Mastering the Art of Expressing Preferences in Norwegian: A Comprehensive Guide


Picture this: You’re standing at the edge of a pristine fjord, the crisp Norwegian air filling your lungs. The sun peeks through scattered clouds, casting a golden glow on the landscape. A friendly local approaches, eager to chat about your impressions of Norway. As you fumble for words, you realize that truly connecting with this moment—and this person—requires more than just basic phrases. It requires the ability to express your preferences, your likes and dislikes, in Norwegian.

This scenario isn’t just a daydream—it’s a very real possibility for anyone learning Norwegian. The ability to articulate your preferences is not merely a language skill; it’s your key to unlocking meaningful connections, understanding cultural nuances, and fully immersing yourself in Norwegian society.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll embark on an enriching journey through the intricacies of Norwegian expression. Whether you’re a beginner taking your first tentative steps into the language or an intermediate learner looking to refine your skills, this guide is crafted to elevate your ability to share thoughts, opinions, and preferences with confidence and nuance.

Before we dive into the depths of Norwegian expression, let’s consider how you can turbocharge your language learning journey. The NLS Norwegian Language School offers expertly crafted courses designed to boost your Norwegian proficiency in a supportive, immersive environment. Why not give your language skills a significant boost? Explore their offerings and take the first step towards fluency by registering at

Now, let’s set sail on our linguistic adventure and discover the art of expressing preferences in Norwegian!

The Foundation: Essential Vocabulary and Grammar

Key Verbs and Adjectives: Your Linguistic Toolkit

Imagine you’re packing for a trip to Norway. Just as you’d carefully select the essentials for your suitcase, we’ll start by packing your linguistic toolkit with the most crucial verbs and adjectives for expressing preferences. These words will be your constant companions on your Norwegian language journey:

  1. Å like – To like
  2. Å elske – To love
  3. Å foretrekke – To prefer
  4. Favoritt – Favorite
  5. Bra – Good
  6. Fint – Nice
  7. Flott – Great
  8. Deilig – Delicious (usually for food)
  9. Interessant – Interesting
  10. Morsomt – Fun

These words are the building blocks of preference expression in Norwegian. They’re versatile, frequently used, and will quickly become an integral part of your Norwegian vocabulary.

Grammar Spotlight: Verb Conjugation – The Norwegian Simplicity

One of the most delightful surprises for learners of Norwegian is the simplicity of verb conjugation. Unlike many other languages where verbs change form depending on the subject, Norwegian verbs maintain their form regardless of who’s performing the action. It’s like having a Swiss Army knife that doesn’t need to change shape to perform different functions!

Let’s examine the present tense conjugation of our key verbs:

  • Å like (to like): liker Example: Jeg liker kaffe. (I like coffee.) Du liker kaffe. (You like coffee.) Han/Hun/Det liker kaffe. (He/She/It likes coffee.) Vi liker kaffe. (We like coffee.) Dere liker kaffe. (You [plural] like coffee.) De liker kaffe. (They like coffee.)
  • Å elske (to love): elsker Example: Jeg elsker norsk mat. (I love Norwegian food.) This form remains the same for all subjects.
  • Å foretrekke (to prefer): foretrekker Example: Jeg foretrekker te framfor kaffe. (I prefer tea over coffee.) Again, this form doesn’t change, regardless of the subject.

This consistency in verb forms is like a gentle breeze pushing your language learning sailboat forward. It simplifies sentence construction and allows you to focus on expressing your thoughts rather than worrying about complex conjugations.

Forming Basic Sentences: Your First Steps in Expression

Now that we’ve unpacked our linguistic suitcase, let’s start putting these tools to use. Forming basic sentences to express preferences in Norwegian is like assembling a simple puzzle. You have your subject, your verb, and the object of your preference. Let’s see how these pieces fit together:

  • Min favorittfarge er blå. (My favorite color is blue.)
  • Jeg liker å lese bøker. (I like to read books.)
  • Hun elsker å gå på ski. (She loves to ski.)

Notice how straightforward these sentences are. The structure closely mirrors English, making it easier for English speakers to construct similar sentences in Norwegian. This similarity is like a friendly guide, helping you navigate the early stages of your Norwegian language journey.

Expressing Preferences: Beyond the Basics

As we venture deeper into the Norwegian forest of language, we’ll discover more sophisticated ways to express our likes and dislikes. It’s like moving from a simple trail to more challenging terrain – more demanding, but infinitely more rewarding.

