Future Tense in Norwegian: Discussing Plans and Aspirations

Introduction

Mastering the future tense in any language can be challenging, and Norwegian is no exception. As with many languages, discussing plans and aspirations involves more than just a straightforward tense change; it also requires an understanding of different ways to express future intentions, promises, and hopes. This article will guide you through the nuances of using the future tense in Norwegian, helping you to discuss your plans and aspirations with confidence. For those looking to deepen their understanding of Norwegian, consider enrolling in group classes at the NLS Norwegian Language School.

Basic Future Tense Structure

Norwegian does not have a specific future tense form like English’s “will” or “shall.” Instead, Norwegians use the present tense with a time adverbial to indicate future actions. For example:

  • Jeg drar til Oslo i morgen. (I am going to Oslo tomorrow.)
  • Vi møtes neste uke. (We will meet next week.)

In these examples, the verbs “drar” (go) and “møtes” (meet) are in the present tense, but the inclusion of time adverbials “i morgen” (tomorrow) and “neste uke” (next week) makes it clear that the actions are set in the future.

Using “Skal” for Future Intentions

Norwegians commonly use the modal verb “skal” to convey future intentions, definite plans, or strong certainty:

  • Jeg skal reise til Spania neste måned. (I am going to travel to Spain next month.)
  • Vi skal flytte til en ny leilighet snart. (We are going to move to a new apartment soon.)

Discussing Aspirations and Long-term Plans

When discussing aspirations and long-term plans, Norwegians often use “vil” to express desires or hopes for the future. However, “vil” does not translate directly to “will” in English, but rather to “want to” or “wish to”:

  • Jeg vil bli lege. (I want to become a doctor.)
  • Hun vil starte sin egen bedrift. (She wants to start her own business.)

For plans that are more certain or scheduled, “skal” is appropriate:

  • Vi skal gifte oss neste sommer. (We are going to get married next summer.)
  • De skal bygge et hus ved sjøen. (They are going to build a house by the sea.)

Expressing Promises and Commitments

To express promises or commitments, “skal” is typically used to indicate a firm plan:

  • Jeg skal hjelpe deg med leksene dine. (I will help you with your homework.)
  • Vi skal komme til festen din. (We will come to your party.)

In more formal or serious contexts, “vil” can also be used to express a commitment, especially when indicating a strong desire or intention:

  • Jeg vil være der for deg. (I want to be there for you.)
  • Vi vil gjøre vårt beste. (We will do our best.)

Time Adverbials Enhancing Clarity

Using time adverbials is crucial in Norwegian to avoid ambiguity and ensure that the future intention is clear. Common time adverbials include:

  • I morgen (tomorrow)
  • Neste uke (next week)
  • Snart (soon)
  • Om en måned (in a month)
  • I fremtiden (in the future)
  • Neste år (next year)
  • Om et øyeblikk (in a moment)

Examples:

  • Han skal møte sjefen sin i morgen. (He is going to meet his boss tomorrow.)
  • Vi får resultatene om en måned. (We will get the results in a month.)
  • Jeg skal besøke mine foreldre neste helg. (I am going to visit my parents next weekend.)
  • Hun tar en pause om et øyeblikk. (She will take a break in a moment.)

Additional Vocabulary and Expressions

Expanding your vocabulary can greatly enhance your ability to discuss future plans and aspirations in Norwegian. Here are some useful phrases and words:

  • Forhåpentligvis (hopefully)
  • Planlegger å (plan to)
  • Ønsker å (wish to)
  • Har til hensikt å (intend to)
  • Ser frem til (look forward to)
  • Jeg gleder meg til (I am excited about)
  • Tenker å (thinking of)
  • Regner med å (expect to)
  • Antar at (assume that)
  • Bestemt meg for å (decided to)
  • Håper på (hope for)

Examples:

  • Forhåpentligvis skal vi se hverandre snart. (Hopefully, we will see each other soon.)
  • Jeg planlegger å begynne på universitetet til høsten. (I plan to start at the university in the fall.)
  • Hun ønsker å reise verden rundt. (She wishes to travel around the world.)
  • Vi har til hensikt å forbedre våre norskkunnskaper. (We intend to improve our Norwegian skills.)
  • De ser frem til å feire jul sammen. (They are looking forward to celebrating Christmas together.)
  • Jeg gleder meg til ferien. (I am excited about the holiday.)
  • Jeg tenker å starte et nytt prosjekt. (I am thinking of starting a new project.)
  • Vi regner med å flytte snart. (We expect to move soon.)
  • Han antar at vi vil få gode resultater. (He assumes that we will get good results.)
  • Jeg har bestemt meg for å ta et kurs. (I have decided to take a course.)
  • Vi håper på bedre vær i helgen. (We hope for better weather this weekend.)

