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Lesson Seven.

1. Dative. Strong substantives.

Dative is another important case in Nynorn. Dative normally means ‘to whom’. This is not the direct object (“patient”) of an action, it is rather its addressee or recipient. In the phrase I gave you the pen, the word you is meant to be in dative, pen in accusative and I in nominative.

Strong masculine and neuter nouns form the dative case by adding -i while feminine nouns stay unchanged. In plural all genders have the universal ending -on:

  Sg. Pl.
  Nom. - Dat. Nom. - Dat.
M. hest – hesti hestar – heston
F. ferd – ferd ferder – ferdon
N. kast – kasti kast – kaston

Declension 3 (irregular) has the following forms:

Sg. Pl.
Nom. - Dat. Nom. - Dat.
fud – fudi føder – fudon
fader – fader feder – fedron
bruder – bruder brøder – brødron
muder – muder møder – mødron
ku – ku kør – kun
gås – gås geser – gåson


Of these words, only three (fader, bruder, muder) keep the altered vowel (e or ø) in the dative plural, the rest have the same vowel as in the initial form. Ku has the reduced dative plural form kun instead of *kuon.

Dative case of personal pronouns:

  Sg. Pl.
  Nom. - Dat. Nom. - Dat.
1 eg ‘I’ – mjer ‘(to) me’ vi ‘we’ – vus ‘(to) us’
2. du ‘you’ – djer ‘(to) you’ di ‘you pl.’ – dor ‘(to) you pl.’
3 hann ‘he’ – honon ‘(to) him’ dir ‘they M’ – dem ‘(to) they M’
  hun ‘she’ – henni ‘(to) her’ der ‘they F’ – dem ‘(to) they F’
  dað ‘it’ – di ‘(to) it’ de ‘they N’ – dem ‘(to) they N’

Dative is used with a large number of verbs: geva vs. ‘to give someone (D) something (A)’, soina vw1. ‘to show’, løva vw1. ‘to allow’, banna vw2. ‘to prohibit’, sija vw1. ‘to say something (A) to someone (D), to tell someone (D) something (A)’, fyrigeva vs. ‘to forgive’, skriva vw2. ‘to write something (A) to someone (D)’, hjålpa vw1. ‘to help’, takka vw2. ‘to thank’ etc.

Exercise 7.1.
Translate into Nynorn:

He is giving her his heart. Your brother is showing me his fist. We forgive you your sins. He is helping them. They (F) are thanking him for that. He's writing me a letter. We are telling them to go.

sin - synd fs2
for (as in to thank for) - fyri A
letter (text) - brev nns.
to go (away) - at fara vs.


2. Prepositions with dative

In Lesson Four we learned several prepositions which govern the accusative. Some of them can take dative as well, although in this case they will have a different meaning:

å ‘on’ (cf. å ‘onto’ with Acc.)
i ‘in’ (cf. i ‘into’ with Acc.)

As a rule, such prepositions take the accusative when referring to movement and dative in the case of still position:

Buk ligger å bordi. (Dat) ‘A book lays on a table’ vs. Eg legg buk å bord. (Acc) ‘I’m putting a book on a table’
Drengi siter i husi. (Dat) ‘A boy is sitting in a house’ vs. Eg sendi drenga i hus. (Acc) ‘I’m sending a boy into a house’.

Similarly, a number of other preposition are “inflected for case”, f.ex. øver ‘above, over’ and under ‘under’:

Hamar henger øver mjer. (D) 'A hammer is hanging over me' vs. Fugl fljuker øver dal. (A) ‘A bird is flying over a valley’.

In other cases , when a preposition does not mark location or movement, it can have very different meanings in the dative and accusative:

veð D ‘together with’ – veð A‘close to, near’
fyri D ‘in front of’ – fyri A ‘for’

The following prepositions govern only the dative case:
muti 'against'
ur 'out of'
av 'off'
frå 'from'

Notice the following prepositions are opposed to each other:
å 'on(to)' vs. av 'off'
i 'in(to)' vs. ur 'out of'
(frå 'from' is opposed to til 'to' which is to be covered in later chapters).

fyri mjer in front of me, veð djer with you (sg.), fyri hana for her, ur di out of it, av vus off us, frå dem from them, veð dem together with them, um der about them (fem).

Exercise 7.2.
Translate into Nynorn:

I’m going into my house. She’s coming out of their house. A letter is falling off a table. I’m coming with my father. A dog is sleeping in front of our house. He comes from Shetland. I’m doing it for you. She is against your (you=di) brothers.


3. Past tense of strong verbs

Past tense in Nynorn corresponds both to the past indefinite and past continuous of English. As with the present tense, the past tense does not differ between indefinite and continuous forms. To express the continuing meaning you can add respective adverbs, like nu ‘now’ (present), ‘then’, fyri tiðena ‘at the moment’, um da tiðena 'at that moment' etc. See also Lesson Four (#3).

Strong verbs form their past tense by mutating the root vowel (this mutation is called ablaut) and adding the past tense endings. This is a closed group of verbs which date back to ancient times. Although we can give you the main guidelines of conjugation, the best way is to learn the conjugation of each strong verb by heart.

