Norwegian: Conjugation of motsatt and øverst

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by sjiraff, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Hello everyone,

    I wondered for quite a while what the difference and right way to use these is, but when I read things like "Han hørte en lyd fra motsatt side av rommet" or "motsatt vegg" I think it's because there is no "den" before motsatt (Like how you can say "Motsatt av..." or "Det motsatte av...". and an -e is added)

    But then some other times I see "De satt på øverste rad" (The top row) and I don't get why it's øverste here, yet not motsatte in the example above!

    I know a lot of times in Norwegian things are said different to how we would in English, such as "I fjerde etasje" (instead of den fjerde etasjen) but these two examples seemed inconsistant to me.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    I suppose it has to do with definiteness. In some expressions the definite form of the adjective is enough to make the whole noun phrase definite. I am not sure but I think this mainly applies to adjectives describing spatial relations: øverst, nederst, midterst, bakerst, fremst.

    It's possible to say de satt på den øverste raden, but if I trust my gut feeling about this, it merely denotes a simple location whereas øverste rad denotes an abstract concept, i.e. the best view etc.
     
  3. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Hmm I see, would it be bad to say "Det satt på øverst rad"? Or on the other hand "fra den motsatte veggen"?

    Thanks!
     
  4. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Yes.
    That's fine, but I prefer "fra motsatt side av rommet".
     
  5. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    I think I get the motsatt thing, since it fits in with what I always thought. But does this mean I should always add an -e when I say things like "i øverste etasje" or anything else too?

    Thank you!
     
  6. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    When you use any of the spatial adjectives I mentioned in #2 to modify a noun, you always add an -e :)
     
  7. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Ah I see, unlike for example things like "maten sto øverst på bordet" which don't modify a noun.

    Thanks!
     
  8. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Now when I think about it, all superlatives used attributively behave the same way, i.e. with the -e.
     
  9. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Hmm, does superlative include words like: stort, smalt, lite osv? What you say makes sense (Since you can't have noe "motsattere" or "motasatteste") but that makes me wonder, would you then say "de satt på store rad"? Meaning, "the big row" (for whatever reason).

    I still kind of struggle with when to omitt or add the full conjugations (due to being a native English speaker I would have naturally formulated 'den øverste raden" as I mentioned before for example)
     
  10. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Superlatives are adjectives lile biggest, smallest, closest etc.

    When you use adjectives in the superlative form attributively in Norwegian, they always take the -e, not just the spatial ones I mentioned in #2. Thus, "de satt på store rad" does not work in Norwegian but you could say "de satt på største rad" (whatever that means).

    Your example would have to be rephrased to "de satt på den store raden".
     
  11. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English

    Ahh right I see, because øverste and største are the MOST of something. I had innitialy just seen øverst(e) as a typical adjective without even thinking about that, but the main thing that threw me off was the lack of "den" or "-en" for rad.

    So when you say attributively, am I right in saying things like "Hvem er yngst" isn't attributive (so no -e), but if it's describing something it becomes like "Hve mer den yngste"
     
  12. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    You seem to have solved the problem with the -e now, but the problem of the definite article remains.

    Myšlenka, I am not sure that "de satt på største rad" works. That example is a bit strange anyway, but let us look at another example: We can say "De satt i bakerste bil" or "De satt i den bakerste bilen". But "De satt i største bil" sounds strange. In that case, it has to be "De satt i den største bilen". I can't explain this - maybe somebody else can?

    But I think Sjiraff safely can use the definite form, such as "den øverste raden", in most cases. That will rarely be completely wrong. The only exception, as far as I can see, is phrases with a figurative meaning. For example, "Han kunne velge fra øverste hylle" means "He could choose among the best", while "Han kunne velge fra den øverste hylla" only has a literal meaning.
     
  13. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Maybe it has something to do with største not indicating where the object is situated?

    For the matter of articles though, I often don't understand when to drop them. Like I read someone say "gå til venstre ved neste hjørne" and I just have no idea why it isn't "det neste hjørnet". Or things like "Neste trikk drar sju på halv", why not "den neste trikken"?
     
  14. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    My guess is that it is irrelevant whether the location is indicated or not. When you drop the definite article, the expression seems to denote an abstract concept rather than a particular object. As I already indicated, "de satt på største rad" is hard to interpret, probably because the concept is unknown. However, it is syntactically well-formed while the parallell non-superlative construction "de satt på store rad" is syntactically ill-formed.

