"Ja" and "Jo" in Norwegian

When are “ja” and “jo” meaning “yes” used in Norwegian? In some cases, they say “ja” in others “jo.” In both instances, they mean “yes” but I am confused whichever one I should use correctly.


The difference between “ja” and “jo” is that “ja” is used as a confirmation of a positive outcome, but “jo” is used as a confirmation of a negative outcome or question. For example:

-> Har han spist? (Did he eat?) — Ja (Yes)
Here, “Ja” indicates that the information in the question is correct (Positive outcome). He did actually eat.

-> Han han ikke spist? (Didn’t he eat?) — Jo! (Yes! He did)
Here, “Jo” indicates that the information in the question is not correct (Negative outcome). He did actually eat.

I hope this helped you understand more.

Best regards

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Thank you.

Further to the above, I would like to mention another point:

“Du kan jo ta med kameraet og ta noen fine vinterbilder” meaning “You can take your camera and take some fine winter photos.”

Where does “jo” come into this sentence and another sentence:

Dina says: “Jeg har ikke lyst.”

Her mother says:

“Jo, Dina. Blir med broren din.”

Where does “jo” come into this again, please?"


The “jo” you mention sounds like the emphatic “ju” in Swedish or the “ja” in German. In English, I might say something like, “But you can take your camera with you, can’t you, and take some lovely winter pictures?”

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Thank you.

For some reason, the first impression I got here wasn’t the emphatic usage you describe. I sort of thought that it was a bit the way in English someone might have said “I’m not going to do it” and received the reply “Oh yes you will!”… but because some languages are apparently sensible enough to have a word for negative affirmation (erasing so much of the unnecessary confusion we have in English, lol), the word used in such a statement would be in fact be this negative version of ‘yes’.

Not actually sure what I just said made any sense. It was particularly hard to describe.

So thanks for elucidating! What you said probably makes a lot more sense. Not sure I quite get usage of emphatic ‘ja’ in German (or, therefore, in any related language), but I vaguely understand the idea (just never quite worked out how to use it correctly myself!), so this is definitely something I need to look more into.

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There is one other use for “jo” as well, especially in speech.

NO: Jo mer du trener, desto sterkere blir du.

EN: The more you exercise, the stronger you become.

Not relevant to the whole yes/no thing, but it’s nice to know about it so you understand what it means in those contexts. :stuck_out_tongue:

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One could also write dess insted of jo here, but the latter is more common.


It is written in Norwegian, but if you’re an advanced learner, or use Google Translate; you might be able to make sense of it. I think it’s really well defined.