Mastering “Å foretrekke” (To Prefer)

The verb å foretrekke is your Swiss Army knife for expressing preferences. It’s often used with framfor (over) or heller enn (rather than) to compare two options:

  • Jeg foretrekker te framfor kaffe. (I prefer tea over coffee.)
  • Hun foretrekker å lese bøker heller enn å se på TV. (She prefers reading books rather than watching TV.)

Using å foretrekke allows you to express more nuanced preferences, comparing options and providing deeper insights into your likes and dislikes. It’s like adding shades of color to a black and white drawing, bringing your expressions to life.

Grammar Spotlight: Comparatives – The Art of Comparison

In the world of preferences, comparisons are inevitable. Norwegian, like English, uses comparative forms of adjectives to express these comparisons. Think of it as a way to measure your likes and dislikes on a scale. Here’s a quick guide to forming comparatives:

  • For short adjectives, add -ere: fin (nice) → finere (nicer) kort (short) → kortere (shorter)
  • For longer adjectives, use mer before the adjective: interessant (interesting) → mer interessant (more interesting) praktisk (practical) → mer praktisk (more practical)

Let’s see these in action:

  • Jeg synes bøker er mer interessante enn filmer. (I think books are more interesting than movies.)
  • Sommeren er finere enn vinteren. (Summer is nicer than winter.)

By mastering comparatives, you’re adding another dimension to your ability to express preferences. It’s like upgrading from a simple point-and-shoot camera to one with advanced features – you can capture your thoughts with greater precision and detail.

Expressing Likes and Dislikes: The Full Spectrum

Now that we’ve covered the basics and some more advanced structures, let’s explore the full spectrum of expressing likes and dislikes. Norwegian offers a rich palette of expressions to paint your preferences:

  • Jeg er glad i… (I’m fond of…)
  • Jeg er ikke så glad i… (I’m not so fond of…)
  • Jeg liker godt… (I really like…)
  • Jeg liker ikke… (I don’t like…)
  • Jeg kan ikke fordra… (I can’t stand…)
  • Jeg er begeistret for… (I’m enthusiastic about…)

Let’s see these in context:

Jeg er glad i å lage mat, men jeg er ikke så glad i å vaske opp. Jeg liker godt å eksperimentere med nye oppskrifter, spesielt fra det asiatiske kjøkken. Derimot liker jeg ikke å handle på overfylte supermarkeder. Og jeg kan ikke fordra å kaste mat – det føles som sløsing.

(I’m fond of cooking, but I’m not so fond of doing the dishes. I really like experimenting with new recipes, especially from Asian cuisine. However, I don’t like shopping in crowded supermarkets. And I can’t stand throwing away food – it feels like a waste.)

This paragraph demonstrates how you can use various expressions to convey different levels of likes and dislikes, creating a nuanced picture of your preferences.

Dialogue: Preferences in Action

To see how these expressions work in real-life conversations, let’s eavesdrop on a dialogue between two friends, Anna and Bjørn. Imagine them sitting at a cozy café in Oslo, steam rising from their coffee cups as they chat about their interests and preferences:

Anna: Hei Bjørn! Så hyggelig å se deg igjen. Hva liker du å gjøre på fritiden nå for tiden? (Hi Bjørn! So nice to see you again. What do you like to do in your free time these days?)

Bjørn: Hei Anna! Jeg er veldig glad i å gå på tur i fjellet. Det er noe med den friske luften og de vakre utsiktene som jeg aldri blir lei av. Hva med deg? (Hi Anna! I really enjoy hiking in the mountains. There’s something about the fresh air and beautiful views that I never get tired of. How about you?)

Anna: Å, det høres flott ut! Jeg foretrekker faktisk å lese bøker eller se på film når jeg har fri. Jeg liker å slappe av hjemme etter en travel arbeidsuke. (Oh, that sounds great! I actually prefer reading books or watching movies when I have free time. I like to relax at home after a busy work week.)

Bjørn: Interessant! Hva slags bøker liker du best? (Interesting! What kind of books do you like best?)

Anna: Jeg er mest glad i krim og spenningsromaner. De holder meg engasjert fra første til siste side. Har du en favorittforfatter? (I’m most fond of crime and thriller novels. They keep me engaged from the first to the last page. Do you have a favorite author?)