    The same applies to your examples "gå til venstre ved neste hjørne" and "neste trikk går halv sju". It's more about the general concept rather than particular instances.
     
  15. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    I see, so I should even say "maten ligger i øverste skap"? I was always a bit hesitant before I said some "directional" things because I was never sure if I was getting it totally right, but now you guys have made the distinction I think I finally see it.

    Thank you
     
  16. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    No, because in this case, you want to refer to a particular "skap", thus " maten står i det øverste skapet".
     
  17. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Hmm, I think I'm having trouble distinguishing between abstract areas and more exact ones. I can't really see the difference between "The top cupboard" or "the top row" to be honest!
    Would you say "den ligger i neste skap" if someone were looking in one cupboard, but they should be looking in the one next to it?

    Sorry if I'm going around in circles a bit again
     
  18. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    I'll try to provide a different example to clarify it. When you work with fractions in mathematics, you sometimes need to find the common denominator, Norw. minste fellesnevner.

    If you say vi må finne minste fellesnevner, you are referring to the concept as a whole.
    If you say vi må finne den minste fellesnevneren, you are referring to a particular instance of the concept.

    The meaning difference is subtle and in many cases both can be used, but not always.
     
  19. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    I think I get you, a cupboard isn't really the same as a "row" of something so one would be referring to a specific cupboard (I think)

    So does that mean I should say, "den er i neste skap?" (Just like how "fra motsatt vegg" is written?)

    Thanks
     
  20. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Well, it is syntactically well-formed and the meaning is clear, but I am not sure in what kind of scenarios I would use it.
     
  21. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Haha yeah, I can't really think of any scenarios either but that's what happens when you think of examples on the spot, which has caused confusion for me (and my threads) before.

    Den fremste bilen, det øverste skapet osv (since they are not so much an abstract concept as you mentioned)

    Do you know what this kind of thing is called "lyden kom fra motsatt vegg" where the den and -en (or et and -et) are dropped? Just so maybe I could google and see if there are some examples.

    Kanskje det er noe man må venne seg til!

    Thanks for the help!
     
  22. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    I don't think it has a name :)
     
  23. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Typisk norsk!

    Cheers :^)
     
  24. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Apologies for the bump but it's kind of related (at least I think) - is there a difference between "første gang" and "første gangen"? I see both of these but never with "den første gangen" so i'm wondering if there is any difference I should be aware of.
     
  25. Ífaradà Junior Member

    Norwegian/Yoruba
    No difference, but "den første gangen" puts more emphasis on it being your "first time", so a it's stronger expression if you can call it that.
    This is a very difficult question, and I'm unsure if there's an actual grammatical explanation. Sometimes you simply drop the definite article for who knows what reason >.<
    Perhaps the sentence is simply self-explanatory, which is why the definite article is dropped.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
  26. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    As you have seen from Ífaradà's answer, "den første gangen" is also used. This seems to be another example of the pattern that myšlenka has explained: if you are talking about the general concept of doing things for the first time, "første gang" is usually better than "den første gangen". If you are talking about a particular instance, you can use either "første gang" or "den første gangen".

    In this case, you have come across a third option: "første gangen" without "den" (you will also see "andre gangen" and "siste gangen"). I think Ífaradà is right about the explanation: people sometimes just drop the definite article.

    But -- as myšlenka also wrote -- the distiction between general concepts and particular instances is a subtle one, and both formes will often be OK -- so you shouldn't worry too much about this.
     
  27. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English

    Ah I see now, after learning about the differences between "øverste rad" and things like "det øverste skapet" I wondered if perhaps I had to say one or the other (Since I suppose unlike a cupboard and a "row of something" - time is a single thing, but can be talked-about specifically, like "a point in time" or more generally)

    Good to know! I have been wondering about that for a while, since in a grammar pdf I have it said I shouldn't do that, but if it's one of those things people just drop sometimes then I guess that happens in every language and isn't actually complicated now I see what it is.

    Thanks a lot for clearing this up for me, it's been sitting on my mind for a while, I always hesitated and thought "should I say "første gang" or "første gangen".

    Feels good!

    Thanks again
     

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