Grammar: Adjectives

An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words.  An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies.  In the following examples, the highlighted words are adjectives:

Mrs. Morrison papered her kitchen walls with hideous wall paper.
The small boat foundered on the dark sea. 


The Norwegian language does something rather strange to Adjectives.  If the noun is plural, the adjective also becomes plural.  For example, we would normally say “Six black cars” but the Norwegians would say “Six blacks cars”.  Not only that, the plural ending you add to the adjective will change depending on the sex of the subject.  For example:

Pen = Nice in the Ubestemt Form
en penbilen = the nice car (masculine -en)
ei pendør = the nice door (feminine -ei)
et penthus = the nice house (neutral -et)
penebiler = nice cars (plural -ene)

Pen = Nice in the Bestemt Form
den penebilen = that nice car (masculine -en)
den penedøra = that nice door (feminine -ei)
det penehuset = that nice house (neutral -et)
de penebilene = those nice cars (plural -ene)

In 90% of the cases, adjectives follow the above rule however, as always in Norwegian, there are some exceptions.  I’ve listed them below so you can learn the rules – they don’t happen very often but when they do, you need to understand why they’re different.

It’s different when there’s a double consonant at the end of the adjective.  For example:
en grønn dal = A green valley (masculine/feminine version)
et grønt fjell = A green mountain (neutral – take a letter off and add a “t”)
grønne marker = green fields (plural – add an “e” to the end)

It’s different when the adjective ends in “er” or “el”.  For example:
en vakker morgen = a beautiful morning (masculine/feminine version)
et vakker smil = a beautiful smile (neutral – nothing changes)
vakre hus = beautiful houses (plural – swap the last two letters around)

It’s different when the adjective ends in “m”.  For example:
en tom flaske = an empty bottle (masculine/feminine version)
et tomt skap = an empty cupboard (neutral – add “t” to the end)
tomme skuffer = empty bins (plural – add a second consenant and an “e” to the end)

It’s different when the adjective ends in “ig” or “isk”.  For example:
en hyggelig stund = a good/pleasant time (masculine/feminine version)
et hyggelig brev = a good/pleasant letter (neutral – stays the same)
hyggelige venner = good/pleasant friends (plural – add an “e” to the end)

en økonomisk katasrofe = an economic catastrophe (masculine/feminine version)
et økonomisk problem = an economic problem (neutral – stays the same)
økonomiske eksperter = economic experts (plural – add an “e” to the end)

It’s different when the adjective ends in “nde”.  For example:
en spennende opplevelse = an exciting experience (masculine/feminine version)
et spennende live = an exciting life (neutral – stays the same)
spennende øyeblikk = exciting moments (plural – stays the same)

It’s different for a few odd exceptions including “ny” and “blå”.  For example:
en ny bil = a new car (masculine/feminine version)
et nytt hus = a new house (neutral – add two “t’s” at the end)
nye gardiner = new curtains (plural – add “e” on the end)



  1. What about substantivation of adjectives in Norwegian? For instance, if I want to say “the poor need help”?

    • Oh my gosh – now you’re into advanced Norwegian for me. When I go back to lessons I’ll ask the question as to how you would say “the poor need help” in Norwegian.

  2. I’d appreciate that ;)

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