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  5. "Jeg spør meg selv hva jeg må…

"Jeg spør meg selv hva jeg gjøre."

Translation:I am asking myself what I must do.

January 6, 2016



When would you use "meg selv" vs just "meg?"


whenever you would use 'myself' or 'me'


i know this might be a silly question but whats the difference betwee Spør and Spørre ?


“Spørre” is called the “infinitive” form of the verb. It is used in such cases as:

  • Whenever you look up a verb in the dictionary, it will be listed under its infinitive form.
  • When you have a modal verb like “skulle”, “ville”, it’s followed by the infinitive. “Jeg vil dra” (“I want to go”). “Dra” is the infinitive form. In the Duo sentence, the infinitive form “gjøre” is used after the modal “må”.
  • When you have the “infinitive marker” “å”, it’s followed by the infinitive form.

I ask myself whom I must ask.

Jeg spør meg selv hvem jeg må spørre.


I am wondering why "....what I should do" is not accepted. I know it doesn't mean exactly the same, but it sounds much more natural in English.


I think you put your finger on the reason -- that there's a difference in meaning.

What you must do, you have no choice in. But what you should do is what is advisable to do. Ie, it's a good idea to do it, but you don't have to do it.

"Should do" would be "Jeg spør meg selv hva jeg bør gjøre", or similar (I'm shaky on the difference between "bør", "skal", and "skulle", to be honest).


Takk, Adrian!


Is the first part of this sentence as awkward in Norwegian as it is in English? It really feels like this should be translated as "I am wondering" as opposed to "I am asking myself". What sparked this question is that German and Dutch have idiomatic phrases that literally translate to "I am asking me...", but actually mean "I am wondering...". Is this the Norwegian equivalent of this, or is this just an awkwardly artificial sentence?


Yes, this would mean you are thinking about what to do/your options. Isn't "überlegen" used in that way in German, I wonder?

EDIT: The Norwegian sentence is not awkward, but a usual way to put it.


I'd be surprised if the Norwegian sentence is awkward at all. However, "I am wondering..." was not accepted as an answer.

Requiring an awkward translation for a normal sentence is definitely the wrong way to teach a language and if the Norwegian sentence is awkward, it shouldn't be taught at all.


"I am wondering" is now accepted 27AUG16.


this is really weird english


"Jeg spør meg selv ...... " is fine in Norwegian.


Does "Jeg spør meg" mean the same as "Jeg spør meg selv"? As I understand it, reflexive verbs in Norwegian do not need selv added. "Jeg spør meg selv" sounds as though it is giving additional emphasis to "myself" - "I am wondering that myself".


Great question! Here's a provisional answer. I'll check with some native speakers on Discord and get back to you with corrections if need be. And please feel free to ask follow-up questions.

I think there's two types of reflexivity, although the line might not always be clear.

The first case is where it's a normal transitive verb that happens to take itself as an object. This applies to "spørre meg selv". In this situation, add "selv". So, pick any ordinary verb you like -- I hit myself, I spoke with myself, I ate myself(!) -- I think these would all be "selv".

The second case is similar to phrasal verbs, and in this situation you don't use "selv". This second case is also very similar to what's called a "middle voice" in some languages, like ancient Greek.

A phrasal verb is where two words (usually a verb and a preposition, or a verb and an adverb) are now considered to be two parts of the one verb, and express a single meaning. They're a sort of set phrase.

I'm fed up.
This cancels out our gains.
My great-grandfather passed away.

There are phrasal verbs in Norwegian also:

De ser fine ut = They look nice
Jeg kaster opp = I'm vomiting
Vi kommer frem = We arrive

And now compare some Norwegian reflexive verbs. The key idea: the reflexive pronoun is part of the meaning of the verb itself (although originally it might have been considered more of a transitive verb's object).

Jeg gleder meg til å besøke Norge = I look forward to visiting Norway

Jeg skynder meg til jernbanestasjonen = I hurry to the train station

Han drikker kaffe og koser seg = He drinks coffee and enjoys himself

De føler seg syke = They feel sick

Jeg bestemte meg for å dra = I decided to leave

Similarly, there are a lot of "S-verbs" in Norwegian that aren't just passive versions of active verbs. "Å finnes", "å synes", "å trives", "å møtes", "å snakkes", etc. These came from a form that is sometimes called the Old Norsk middle voice, where the "S" is a remnant of an original reflexive pronoun.

Edit: Some info from a native speaker. He said he was more or less in agreement with the above, but that it's possible to use "å spørre seg" as a reflexive verb meaning "å lure på". So, perhaps the Duo sentence is okay without the "selv" after all!


Ok, here's an answer from a different native speaker. She said the following was based on a master's thesis she skimmed.

It's different from my take: while I tried to answer your question in terms of whether something is part of a reflexive verb or not, the answer below is more in terms of whether a reflexive pronoun is surprising or not. If it is, "selv" is added to emphasise it.


Om man bruker "selv" eller ikke har å gjøre med om det er en simpel refleksiv eller kompleks refleksiv.

Simpel refleksiv: Består kun av ordet "seg" Kompleks refleksiv: Består av ordet "seg" + "selv".

