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Subordinate Clauses

Grammar video about subordinate clauses
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: READ the sentences 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!

Welcome again to Language Features!

We thought to start the week by resuming our last conversation about Subordinate Clauses.

You might watch the video from Course 2 again just to refresh the topic and then read this complementary note on the matter.


Subordinates can be difficult beasts to tame, so we will try to make this overview simple and practical.

We have different type of Subordinates, here we take a closer look at two of them, Relative Clauses with SOM and Subordinates of time with NÅR and DA.

Relative clauses with SOM

The English relative pronouns who, which and that are all translated with SOM in Norwegian, regardless of whether it is referring to people, animals or objects:
Jeg har en bror. Han er 30 år gammel. I have a brother. He is 30 years old.

→ Jeg har en bror SOM er 30 år gammel. (I have a brother who is 30 years old.)

Jeg har en katt. Den er søt. I have a cat. It is cute.

→ Jeg har en katt SOM er søt. (I have a cat which is cute.)

Jeg har en bil. Den er ny. I have a car. It is new.
→ Jeg har en bil SOM er ny. (I have a car which is new.)
A relative clause is a subordinate clause, and therefore adverbs like ikke are placed in front of the verb:
Jeg har en bil SOM IKKE er ny. I have a car which is not new.
In the examples above, SOM is also the Subject of the relative clause. Right?
SOM, like the English relative pronouns who, which and that, is used to replace either the Subject or the Object in a subordinate.
When SOM is not the Subject of the relative clause, the real Subject will come directly after SOM, as for any other subordinating conjunction:
Jeg har en bil SOM JEG kjøpte i juni. I have a car which I bought in June.
In this case, SOM substitutes the word CAR which is the Object of the relative clause, while the Subject is JEG.
Is it all right? You might read this again and try to make some examples on your own so it will be easier to learn this sentence structure.

Subordinates with DA and NÅR

Both da and når mean when.
We use da about a single occurrence or a completed action in the past.
N.B: We have to use the Preteritum form of the verb in this case.
Alex traff Jens da han begynte i barnehagen. Alex met Jens when he started in kindergarten.
Jeg bodde i Frankrike da jeg var barn. I lived in France when I was a child.
We use når for customary or repeated actions, even for repeated actions in the past:
Jeg liker å slappe av når jeg kommer hjem fra jobben. I like to relax when I come home from work.
Jeg likte alltid å slappe av når jeg kom hjem fra jobben. I always liked to relax when I came home from work.
We also use når for actions in the future:
Jeg skal ta eksamen når kurset er ferdig. I will take the exam when the course is finished.

We hope this overview was useful.

You can try to make your own examples if you think that will make it easier for you to learn.

And of course you always have this week’s grammar exercises to practise more.

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Norwegian for Beginners 3

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