The Norwegian correspondence style is short and straight to the point. While this approach may come across as rude, it is by no means the intention.
Norway ranks low in power distance (), meaning that Norwegians strive for equal distribution of power and wealth. This is reflected in the language's informal style: in Norwegian, there are no special sets of rules when communicating with elders or superiors.
(Throughout the article, «Ola Nordmann» will be used as an example name )
Most emails and letters start with a salutation followed by the recipient's name.
In Norwegian, titles such as «Herr.» (Sir) and «Fru.» (Madam) are rarely used. In the worst case they can be seen as sarcastic.
In the following examples, «Ola Nordmann» is the name of the recipient. The most common Norwegian greetings for emails and letters are:
The proper punctuation for these greetings is as follows:
Although Norwegians utilize an informal style, this has not always been the case. Nowadays, most Norwegians use the greeting «Hei» both in formal and in informal correspondences. The greeting «Kjære» can be seen as a little old-fashioned.
Some older Norwegians, particularly those over 50, may consider «Hei» too informal and still use «Kjære» when writing letters and emails.
The greeting «Kjære» is not completely out of fashion — it has its uses in invitations and when addressing groups of people.
Norwegians prefer to keep correspondences effective and straight to the point. Formal emails are most often started with a simple «Hei», or «Kjære», followed by the recipient's full name.
Here are some Norwegian opening phrases used in formal emails:
«Hei» works in casual correspondences as well, and the recipient's first name often follows. However, the variation «Heisann» (Hi there) is more friendly and less formal.
To add more energy to the greeting, end with an exclamation point.
"Hallo" is often used in speech but seldom in written form as a greeting. In writing, it is usually followed by a question mark and either means "are you there?" or as an adverse reaction when you are baffled by someone's action.
Here are some Norwegian opening phrases used in informal emails:
The ending of a Norwegian email should be short but clear. Try to ensure all the necessary information is included to avoid unnecessary follow-up questions. Norwegians rarely use "P.S.", they try to include everything naturally in the text.
To illustrate, we'll use «Ola Nordmann» as the name of the sender. Norwegian formal emails and letters usually end with either:
Note that the name is always placed underneath the regards when ending formal emails and letters.
Some Norwegians shorten "Med vennlig hilsen” to "Mvh." However, this is primarily used in emails and almost never in official documents. Furthermore, some consider the abbreviation "Mvh." to be rude and lazy, so beware.
If you want to use "Mvh.", remember the period after the h.
Here are some Norwegian ending phrases used in formal emails:
If the letter or email is not to a close friend or family, it is perfectly fine to use the formal phrases mentioned above.
A less formal alternative uses only "Hilsen", followed by the first name. This phrase can also be written on a single line and does not include a comma.
Here are some Norwegian ending phrases used in informal emails and letters:
Here are some of the most common Norwegian phrases used in emails.
Norwegians are said to follow a set of rules, or social norms, called Janteloven, where the first rule is:"You are not to think you are anything special."
These social norms are deeply ingrained in Norwegian culture, and Norwegians try to stay humble and grateful. Bragging about yourself is heavily frowned upon.Excessive use of Emojis
A smiley can be highly effective in creating a relaxed and positive tone of voice in an email. While it is becoming more common in Norwegian email correspondence, some still see it as unprofessional.
Consider your audience, and do not overdo it. One emoji per email is enough, and stick to the classic smiley ":)".
Also, some email clients do not support smileys and show a ‘J’ instead.
Most Norwegian greetings and thank you cards still employ a formal style. And while we live in the digital age, physical cards are still preferred.
A card or letter written on behalf of a family is commonly ended with the names of the family members, often starting with the children.
Some families with young children skip the names of the parents altogether. This is often the case when giving gifts and can become a bit confusing on Christmas Eve.
Most countries enjoy a warmer climate than Norway. Therefore, one of the main reasons for traveling as a Norwegian is to experience that warm weather and brag about it.
There are no strict rules when it comes to writing postcards in Norwegian, but most start with a greeting and end by wishing the recipient well.
Norwegian thank you cards usually consist of one short sentence written formally. Here are some examples:
While other cards are usually formal in style, Norwegians like to get creative in their birthday greetings.
But first. here are some examples of classic birthday greetings:
Most Norwegians do not like the thought of getting older, and this is often joked about in birthday greetings. Here are some examples:
Norwegian wedding cards are usually short and wish the newlyweds a good life filled with love and happiness. However, some like to spice them up with a fitting quote about love.
Here are a few examples:
(related article: Norwegian terms of endearment and affection)
The following is an example of a formal email written in Norwegian, for a job application. It follows the standard formatting style used in most official documents and job applications.
This style does not include a greeting and instead starts with a heading in bold lettering describing the letter's intention.
In this example email, Ola Nordmann is applying for a job as a store manager that he found on the webpage finn.no.
Søknad på stilling som butikkmedarbeider
Jeg viser til annonse på finn.no og søker med stor interesse stillingen som butikkmedarbeider hos Rema 1000 Storo. Jeg har svært relevant erfaring og mener jeg har mye å tilføre bedriften.
Håper på positivt svar!
Om dere har spørsmål, må dere gjerne ta kontakt på telefon eller e-post.
Med vennlig hilsen
Application for the position as a store employee
I refer to the job advertisement found on finn.no, and I am applying with great enthusiasm to the position of a store employee at Rema 1000. I have very relevant experience and believe I can add a lot to the company.
I am hoping for a positive response!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by phone or email.
With kind regards
The following is an example of a Norwegian postcard written to Ola by a family of four (Pia, Knut, Theodor, and Lisa)
Sender en liten hilsen fra Spania. I dag har vi vært på stranden og badet. Er over 30 grader så vi renner jo helt vekk, men kan jo ikke klage. I går beøkte vi i det Gotiske Kvartal. Det var kjempefint!
Håper alt går bra med dere i Norge og at det ikke er alt for kaldt.
Kos dere masse og hils alle!
Klem fra Pia, Knut, Theodor, og Lisa.
We are sending you a small greeting from Spain. Today we've been at the beach. It's over 30 degrees, so we're melting away. But we can't really complain. Yesterday we visited the Gothic Quarter. It was really nice!
We hope you are all right in Norway and that it isn't too cold.
Have a nice time and say hello to everyone from us!
Hugs from Pia, Knut, Theodor, and Lisa
Norwegians are pretty relaxed when it comes to syntax and formalities, especially when communicating with foreigners. Norway is a small country, and just the fact that someone has taken the time to learn Norwegian is seen as an impressive feat.
The most important thing is to be down to earth and friendly.References:
PS: you can use our free language tool, VocabChat to create and record your own vocabulary and phrase lists.