Finnish language: Grammatical cases

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Noun, adjective and pronoun conjugation

In Finnish, we do not use many little words to clarify what we mean. Instead, without using any extra words, we modify the actual word until it conveys the details of our meaning.

This is accomplished by conjugation: tacking suffixes into the end of the word stem, possibly changing some vowels or consonants in the process to make the word easier to pronounce. As such, Finnish words tend to be long, but there are fewer of them in a sentence than in English.

The difference between a conjugation-heavy language like Finnish and a particle-heavy language like English is akin to the difference between a functional programming language like Haskell and an imperative programming language like assembler.

Coarsely speaking, in imperative programming languages, you do many small operations in a sequence, while in functional programming languages, you craft a single expression that carries the nuances of the operation.

In Finnish, nouns can be conjugated in 15 different cases, each serving a particular function.

Grammatical cases

Nominative

The nominative case is the standard dictionary form of the word. It can occur in singular or plural. It simply introduces the concept into the sentence, usually as a grammatical subject.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talo a house talot houses
käpy a conifer cone käpy a conifer cone kävyt conifer cones
askel a step askel a step askeleet steps
katto a roof katto a roof katot roofs
ihminen a human ihminen a human ihmiset humans

There is no system of definite/indefinite articles in Finnish, so when translating to English, an a/an/the article must be added by the translator by deducing what is appropriate for the context. Conversely when translating from English, any article is simply ignored. It is for this reason that Finnish speakers of English often make mistakes in these articles, often omitting them alltogether.

Examples:

  • Tämä on käpy = This is a conifer cone
  • Tuo katto on kaukana = That roof is far away (roof or ceiling)
  • Ihmiset ajattelevat mitä ajattelevat = People think whatever they think (lit. humans)

Genitive (possession)

The genitive form indicates a possessive relationship.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talon house’s talojen of the houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyn of the conifer cone käpyjen of the conifer cones
askel a step askeleen of the step askeleiden of the steps
katto a roof katon roof’s kattojen of the roofs
ihminen a human ihmisen of the human ihmisten of the humans

In English, this would be indicated with a ’s suffix or an “of” preposition. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -n conjugation suffix.

Again, the distinction between a/an/the does not exist in Finnish.

Examples:

  • Talon omistaja on eläkeläinen = The owner of the house is a pensioner
  • Ihmisen elämä on lyhyt = The life of a human is short
  • Matti on talon katolla = Matti is on the roof of the house
  • Matin silmät ovat vihreät = Matti’s eyes are green

Accusative (direct object)

The accusative case is used when the concept describes the object or target of an action, and the action addresses the entire object.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talon the house talot the houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyn the conifer cone kävyt the conifer cones
askel a step askeleen the step askeleet the steps
katto a roof katon the roof katot the roofs
ihminen a human ihmisen the human ihmiset the humans

In nouns, singular accusative case looks exactly like the genitive case, while the plural accusative case looks exactly like the nominative case. Some pronouns have special accusative forms.

Examples:

  • Söin kävyn = I ate a conifer cone
  • Kuulin hänen askeleensa (askeleet + -nsa) = I heard his/her steps
  • Ostin talon = I bought a house
  • Haravoin kävyt kasaan = I raked the conifer cones into a pile
  • Annatko minulle maidon? = Could you pass me the milk please? (lit. Will you give me the milk?)

Partitive (partial object)

The partitive case is used when the concept describes the object or target of an action, but the action addresses a portion of the target object.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house taloa the house taloja houses
käpy a conifer cone käpyä the conifer cone käpyjä conifer cones
askel a step askeletta the step askeleita steps
katto a roof kattoa the roof kattoja roofs
ihminen a human ihmistä the human ihmisiä humans

It is indicated by the -a/-ä/-ta/-tä conjugation suffix.

