This page relates to the application A Norwegian Grammar Sparrer, see A Norwegian Grammar Sparrer.
On clicking on the icon below, you will come to the Sparrer:
Instructions for its use are found at Classroom:Norwegian Grammar Checking
Main sentence patterns
The basic shape of a Norwegian clause can be depicted as in (I) below. The subject precedes the verb, objects immediately follow the verb and precede any oblique arguments or adverbials. When there are two objects, the indirect object is the one occurring closest to the main verb. Case is marked only on personal pronouns, with a subject – non-subject distinction. (See Personal pronouns in Norwegian.) Subject and Main Verb (marked in boldface in (I)) are generally necessary for making a grammatically wellformed clause.
(I) Subject Vmain IndirectObject DirectObject Oblique Adverbial
(1) Example with the pattern [ Subject Vmain IndirectObject DirectObject Adverbial ]:
Jeg skjenker deg et sverd før slaget.
“I give you a sword before the battle”
Subject Vmain Indir.Obj. DirectObject Adverbial
(2) Example with the pattern [ Subject Vmain Oblique Adverbial ]:
Jeg snakket om henne etter slaget.
“I talked about her after the battle”
Subject Vmain Oblique Adverbial
Grammar traditions often classify sentence constituents according to whether they are 'required', or 'valence bound', by the main verb; those that are, are often called arguments, and those that are not, adjuncts. (Traditions often suggest that constituents fall neatly into one or the other category, and that no further alternatives obtain, both of these assumptions may be questionable.) Among the constituents shown above, subject, object (both types) and oblique are commonly considered as arguments relative to the main verb, while adverbials, whether in final, fronted or nexal position (see below) are adjuncts.
Auxiliary verbs and main verbs
There is a functional distinction between main verbs and auxiliary verbs: main verbs are those that can carry a sentence by themselves, while auxiliary verbs may come in addition to the main verb, and cannot (generally) carry a sentence by themselves. Auxiliary verbs precede the main verb. There are three auxiliary categories: modals, perfective auxiliary and passive auxiliary. 'Modals' comprises the auxiliaries ville ('would'), skulle ('should'), måtte ('must'), burde ('ought'), kunne ('could'); these items can occur alone or in combination. Ha is the perfect auxiliary, and bli the passive auxiliary. The order among these items is rigid. Vmain subsumes full verbs and copulas. Of copulas there are two, være ('be') and bli ('become') (distinct from, but obviously related to the passive auxiliary).
For all of these verb categories, there are six possible forms of inflection, exemplified in one of these conjugational patterns, the -et pattern (see Past and Perfective patterns in Norwegian for all the patterns):
- infinitive (in the -et pattern having a form ending in -e)
- imperative (with a form relating to an e-infinitive by dropping the -e)
- present (with a form relating to an e-infinitive by adding -r)
- past (with a form relating to an e-infinitive by adding -t)
- past participle (with a form identical to the past form)
- present participle (with a form relating to an e-infinitive by adding -nde).
Of these forms, the present and the past are called finite forms, while the infinitive and the participles are called non-finite forms. These are considered contrasts along the dimension of Tense. Imperative is a value along the Mode dimension, and in the verbal morphology, all the other forms mentioned represent Indicative. No further values of Mode are expressed in the verbal morphology in Norwegian (but can be expressed by other means). A further category often realized in languages' verbal morphology is Aspect; however, Norwegian has no verbal inflectional form for aspectual values (but they can be expressed by other means). Finally, the category of Voice is reflected in Norwegian verb morphology through an affix -s being used in Passive while the forms without -s count as Active. Relative to the -et pattern, the forms listed above are thus active, while the corresponding passive forms are shaped as follows; only Vmain can have these inflections:
- infinitive passive (in the -et pattern) having a form relating to an e-infinitive by adding -s
- present passive being like infinitive passive
- past passive (in the -et pattern) having a form relating to an e-infinitive by adding -des (not much used).
(Notably, as mentioned, for expressing passive, Norwegian also has a 'periphrastic' strategy with bli plus participle.)
These categories are connected to the sentence schema as follows:
- The first verb in a sentence is finite, whichever of the verb categories occurs first.
- The verb immediately following a modal is in infinitive form.
- The verb immediately following the auxiliary ha or the auxilary bli is in the past participle form.
It is possible for a modal to follow another modal, and a modal can follow ha, but not bli. Thus, a pattern like (II) is possible:
(II) Subject Modal ha Modal bli Vmain IndirectObject DirectObject Oblique Adverbial
Here are examples:
(3) Finite verb only:
(4) Finite verb first, past participle after ha:
Hun har kommet.
“she has come”
(5) Finite verb first, infinitive form after Modal, past participle after ha:
Hun må ha kommet.
“she must have come”
(6) Finite verb first, followed by two modals each with an infinitive form following, and then past participle after ha:
Hun vil måtte ha kommet.
“it will be the case that she must have come”
(7) A 'maximal' example of auxiliary sequencing:
Hun vil skulle kunne ha måttet bli skjenket et sverd.
“it will be the case that it ought to be the case that it has been possible that it has been necessary that a sword has been given to her”
Placement of adverbial constituents, and differences between main and subordinate clauses
Relative to the above schema, adverbial elements, in addition to the final position, can also occur adjacent to the finite verb, a position often referred to as the nexus position. At this point there is a distinction between main and subordinate clauses: in a main clause, the adverbial comes after the finite verb, in subordinate clauses before the finite verb. (See also Sentence adverbials in Norwegian.)
(8) Time adverbial in nexal position in main clause:
Hun har idag hoppet.
“she today has jumped”
(9) Negation adverbial in nexal position in main clause:
Hun har ikke hoppet.
“she has not jumped”
(10) Time adverbial in nexal position in subordinate clause:
Jeg vet at hun idag har hoppet.
