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  5. "Han kan ikke gjøre noen ting…

"Han kan ikke gjøre noen ting."

Translation:He cannot do anything.

June 16, 2015



Is "some things" or "anything" the better translation here? In English, if he cannot do some things, he also can do some other things. But if he can't do anything, he can't do anything at all.


'anything' is the better translation, even though 'some things' would be the literal translation. I would never expect anyone who said this to mean 'some things', so this way of translation would be wrong.


Thank you. How would you say "He can do some things"? For example, suppose he's been sick and cannot do any heavy lifting, but he can handle light objects, polish the surfaces, and do the paperwork.


"Han kan gjøre noen ting". I just realized how weird this 'noen ting' is to translate.

"He cannot do some things" would be "Noen ting kan han ikke gjøre".

"He can do anything" = "Han kan gjøre hva som helst".

So 'noen ting' can mean both 'anything' and 'some thing(s)' depending on the context.


Thank you. Looks like there's a grammatical wrinkle here I need to watch for. This is helpful.


In English, you might say of someone who is completely hopeless at, say, cooking, but was at least good at cleaning up afterwards:

At least he's good at something/some things -or- At least he can do something/some things

How would you translate those?


"At least he's good at something/some things":

"Han er [i hvert fall/i det minste] god til (å gjøre) noen ting"

"At least he can do something/some things":

"Han kan [i hvert fall/i det minste] gjøre noen ting."

(Some people misspell 'i hvert fall' as 'ihvertfall'.)


When do we use 'noe' and when do we use 'noen'. I thought noen was for people and noe for things. But now I become gradually confues with these two :/


"Noen" on its own often refers to people, meaning "someone", "somebody" or "anybody".
However, it can also mean "some", pointing to any plural noun.

"Noe" translates to "something" or "anything", and "ikke noe" to "nothing" or "not [...] anything".

"Noe" and "noen ting" are interchangeable as translations for "something", and as translations for "nothing" and "not [...] anything" if preceeded by "ikke". (This is the case in the sentence "Han kan ikke gjøre noe/noen ting.")

Both "noe" and "noen" can mean "any" when pointing to nouns.


Could 'He cannot do anything' also be translated as 'Han kan ikke gjøre ingenting'?


No, "Han kan ikke gjøre ingenting." would translate to "He cannot do nothing."


please please explain when gjøre means make, and when it means do--


When you actually do something, it means to do.
When you make someone feel or become something, it means to make.

"Hun gjorde meg glad."
"She made me happy."


The 'no' in 'noen' almost makes this feel like a double negative. It's not, actually, but it seemed like one for a minute.

In fact, this might even help me remember the construction, due to the perceived similarity to the Russian double negative: "Он умеет ничего не делать." I just have to remember to say 'noen ting' and not 'ingenting'! :-)

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