Examples:

  • Potkiskelin käpyjä = I kicked some conifer cones around
  • Katselin taloa = I looked at a house (I spent time looking at a house)
  • Älä lyö ihmistä = Don’t beat the human
  • Viisi leipää = Five breads
  • Kaksi kalaa = Two fish
  • Otatko maitoa? = Will you have milk? (lit. Do you take milk?)
  • (Toivotan) hyvää huomenta! = (I bid you) good morning!

Students of Finnish language usually take longest time to learn the difference between the accusative and the partitive case.

† When the object is defined by a numeral, partitive is always used and never the accusative. Think “five of the breadkind” or “two of the fishkind”, and the rationale for partitive becomes clear, even in sentences like “I will take the five breads” which on the surface seem to address the objects as whole.

Locative cases

There are two sets of three locative cases in Finnish. The inessive, elative and illative cases are so called “internal” locative cases, and the adessive, ablative and allative cases are “external” locative cases. Aside from this important distinction, the two forms are parallel in meaning, and confusion between the two happens often even with native speakers.

Inessive (inside)

The inessive form often corresponds with the “in” preposition in English. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -ssa/-ssä conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talossa in the house taloissa in houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyssä in the conifer cone kävyissä in conifer cones
askel a step askeleessa in the step askeleissa in steps
katto a roof katossa in the roof katoissa in roofs
ihminen a human ihmisessä in the human ihmisissä in humans

Examples:

  • Olen talossa = I am in the house
  • Katossa on reikä = There is a hole in the roof (lit. a hole is in the roof)
  • Ihmisessä voi asua syöpäläisiä = A human may house parasites (lit. parasites may live in a human)
  • Kuljen hänen askeleissaan (askeleissa + -an) = I walk in his/her steps

Elative (from inside to outside)

The elative form is often translated into the “from” preposition in English, but the relationship is not exact. It describes a change in observation from the inside to the outside. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -sta/-stä conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talosta from the house taloista from houses
käpy a conifer cone kävystä from the conifer cone kävyistä from conifer cones
askel a step askeleesta from the step askeleista from steps
katto a roof katosta from the roof katoista from roofs
ihminen a human ihmisestä from the human ihmisistä from humans

Examples:

  • Talosta nousee savua = Smoke is emitted from the house
  • Lähditkö talosta? = Did you leave (from) the house?
  • Ihmisistä irtoaa hilsettä = Dandruff is emitted by humans (lit. dandruff separates from humans)
  • Kävyistä voisi kertoa paljon = You could speak a lot about conifer cones
  • Tanssi alkaa askeleista = Dance begins from the steps

Illative (from outside to inside)

The illative form mostly corresponds to the “into” preposition in English. It describes a change in observation from the outside to the inside. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -Vn conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house taloon into the house taloihin into houses
käpy a conifer cone käpyyn into the conifer cone käpyihin into conifer cones
askel a step askeleeseen into the step askeleisiin into steps
katto a roof kattoon into the roof kattoihin into roofs
ihminen a human ihmiseen into the human ihmisiin into humans

Examples:

  • Mene taloon = Go into the house
  • Kiinnitä tikku käpyyn = Attach a stick into the conifer cone
  • Puheessaan hän viittasi ihmiseen = In his/her speech he/she referred to the human
  • Mene länteen = Go west
  • Menen Englantiin = I will go to England
  • Yleisparannin jäi kuuhun = The universal upgrader was left on the moon (lit. remained in the moon)

Adessive (external closeby)

The adessive form describes an external closeby perspective to the object. In English, it may correspond to the “at”, “on”, and “with” prepositions depending on context. It is indicated by the -lla/-llä conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talolla at the house taloilla at houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyllä at the conifer cone kävyillä at conifer cones
askel a step askeleella at the step askeleilla at steps
katto a roof katolla on the roof katoilla on roofs
ihminen a human ihmisellä at the human ihmisillä at humans

Examples:

  • Talolla pidetään juhlia = Feasts are held at the estate of the house
  • Talon katolla on tuuliviiri = There is a weathercock on the roof of the house (or: The roof of the house has a weathercock…)
  • Olen jääkaapilla = I am at the refrigerator

