To think, to know

Some verbs in Norwegian have more than one word that can be used, but when to use which word can be difficult. Three examples are “to think,” “to know,” and “to see.”

Grammar Review

Sentence structure

While most Norwegian sentences use the subject-verb-object (SVO) word order, like English, Norwegian does have the V2 (verb second) rule. If an adverbial phrase or subordinate clause is at the front of the sentence, the subject and the verb have to switch places (this is called “inversion”) so that the verb stays in the second position.

Eksempel English


Sara lånte boka i går.

Sara borrowed the book yesterday.

Gustav reiste til Trondheim i løpet av ferien.

Gustav travelled to Trondheim during the holiday.


I går lånte Sara boka.

Yesterday, Sara borrowed the book.

I løpet av ferien reiste Gustav til Trondheim.

During the holiday, Gustav travelled to Trondheim.

Verb Conjugation

Conjugating the present tense of verbs in Norwegian is fairly simple. Most present tense verbs just add an -r to the end of the infinitive.

Infinitive Present English Infinitive Present English

Å kjøre


Drives / Driving

Å spre


Spreads / Spreading

Å sove


Sleeps / Sleeping

Å forstå


Understands / Understanding

There are some exceptions / irregulars:







Å kunne


To be able to

Å måtte

To have to

Å skulle


To have to; to be going to

Å ville


To want

Å være


To be

Å vite


To know

Past tense conjugation is a bit more difficult, however there are some guidelines (but keep in mind there are exceptions).

  1. If the verb ends with a double consonant, consonant cluster, or voiced plosive (b / d), past tense will end in -et. (or in -a, really, even in BM)

  2. If the verb ends in a single consonant (except v / b / d), past tense ends in -te.

  3. If the verb ends with v or diphthong, the past tense ends in -de.

  4. If the verb has only one syllable with a long vowel, past tense ends in -dde.

Rule Number


Past Tense



Å flytte



Å danse




Å bake



Å lese




Å lage



Å leie




Å spre



There are two ways to talk about future activities. Sometimes a present tense verb + a time adverbial is used. Another way to express future “tense” is using a modal verb.

Eksempel English

Present Tense + Time Adverbial

Emil drar til konserten neste helg.

Emil is going to the concert next weekend.

Modal Verbs

Jon skal jobbe hjemmefra.

Jon will work from home.

Adjective Basics

Adjectives typically have to agree with the gender and the number of the noun. If the noun is neuter gender, then in the singular indefinite form, the adjective takes a -t ending. In the plural indefinite, the adjective takes an -e ending. Note there are exceptions.

Singular Indefinite Plural Indefinite






En snill tanke

A kind thought

Snille tanker

Kind thoughts

En søt katt

A cute cat

Søte katter

Cute cats


Ei snill melding

A kind message

Snille meldinger

Kind messages

Ei søt mus

A cute mouse

Søte mus

Cute mice


Et snilt barn

A kind child

Snille barn

Kind children

Et søtt godteri

A sweet candy

Søte godteri(er)

Sweet candies

When the noun is in the definite form, the adjective takes an -e ending.

Singular Definite Plural Definite






Den snille tanken

The kind thought

De snille tankene

The kind thoughts

Denne søte katten

This cute cat

Disse søte kattene

These cute cats


Den snille meldinga

The kind message

De snille meldingene

The kind messages

Denne søte musa

This cute mouse

Disse søte musene

These cute mice


Det snille barnet

The kind child

De snille barna / barnene

The kind children

Dette søte godteriet

This sweet candy

Disse søte godteria / godteriene

These sweet candies

To Think

In English, “to think” is used in different ways, such as to ponder, to give an opinion on something, and as another way to say “believe.” Norwegian, however, has multiple words that are used in these situations, and when to use them is kind of strict.

Å tenke

  • Used to mean to think; to ponder.

  • It is referring to the mental process of thinking.

Example English

Tenker du på henne ofte?

Do you think of her often?

Tobias tenker på hunder hver dag.

Tobias thinks about dogs every day.

Dan tenker på hender hver dag.

Dan thinks about hands every day.

Eg tenkjer på familien min i Amerika kvar dag.

I think about my family in America every day.

Å tro

  • Used when one wants to express belief about something, however there is some uncertainty.

  • If, in English, you can replace “think” with “believe,” then this is the word you need.

Example English

Isabella tror at bursdagen hans er neste uke.

Isabella thinks (believes) his birthday is next week.

Markus trodde at moren hans ville være hjemme før kl. 7.

Markus thought (believed) that his mom would be home before 7pm.

Jeg tror han vet mest om dette programmeringsspråket.

I think he knows the most about that Programming language.

Å synes

  • Used to express an opinion based on experience or feeling. (I’ve experienced it and this is my feeling about it).

  • In English, this form of “think” can sometimes be replaced by “find.”

Example English

Jeg synes at Mads er en fantastisk skuespiller.

I think Mads is a great actor.

(I’ve seen him act and I feel he is good at it).

Bjørn synes at lingvistikk er interessant.

Bjørn thinks (finds) linguistics are interesting.

Jeg synes at flere folk skal spille på Minecraft-serveren

I think more people should play on the minecraft server

Å mene

  • Mener is similar to synes but with a strong conviction.

  • Also used when you are “pretty sure” about something.

