How Norwegians avoid saying "please"

Yngvil Yngvil Vatn Guttu
How Norwegians avoid saying "please" -

How Norwegians avoid saying "please"

Norwegians are neither known for being particularly polite or particularly rude. But it often puzzles newcomers that we never say "please"… or do we? In this blog article you'll learn how to politely and respectfully ask for something in Norwegian. Without saying please…  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Because the Norwegian language quite simply doesn’t have a one word equivalent to the English "Please", the German "Bitte", the French "S’il vous plait" or the Spanish "Por favor", Norwegian learners often feel unsure of how to ask for something without seeming rude…   So here are some suggestions for how to go about it the Norwegian way...  


Use "kan"or "kunne"

Kan du… Can you…
Kan du hjepe meg med dette? Can you help me with this?


Kunne du… Could you…
Kunne du låne meg en hundrelapp? Could you lend me 100 kroner?


Kan jeg få… Can I have…
Kan jeg få en is? Can I have an ice cream?


Kunne jeg få… Could I have…
Kunne jeg få salgstallene fra ifjor? Could I have the sales figures from last year?



Use "gjerne"

Jeg vil gjerne ha… I would like…
Jeg vil gjerne ha en salat I would like a salad


Du må gjerne… Please…


Det må du gjerne gjøre Sure, please do that…



Use "være så snill"

Kan du være så snill å… Can you be so kind as to…
Kan du være så snill å hjelpe meg med kofferten? Can you be so kind as to help me with my suitcase?

  Ultra polite sayings can also be used to be rude "without being rude":

Kunne du være så snill å… Can you be so kind as to…
…holde munn! …shut up!



Use "få"

Young children often mistakenly insert this for personal purposes and say

Kan jeg være så snill å… få en is? Can I be so kind as to have an ice cream?

to which their smart-ass parent will probably answer: "I don’t know – can you?"  


Use "…er du snill"

Why not just say:

Få en is ‘ a! Gimme an ice cream, will ya?

  Here we’re clearly steering towards the blatantly rude or socially helpless. I think we can safely say that if you use the words "snill" or "gjerne" – depending on the context – you are getting very close to saying "please" in Norwegian. Close, but not too close :-).  

Send meg saltet er du snill Pass me the salt, please


Ja, gjør det, er du snill Yes, would you do that, please…



Summing Up

Do insert "gjerne" into "Jeg vil ha"

Jeg vil gjerne ha…


Do use være så snill after these modal verbs

Kan du… Vil du… Kunne du… Ville du…


Do use "er du snill" after the imperatives

Gi meg La meg Få Gjør

or indeed any verb in imperative.  

For example

Kjør litt fortere er du snill

– to the taxi driver on the way to the airport  

Snakk litt høyere er du snill

– to the mumbling fellow student in the classroom  

Snakk litt langsommere er du snill

– to all Norwegians!  

Sett melken i tilbake kjøleskapet er du snill

– to your child or spouse  

Klø litt høyere opp er du snill

– to the person you trust with scratching your back!  


Don't  add "vær så snill" at the end of a sentence!

Gi meg den, vær så snill


En pølse med lompe, vær så snill

are both terribly wrong!   That’s all, now could you please just translate the below and do it…

Du må gjerne legge igjen en kommentar i kommentarboksen nedenfor!

  Takk for nå!