The adessive case is sometimes used to describe the role of an object as a tool (a role that belongs to the obsolescent instructive case). Example:

  • Pöytä on käsitelty lakalla = The table has been treated with varnish.
  • Älä leiki ihmisellä = Do not toy with the human

The adessive case is sometimes also used to describe that an object accompanies another (a role that belongs to the obsolescent comitative and instructive cases). Examples:

  • Myynnissä on talo parvekkeella = There is for sale a house with a balcony
  • Lohta kermaviilikastikkeella = Salmon with sour cream sauce

The adessive case also describes that someone possesses something. In Finnish, “x has y” is expressed by saying that “y exists on x”. There is no verb for has/have. Examples:

  • Tonilla on rahaa = Toni has money (lit. There is money on Toni)
  • Tonilla on talo = Toni has a house (lit. There is a house on Toni)
  • Ihmisellä voi olla omaisuutta = A human may possess wealth (lit. there may be wealth on the human)

Sometimes the adessive case is replaced in speech with genitive and the “luona” adverb, although the meaning is not identical.

  • Olen käymässä Tonilla = Olen käymässä Tonin luona = I am visiting Toni (lit. I am visiting at Toni’s)
  • Kävin jääkaapilla = I visited the refrigerator
  • Kävin jääkaapin luona = I visited the vicinity of the refrigerator

† Using the inessive case, “jääkaapissa”, would be an obvious error. It means paying a visit inside the refrigerator, in person.

Ablative (from external closeby to outside)

Like the elative, the ablative form is often translated into the “from” preposition in English, but the relationship is not exact. It describes a change in observation from the external closeby position to the outside. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -lta/-ltä conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talolta from the house taloilta from houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyltä from the conifer cone kävyiltä from conifer cones
askel a step askeleelta from the step askeleilta from steps
katto a roof katolta from the roof katoilta from roofs
ihminen a human ihmiseltä from the human ihmisiltä from humans

Examples:

  • Tipuin katolta = I fell down from the roof
  • Askel askeleelta = Step by step (expression)
  • Saitko rahaa ihmisiltä? = Did you get money from people (from the humans)?
  • Varokaa katoilta putoavaa lunta = Watch out for snow falling from the roofs

† Using the elative case, “ihmisistä”, would be a crude mistake here. It would mean the money was either surgically extracted from people, or acquired by selling slaves.

Allative (from outside to external closeby)

The allative form can be usually translated into the “to”, “on”, or “onto” prepositions in English. It describes a change in observation from the outside onto the external closeby position. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -lta/-ltä conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talolle onto the house taloille onto houses
käpy a conifer cone kävylle onto the conifer cone kävyille onto conifer cones
askel a step askeleelle onto the step askeleille onto steps
katto a roof katolle onto the roof katoille onto roofs
ihminen a human ihmiselle onto the human ihmisille onto humans

Examples:

  • Lähdin maalle = I went to the countryside
  • Astuin hänen varpailleen = I stepped on his/her toes
  • Kiinnitin katolle tuuliviirin = I affixed a weathercock on the roof (onto the roof)
  • Menestys ei merkitse ihmiselle = Success is meaningless to a human (lit. Success does not matter to a human)
  • Koiralle kävi kalpaten = Disastrous things happened to the dog (expression, lit. Hitting something while missing its mark happened to the dog)
  • Annatko minulle maidon? = Could you pass me the milk please? (lit. Will you give the milk to me?)

† Using the illative case, “minuun” would be a strange lapse here. I will not even elaborate what it could mean. In any case, the correct word, “minulle”, does not mean pouring the milk on the person, nor does it mean placing the milk carton on the person’s head. Such a misinterpretation would only arise from trying to rigidly map the English prepositions into the Finnish cases, which is not how languages work. The best way to understand this expression is to remember that “x has y” is translated as “y exists on x”. In the allative, y is transferred to the possession of x, i.e. onto the (however temporary) ownership of x.

