Norwegian: om/hvis

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by mezzoforte, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. mezzoforte Senior Member

    English - Canada
    How does it feel to use om or hvis, meaning if... e.g. "Om/Hvis du vil, kan jeg hjelpe deg". I mean, are they completely interchangeable? I know om can also mean whether/if, so does using om suggest at alternatives while hvis suggests that it is a yes/no situation?

    For instance: Om/Hvis du vil, kan vi gå på kino;
    om suggests that if you don't want it, we could go elsewhere,
    and hvis is just checking a yes/no condition?

    Is this correct?
  2. oskhen

    oskhen Senior Member

    Except in certain idioms, I think they are completely interchangeable - in principle. But the one sounds/looks better in certain phrases than the other. Besides; generally, "om" is more colloquial, I think, and "if" is then to be preferred. But when I think about it, it seems to be extremely difficult to learn when to use each of them, so I guess you could just consider them 100% interchangeable.

    I wasn't in very much of a thinking mode when I wrote this, so I may be plain wrong. Please correct me if I am, fellow natives.
  3. kirsitn

    kirsitn Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norway, Norwegian
    At the beginning of a sentence they are completely interchangeable, although I personally use hvis more often than om. However, in "incomplete" sentences (don't remember the correct grammatical term) you have to use om.

    Han spurte om jeg ville være med på kino. (He asked if I wanted to go to a movie). You can not say "Han spurte hvis jeg... "
  4. oskhen

    oskhen Senior Member

    True, I guess this is where one could use "whether" in English?
  5. mezzoforte Senior Member

    English - Canada
    Can om be used (colloquially) instead of når (in the sense of "whenever")?
  6. kirsitn

    kirsitn Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norway, Norwegian
    No. Whenever = Når som helst.
  7. mezzoforte Senior Member

    English - Canada
    That wasn't my question. I mean, what is the meaning of these:

    Hvis du ser ham...
    Når du ser ham...
    Om (som?) du ser ham...
  8. kirsitn

    kirsitn Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norway, Norwegian
    Hvis/om du ser ham = if you see him (it might or might not happen)
    Når du ser ham = when you see him (it will definitely happen, and it normally refers to something happening in the near future)

    Som du ser ham = the way that you see him, but it's not something you would normally say.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  9. mezzoforte Senior Member

    English - Canada
    For the last one, I meant om du ser ham... or om som du ser ham...

    Can't når du ser ham... also mean "each time (i.e. whenever) you see him"?
  10. kirsitn

    kirsitn Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norway, Norwegian
    "om som du ser ham" does not make any sense, but if you reverse the order of om and som you get "as if you see him".

    Når du ser ham is normally equivalent to "the next time you see him", but I suppose it could mean "each time you see him" in a poetic context. In everyday language I would rather say "hver gang du ser ham".
  11. mezzoforte Senior Member

    English - Canada
    What about om du ser ham...

    Doesn't når also translate as "whenever", like "Whenever I go to London, I see Mr. X"; "Når jeg reiser til London, ser jeg H. X."
    (It may be that I go often...)

    In that context, can we say "Om jeg reiser til London, ser jeg H. X."
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
  12. Cerb Senior Member

    Norwegian - Bokmål
    "Whenever" doesn't translate directly to any Norwegian word. The sentence has to be rewritten using "hver gang" or "når" in some way. "Når" in this sentence simply means "when" which could be a bit ambiguous in the same way it would be in English. I'd use "hver gang" for this sentence, but you could also say something like "Jeg treffer alltid H. X. når jeg er i London". Both would work equally well in English of course.

    Keep in mind that the expression "to see someone" doesn't exist in Norwegian. We use "å treffe/treffer/traff" instead or simply "å møte" (to meet).

    "Om jeg reiser til London.. " means "If I travel to London.. ".

    (I'm assuming "H. X." refers to a person, let me know if I missed something ;) )
  13. Gink New Member

    I`m sorry to bump this old thread, but I was having a discussion with a colleague of mine about this, and I was wondering if anyone can answer this question.

    In the sentence; "Du kan henge jakken opp til tørk om/hvis nødvendig."

    To me, saying the sentence out loud, I would use the word "om".
    But I don`t know if that`s because I speak dialect.

    Can anyone say which word would be the most correct to use in this sentence, or if they are interchangeable in this situation?
  14. basslop

    basslop Senior Member

    I agree with Gink. Using hvis here sounds more formally. An altarnative, for colloquial use, could be:

    "Du kan henge jakken opp til tørk hvis det er nødvendig."
  15. hanne Senior Member

    As a curiosity, I think the choice you get between hvis and om, corresponds nicely to a split between Swedish and Danish (origin?). In the cases where you can use both in Norwegian, "hvis" is the only choice in Danish, and I'm pretty sure it's only "om" in Swedish (please correct me if I'm wrong). (NB: This doesn't apply to the "han spurgte om jeg ville..." example, which is a different usage, and also has "om" in Danish).
  16. j0nas New Member

    What makes that sentence sound more formal, to me at least, is the use of "jakken" and not "jakka". :p
  17. basslop

    basslop Senior Member

    Not jakken/jakka but hvis/om nødvendig.
  18. solregn Senior Member

    Lille, France
    I'd say that in basically all the cases mentioned in this thread, you would use om in Swedish. There is the synonym ifall, which can be used almost the same but which generally sounds a bit more casual. In some cases, like in conditional clauses, om definitely feels more natural: Om du är snäll, får du en kaka. :)

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