I made the same mistake, but I think it's because 'elefanter' is indefinite. Taking Swedish, "Elephants" is "elefanter" and "the elephants" is "elefanterna".
My confusion stems from a verb's double-meaning. Ex: "drikker" means either "drinks" or "is/are drinking" and "What are elephants drinking?" is poor English, so I added a "the" to make it work...but it didn't because it wasn't a definite plural noun.
I see a likeness between norsk and Chinese in that they are both efficient languages. Both languages leave a lot of the little words like it and to out and imply them instead from the sentences context. Works for me anyway. I struggle with French and Italian which do the opposite.