Telling Time in Norwegian

1. Introduction

Norway, a land of breathtaking fjords, mesmerizing northern lights, and rich Viking heritage, has long captivated the hearts of travelers and language enthusiasts alike. From the bustling streets of Oslo to the serene Arctic landscapes of Svalbard, understanding how to tell time in Norwegian is an essential skill for anyone looking to immerse themselves in this Nordic culture.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the intricacies of expressing time in the Norwegian language, from basic concepts to more complex time-related phrases, all while providing cultural context and insights into the Norwegian way of life. Whether you’re planning a trip to Norway, communicating with Norwegian speakers, or simply expanding your linguistic horizons, mastering the art of telling time in Norwegian will prove invaluable.

If you’re looking to deepen your Norwegian language skills beyond this guide, consider signing up for group classes at the NLS Norwegian Language School in Oslo. Their experienced instructors can help you master not just time-telling, but all aspects of the Norwegian language. Learn more at

2. The Basics of Norwegian Timekeeping

2.1 Essential Time-Related Vocabulary

Before delving into the specifics of telling time, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with some fundamental Norwegian vocabulary related to time:

  1. Time – tid
  2. Clock/Watch – klokke
  3. Hour – time
  4. Minute – minutt
  5. Second – sekund

These basic terms form the foundation of timekeeping in Norwegian and will be essential as we explore more complex time expressions.

2.2 The 12-Hour vs. 24-Hour Clock

Norway, like many European countries, uses both the 12-hour and 24-hour clock systems. In everyday speech, Norwegians often use the 12-hour system. However, the 24-hour system is common in official contexts, public transportation schedules, and digital displays.

Understanding both systems is crucial for effective communication in various situations. We’ll explore how to express time using both methods throughout this guide.

3. Asking for the Time

In Norwegian, there are several ways to ask for the time, ranging from informal to more polite expressions:

  1. “Hva er klokka?” – What time is it? (informal)
  2. “Unnskyld, vet du hva klokka er?” – Excuse me, do you know what time it is? (more formal)
  3. “Kan du si meg hva klokka er?” – Can you tell me what time it is? (polite)
  4. “Har du tid?” – Do you have the time? (casual)

When asking for the time, it’s always good to consider the context and choose an appropriate level of formality.

4. Telling the Hour

4.1 Expressing Hours 1-12

When expressing the hour in Norwegian, you’ll use the word “klokka” (the clock) followed by the number. Here’s how to express hours 1 through 12:

  1. 1:00 – Klokka er ett (The clock is one)
  2. 2:00 – Klokka er to (The clock is two)
  3. 3:00 – Klokka er tre (The clock is three)
  4. 4:00 – Klokka er fire (The clock is four)
  5. 5:00 – Klokka er fem (The clock is five)
  6. 6:00 – Klokka er seks (The clock is six)
  7. 7:00 – Klokka er sju (The clock is seven)
  8. 8:00 – Klokka er åtte (The clock is eight)
  9. 9:00 – Klokka er ni (The clock is nine)
  10. 10:00 – Klokka er ti (The clock is ten)
  11. 11:00 – Klokka er elleve (The clock is eleven)
  12. 12:00 – Klokka er tolv (The clock is twelve)

4.2 Expressing Hours 13-24

For hours beyond twelve, Norwegians typically use the 1-12 system, and the time period is often understood from context. The 24-hour clock is also used, especially in more formal or official contexts. Here are examples of both:

  1. 13:00 – Klokka er ett (The clock is one) or Klokka er tretten (The clock is thirteen)
  2. 14:00 – Klokka er to (The clock is two) or Klokka er fjorten (The clock is fourteen)
  3. 15:00 – Klokka er tre (The clock is three) or Klokka er femten (The clock is fifteen)
  4. 16:00 – Klokka er fire (The clock is four) or Klokka er seksten (The clock is sixteen)
  5. 17:00 – Klokka er fem (The clock is five) or Klokka er sytten (The clock is seventeen)
  6. 18:00 – Klokka er seks (The clock is six) or Klokka er atten (The clock is eighteen)
  7. 19:00 – Klokka er sju (The clock is seven) or Klokka er nitten (The clock is nineteen)
  8. 20:00 – Klokka er åtte (The clock is eight) or Klokka er tjue (The clock is twenty)
  9. 21:00 – Klokka er ni (The clock is nine) or Klokka er tjueen (The clock is twenty-one)
  10. 22:00 – Klokka er ti (The clock is ten) or Klokka er tjueto (The clock is twenty-two)
  11. 23:00 – Klokka er elleve (The clock is eleven) or Klokka er tjuetre (The clock is twenty-three)
  12. 00:00 – Klokka er tolv (The clock is twelve) or Klokka er null (The clock is zero)

5. Expressing Minutes

5.1 Minutes Past the Hour

To express minutes past the hour, you’ll use the word “over” (past) after stating the hour. Here are some examples:

  • 3:15 – Klokka er kvart over tre (The clock is quarter past three)
  • 6:30 – Klokka er halv sju (The clock is half past six)
  • 9:10 – Klokka er ti over ni (The clock is ten past nine)
  • 11:05 – Klokka er fem over elleve (The clock is five past eleven)
  • 10:20 – Klokka er tjue over ti (The clock is twenty past ten)

Note that for 30 minutes past the hour, Norwegians use “halv” (half) followed by the next hour. So, 6:30 is expressed as “half seven” rather than “half past six.” This can be confusing for English speakers at first, but it’s an important distinction to remember.

5.2 Minutes to the Hour

For expressing minutes before the hour, Norwegians use different expressions depending on how close it is to the half-hour or the next hour:

  • For times up to 20 minutes past the half-hour, it’s common to use “over halv” (past half):
    • 16:40 – Klokka er ti over halv fem (The clock is ten past half four)
  • For times closer to the next hour (usually from 20 minutes before), use “på” (to) before stating the next hour:
    • 2:45 – Klokka er kvart på tre (The clock is quarter to three)
    • 7:50 – Klokka er ti på åtte (The clock is ten to eight)
    • 11:55 – Klokka er fem på tolv (The clock is five to twelve)

5.3 Specific Minutes

When you need to express specific minutes that don’t fall into the patterns mentioned above, you state the hour followed by the minutes:

  • 4:22 – Klokka er fire tjueto (The clock is four twenty-two)
  • 8:37 – Klokka er åtte trettisju (The clock is eight thirty-seven)
  • 15:48 – Klokka er tre førtiåtte (The clock is three forty-eight)
  • 21:33 – Klokka er ni trettitre (The clock is nine thirty-three)

6. Time Periods of the Day

While it’s not always necessary to specify the time period when telling time, knowing these terms can be useful for adding context or clarity to your time expressions:

  1. Morning – morgen (typically from wake-up time until around 9-10 AM)
  2. Late morning – formiddag (from around 9-10 AM until noon)
  3. Afternoon – ettermiddag (from noon until around 5-6 PM)
  4. Evening – kveld (from around 5-6 PM until bedtime)
  5. Night – natt (typically referring to late night and early morning hours)

These can be used in combination with time expressions when needed. For example:

  • Klokka er åtte på morgenen (It’s eight in the morning)
  • Vi møtes klokka fire på ettermiddagen (We’ll meet at four in the afternoon)

7. Days of the Week

Knowing the days of the week is crucial when discussing time and making plans. Here are the Norwegian days of the week:

  1. Monday – mandag
  2. Tuesday – tirsdag
  3. Wednesday – onsdag
  4. Thursday – torsdag
  5. Friday – fredag
  6. Saturday – lørdag
  7. Sunday – søndag

When referring to days of the week, Norwegians often use these in combination with time expressions. For example:

  • “På mandag klokka to” – On Monday at two o’clock
  • “Hver tirsdag klokka halv sju” – Every Tuesday at half past six
  • “Forrige onsdag rundt klokka fire” – Last Wednesday around four o’clock

