Norwegian word of the day: Gjerne

Frazer Norwell
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Norwegian word of the day: Gjerne
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

We’ll gladly explain the meaning of this polite Norwegian word which can be used many times a day.


Gjerne is a very useful Norwegian word, which can often be literally translated as 'willingly' or 'gladly', but is used much more often and in more informal contexts than either of those words in English.

Speakers of other languages might spot the similarity with German gern, Danish gerne, Swedish gärna and Icelandic gjarna, with all these words sharing a root in the Old Norse word gjarn ('willing' or 'eager').

Gjerne can be used as an adverb in sentences like jeg tar gjerne en kopp kaffe (literally 'I'll happily have a coffee' but closer to 'I'm happy to have a coffee/I'd like to have a coffee) or jeg hjelper deg gjerne (‘I'm happy to help you’).

You can also use it on its own, in which case it's a snappier alternative to 'yes, I'd like that' or 'yes please!': For example, you can reply to the question vil du bli med? (‘would you like to come along?’), with gjerne!, meaning 'yes please' or 'I'd love to'.

If someone asks Vil du ha melk og sukker? (‘Do you want milk and sugar?’), you can answer gjerne melk, takk (‘milk, please’).

Gjerne can also be used when you're talking about someone else, such as in the sentence hun snakker gjerne om det (‘she doesn’t mind talking about it’) or hun vil gjerne være med (‘she would like to come along’).


It's also possible to use it to mean 'if you like', for example ta gjerne kontakt ('feel free to get in touch' or 'please get in touch') or ta gjerne med barna (‘bring your kids if you like’).

In these examples, the use of gjerne softens the requests: ta barna med (‘bring your children’) is a command, while adding gjerne emphasizes that the decision is up to the listener. This phrasing is particularly common in situations where the speaker is encouraging someone to do something they may think they aren't allowed to.


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