What is the difference between '[Jeg] har lyst' and '[Jeg] vil ha'?

I'm currently going over sentences in Anki that I've picked up throughout my learning, and I've come across several of these sentences which I always get confused between: e.g, "Hva vil du ha å spise?" & "Vil du ha en ny skjorte?"

then also

"Hva har du lyst til å kjøpe?" & "Jeg har lyst til å kjøpe noen klær".

Are the phrases "Jeg har lyst" and "Jeg vil ha" interchangeable? Do they depend on the word usage of a question being answered? Or are there set rules for each phrase?

Tusen takk! :)

March 3, 2019


Hi! The phrases "Jeg har lyst" and "Jeg vil ha" are sort of interchangeable in the sense that they fit for a lot of the same situations. But they mean slightly different things and generate a different feeling: "lyst" is a pleasure-based kind of wanting, it's saying "I feel like doing/eating/buying..." whereas "Jeg vil ha" is literally "I want to have." The latter doesn't really have the same connotation of wanting something because that's what really strikes your fancy; it sounds a lot more direct and absolute.

"I want" could mean you want something because you simply need it and now is the time to acquire it/carry it out. Or because you're in a situation where the question isn't "Do you want anything?" but rather: "How many/Which one do you want?"If you have "lyst" for something, on the other hand, you are looking forward to this, you actively feel pleased about it, but you aren't necessarily saying "give me that thing now". So I might use it when I suddenly get a craving for waffles, or when discussing what I'd love to have for dinner later. "I feel like pizza" doesn't mean I'm necessarily going out to buy pizza. I'm just saying that pizza crossed my mind.

That's why it would make little sense to order something, say ice cream, by saying "Jeg har lyst på" for the number of scoops. You wouldn't say, "I feel like having three scoops" – the person behind the counter knows you're here for some scoops of ice cream, that much is clear. They just want to know how many, so it's a case of, "(I want) three scoops, please." No need to speak hypothetically or extra politely. Does that make sense?

If you are the one starting a conversation about what you want, it's a bit more polite to say, "I could really go for a pizza!" instead of going, "I want pizza." – that's the same in Norwegian and English. We use a wishful phrase like "I would love some/I really feel like some... (water/cake/pizza)" instead of outright demanding "I want xyz". You can think of "lyst" and "vil" in a similar way.

So to summarize: "Lyst" is more about how you feel and can sound more careful, polite. "Vil" is matter-of-fact wanting, without indicating a strong personal desire or pleasure-based reason. Hope this helps!

March 3, 2019

Absolutely perfect answer in every way. Takk! :D

March 3, 2019

Bare hyggelig! Nordmenn er få, så jeg blir veldig glad for at det finnes folk som vil lære norsk :)

(Norwegians are few, so it makes me very happy that there are people who want to learn Norwegian)

March 3, 2019

I love everything about your wonderful country and the more I read about it, the more I like it. I'm learning the language as I hope to live there one day :)

March 3, 2019

Wow!! Best answer ever! Thanks for giving so generously of your time and knowledge.

March 4, 2019
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