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Hva som helst vs. Noe som helst

Today I got taught this by a native speaker:

These are correct: Hun kan gjøre hva som helst = She can do anything. Hun kan ikke gjøre noe som helst = She can't do anything.

But this is not: Hun kan ikke gjøre hva som helst.

But why? Does anybody have a good rule to explain when to use hva som helst vs noe som helst?

April 28, 2016


Sorted by top post


Both sentences are possible, but they negate the positive sentence in different ways.

Hun kan ikke gjøre noe som helst = she can do nothing

Hun kan ikke gjøre hva som helst = it is limited what she can do


Ευχαριστώ. Though, Ι find this grammar order a bit strange, I'll try to get used to it.


Ikke and noe have a close relationship in the Norwegian language, similar to the words not and any in English. Often when I hear the word "ikke" used in Norwegian, I subconsciously anticipate some form of "noe" to be paired with it.

  • Jeg har ikke noe vann. I don't have any water.
  • Jeg har ikke noen brødre. I don't have any brothers.

Hva som helst basically means anything, but the "ikke" in the sentence comes with the "noe" like it's on a leash, much like how

  • "I want nothing" sounds perfectly natural in English, but
  • "I don't want nothing" sounds ungrammatical and confusing, even if it is fine in certain dialects.

Standard English, if there is such a thing, prefers that the "don't" transition the "nothing" into "anything", just like how the "ikke" changes the "hva" into a "noe". That's how my brain processes this. Perhaps a native speaker can be more concise?


Thanks, this helps. Is it possible to say the fourth combination:

Hun kan gjøre noe som helst.

or is that just wrong?

  • 38

That wouldn't work alone, but it would work in a sentence:

"Før du kan gjøre noe (som helst), må du vaske hendene" = "Before you can do anything, you have to wash your hands".

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