8. Months of the Year

Similarly, familiarizing yourself with the months in Norwegian will help you navigate conversations about time and dates:

  1. January – januar
  2. February – februar
  3. March – mars
  4. April – april
  5. May – mai
  6. June – juni
  7. July – juli
  8. August – august
  9. September – september
  10. October – oktober
  11. November – november
  12. December – desember

When discussing dates, Norwegians typically use the format “day month year”. For example:

    1. mai 2023 – fifteenth of May 2023
    1. desember 1994 – third of December 1994

9. Expressing Duration

When discussing how long something takes or has taken, you’ll use the phrase “å ta tid” (to take time). Here are some examples:

  • It takes two hours – Det tar to timer
  • The meeting lasted for 45 minutes – Møtet varte i førtifem minutter
  • We’ve been waiting for half an hour – Vi har ventet i en halvtime
  • The trip takes three and a half days – Turen tar tre og en halv dag
  • She’s been studying Norwegian for six months – Hun har studert norsk i seks måneder

10. Time-Related Vocabulary

To enhance your ability to discuss time in Norwegian, here are some additional time-related words and phrases:

  1. Midnight – midnatt
  2. Noon – klokka tolv (literally “twelve o’clock”) or midt på dagen (middle of the day)
  3. Yesterday – i går
  4. Today – i dag
  5. Tomorrow – i morgen
  6. Week – uke
  7. Month – måned
  8. Year – år
  9. Century – århundre
  10. Decade – tiår
  11. Millisecond – millisekund
  12. Fortnight – fjorten dager (literally “fourteen days”)
  13. Dawn – daggry
  14. Dusk – skumring
  15. Sunrise – soloppgang
  16. Sunset – solnedgang

11. Time Expressions and Idioms

Norwegian, like many languages, has its share of time-related expressions and idioms. Here are some common ones:

  1. “Tid er penger” – Time is money
  2. “Bedre sent enn aldri” – Better late than never
  3. “I tide og utide” – At all times (literally “in time and out of time”)
  4. “Å slå ihjel tiden” – To kill time
  5. “Tiden flyr” – Time flies
  6. “Å være i tolvte time” – To be at the eleventh hour (literally “to be in the twelfth hour”)
  7. “Å ta seg god tid” – To take one’s time
  8. “Å være på høy tid” – To be high time (meaning it’s urgent or overdue)
  9. “Å ha all verdens tid” – To have all the time in the world
  10. “Tidsklemma” – The time crunch (a modern expression referring to the struggle to balance work and personal life)

Understanding and using these expressions can greatly enhance your ability to discuss time-related concepts in Norwegian and provide insight into cultural attitudes towards time.

12. Conclusion

Mastering the art of telling time in Norwegian is an essential skill for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Norwegian culture or communicate effectively with Norwegian speakers. From understanding the unique way Norwegians express half-past hours to navigating the subtleties of time periods throughout the day, this comprehensive guide has covered the key aspects of timekeeping in Norwegian.

Remember that practice is key when it comes to language learning. Don’t be afraid to use these time expressions in real-life situations, whether you’re scheduling a meeting, making plans with friends, or simply asking for the time. With consistent practice and exposure, you’ll find yourself comfortably discussing time in Norwegian in no time.

As you continue your journey in learning Norwegian, pay attention to how locals express time in various contexts. Listen for the nuances in their speech and try to incorporate these patterns into your own language use. By doing so, you’ll not only improve your ability to tell time but also gain deeper insights into Norwegian culture and way of life.

If you’re eager to take your Norwegian language skills to the next level, the NLS Norwegian Language School in Oslo offers comprehensive group classes that cover all aspects of the language, including time-telling and much more. Their expert instructors and immersive learning environment can help you achieve fluency faster. Visit to explore their class offerings and take the next step in your Norwegian language journey.

Lykke til med å lære norsk! (Good luck learning Norwegian!)

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