There are six main classes of strong verbs in Nynorn which mostly differ by vowels and the way how they are ‘ablauted’. Each different form of ablaut is called grade or degree. Strong verbs in Nynorn (as well as in Old Norse, Faroese and Icelandic) use four degrees of ablaut. You already know the first one, which is used in infinitives and in the present tense (where it sometimes undergoes an additional mutation, see Lesson Four). The second degree of ablaut is used in past singular and the third in past plural. The fourth degree is reserved for past participles (which will be covered later).

The singular and plural of strong verbs differ not only by ablaut degrees, but also have different endings. There are only two endings: (zero) in singular and -u in plural regardless of person.

The ablaut map:
Root– past singular – past plural
1. Verbs with the radical i: i - e - i:

bita ‘to bite’ – eg bet ‘I bit’ – vi bitu ‘we bit’

driva ‘to drive,run something’, gripa ‘to catch, grip’, riva ‘to tear, pull’, triva ‘to catch hold’ , riða ‘to ride’, skriða ‘to manage with difficulty’, sviða ‘to singe, scorch; to sting, smart; to suffer’, viga/vika ‘to move; to answer’.

2. Verbs with the radical ø, (j)u, o: ø/u/ju - ø - u:

bøða ‘to propose’ – eg bøð ‘I proposed’ – vi buðu ‘we proposed’
fljuka ‘to fly’ – eg fløk ‘I flew’ – vi fluku ‘we flew’

fljuka ‘to fly; to fly off, fall off’, luta ‘to stoop, bend forward’, smjuga ‘to slip; to hide away’, lopa ‘to run’.

3. Verbs with e or i followed by two consonants or one long: i,e - a – u
finna ‘to find’ – eg fann ‘I found’ – vi funnu ‘we found’

bresta ‘to rush with a noise’, brinna ‘to burn’, hverva ‘to toru, rake together’, rinna ‘to run’, vinna ‘to work’
Verbs with -nd- and -ng- have irregular singular past tense where the last consonant becomes voiceless and acquires length making the preceeding -n- disappear:

binda ‘to bind’ – eg batt ‘I bound’ – vi bundu ‘we bound’
stinga ‘to stick’ – eg stakk ‘I stack’ – vi stungu ‘we stack’

håbenda ‘to tie a band round the hough of an animal’, springa ‘to burst, break’.

One verb of this class has a in the root: varda ‘to become’. Originally it had -e- in the infinitive, cf. ON. verða.

4. Verbs with e or i followed by one short consonant: e(o,a) – a(o) – å:

geva ‘to give’ – eg gav ‘I gave’ – vi gåvu ‘we gave‘

vara ‘to be’, geva ‘to give’, koma ‘to come’, geta ‘to beget, get’, ligga ‘to lie’, rega ‘to drive, chase’, sita ‘to sit’, sova ‘to sleep’, ‘to see, look’, tigga ‘to receive’, eta ‘to eat’, sjera ‘to cut’

5. Verbs with the radical a(å,ø): a - u - u:

taga ‘to take’ – eg tug ‘I took’ – vi tugu ‘we took’

ala ‘to feed’, fara ‘to depart, go’, lada ‘to be about to die’, grava ‘to dig up; to bury’, høva ‘to raise, lift; to fling’, slå ‘to strike, kick’,

Similar to English, standa ‘to stand’ looses the radical -n- in the past:
standa ‘to stand’ – eg stud ‘I stood’ – vi studu ‘we stood’

6. The most irregular verbs with the radical a, å: a - e - e:

falla ‘to fall’ – eg fell ‘I fell’ – vi fellu ‘we fell’

Similar to verbs like binda, stinga in class 3. several verbs (gånga, hånga and the irregular verb ) receive -kk in singular past:

gånga ‘to go, walk’ – eg gekk ‘I went, walked’ – vi gengu ‘we went, walked’
‘to get’ – eg fekk ‘I got’ – vi fengu ‘we got’

leka ‘to play’, gråta ‘to cry’, halda ‘to hold, keep’, låda ‘to emit a sound’, ousa ‘to bale; to pour down’, ‘to sew’, åga ‘to creep, crawl; to move slowly’.

This is a very old way to form the past tense which dates back to the so called Common Indo-European language that most of the languages in Europe, Iran and India descend from. Ablaut descends from the original alternation of the main Indo-European vowel e with o and zero sound (traces of that still can be seen in forms like bresta-brast-brustu).

Exercise 7.3.
Translate into Nynorn:

I fell off a house. They (M and F) stood close to their (own) mother. Men were burying dead horses. You took my dogs. He gave me a book. A dog bit your (di) sons. She grips your hand. We got fish.



Johann og Astrid bua i Hjetlandi. Johann bur i Lervik, men Astrid bur å Sandnesi. Johann hever sturan båt. Hann fer ofta ut å sju til at fiska. Astrid hever hesta og kør. Hun er bund. I dag skrivar Astrid brev Johanni. Hun sijer at hun etlar at selja honon ku. Johann fekk brev fra Astrid. Hann svarar henni og sijer at hann takkar henni fyri dað.


bua vs. (6), bur – to live
og – and
Hjetland nn. – Shetland
Lervik nf. (s2) – Lerwick
Sandnes nn. – Sandness
fara vs. (5) – to depart
sju nm. – the sea
ut å sju – out to the sea
fiska – to catch fish (= veða)
ku (kør) nf. (s3) – cow
bund nm. – crofter
etla vw. (2) – to be going
selja vw. (1) – to sell
brev nn. (s) – letter


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