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Specific constructions


In Norwegian there are two ways of expressing passive voice: morphological passive and a periphrastic passive construction. The morphological passive is expressed by the passive -s suffix, e.g. bygges “to be built” and the periphrastic passive is constructed with the passive auxiliary bli “to become” and a participle form of the main verb, e.g. opprettet “established”.

freden bygges også dag for dag \n peace is being built day by day
FN ble opprettet for å sikre verdensfreden \n FN was established to secure world peace

Verbal particles

Verbal particles are analyzed using the language-specific relation compound:prt. Particles exhibit a number of syntactic properties which sets them apart from regular prepositions. For instance, a pronominal object may intercede the verb and the preposition in the particle case satte den på “put it on”, but not in the case of a regular preposition and its complement *lette den etter “*looked it for”, and only complements of a preposition may occur in an impersonal passive Det ble lett etter den nye boka “It was looked for the new book”, but an object in a particle construction may not *Det ble satt den på “*It was put it on”.

Den gang ble alt samlet inn \n That time all was collected
Regjeringen har lagt frem et raust statsbudsjett \n The government has put forward a generous budget
Forskningsrådet delte onsdag kveld ut to sentrale priser \n The research council handed out to central prizes Wednesday evening


In Norwegian, expletive arguments are expressed using the neuter pronoun det “it” and the expl relation is used for both expletive subjects and objects. Expletives occur in several syntactic constructions in Norwegian.

Presentational construction

In Norwegian expletives occur in the presentational construction, which involves an expletive subject, an active verb and an indefinite subject (en debatt “a debate” in the example below).

Det eksisterer allerede en debatt \n There already exists a debate

Impersonal passive

Norwegian employs the impersonal passive construction, where there is an expletive subject and the underlying subject is unexpressed.

Senere har det blitt fremsatt flere forslag \n Later has there been proposed several suggestions

Clause-anticipating constructions

These constructions contain a finite or non-finite clause which semantically may be regarded as the subject, but where the subject position is occupied by an expletive.

Det er ønskelig at utvalget arbeider i dialog \n It is desirable that the committee works in dialogue
Det er en offentlig oppgave å bidra økonomisk \n It is a public duty to contribute financially

We also find clause-anticipating constructions with expletive objects.

Retten finner det bevist at han handlet forsettlig \n The court finds it proven that he acted intentionally


Clefts are quite common in Norwegian. They contain an expletive subject, a form of være “to be” and a relative clause. Note that in clefts we do not adopt a copula analysis of the verb være “er”.

Det er forholdsvis få arter som har klart å tilpasse seg \n There are quite few species that have managed to adapt 


Kari Kinn, Per Erik Solberg and Pål Kristian Eriksen. “NDT Guidelines for Morphological Annotation”. National Library Tech Report.