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  5. "Jeg ville ikke ha spist det …

"Jeg ville ikke ha spist det om jeg var deg."

Translation:I would not have eaten that if I were you.

September 9, 2015



So is there really no way of telling without context whether it's 'I would not have eaten that if I were you' or 'I wouldn't eat that if I were you'?


According to my findings this would be first and second conditional in Norwegian, first = present, second = past.

First: ville spise, would eat. Conditional present. (Preteritum futurum)

Second: ville ha spist, would have eaten. Conditional perfect.

However, it is very common to omit the modal ha from the second conditional form, both in writing and speaking.

This makes me think it might not be correct to say "would have eaten" = "would eat", as they refer to different times, just as in Norwegian. But I also think you could say both to someone, as they are sitting with their meal, meaning "that thing you are about to eat/that thing you are eating" I would not eat it! To me they work in both English and Norwegian, it doesn't matter if it is in present or past or if "you" are already eating or not. Not for this sentence anyway


That's interesting. The tips and notes for this lesson don't mention anything about the first conditional, which is why I am confused. The notes seem to imply that what sounds (to an English speaker) like the past conditional can actually be used for the present, and some of the sentences do accept both tenses. But some of them only accept the past tense. I am not sure how to differentiate. Is the present conditional common in spoken Norwegian? Or do people tend to use the past conditional for what would be present in English? And does the omission of the ha have any effect on the past/present nuance?


Got here from your other discussion about conditionals. I was intrigued and tried to find out more :) I apologise if I messed up any of the Norwegian examples.

I believe the terms first/second/third conditional only apply to English, and it appears that they don't match up perfectly to the Norwegian forms.

The first conditional is predictive (If A happens, then B will happen). It uses present and future tense. I believe Norwegian works the same way (this is covered in the Conjunctions lesson, not in this lesson). "If she calls, he will eat lunch with her" = "Hvis hun ringer, skal han spise lunsj med henne"

This lesson covers counterfactual/speculative/hypothetical conditionals (second and third conditionals in English).

English uses the second conditional for the present and future (If A were to happen, then B would happen [but A probably won't happen]): "If she called, he would eat lunch with her"

And the third conditional for the past (If A had happened, then B would have happened [but A didn't happen]): "If she had called, he would have eaten lunch with her"

According to the notes, Norwegian has two ways of expressing counterfactual conditionals.

Modal + infinitive (looks like the English second conditional): "Hvis hun ringte, ville han spise lunsj med henne"

Ville + ha + past participle (looks like the English third conditional): "Hvis hun hadde ringt, ville han (ha) spist lunsj med henne"

My understanding from the Tips and Notes plus other things I have read is that the modal + infinitive form is only used where English would use the second conditional, whereas the ville + ha + past participle can be used to translate both the second and third conditional.

In other words, if you are talking about the past, you have to use ville + ha + past participle. If you are talking about the present or future you can use either form.

I know that doesn't actually answer your question, just trying to clarify the use of first/second/third and present/past in the hopes that someone who speaks Norwegian better than me can answer the question :)


These terms are called first and second conditional in Norwegian. Conditional/kondisjonalis stems from Latin (to form anew), it is natural for both languages to have the same word for this tense as they are quite similar.

My bulletpoints are from the Norwegian wikipedia headword on "Kondisjonalis". I'll probably get them wrong, but I will try to translate the examples (which is given with the wiki article). I'm guaranteed to mess up the conditional structures for the English try-outs.

1. kondisjonalis. First conditional concerns the present (nåtid). Jeg ville/skulle/kunne/burde/måtte komme, hvis ... Modal + infintive.

  • used to express how you thought something could have become if only... ("fortidsfuturum", how you once envisioned your future). Jeg skulle reise til Afrika i fjor, men så ble jeg syk. "I were to leave for Africa last year, but then I got ill".
  • used together with a preterite to express counterfactual/wishful conditions in the now. Var jeg rik, skulle jeg reise til Afrika nå. "If I were rich, I would leave for Africa now."
  • used to express conditions of the future. Skulle du være her klokken sju, får du se solformørkelsen. "Should you be here at seven o'clock, you will get to see the eclipse."
  • used to give advice and recommendations. Du skulle gå oftere til tannlegen. "You should go to the dentist more often."

2. kondisjonalis. Second conditional concerns the past (fortid). Jeg ville/skulle/kunne/burde/måtte ha kommet, hvis ... Modal + (ha) + past participle. The ha can be omitted without changing the meaning or term. Jeg ville/skulle/kunne/burde/måtte kommet, om...

  • used to express an counterfactual envisioned action. (?totally unsure about how well that got translated?) Something you should have done, but didn't yet. Jeg burde (ha) kjøpt nye sko for lenge siden. "I should have bought new shoes a long time ago."
  • used together with pluperfect to underline the counterfactual condition of the past. Hadde jeg vært rik, ville jeg (ha) reist til Afrika for lenge siden. "Had I been rich, I would have left for Africa a long time ago."
  • used together with pluperfect to underline the counterfactual condition of the present. Hadde jeg vært rik, skulle jeg (ha) reist til Afrika nå. "Had I been rich, I would leave for Africa now."

I can't decipher the English wikipedia headword on Conditional_sentence any better right now. I should go to bed. Jeg burde gå og legge meg. ;-) First conditional advice for myself there.

Some references mostly for myself (easier than googling it all the time).