Simpel refleksiv brukes til refleksive verb, altså verb som er obligatorisk refleksive. Refleksive verb er verb som krever en refleksiv for å bety det det betyr. Uten refleksiven på slutten, vil verbet teknisk sett være et annet verb fordi det får en annen mening. F.eks. betyr verbene i setningene "hun reiste" og "hun reiste seg" ikke det samme (første = hun dro, andre = hun kom seg opp og stod). "Giftet" er enda et refleksift verb, altså får det simpel refleksiv og etterfølges kun av "seg". Eksempel:

Kari giftet seg

Bruker vi en kompleks refleksiv, altså "seg" + "selv", blir setningen ugrammatikalsk: Hun giftet seg selv. Dette fordi, som sagt, ved refleksivt verb bruker vi kun simpel refleksiv.

Simpel refleksiv brukes også når det fysiske til det vi referer til er i fokus. Dette har å gjøre med lokasjon, altså et sted. Eksempel:

Dovregubben trenger rom rundt seg.

Kompleks refleksiv brukes for å fremheve refleksivitet. Som ved et sted vi ikke skulle forvente refleksivitet. Derfor brukes refleksivt "selv" også ofte med verb som vanligvis ikke tar refleksivt objekt. Eksempel:

Han kritiserte seg selv.

Av samme grunn bruker vi ikke refleksivt "selv" ved refleksive verb, fordi vi forventer refleksiv ved refleksive verb og det dermed ikke lenger er en overraskelse.


Et godt eksempel på simpel og kompels refleksiv som jeg kom til å tenke på er setninger med verbet "slo".

"Hun slo seg" = Hun skadet seg ved et uhell. Dette var ikke med vilje, kanskje datt hun og slo seg, kanskje snublet hun ned trappen og slo seg. Dette kommer ikke som en overraskelse, folk slår seg av og til. Derfor bruker vi her simpel refleksiv.

"Hun slo seg selv" = Denne er mer overraskende, fordi den betyr at hun selv strammet knyttneven og slo sin egen kropp, noe som er mer uvanlig. Derfor får denne en kompleks refleksiv. Her fremheves også refleksiviteten, fordi ikke bare slo hun seg, men hun slo faktisk seg selv.

"Slo" er her enten 1) et refleksivt verb med betydningen jeg gjorde greie for først, som får simpel refleksiv altså kun "seg", eller 2) et vanlig verb som har den andre betydningen, hvor vi trenger en kompleks refleksiv, som er "seg" + "selv".


Thank you very much for such detailed replies! I'm going to have to take a while now to take it all in, but I'll get there :-)

I'd been wondering about the s in verbs like "å finnes": it's nice to see where it comes from.


But here there is no verb-subject inversion like we saw before. Weird!


In direct questions, invert: “Hva må jeg gjøre?”

In indirect questions, normal subordinate clause word order applies: subjunction + subject + midfield adverb + verb.


I have to say, Adrian, that you are really very thorough in your researches and detailed in your responses. Kudos go you.


One of the offered solutions is 'I ask myself what I've to do' but the sentence 'I ask myself what have I to do' is not. With the exception of a verb, subject inversion, the second sentence has the same meaning as the first.


three years later ...

i would argue the second doesn't mean the same as the first in this context but also that the first shouldn't really be accepted since it makes the meaning ambiguous.

i do agree that they can mean the same thing outside of this context. separating the 'have' from the 'to' in that way changes the meaning. it's what i would do when speaking to clarify what i mean.

what i have (pronounced with an elongated vowel and v sound) to do: what is available to me to do.

what i have to (pronounced with a shorter vowel and f sound) do: what i need to/must do.

i would say both 'what have i to do' and 'what i've to do' would sound very awkward if ever spoken to me as a west coast american native. might be more common in other english dialects.


hvis du kan bare se veien hun elsker meg enn kanskje du vil forstar hvorfor jeg foler denne veien...


Og du kan spørre deg selv: har jeg rett, tar jeg feil?
Og du kan si til deg selv: Herregud! Hva har jeg gjort?!

(Edit more than a year later: in Norwegian, man har rett, but man tar feil, whereas in Swedish it's har for both. The more you know, the more you know...)


I know this was covered below but I have to ask anyway! I ask myself is «Jeg spør meg selv». But I wash myself is «jeg vasker meg». Is there a simple rule I’ve missed somewhere or it it just one of those things?


There's not a simple rule unfortunately. See other comment above.


Takk so much for the very prompt reply. I've reread your comment above and while I think I understand it, I know there is no way I could explain how I understand it! French was a breeze compared to this!


Oh, sorry! I missed that you wrote that you'd already read the other comment! And, on rereading the other comment myself, admittedly it's a bit all over the place...

I think the key example is "Jeg slo meg selv" vs "Jeg slo meg". The first means you're hitting yourself, the second that you bumped into something.

So, add "selv" if it's something that's unusual/surprising. Ie, it's unusual to be hitting yourself. But people bump into things all the time.

That's not a perfect rule, but, you know, just a guideline...


Why "gjøre" instead of "gjør"?


After modal verbs, use the infinitive of the main verb.


Jeg må spise mat.

"Å gjøre" is the infinitive of "gjør".


What is wrong with "I ask myself what I have to do."?


I would expect that to be accepted. If it's not (and you don't have any other mistakes), please use the Report function.

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