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Subordinate clauses

Grammar - word order
Welcome to week 4 presentation about subordinate clauses in norwegian. Subordinates can be difficult, but we will try to make things easier for you by explaining the basics in this grammar video. What is a subordinate clause? Subordinate clauses, as the name implies, are NOT independent sentences and they cannot stand alone. That means that they can’t have meaning on their own. They are dependent on and have to be attached to a main clause. Imagine chinese boxes or the russian dolls called «matryoshkas»
The biggest box or the biggest matrioska represents the main clause and contains one or more subordinates: The biggest doll or the biggest box represents the main clause, the smaller dolls and boxes represent the subordinates clauses. How many subordinates you can have in a main clause dipends on the language, some languages allow complicated long chains of subordinates, other languages like Norwegian allow very few. We actually think that two is more than enough!
Take a look at these sentences: I lived in Oslo when I was a child When I was a child I lived in Oslo «I lived in Oslo» is the main clause. This sentence can stand alone and have full meaning on its own. «when I was a child» is the subordinate clause. This sentence can’t stand alone and doesn’t have a complete meaning on its own. Subordinate clauses can be placed after (1) or before (2) a main clause.
So If we now return to the picture: «I lived in Oslo» is the main clause that contains the subordinate clause «when I was a child» just as the biggest chinese box and the biggest matrioshka doll contain all other smaller boxes and matrioshkas The structure of subordinate clauses vary from language to language, but they are often introduced by small words called «subordinating conjuctions» or «subjunctions». Subjunctions connect the subordinate clause to the main clause. In English you have for example «because, that, if/whether» etc. In Norwegian you have already met «fordi, at» and «om». Subordinate structure in Norwegian The structure of subordinate clauses in Norwegian is quite strict and differs greatly from main clauses.
The word order in subordinates is fixed, that means that each element has a fixed place. The subjunction is followed immediately by the subject of the subordinate sentence and the finite verb. If the subordinate sentence contains adverbs, like the negation ikke, these are placed in
front of the verb:
Take a look at the following Norwegian sentences: Benjamin laget lunsj fordi Alex var sulten Mamma sa at Alex ikke var sulten Norsk er vanskelig fordi jeg har bodd i Frankrike Mamma sier at jeg må øve på å skrive norsk Tone spør om Dina også liker seg på skolen Can you recognize where the subordinate sentences start? Can you translate the sentences? We use FORDI when we want to express a causal relation to the main clause, it corresponds to ‘because’ in English AT corresponds to the English «that» And OM is only used in indirect questions, when for example ‘If’ and ‘whether’ are used in English
So the translation would be: Benjamin made the lunsj because Alex was hungry Mom said that Alex wasn’t hungry Norwegian is difficult for me because I’ve lived in France Mom says that I have to practise on writing Norwegian And Tone asks whether/if also Dina likes herself in school
When put in the table, the word order of the sentences looks like this: The first column contains the main clause. The second column contains the subjunctions. In the column with adverbs you find both negations like IKKE and other adverbs like OGSÅ In the column with verb, you place both finite and not-finite verbs. So here you place for example modal verbs and infinitives like in «må øve» and verbs tenses like «har bodd». This is also the place for reflexive verbs like «like seg» In the column with other elements you simply place the rest of the sentence elements you
have: predicative adjectives like «sulten», objects or time and place expressions like «i Frankrike» or «på skolen» We mentioned at the beginning that subordinates also can be placed before a main clause. In this case, the subordinate clause ends with a comma and is followed directly by the verb of the main clause
Examples: Fordi jeg har bodd i Frankrike, er norsk vanskelig for meg Fordi Alex var sulten, laget Benjamin lunsjen Remember in the first course, when we learnt about the phenomenon of inversion? Inversjon in Norwegian? When the regular order of subject and verb in main clauses switchs to verb-subject if the sentence starts with any other elements but the subject? Well, this is exactly what happens here. When you put a subordinate clause first, you start a main sentence with another element different that the subject and this trigger the inversion phenomenon. That’s why you have the verb and then the subject right after the subortinate.
«Fordi jeg har bodd i Frankrike, ER NORSK vanskelig for meg» «Fordi Alex var sulten, LAGET BENJAMIN lunsjen» Here are some other examples. All sentences in the table start with a subordinate clause. A comma marks the end of the subordinate and right after you find the inversion with the
verb first and then the subject of the main clause: Fordi Alex var sulten, laget Benjamin lunsj. Fordi Dina ikke har bodd i Norge før, er norsk vanskelig for henne. At norsk er vanskelig er et faktum. Hvis Dina vil lære norsk, må hun jobbe. Om du også vil lære norsk vet jeg ikke. You have already met FORDI, AT and OM. In sentence number 4, we have introduced HVIS, wich means IF and is used in hypothetical sentences.
So if we now translate litterally into English, we get: Because Alex was hungry, Benjamin made lunch Because Dina hasn’t lived in Norway before, Norwegian is difficult for her That Norwegian is difficult, it’s a fact If Dina wants to learn Norwegian, she has to work If (whether or not) you also want to learn Norwegian, I don’t know Remember that you cannot always translate litterally. Sometimes litterally translations are wierd. You have to find the most appropriate words when translating. Ok? So now give it a try in your own language. Be aware that, in reality, you cannot always use this structure with all types of subordinates. With some subordinates you might end up with a very stiff and old fashion sentence structure
like in: Om Dina også liker seg på skolen, spør Tone Even if this sentence is grammatically correct, it sounds a little too artificial to be used in everyday speech. But it could work in a specific written context.
Norwegians will simply say: Tone spør om Dina også liker seg på skolen When the subordinate is an indirect question like the one above, it is common to put the subordinate after the main clause. In addition to FORDI, AT, OM, and HVIS, subordinates in Norwegian
can also be introduced by the following subjunctions: NÅR and DA Når means «when» and is used with sentences in present tense Når du kommer hjem, spiser vi middag Vi spiser middag når du kommer hjem Da means also «when» but is just used with sentences in the Preteritum past tense Da jeg var liten, bodde jeg i Frankrike Jeg bodde i Frankrike da jeg var liten Subordinates can be difficult, but once you have learnt the correct word order it becomes kind of automatic. To help you learn the correct structure, you can write your sentences working with the table on the side. Try to fit your sentence elements in the table.
If you have elements that don’t fit, you might want to look again at your sentence structure and move pieces around til you find the right word order. The best way to learn writing Norwegian is to read and practise. So keep up the good work! Lykke til!

Word order in another language is not always easy to grasp.

Generally, we unconsciously tend to transfer language patterns from our mother tongue to the new language, and that’s when we inevitably make mistakes.

On the other hand, it is precisely when making mistakes that we learn, trying and retrying in the process.

Our last grammar video on LearnNoW 2 is about word order in subordinate clauses.
We wanted to leave you with something challenging to stimulate your curiosity for what the next course has in store for you.

However, before you jump-start to subordinates, we recommend that you watch again the video about word order in main clauses if you have doubts and need to refresh your knowledge.

Subordinates in Norwegian follow a strict rule pattern that can be complicated to learn.

In the video, we have exemplified this structure with a word order table that you can download and use when writing.

Because this video is a little bit longer than usual and can be somewhat challenging, we recommend that you stop and review it often.

Ready to learn more?

Let’s start then!

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Norwegian for Beginners 2

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