Updated: Mar 4
When learning a new language, many people don't know where to start. There are so many things to learn, after all. Don't get overwhelmed though! Anything you learn is a step in the right direction, so jump in and have fun.
Having said that, there are obviously things that are more important to learn than others, and it’s nice to have a learning plan. These helpful phrases are a good place to start and will provide you with a jumping point for communication. Learning these will give you the ability to communicate and ask questions that will make things easier for you on your journey to fluency.
You can never go wrong with “hei”! Depending on the level of formality, you can also use a “heisann” (hi there!) which is less formal and slightly friendlier.
Norwegians will compliment your efforts to speak Norwegian. When you receive a compliment, don’t forget to say "takk" or “tusen takk” which literally translates to “thousand thanks”.
Saying “Jeg forstår ikke” will come across a lot better than just staring blankly! It will also give the speaker an opportunity to repeat or rephrase what they were communicating to you.
Life happens, and sometimes you’ll make a mistake. “Unnskyld” or “Beklager” will be appropriate then. You can also use these phrases to mean "excuse me" so people will know that you didn’t hear/understand, or if you want to get someone’s attention or get through a crowd.
When you’re learning Norwegian, there will be loads of times you won’t understand what someone’s saying the first time they say it. It’s helpful to throw out a “Kan du gjenta det?” every now and again.
When you don’t understand a particular word, saying “Hva betyr …?” is a helpful way to get more explanation or solicit an impromptu charades session.
Some native speakers speak really quickly. Even if you are proficient in Norwegian, you might need them to slow it down a little. That’s when you want to ask “Kan du snakke saktere?”
“Kan du hjelpe meg?” is one of those phrases you don’t want to forget. You never know when you might need help, and you certainly do not want to be left scrambling for your dictionary or Google Translate.
If you tell people you are just learning, they will slow down and use easier words for you to follow. Let them know “Jeg er nybegynner i norsk” and they will be keen to help you!
There will be times when you will have to communicate quickly or efficiently and will need to say “Snakker du Engelsk?”. Try to save it for when all else fails or for more complicated conversations, like those you’d have at the doctor or dentist.