Essive cases

Essive (in the role of)

The essive form can be usually translated as the “as” preposition in English. It describes the situation of the object. The situation may be a role, a location, a time, or an adjectivial state of being. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -na/-nä conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talona as a house taloina as houses
käpy a conifer cone käpynä as a conifer cone käpyinä as conifer cones
askel a step askeleena as a step askeleina as steps
katto a roof kattona as a roof kattoina as roofs
ihminen a human ihmisenä as a human ihmisinä as humans

Examples:

  • Ihmisenä ei ole helppoa = It is not easy (to live) as a human
  • Toimin opettajana = I work as a teacher
  • Olen kotona = I am home
  • Laulan iloisena = I sing happily (lit. as happy)
  • Pidin (sitä) kirjaa hyvänä‡̶ = I thought the book was good (lit. I held the book in the esteem of being good)
  • Keskiviikkona sataa = It will rain on Wednesday
  • Huomenna ei sada = Tomorrow it will not rain (lit. on morning)
  • Pidä hyvänäsi! = Keep it! / You can have it! (lit: Keep as your good)

† This is actually an archaic locative form. The technically correct modern form would be inessive kodissa, meaning in home, but using the word “kotona” is the established practice, just like in English it is established practice to not use a preposition in that sentence.

‡ This, too, is an archaic form that has established into common use. Ignoring the fact that the modern Finnish word for “morning” is “aamu”, the technically correct conjugation for “huomen” would be “huomenena”. But “huomenna” is the de facto word.

‡̶ This sentence has a slight fetishist alternative meaning (“I held the book dearly”), which may be the reason it is usually said “Minusta (se) kirja oli hyvä” (In my opinion (lit. from me) the book was good)

Translative (into the role of)

The translative form describes a transformation into the object. In English, it is often indicated by “to” or “into” prepositions. In Finnish, it is indicated by the “-ksi” conjugation suffix.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house taloksi into a house taloiksi into houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyksi into a conifer cone kävyiksi into conifer cones
askel a step askeleeksi into a step askeleiksi into steps
katto a roof katoksi into a roof katoiksi into roofs
ihminen a human ihmiseksi into a human ihmisiksi into humans

Examples:

  • Käy taloksi! = Make yourself at home! (expression)
  • Pian nämä päreet muuttuvat katoiksi = Soon these splints will become roofs
  • Tämä kone muuttaa sinut ihmiseksi = This machine will transform you into a human

Marginal cases

These cases are rarely used in speech today, but because they can be applied to practically any noun, they are still considered official noun cases in Finnish grammar.

Instructive (by the means of)

The instructive form describes using the object as a tool, or a goal being accomplished with the assistance of the object. In English, it would be indicated with the “with”, “using”, or “by” prepositions. In Finnish, it is indicated by the “-n” or “-in” conjugation suffixes.

The instructive exists in both singular and plural, but use of the singular form is extremely rare.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talon with a house taloin with houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyn with a conifer cone kävyin with conifer cones
askel a step askeleen with a step askelein with steps
katto a roof katon with a roof katoin with roofs
ihminen a human ihmisen with a human ihmisin with humans

Examples:

  • Kävelen kevyin askelein = I walk with light steps
  • Laiva on varustettu telaketjuin = The boat is equipped with crawler tracks
  • Kuljen jalan = I travel by foot (a rare example of a singular instructive still in use)

The instructive case is obsolescent, and often replaced with the adessive case, especially if the word is in singular form (because of the potential mix-up with the genitive case).

  • Linja-auto on varustettu palosammuttimella = The coach (lit. route car) is equipped with a fire extinguisher
  • Linja-auto on varustettu palosammuttimen = The coach is equipped with the fire extinguisher’s …? (likely misinterpretation)

Abessive (without)

The abessive describes an absense of the object. In English, it would be indicated with the “without” preposition. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -tta/-ttä conjugation suffixes.