“I know that she has jumped today”
(11) Negation adverbial in nexal position in subordinate clause:
Jeg vet at hun ikke har hoppet idag.
“I know that she hasn't jumped today”
For declarative clauses, another distinction between main and subordinate clauses is that in main clauses, the initial position can be held by an adverbial element or a topicalized element, where in either case the subject is then moved behind the finite verb; this is generally referred to as Subject-Verb Inversion. (See Subject-Verb Inversion in Norwegian.)
(12) Fronted adverbial in declarative main clause, with Subject-Verb Inversion:
Idag har hun hoppet langt.
“today she has jumped far”
(13) Topicalized noun phrase in declarative main clause, with Subject-Verb Inversion:
Gaver skjenket hun ham hver dag.
“gifts she gave him every day”
In subordinate declarative clauses no such fronted position is available, however, these clauses are standardly introduced by a complementizer, such as at when the clause serves as an argument relative to the verb.
Interrogative clauses come in two varieties, yes-no-questions and constituent questions, the latter inquiring about the value of a constituent of the sentence, the former inquiring about the truth-value of the entire sentence. Yes-no-questions are marked by Subject-Verb Inversion with no element fronted, while constituent questions are marked by 'Subject-Verb Inversion together with fronting of a constituent carrying the morphological shape of an interrogative constituent, namely the initial letters hv- - what may be referred to as the questioned constituent.
(14) Main clause yes-no-question:
“did you jump?”
(15) Main clause constituent question:
Hva skjenket du henne?
“what did you give her?”
As subordinate interrogative clauses, the counterpart of yes-no-questions are marked by the complementizers om or hvorvidt, and no inversion, while constituent questions are marked by a clause initial occurrence of the questioned constituent (marked by hv-), and no inversion.
(16) Subordinate clause yes-no-question:
Vi gjetter om du hoppet.
“we are guessing whether you jumped”
(17) Subordinate clause constituent question:
Vi gjettet hva du hadde skjenket henne.
“we guessed what you had given her”
Structurally close to the types of subordinate clauses now described - which may all be called finite subordinate clauses - are infinitival clauses: these are introduced by the infinitival marker å, they have no subject, and their first verb is in infinitive. They otherwise have the same internal build-up as finite subordinate clauses, and can serve as constituent or part of constituent in a clause, as in the following example, where the infinitival clause serves as part of the Oblique constrituent om å måtte bli skjenket et sverd:
(18) Infinitival clause exhibiting clausal structure:
Jeg snakker om å måtte bli skjenket et sverd.
“I talk about having to be given a sword”
Inf-mark Modal Passive Vmain DirectObject
Subject Vmain Oblique
Given this parallellism, one may subsume finite and infinitival subordinate clauses alike under the notion subordinate clauses. (Other languages also display subordinate structures built around participial forms, those built around present participles often called gerunds, and those built around past participles as absolutives; since these types only to a very limited extent can be used in Norwegian, we don't include them in this enumeration.)
Not all occurences of infinitives count as clauses: the occurrences of infinitival forms following modals (see above) are not counted as constituting separate clauses.
Infinitival forms following modals are also not preceded by å. Further types of occurrence of infinitives without å are seen in constructions like the following.
In (19), the 'omission' of å may be seen as connected to the governing verb be ('ask'), contrasting for instance with the otherwise parallel verb befale ('order'), which requires å, as in Jeg befaler deg å komme ('I order you to come').
Jeg ber henne komme
“I ask her to come”
The pattern in (20) is used by a small group of verbs like se ('see'), høre ('hear'), føle ('feel'), kjenne ('sense'):
Jeg ser henne komme
“I see her coming”
In both cases, what follows the main verb has a clausal content, that is, 'I ask her that she comes ' in (19) and 'I see that she comes ' in (20). Although infinitive clauses with clausal content generally use the å-marker, there are thus some verb-dependent cases where this is not so.
The infinitive marker å, corresponding to English to, is pronounced in the same way as the coordination marker og, corresponding to English and. They cannot be used one for the other. (See also Coordination marking in Norwegian.)
This section is largely rephrased at the page Infinitives in Norwegian.
Subordinate clauses in or as adverbial constituents
Subordinate clauses, whether finite or infinitival, can serve as either arguments or adjuncts, and as arguments, in all of the functions mentioned above. When serving as adjuncts/adverbials, they mostly do so as complements to a preposition, but for finite subordinate clauses, there are also specific complementizers dedicated to signaling time, place, reason and other connections that the clause may express relative to the main verb.
(21) Adverbial subordinate clause with temporal reading:
Han snakker mens han spiser.
“he talks while he eats”
(22) Adverbial subordinate clause with causal reading:
Han snakker fordi han spiser.
“he talks because he eats”
As illustrated above, the possibility for subordinate clauses to be governed by a preposition is also essential when they serve as obliques.
(23) Oblique with finite subordinate clause governed by a preposition:
Han snakker om at jeg sover.
“he talks about my sleeping”
(24) Oblique with infinitival subordinate clause governed by a preposition (cf. also (18)):
Han snakker om å sove.
“he talks about sleeping”
Subject-Verb Inversion in Norwegian
Sentence adverbials in Norwegian
Verb Complementation - Norwegian
Infinitives in Norwegian
Past and Perfective patterns in Norwegian
Personal pronouns in Norwegian
Reflexives - Norwegian
The Noun Phrase - Norwegian
Agreement in Norwegian noun phrases
Definite determiners in Norwegian
Possessive constructions in Norwegian
Gender in Norwegian nouns
Coordination marking in Norwegian
Reflexive verbs in Norwegian
Verb - Preposition expressions in Norwegian
--Lars Hellan (talk) 18:40, 25 December 2015 (CET)