1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Norwegian. Usage of "få" as modal verb

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by bazinoslo, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. bazinoslo New Member


    when I read Norwegian it seems very common to use "få" as a modal verb. For example, (I just picked these randomly from the net)

    Hver gang du får komme med en mening, tar du feil. ("få" + infinitive. )
    En herlig avslappende ferie, men vær ikke får snakket inn i all inclusive ("få" + past participle)

    What is being expressed by adding få in these situations? The second looks like a passive construction that could be replaced with "bli snakket". Actually, that sentence is more complicated than I realised. Why do you need the "vær" at the beginning. Couldn't you have

    "Men få ikke snakket inn i all inclusive"

  2. myšlenka Senior Member

    "få" has a wide variety of meanings but when you use it as a modal, it has the meaning be allowed to, be able to, must... it depends on the context and the construction.

    Hver gang du får komme med en mening, tar du feil. - every time you're allowed to....

    The second example is so wrong that I had a hard time understanding what they're trying to say. I googled it and it seems it's some kind of holiday review. The rest of the text contains so many errors, some of which seem to be transferred directly from English. I'm guessing it means "don't be talked into (buying) all inclusive". We wouldn't use to convey that meaning in Norwegian :)

    Edit: I read the rest of the reviews and they are equally bad written so I assume it's a page where they've translated English texts with google translate.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  3. bazinoslo New Member


    thanks for the info. I picked a bad 2nd example but I'm sure I've seen that type of construction. How about this one (again, picked from web)

    Ting en ikke får tatt tilbake

    Isn't that a form of the passive?

  4. myšlenka Senior Member

    no that's not a passive. That's a relative clause where the relative subjunction has been omitted.

    Ting (som) en ikke får tatt tilbake.

    I don't think you can passivize modal verbs.
  5. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA

    Actually, you CAN passivize a modal auxiliary verb, but it is rare. I am sure you can think of sentences where "blir kunnet" and "blir villet" might be used.

    Bazinoslo: "ting en ikke får tatt tilbake" is not passive because no one is doing anything to 'ting' in that sentence. The whole notion of passive is that something is acting upon the subject, not by the subject, and in this particular instance that does not happen
  6. bazinoslo New Member

    OK, forget I used the word passive. How would you translate this into English? (It is an excerpt from children's book)

    ... nok til at vi får funnet den magiske fjæren

    Is it any different from these

    ... nok til at vi har funnet den magiske fjæren
    ... nok til at vi får finne den magiske fjæren

    I'm trying to find other ways of writing it so I can better understand the construction
    få + past participle

  7. timtfj

    timtfj Senior Member

    Northwest England
    UK English
    Here's what Åse-Berit & Rolf Strandskogen, Norwegian: an essential grammar has to say about with a past participle:
    I find the construction easiest to understand if I think of it as "get to":

    • Jeg fikk snakket med henne = I got to talk to her
    • Tror du at du får gjort det i kveld? = Do you think you'll get to do it this evening?
    Seen this way, both the English and the Norwegian are about getting something:

    • I got to talk to her = I got a situation where I was talking to her
    • Jeg fikk snakket med henne = I got a situation where I had talked to her.
    The Norwegian looks odd to English eyes since we're not used to a modal verb being followed by anything other than an infinitive, but it's actually very logical. You get something () and then you have it (ha):

    • Jeg fikk ei god ordbok = I got a good dictionary
    • Jeg har ei god ordbok = I have a good dictionary (as a result of getting it!)
    • Jeg fikk snakket med henne = I got to speak to her
    • Jeg har snakket med henne = I have spoken to her (as a result of getting to speak to her).
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  8. bazinoslo New Member

    Thanks Tim, that's exactly what I was after.
  9. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Actually, there is a grammatical aspect to it. Certain verbs run in pairs, in verb aspects, where one word is inchoative ('changing') and the other static ('not changing'). The two prime examples are er and blir, and har and får.
  10. frugihoyi Senior Member

    English - USA, Portuguese - Brazil
    Going back to the first example:
    Would you translate that to:
    Every time you are allowed to come with an opinion you're wrong.


    Everytime you manage to come with an opinion you're wrong.

    By the way my Norwegian girlfriend says you can't use the word "mening" in that sentence and that you must use "ide" instead.
  11. myšlenka Senior Member

    Hver gang du får komme med en mening, tar du feil. - Every time you are allowed to come with an opinion....
    Hver gang du klarer å komme med en mening, tar du feil. -Every time you manage to come with an opinion...

    The word "mening" sounds perfectly fine in this sentence. Using the word "idé" changes the meaning.
  12. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    You girlfriend is not entirely wrong. The sentence: Hver gang du får komme med en mening, tar du feil, is grammatically speaking not a great construct. The sentence technically says: "When I allow you to utter an opinion, you are mistaken". It does not refer to the quality of the opinion you might have. Like English: "You have an opinion about something", Norwegian uses har to own an opinion: Du har en mening om noe.
    Not attempting to delve into the nature of your relationship, but there is a difference between har: Hver gang du har en mening (om noe), tar du feil and får in this regard: Hver gang du får komme med en mening, tar du feil. The first sentence strictly speaking refers to the nature of your opinions, whereas the second refers to the opinions (your or others) you are allowed to utter.

    Albeit a minor grammatical difference, this brings to mind the word idé. It is common to refer to idé or forslag as something you kommer med. In other words, if what you are saying is an opinion, it is correct to use mening. However, if you are putting forth suggestions and ideas, I can see your girlfriend's point in using idé and forslag instead.
  13. bazinoslo New Member

    I'm pleased to see these responses, and my understanding of has improved. Having said that, however, none of the given translations are natural English phrases

    Every time you (manage /
    are allowed) to come with an opinion.

    You can't "come with an opinion". At a stretch, you might "come out with an opinion". The best way I can think to translate it is

    "Every time you express an opinion"

    ignoring the modal verb entirely.

Share This Page