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  5. When to use 'på' or 'i' when …


When to use 'på' or 'i' when referring to a town/city/country you live in?

This has probably been asked already before but I can't seem to find any question referring to this. When to use 'å bo på' or 'å bo i' .. I would really appreciate it if someone could help me out here and explain when and possibly why one would use which of those prepositions in regards to whatever town, city or country..

I currently live in France and am originally from Ireland. Also, if someone has enough time on their hands, give a list of those places which take På or I. There seems to be no explanation anywhere I look or a list of countries that take På instead of I.

Tusen takk in advance!

May 5, 2017



Most countries take "i". Exceptions are made for some - but not all - countries located on islands.

Some island nations off the top of my head:

i Irland
i England
i Australia

på Cuba
på Grønland
på Hawaii
på Island
på Filippinene
på Færøyene
på Sri Lanka
...and the list goes on...

To some degree, the preposition choice seem to match the one the nation itself uses. This at least holds true for the Germanic languages. Island names in general take "på", though there are certain exceptions for island areas ("i Lofoten" being one example). Mountains also take "på".

Cities and bigger towns generally take "i", but areas within the cities and towns may take "på". Farms take "på", and since many towns are named after some big farm that's been around for centuries, they will then continue to use the preposition "på". Then again, some cities and towns take "på" just because. These exceptions almost exclusively pertain to Norwegian towns, for any city or town outside of Norway, you should be pretty safe with "i".


Tusen takk :) it was weird to see that this topic is hardly mentioned online (from what I could see) but anyway, problem solved :) go raibh míle maith agat


Bare hyggelig! Tá fáilte romhat. :)

There are much fewer resources available for Norwegian than for the bigger languages, and searching for them can be tricky when you're just starting out as well. Try googling stedsnavn+preposisjonsbruk.


Ba dheas uait freagairt as Gaeilge :) (It's nice of you to respond in Irish) Yes I've noticed the lack of resources. I lecture Irish in France and I can find plenty of material, not only in English but in French too for the students. Very strange considering we have less than half a million native speakers while ye have 5 million.


General use of "i" and "på" is that you use "på" when you are on the higher ground and "i" when surrounded by higher ground.

Starting from the top level it gives you the following list:
"I" is used for solarsystems.
"På" is used for all planets.
"I" is used on all continents.
"I" is generally used for countries.
"På" is used on islands disregarding of political status, exceptions are made, and Ireland is one of them.
"I" is used for counties.
"På" is used for districts, not corresponding with administrative area, and with a unclear borderline.
"I" is used for districts, not corresponding with administrative area, but with a clear borderline.
"I" is used for cities.
"I" is used for municipals.
"På" is used for places not big enough to be called a village/town/city. If a place has same name as a municipal, it may be separated by "på" for the place and "i" for the municipal.
"I" is used if the place is in a valley.
"På" is used if it is on a mountain or a hill.
"I" is used if it is in a fjord.
"På" is used if it is a headland.
"I" is used if it is a woodland.
"På" is used if it is farmland.

And then you have some exceptions... mainly made of historical reasons...

Here is a list made by "Språkrådet" that might guide you: http://www.sprakradet.no/sprakhjelp/Skriverad/Preposisjonsbruk_bm/#stedsnavn


Wow, thanks a lot! That's a perfect list. Ha en fin dag :)


You are welcome. Have a nice day you too. Enjoy your Norwegian lessons.


According to my knowledge ''på'' translates directly to ''on'', and when you say in Norway, you say ''I Norge''. I'm not sure it matters that much, sorry if I'm not much help.

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