How to say "good" in Norwegian... More complicated than one should think...

Now, in Norwegian, there are two ways to say the adjective "good" in Norwegian: "bra" and "god/godt". Note that "bra" and "godt" can also be adverbs, so pay attention to the function of the word. When it's an adverb (meaning "well" and not "good"), there is no difference between the two. But let's look deeper into the different meanings of "good" to understand when to use each of the adjectives "bra" and "god/godt". 


SO, as I said, "bra" can be both an adverb and an adjective: 

  • Det er bra at du er her! (adjective: It's good that you are here)

  • Jeg har det bra. (adverb: I'm doing well (at the moment))

  • Han spiller bra! (adverb: he plays well)

  • Maten er bra (adjective: the food is good, as in "full of taste or/and in great quantity; you get what you pay for)


"God" is always an adjektive:

  • Han er en god spiller (he's a good player)

  • Maten er god (the food is good/delicious)


"Godt" can be both an adverb and an adjective: 

  • Dette brødet var godt! (adjective: this bread was good/delicious)

  • Jeg har det godt. (adjective: litterally: "I'm fine", but the deeper meaning is " I have a good life, I'm lucky". You say it when you talk about your life in general, and not just right now as with "bra")

  • Han spiller godt! (adverb: he plays well)

  • Maten smaker godt. (adverb: the food tastes good/delicious)

  • Les teksten godt. (adverb: read the text thoroughly)


SInce the adverbs "godt" and "bra" have more or less the same meanings, I will only look into the differences between the adjectives "god/godt" and "bra".


1. Bra:

  • Du får mye for pengene (you get a lot for the money)

  • Kraftfull (powerful)

  • Respektabel, skikkelig (en bra person); respecable, decent (a decent person)

  • Flink (skillful), but not as a predicative (after a verb): you can say "hun er en bra spiller" but not "spilleren er bra". 

  • Fantastisk, super (fantastic, great)

  • Smakfull (tasty, full of taste)


2. God/godt

  • Snill (nice)

  • Omtenksom (thoughtful)

  • Om mat: med god smak, deilig; about food: with good taste, delicious

  • Flink (skillful); you can say both "hun er en god spiller" and "spilleren er god". 

  • Av høy kvalitet (of high quality)

  • Betryggende (comforting)


Gradbøying (inflexion):

Bra – bedre – best

God/godt – bedre – best


Now, let's compare some phrases to get more a feel of the differences, shall we?


  • Denne kaka smaker bra! (= «this cake tastes good» or «this cake has a lot of taste in it», it's tasty)

  • Denne kaka smaker godt! (= this cake tastes good)


  • Det var godt å høre! (=that was comforting to hear!)

  • Det var bra å høre! (= that was a good/positive thing to hear)


  • Jeg har mange gode venner (=good/close friends)

  • Jeg har mange bra venner (=I have a lot of decent/respectful friends)


  • Det er bra å ha venner! (= It's a good thing to have friends)

  • Det er godt å ha venner (= it's comforting to have friends)


  • Det var godt at du kom! (= luckily you came! That was comforting)

  • Det var bra at du kom! (= it's a good thing that you came!)


  • Så bra! (= «that's awesome!», «well done!»)

  • Så godt! (= «so delicious (food)!», «so comforting», «so soothing») 


So, are you getting the feel of it? Here are some sentences for you to test yourself! Should I write "bra" or "god/godt" Instead of the English word? Write you answers below in the comment field and I'll tell you if you're right ;)

  1. He's a kind/good person

  2. She's a decent person

  3. I was worried! It was good (comforting) you came!

  4. It's nice (it's a good thing) to have friends

  5. It's nice (it's soothing, makes you feel good) to have friends.

  6. This is a good beer, not very expensive. 

  7. I love this cake, it's so good!

  8. So nice to hear that you finally got your drivers licence! What a relief!

  9. Awesome that you finally got your driver's licence, it was about time!

  10. Great!

  11. I live in a good (safe) neighbourhood.

  12. I live in a good (nice looking, desired, good quality) neighbourhood!


Oh, and one last thing: Have you noticed how the adjective "god/godt" has quite a few "feminine" associations while the adjective "bra" is more about performance, strength, quantity and respectfulness (typically "masculine" associations)? 

Vi snakkes! 

Silje :)