Bjørn: Ja, jeg liker veldig godt Jo Nesbø. Hans bøker er spennende! Men jeg må innrømme at jeg foretrekker faglitteratur framfor skjønnlitteratur. Jeg er spesielt interessert i historie og vitenskap. (Yes, I really like Jo Nesbø. His books are exciting! But I must admit that I prefer non-fiction over fiction. I’m particularly interested in history and science.)

Anna: Det er fascinerende! Jeg skulle ønske jeg var mer interessert i faglitteratur. Forresten, foretrekker du å lese på norsk eller engelsk? (That’s fascinating! I wish I was more interested in non-fiction. By the way, do you prefer reading in Norwegian or English?)

Bjørn: Jeg leser helst på norsk, men jeg liker å øve på engelsk også. Det er noe spesielt med å lese en bok på originalspråket. (I prefer reading in Norwegian, but I like to practice English too. There’s something special about reading a book in its original language.)

Anna: Enig! Jeg har faktisk begynt å lese noen enkle bøker på tysk. Det er utfordrende, men veldig givende. (Agreed! I’ve actually started reading some simple books in German. It’s challenging but very rewarding.)

Bjørn: Imponerende! Jeg er ikke så glad i å lære nye språk, men jeg beundrer deg for innsatsen. Kanskje jeg burde prøve det selv en dag. (Impressive! I’m not so fond of learning new languages, but I admire you for the effort. Maybe I should try it myself someday.)

This dialogue showcases various ways to express preferences naturally in conversation. Notice the use of foretrekker, er glad i, liker, and other expressions to convey different shades of preference. The conversation flows naturally from one topic to another, with both participants sharing their likes and dislikes, creating a rich, engaging exchange.

Cultural Insight: Norwegian Modesty in Expressing Preferences

As you navigate Norwegian social situations, you’ll notice a cultural tendency towards modesty and understatement. This characteristic is deeply ingrained in Norwegian society and is often referred to as “Janteloven” or the Law of Jante – a cultural norm that emphasizes humility and discourages boasting or standing out from the crowd.

This cultural trait is reflected in how Norwegians often express their preferences:

  1. Use of modifiers: Norwegians frequently use words like ganske (quite), litt (a little), or nokså (rather) to soften their statements. Example: Jeg er ganske glad i fisk. (I’m quite fond of fish.) This understatement doesn’t mean they only slightly enjoy fish – it’s more likely that they love it but are expressing it modestly.
  2. Understatement: The phrase ikke verst (not bad) often means “quite good” or even “excellent” in Norwegian. Example: Filmen var ikke verst. (The movie wasn’t bad.) In this context, the speaker probably thoroughly enjoyed the movie but is expressing it in a understated way.
  3. Avoiding strong statements: Instead of saying they love something, Norwegians might say they don’t dislike it. Example: Jeg har ikke noe imot å gå på tur. (I don’t mind going for a walk.) This could actually mean they enjoy hiking very much!
  4. Use of the word jo: This little word often implies a shared understanding or a mild emphasis. Example: Det er jo ganske fint her. (It is quite nice here, isn’t it?) The jo suggests that the speaker assumes the listener agrees, but in a subtle way.

Understanding these cultural nuances will help you express your preferences in a way that feels natural to Norwegian speakers. It’s like learning the unwritten rules of a game – once you understand them, you can play more effectively and enjoyably.

Advanced Expressions for Connoisseurs of the Norwegian Language

As your Norwegian skills grow and you become more comfortable with the language, you’ll want to express your preferences with greater sophistication and nuance. Think of it as expanding your artistic palette – you’re moving from primary colors to a full spectrum of shades and hues. Here are some more advanced expressions to elevate your Norwegian:

  1. Jeg har sansen for… (I have a taste for…) This expression implies a refined appreciation for something. Example: Jeg har sansen for moderne kunst. (I have a taste for modern art.)
  2. Jeg er begeistret for… (I’m enthusiastic about…) This phrase expresses a strong, positive feeling towards something. Example: Jeg er begeistret for norsk litteratur. (I’m enthusiastic about Norwegian literature.)
  3. Jeg har et svakt punkt for… (I have a soft spot for…) Use this to express a fondness for something, often despite knowing it might not be the best choice. Example: Jeg har et svakt punkt for sjokolade. (I have a soft spot for chocolate.)
  4. Jeg er over gjennomsnittet interessert i… (I’m above averagely interested in…) This is a modest way of saying you’re very interested in something, aligning with Norwegian cultural norms. Example: Jeg er over gjennomsnittet interessert i historie. (I’m above averagely interested in history.)
  5. Jeg brenner for… (I’m passionate about…) This expression conveys a deep, burning passion for something. Example: Jeg brenner for miljøvern. (I’m passionate about environmental protection.)
  6. Jeg er helt hekta på… (I’m totally hooked on…) This colloquial expression is perfect for describing things you’re addicted to in a positive sense. Example: Jeg er helt hekta på denne nye TV-serien. (I’m totally hooked on this new TV series.)
  7. Det ligger mitt hjerte nær… (It’s close to my heart…) Use this to express that something is very important to you emotionally. Example: Frivillig arbeid ligger mitt hjerte nær. (Volunteer work is close to my heart.)

