Definite forms

I have some questions about the definite forms.

My first question is about the singular definite forms. I read in "Tips and notes" that there are two different forms for some nouns, for example "jenten" and "jenta" (the girl). I wonder if this holds only for feminine nouns of if you can write "gutta" instead of "gutten" as well? By the way, is "jenten" pronounced "jenta" or does the pronunciation change with the spelling?

For the definite plural nouns, like "brev" (letter) for example, where you choose between "brevene" and breva" (the letters), do the two forms have the same pronunciation?

I would also like to know if there is any regional, stylistic or any other difference between the two forms! På førhånd takk :)!

May 22, 2015


No, you can not write "gutta" instead of "gutten". It would be interpreted as "guttene" - the boys.

"Jenten" is pronounced as "jenta" in most parts of the country.

No one in Norway speaks Bokmål, but their own dialects.

"Gutta" is not official bokmål. It is used in some dialects, especially informally, to mean "the boys".

Both "jenta" and "jenten" are permitted in official bokmål. In bokmål you can choose whether you prefer a system with two genders (common and neuter) or three (masculine, feminine and neuter).

In the style we use in the course, which is the style used by most newspapers in bokmål we use the former except for a little more than 100 words, among them "jente", where it to most Norwegians would sound a little strange with "-en".

You can say it the way you write it.

Ok, that makes sense. I have seen a few more, like "hytta" (the cabin), "kua" (the cow), "kona" (the wife), "mora" (the mother) and "skjorta" (the shirt). I will try to learn them by heart, which is not so difficult really since we used to have female endings in some Swedish dialects before.

I studied the possissives today and have another question: What about "mi" (my), "di" (your) and "si" (her/his), do you have to use these for all feminine nouns are can they be optional?

If the possessive pronoun comes after the noun, the pronoun must have the corresponding gender: “skjorta mi” or “skjorten min”. If the pronoun is in front of the noun, the noun has the indefinite form, and you can choose: “mi skjorte” or “min skjorte”. I would guess that the latter is more common, even among people who prefer “skjorta mi”.

That makes perfectly sense! I really like the first word order, since it reminds me of Italian and Spanish. But the Swedish way, with the pronoun before the noun, is definitely easier :).

The pronunciation differs between the two forms, both for “jenta/jenten” and “breva/brevene”. All of these forms are pronounced as they are written. “Jenten” is rare, at least in the spoken language, but is for example a feature of the Bergen dialect.

Both “breva” and “brevene” are permissible official forms, but are not equivalent with regard to style. I might write “breva” in a personal email, but would probably write “brevene” when writing on behalf of my employer. In the spoken language the difference is probably more dialectal than stylistic. I probably use both forms when speaking without any particular system.

As a foreigner learning Norwegian you could do worse than sticking consistently to “jenta” and “brevene”.

Thank you for explaining this! We used to have the definite forms like "koa" (instead of "kon" for the cow) and "dörra" (instead of "dörren" for the door) in Swedish too and it was a nice surprise to see that they still exist in Norwegian.

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