely is married.

Hun besøker da moren sin.

She is surely visiting her mother.


Han er jo i Oslo.

He’s in Oslo, you know.

Isabella er jo gift.

Isabella is married, you know.

Hun besøker jo moren sin.

She is visiting her mother, you know.

Han er nå i Oslo.

As a matter of fact, he’s in Oslo.

Isabella er nå gift.

As a matter of fact, Isabella is married.

Hun besøker nå moren sin.

As a matter of fact, she’s visiting her mother.

NOTE: “Jo da” can be used to express stronger conviction, for example, “Yes, of course.”

Nok, Vel, Visst

These three words may be used to express some measure of probability or uncertainty and / or to seek some sort of confirmation from the listener about what is being said.




Han er nok i Oslo.

He’s probably in Oslo.

Isabella er nok gift.

Isabella probably is married.

Hun besøker nok moren sin.

She is probably visiting her mother.


Han er vel i Oslo.

I think he’s in Oslo.

Isabella er vel gift.

I think Isabella is married.

Hun besøker vel moren sin.

I think she is visiting her mother.


Han er visst i Oslo.

He’s supposedly in Oslo.

Isabella er visst gift.

Isabella is supposedly married.

Hun besøker visst moren sin.

She’s supposedly visiting her mother.

Mon tro

Mon tro is used to express doubt or uncertainty. Unlike the other discourse particles, it usually introduces a clause or appears directly after an interrogative (i.e. hvem, hvor, etc), and can also stand as a response in its own right:

Eksempel English

Mon tro om han er hjemme i dag?

I wonder if he’s home today?

Hvem, mon tro, har tid til å spille videospill hele dagen?

I wonder who has time to play videogames all day?

Hvor, mon tro, er Carmen Sandiego?

Where, I wonder, is Carmen Sandiego?

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Exercise: Write a short dialogue; be sure to use short answers and discourse particles.