By incorporating these expressions into your Norwegian repertoire, you’re adding depth and color to your language use. It’s like moving from simple melodies to complex harmonies – your expression becomes richer and more nuanced.

Practice Makes Perfect: Your Turn to Shine

Now that we’ve explored various ways to express preferences in Norwegian, from basic structures to more advanced expressions, it’s time for you to put your skills into practice. Remember, language learning is like developing a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

Exercise 1: Writing About Your Preferences

Let’s start with a writing exercise. Try crafting a paragraph about your own likes and preferences using the vocabulary and structures we’ve covered. Here’s a template to get you started:

På fritiden liker jeg å… Jeg foretrekker… framfor… Når det gjelder mat, er jeg spesielt glad i… men jeg er ikke så begeistret for… Min favorittaktivitet er å… fordi… Jeg har et svakt punkt for… og jeg brenner for…

(In my free time, I like to… I prefer… over… When it comes to food, I’m especially fond of… but I’m not so enthusiastic about… My favorite activity is… because… I have a soft spot for… and I’m passionate about…)

Fill in the blanks with your own preferences. Don’t be afraid to use a mix of basic and advanced expressions. Here’s an example to inspire you:

På fritiden liker jeg å lese og gå turer i naturen. Jeg foretrekker å være ute framfor å sitte inne hele dagen. Når det gjelder mat, er jeg spesielt glad i italiensk cuisine, men jeg er ikke så begeistret for sterkt krydret mat. Min favorittaktivitet er å reise, fordi jeg elsker å oppleve nye kulturer og møte mennesker fra hele verden. Jeg har et svakt punkt for sjokolade og jeg brenner for miljøvern. Det ligger mitt hjerte nær å ta vare på planeten vår.

(In my free time, I like to read and go for walks in nature. I prefer being outdoors rather than sitting inside all day. When it comes to food, I’m especially fond of Italian cuisine, but I’m not so enthusiastic about spicy food. My favorite activity is traveling because I love experiencing new cultures and meeting people from all over the world. I have a soft spot for chocolate, and I’m passionate about environmental protection. Taking care of our planet is close to my heart.)

Exercise 2: Dialogue Creation

Now, let’s practice creating a dialogue. Imagine you’re meeting a Norwegian friend for coffee, and you’re discussing your hobbies and interests. Write a short conversation, using a variety of expressions to convey your preferences. Here’s a start:

You: Hei! Så hyggelig å se deg. Hva liker du å gjøre på fritiden? (Hi! So nice to see you. What do you like to do in your free time?)

Friend: Hei! Jeg er veldig glad i å… (Hi! I’m very fond of…)

Continue the dialogue, incorporating at least five different ways of expressing preferences. Remember to use a mix of basic and advanced expressions, and try to include some cultural aspects we’ve discussed, like modesty in expression.

Exercise 3: Preference Scales

For this exercise, we’ll create preference scales for different categories. Rate your preferences on a scale from 1 (strongly dislike) to 5 (love), and write a sentence explaining each rating using appropriate Norwegian expressions. Here are the categories:

  1. Norwegian cuisine
  2. Outdoor activities
  3. Learning languages
  4. Norwegian weather
  5. Social media

Example for Norwegian cuisine:

Rating: 4 – Jeg er ganske begeistret for norsk mat. Jeg har sansen for tradisjonelle retter som fårikål og lutefisk, men jeg må innrømme at jeg har et svakt punkt for norske vafler med brunost.

(Rating: 4 – I’m quite enthusiastic about Norwegian food. I have a taste for traditional dishes like fårikål and lutefisk, but I must admit I have a soft spot for Norwegian waffles with brown cheese.)