Grammar Tips for Future Tense

Understanding the use of modal verbs and time adverbials is essential, but there are other grammatical aspects to consider:

  • Negation: Place “ikke” after the modal verb.
    • Jeg skal ikke glemme det. (I will not forget it.)
    • Vi skal ikke være sene. (We will not be late.)
  • Questions: Modal verbs precede the subject.
    • Skal du komme på festen? (Are you coming to the party?)
    • Vil han bli med oss? (Does he want to join us?)
  • Conjunctions: Use “at” (that) to connect clauses expressing future intentions.
    • Jeg håper at du vil like filmen. (I hope that you will like the movie.)
    • Vi tror at de skal vinne kampen. (We believe that they will win the match.)

Example Dialogues

Dialogue 1: Making Plans

Kari: Skal du dra på ferie i sommer?
Ola: Ja, jeg skal til Italia.
Kari: Det høres spennende ut! Hvor lenge skal du være der?
Ola: Jeg skal være der i to uker.

English Translation:

Kari: Are you going on vacation this summer?
Ola: Yes, I am going to Italy.
Kari: That sounds exciting! How long are you going to be there?
Ola: I am going to be there for two weeks.

Dialogue 2: Discussing Aspirations

Anna: Hva vil du bli når du er ferdig med studiene?
Per: Jeg vil bli ingeniør.
Anna: Hvorfor det?
Per: Jeg liker å løse problemer og jobbe med teknologi.

English Translation:

Anna: What do you want to become when you finish your studies?
Per: I want to become an engineer.
Anna: Why is that?
Per: I like solving problems and working with technology.

Dialogue 3: Expressing Future Intentions

Maria: Skal dere flytte snart?
Erik: Ja, vi skal flytte neste måned.
Maria: Hvor skal dere flytte?
Erik: Vi skal flytte til Bergen.

English Translation:

Maria: Are you moving soon?
Erik: Yes, we are moving next month.
Maria: Where are you moving to?
Erik: We are moving to Bergen.

Dialogue 4: Making a Promise

Lise: Kan du hjelpe meg med oppgaven?
Jonas: Ja, jeg skal hjelpe deg etter middag.
Lise: Tusen takk!
Jonas: Ingen årsak.

English Translation:

Lise: Can you help me with the assignment?
Jonas: Yes, I will help you after dinner.
Lise: Thank you very much!
Jonas: No problem.

Word List

  • Dra (to go/leave)
  • Møtes (to meet)
  • Skal (shall/going to)
  • Vil (want to/wish to)
  • Hjelpe (to help)
  • Feire (to celebrate)
  • Forbedre (to improve)
  • Ønsker (to wish)
  • Planlegger (to plan)
  • Håper (to hope)
  • Glede seg til (look forward to)
  • Tenker å (thinking of)
  • Regner med å (expect to)
  • Antar at (assume that)
  • Bestemt meg for å (decided to)
  • Håper på (hope for)
  • I morgen (tomorrow)
  • Neste uke (next week)
  • Snart (soon)
  • Om en måned (in a month)
  • I fremtiden (in the future)
  • Neste år (next year)
  • Om et øyeblikk (in a moment)

Conclusion

Discussing plans and aspirations in Norwegian involves a blend of present tense usage with time adverbials, and the modal verbs “skal” and “vil.” Understanding these nuances allows for more precise and confident communication about the future. Whether you are planning a trip, setting a goal, or making a promise, mastering these aspects of Norwegian grammar will enhance your fluency and ability to express your future intentions clearly.

If you’re serious about improving your Norwegian, enrolling in group classes at the NLS Norwegian Language School can provide structured learning and practice opportunities.

So, next time you talk about your plans in Norwegian, remember to choose your verbs wisely, expand your vocabulary, and don’t forget those time adverbials!

If you want to learn Norwegian, you can register for classes here. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you become fluent in Norwegian.

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