  • You know something from memory or have some confidence in what you’re saying though you may not know with a 100% certainty (whereas “tror” would seem like more of a guess).

Example English

Person 1: Hvor mange mennesker bor i Norge?
Person 2: Jeg mener det er litt over 5 millioner.

Person 1: How many people live in Norway?

Person 2: I think there are a little over 5 million.

Jeg mener at filmen vant en Oscar.

I think (am pretty sure) that the film won an Oscar.

Practice: Tenker, tror, eller synes

Eksempel English


Jeg synes ikke at ananas er bra på pizza.

I don’t think that pineapple is good on pizza.


Sofia tenker på livet sitt.

She thinks about her life.


Tenk over hva du er takknemlig for.

Think about what you are thankful for.


Christian tror at filmen begynner kl. 8.

Christian thinks that the film starts at 8.


Hva synes du om anime?

What do you think about anime?

To Know

“To know” is another one of those verbs in English that we use in multiple ways. In Norwegian, however, there are different ways to express “to know” depending on the circumstances.

Å kjenne

  • Used when you want to express that you know someone or you are acquainted with someone or something.

  • It can also be used to express that one knows an area or place very well.

Example English

Kjenner du Lars?

Do you know Lars?

Faren min kjenner Markus fra jobb(en) sin.

My father knows Markus from his job.

Victor kjenner den boken av Stephen King.

Victor knows of (is familiar with) that book by Stephen King.

Lea kjenner byen godt fordi hun vokste opp der.

Lea knows the city well because she grew up there.

Han kjenner henne fra skole.

He knows her from school.

NOTE: In English, we have the idiom “To know someplace like the back of your hand.” In Norwegian, there is a similar idiom: “Å kjenne noe som sin egen bukselomme”

Å vite

  • Used when one is referring to facts, specifics, or superficial knowledge or wisdom of something.



Vet du når flyet kommer?

Do you know when the plane arrives?

Jeg vet ikke når filmen starter.

I don’t know when the film starts.

Vet du om vi har fri i dag?

Do you know if we have off today?

Vet du om vi har noen epler?

Do you know if we have any apples?

NOTE: The only direct objects that “å vite” can take are: Det, dette, noe, ingenting, alt, ting.



Maja vet alt.

Maja knows everything.

Tobias vet ingenting.

Tobias knows nothing.

NOTE 2: “Å kjenne” is never used with hv- words; for sentences with hv- words, “å vite” is used.

Example English

Politiet vet hvem som stjal lommeboken.

The police know who stole the wallet.

Gutten vet hva som er i boksen.

The boy knows what’s in the box.

Vet du hvor mobiltelefonen min er?

Do you know where my cell phone is?

Jeg vet ikke hvorfor vi er her.

I don’t know why we are here.

Onkelen min vet hvordan man kjører en motorsykkel.

My uncle knows how to drive a motorcycle.

Å kunne

  • Used when one wants to express that they know how to speak a language.

  • Also used if someone knows how to do a certain skill.

  • Also used when one knows something by heart; it refers to more thorough, in-depth knowledge of something.



Emilie kan (snakke) norsk.

Emilie can speak Norwegian.

Han kan bussruten.

He knows the bus route (by heart).

NOTE: The verb for “to remember” is “å huske” and “to memorize” is “å lære seg utenat” or “å pugge.”

Verb Example English

Å kunne

Faren min kan tidsplanen (utenat).

My father knows the schedule (by heart).

Å huske

Faren min husket tidsplanen.

My father remembered the schedule.

Å lære seg utenat / Å pugge

Faren min lærte seg tidsplanen utenat.

Faren min pugget tidsplanen.

My father memorized the schedule.

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Exercise 1: Fill in the blanks. Some have more than one answer (you only need to write one, though). Conjugate the verbs.

  1. Jeg _____ (think) at katter er søte. (I think that cats are cute.)

  2. Thea _____ (think) at bussen kommer snart. (Thea thinks that the bus will arrive soon.)

  3. Hun _____ (know) at veien til en manns hjerte er gjennom magen. (She knows the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach.)

  4. Ingen ____ (knew) hvor katten kom fra. (No one knew where the cat came from.)

  5. Sofie _____ (think) at hun har fine øyne. (Sofie thinks that she has nice eyes.)

  6. Oliver _____ (think) på filosofi. (Oliver thought about philosophy.)

  7. Jeg _____ (know) ikke hvilket spill jeg skal spille. (I don’t know which game I should play.)

  8. ____ (know) du faren min? (Did you know my father?)

  9. Jeg _____ (think / am pretty sure) at bassenget allerede er åpent. (I think / am pretty sure that the pool is already open.)

  10. Har du _____ (think) å spørre Emma om hjelp? (Have you thought to ask Emma for help?)

  11. August _____ (know) byen godt (August knows the city well.)

  12. _____ (know) du hvor fornøyelsesparken er? (Do you know where the amusement park is?)

  13. Bestemoren min _____ (knows) kakeoppskriften utenat. (My grandmother knows the cake recipe by heart.)

  14. Jeg _____ (think) at Will hadde seks hunder. (I thought that Will had 6 dogs.)

  15. Nora _____ (knows) til det nye programmet. (Nora knows of / is familiar with the new program).

Exercise 2: Write five sentences using verbs from this lesson.