This is from SNL.no: Kondisjonalis, verbalform som særlig brukes i hovedsetninger og uttrykker at handlingen kan eller kunne finne sted bare under visse betingelser; på norsk omskrevet: første kondisjonalis om nåtid: jeg ville (skulle) komme, hvis ...; og annen kondisjonalis om fortid: jeg ville (skulle) ha kommet, hvis ...

And from the online dictionary a uio: kondisjonalis m1 (lat. nydanning ) sammensatt verbalform som uttrykker at handlingen kan eller kunne finne sted bare under visse forutsetninger 'jeg skulle, ville reise hvis ...' er første k- / 'jeg skulle, ville (ha) reist hvis ...' er andre k-


Thanks both of you for excellent research and detailed answers.

Reading your comments, it occurs to me that the problem might be the fact that Norwegian and English categorise the conditional differently, and where these categories don't overlap, it can cause confusion for learners. I'm sort of thinking out loud here though...

What I mean is, broadly speaking Norwegian defines the conditional by tense (1st = present, 2nd = past). This is not 100% true as there is a counterfactual present option in the 2nd conditional (Hadde jeg vært rik, skulle jeg (ha) reist til Afrika nå). But still, this only works when combined with the pluperfect, i.e. it is dependent on some past action that did/didn't take place. It also has a wider definition of conditional than English.

In English, on the other hand, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd conditionals are not defined by tense so much as by degrees of probability. The 1st conditional is a likelihood - as long as A happens, B will definitely happen. The 2nd conditional is a possibility, but an unlikely one - if A happens, B theoretically could but probably won't happen. The 3rd conditional is an impossibility. The fact that it is in the past seems almost incidental, in that things can only really be impossible when they are in the past. But the 'pasthood' of the sentence is not its defining characteristic when compared to the other two.

The difficulty of translating is that the Norwegian 1st (present) covers both English 1st (likely) and 2nd (unlikely) - see the third and second bullet points in grydolva's explanation respectively. It also seems to cover what in English would not be a conditional at all - e.g. 'you should go to the dentist'.

Meanwhile Norwegian 2 (past) covers both English 3 (impossible) and what is known in English as a 'mixed conditional' where the first part of the sentence looks like a 3rd and the second part looks like a 2nd (if I had been rich, I would leave for Africa now). It also covers sentences that are not seen as conditional in English (I should have bought new shoes a long time ago). Moreover, it does seem to be possible to use it for some sentences of the English 2 type, but as far as I can tell not English 1.

Let's take the original sentence from the tips and notes, 'jeg ville (ha) spist lunsj med henne' can be 'I would eat/have eaten lunch with her'. Ironically, the shorter the sentence, the more confusing it is because there are more options. In this example, the addition of the second part of the sentence (the if part) would make it clear whether English 2 or 3 is appropriate. It would then become either 'I would eat lunch with her if she came' or 'I would have eaten lunch with her if she had come'. But it could never become English 1, 'if she comes I will eat lunch with her'.

Ultimately, as always, it is just one of those language quirks that we will have to get a feel for through exposure, rather than learning a set of clear rules. But this discussion is certainly helping!


Just a short reply on Jeg ville ikke ha spist vs Jeg ville ikke spise as this is what I can manage without having 90 minutes at my disposal;-)

Jeg ville ikke spise det om jeg var deg is a 1. kondisjonalis advice. He has not started eating yet and I advice against trying, or he has started but I will advice against finishing the meal.

Jeg ville ikke (ha) spist det om jeg var deg is a 2. kondisjonalis "conteractual envisioned action" as I dubbed it. In this case: you shouldn't have done it, but did. He did eat it, I wouldn't. But as the removal of ha makes 2. kondisjonalis into a form of pluskvamperfektum, pluperfect, so as a native I would also use it as an advice (ie I don't really separate between the two): Jeg hadde ikke spist det om jeg var deg (I can't be you, this is merely hypothetical). I think it becomes pluperfect like that. But then again we're sort of back to the terms 1. kondisjonalis. I would use it both to stop someone who is eating and stop them from starting to eat at all.

Maybe I need 90 minutes to figure this out...


Thanks, that clears up some things.

Firstly, Norwegian "kondisjonalis" doesn't correspond to English "conditional sentence" but rather "conditional mood". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_mood

Secondly, Norwegian 1. kondisjonalis corresponds approximately to the English 2nd conditional, and Norwegian 2. kondisjonalis corresponds roughly to the English 3rd conditional (that's not confusing at all :P).

The relevant examples to londoncallling's question are the counterfactual present ones: - Var jeg rik, skulle jeg reise til Afrika nå Literally: Were I rich, I should leave for Africa now More idiomatic/modern: If I was rich, I would leave for Africa now vs. - Hadde jeg vært rik, skulle jeg (ha) reist til Afrika nå Literally: Had I been rich, I should have left for Africa now

My understanding of the Wikipedia article is that the second Norwegian sentence has roughly the same meaning as the first, just with more emphasis. But the literal English translation implies that the being rich occurred in the past.

The Wikipedia article also says that the omission of "ha" is common in everyday speech and becoming more common in writing, but it doesn't look like it makes any difference in meaning.

So going back to the DuoLingo sentence: "Jeg ville ikke ha spist det om jeg var deg" vs. "Jeg ville ikke spise det om jeg var deg"

I think that if the person has already finished eating, then only "ville ikke ha spist" is possible. But what about if the person is currently eating? Or hasn't started eating yet? In those cases are both "ville ikke ha spist" and "ville ikke spise" possible? Is one more common than the other? Is there any difference in meaning?


Why is it "om" instead of "hvis"?


I would use either, they are interchangeable


why "deg" and not "du"?

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