Norwegian word of the day: Vennligst

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Vennligst
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Kindly take a look at the latest Norwegian word of the day.


What is vennligst?

To be vennlig is to be friendly: a venn is a friend. Vennligst is the superlative form of the word: the “most friendly”.

Vennlig also has some nuances that extend beyond its literal meaning. To describe a person as vennlig can also mean they are pleasant company and accommodating towards others, perhaps comparable to the Spanish adjective simpático.

It can also be used as part of a polite request. Vær så vennlig å lukke døren, for example, means “be so kind as to close the door”.

The superlative vennligst can fill in as a contraction for vennlig in sentences like these. Lukk vennligst døren has the exact same meaning — “be so kind as to close the door” — but uses the imperative form of the verb å lukke (“to close”).


Why do I need to know Vennligst? 

Please is very rarely used in the Norwegian language, and certainly not in the same way as English. 

For example, ordering a coffee in a cafe by saying “a cup of coffee” — and nothing else — would probably be considered impolite by many, but if you do it in Norwegian (en kopp kaffe) you will generally not be thought of as rude by the barista.

This reflects not only the direct way Norwegian often address each other, but the fact that extended niceties and long introductions aren’t necessarily considered a form of politeness.

Vennligst is most typical used as a polite reminder to do something in the Norwegian language. To return to the example above, lukk vennligst døren can mean the same thing as “please close the door”. Vennligst does not mean “please” though. You can’t use it to order a cup of coffee.

That’s not to say you can’t be more polite than simply saying en kopp kaffe if you want to. Many will use takk (“thank you”) as a substitute for please: en kop kaffe, takk. You can also say kan jeg få en kopp kaffe vær så snill (Could I have a cup of coffee please). You’ll probably be thought of as vennlig if you say this, but it’s not considered necessary. Vær så snill doesn't directly translate to please either. Instead it means "will you be kind", which draws comparisons with the French term for “please”, s’il vous plait (literally: “if it pleases you”).


Mine nye naboer er så vennlige.

My new neighbours are so polite.

Vennligst skru av telefonen under forestillingen.

Kindly switch off your mobile phones during the show.


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