If you’re learning Danish, maybe you’ve heard about a tiny word that has a whole lot of meaning – the exclamation . It doesn’t have a direct translation because it can mean so many things. Sometimes “oh” will work – but really, nå is so much more than that. There is a for almost every situation.

Let us show you how to use nå with the 10 examples below – and you’ll sound super Danish in no time!

1. Hey, what’s up?

That’s right, you can use right from the beginning of a conversation! When you see your friend, greet them with Nå, hvad så? which is a way of saying “Hey, what’s up?”, and they will greet you back and maybe tell you about their day!

2. Showing that you are listening

how to use nå

When you’re having a conversation, it’s important to show the other person that you are paying attention! One very Danish way to do this is to insert short rising ‘s every once in a while.

3. Surprise

If one of the things you hear genuinely surprises you, you can express that by making your a bit more intense, and, of course, underlining it with a surprised facial expression! Maybe your friend’s cat had kittens yesterday, even though you did not know that the cat was pregnant. Nå!?

4. Aah, now I get it!

Your Danish friend is so excited about the new kittens that they start talking very quickly. You have to ask them several times to repeat themselves. But when you finally understand that they just asked if you want to see some pictures, this is the perfect opportunity to break out in a long nååårh! (and of course you want to see pictures!).

5. Awww!

And of course, the pictures are adorable! Looking at the newborn kittens makes you go nååårh – it’s just like saying “awww” in English, but with an n in the beginning.

6. Are you sure about that?

So now you’ve officially got cat baby fever and you tell your friend that you’re planning to adopt a cat yourself. But you don’t get the reaction you’d expect – instead, your friend gives you a short, slightly rising – as if to ask if you’re really so sure about getting a cat.

7. Remembering or realizing something

When you ask your friend why they are so skeptical, they remind you that you told them a week ago that you weren’t allowed to have pets in your rented apartment. Right, you totally forgot about that. You go nåh ja! to show that you remember now. What a bummer!

Now let’s say that your friend didn’t actually need to remind you that you can’t have pets – you just remember it yourself. So as you finish your sentence about how you’re going to get a cat, you realize that – nåh nej right, you can’t.

8. I don’t care/annoyance

Your friend sees that you look a little down about it, and tries to cheer you up by telling you that hey, it’s no big deal, if you want a cat, you can just get your own house! When you tell them that you don’t have the money for that right now, they give you a short – they don’t care, it’s no big deal! They tell you to just get a better-paid job. You get annoyed – , do you really think it’s that easy?

9. Chill!

Your friend didn’t expect that reaction and tries to get you to relax by saying Nå nå – slap af! (“Whoa there – relax!”). You’re still annoyed, and they realize that they may have been too quick to assume you could get what you want that easily. They apologize sincerely, and you tell them it’s okay.

10. I gotta go

But as you check the time, you realize that you need to get going – you have to be at work soon (at your not-so-well-paid job).

You signal this to your friend with a short , which tells them that the conversation needs to come to an end soon.

As you say goodbye, your friend offers that you come see the kittens at their house some time – which you gladly accept! It’s not as good as having your own cat at home, but spending time with adorable kittens is a good alternative – and will have you going nååårh (“awww”) like there’s no tomorrow.

Time to use your knowledge on how to use nå!

And there you have it – 10 ways to use the little Danish word nå in everyday situations. This word is one of the things that will make your Danish sound really, really authentic – Danes use it extremely often. And as you can see, the number of situations where you can use this sound are endless.

Good luck practicing how to use nå!