Complete the exercise for the remaining categories, trying to use a different expression for each one.

Real-World Applications: Putting Your Skills to Use

Now that you’ve practiced expressing preferences in various contexts, let’s explore how these skills can be applied in real-world situations in Norway.

Scenario 1: At a Restaurant

Imagine you’re at a restaurant in Oslo, and the waiter asks about your preferences. Here’s how you might respond:

Waiter: Hva vil du anbefale av forrettene våre? (What would you recommend from our starters?)

You: Jeg er spesielt glad i fisk. Er det noen fiskeretter du kan anbefale? (I’m especially fond of fish. Are there any fish dishes you can recommend?)

Waiter: Vi har en deilig røkelaks som forrett. Vil du prøve den? (We have a delicious smoked salmon as a starter. Would you like to try it?)

You: Det høres fristende ut. Ja, jeg vil gjerne prøve røkelaksen. (That sounds tempting. Yes, I’d like to try the smoked salmon.)

Scenario 2: Making New Friends

You’re at a language exchange meetup in Bergen, trying to make new friends. Here’s how you might use your preference-expressing skills:

New acquaintance: Hva liker du å gjøre på fritiden? (What do you like to do in your free time?)

You: Jeg er over gjennomsnittet interessert i fotografi. Jeg foretrekker å ta bilder av natur og landskap framfor portretter. Bergen er jo et perfekt sted for det, med all den vakre naturen rundt. Er du interessert i fotografering? (I’m above averagely interested in photography. I prefer taking pictures of nature and landscapes rather than portraits. Bergen is a perfect place for that, with all the beautiful nature around. Are you interested in photography?)

Scenario 3: Job Interview

You’re at a job interview, and the interviewer asks about your work preferences:

Interviewer: Hva slags arbeidsmiljø trives du best i? (What kind of work environment do you thrive in?)

You: Jeg foretrekker et dynamisk arbeidsmiljø hvor teamarbeid står sentralt. Jeg er spesielt glad i prosjektbasert arbeid, og jeg brenner for innovasjon og kreativ problemløsning. Samtidig setter jeg pris på en balanse mellom samarbeid og muligheten til å jobbe selvstendig når det er nødvendig. (I prefer a dynamic work environment where teamwork is central. I’m particularly fond of project-based work, and I’m passionate about innovation and creative problem-solving. At the same time, I appreciate a balance between collaboration and the opportunity to work independently when necessary.)

By practicing these real-world scenarios, you’re not just learning language in isolation, but preparing yourself for authentic interactions in Norwegian society. Remember, every conversation is an opportunity to practice and improve your skills in expressing preferences.

Conclusion: Your Gateway to Norwegian Culture

As we reach the end of our journey through the art of expressing preferences in Norwegian, it’s clear that this skill is more than just a linguistic achievement. It’s your key to unlocking deeper cultural understanding and forging more meaningful connections with Norwegian speakers.

From simple likes and dislikes to nuanced expressions of passion and interest, you now have a robust toolkit for sharing your thoughts and feelings in Norwegian. You’ve learned to navigate the cultural nuances of modesty in expression, and you’ve practiced applying these skills in real-world scenarios.

Remember, language learning is a journey, not a destination. Each conversation, each attempt to express your preferences, is a step forward on this exciting path. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they’re an essential part of the learning process. The more you practice, the more natural and confident your expressions will become.

If you’re looking to take your Norwegian skills to the next level, consider enrolling in courses at the NLS Norwegian Language School. Their experienced instructors can help you refine your language skills and gain confidence in expressing yourself in Norwegian. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to polish your advanced skills, they have courses tailored to your needs. Explore their offerings and register at

As you continue your Norwegian language adventure, challenge yourself to use these new expressions in real-life situations. Strike up conversations with locals, express your preferences in restaurants, shops, or social gatherings. Each interaction is an opportunity to practice and improve, and you might be surprised at how quickly your confidence grows.

Remember, expressing preferences is about more than just language – it’s about sharing a part of yourself with others. It’s a way to connect, to find common ground, and to navigate the rich tapestry of Norwegian culture. So go ahead, share your likes and dislikes, your passions and interests. Let your voice be heard in Norwegian!

Lykke til med norskstudiene dine! May your journey in mastering Norwegian be filled with exciting discoveries, enriching conversations, and the joy of self-expression. Your adventure in the world of Norwegian language and culture is just beginning, and the possibilities are endless.

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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