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talotta without a house taloitta without houses
käpy a conifer cone kävyttä without a conifer cone kävyittä without conifer cones
askel a step askeleetta without a step askeleitta without steps
katto a roof katotta without a roof katoitta without roofs
ihminen a human ihmisettä without a human ihmisittä without humans

In everyday speech, the abessive is usually replaced with an “ilman” preposition and the object conjugated in partitive (a scheme loaned directly from Swedish). The plain abessive form is slightly more common when used with participle forms of verbs, which are conjugated like adjectives.

Examples:

  • Katotta = ilman kattoa = without a roof
  • Se tapahtui kenenkään huomaamatta = Se tapahtui ilman, että kukaan huomasi = It happened without anyone noticing
  • Selittämättä = ilman selitystä = without an explanation (participle from v. selittää → selittämä, noun derivation from v. selittää → selitys)

In some dialects, the abessive suffix is -ti.

  • Äänettä = ääneti = ilman ääniä = without sound(s)

Comitative (with possession)

In English, the comitative form would be translated with the “together” and “with” words. In Finnish, it is indicated by the -ine conjugation suffix, plus the possessive suffix.

The comitative form in Finnish only exists in plural, and requires at least one occurrence of a possessive suffix.

Word Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house taloineen with their houses
käpy a conifer cone käpyineen with their conifer cones
askel a step askeleineen with their steps
katto a roof kattoineen with their roofs
ihminen a human ihmisineen with their humans

In everyday speech, the comitative is usually replaced by the object conjugated in genitive and the “kanssa” adverb.

Examples:

  • Hän lähti käpyineen = He left and took his conifer cones with him (lit. he left with his conifer cones)
  • Hän lähti käpyjensä kanssa = He left with his conifer cones
  • Hän lähti käpyine päivineen = He left and took his conifer cones and everything else he had with him (lit. he left with his conifer cones and days)

Adverbial cases

Adverbial cases are conjugative forms that exist only for certain words. These are not usually taught as grammatical cases, but as separate adverbs.

Superessive (in some place)

The superessive form indicates existing in some particular place. It is indicated by the -alla/-ällä suffix, and only exists for some select words. It resembles the adessive.

Word Translation Example Translation Compare with adessive Translation
tämä this täällä here tällä on this/with this
tuo that tuolla over there (in the place being pointed at) tuolla on that/with that
se it/that siellä over there (in the place just mentioned) sillä on it/with it
muu other muualla elsewhere muulla on other/with other
kaikki everything kaikkialla everywhere kaikilla on/with everyone/everything
toinen another toisaalla in another place toisella on/with another thing/place

Examples:

  • Hän on muualla = He/she is elsewhere.
  • Satoiko siellä? = Did it rain over there?
  • Majakka on tuolla etäällä = The lighthouse is over there in the distance
  • Täällä paistaa aurinko = The sun is shining here (lit. Over here the sun is frying)

Delative (from some place)

Delative indicates movement out from somewhere, and exists only in singular, and only for some select words. It resembles the ablative.

Word Translation Example Translation Compare with ablative Translation
tämä this täältä from here tältä from this
tuo that tuolta from over there (from the place being pointed at) tuolta from that over there
se it/that sieltä from over there (from the place just mentioned) siltä from this that was just mentioned
muu other muualta from elsewhere muulta from some other
kaikki everything kaikkialta from everywhere kaikilta from everyone/every (thing)
toinen another toisaalta from another place toiselta from another

Examples:

  • Ostin sen sieltä kaupasta = I bought it from that store (lit. from the location of the store that was mentioned earlier)
  • Toisaalta pieni määrä viiniä on terveellistä = On the other hand (lit. From another (viewpoint)), a small amount of wine is healthy

Sublative (towards some place)

Sublative indicates movement towards somewhere, and exists only in singular, and only for some select words. It resembles the allative.

Word Translation Example Translation Compare with allative Translation
tämä this tänne (towards) here tälle onto this
tuo that tuonne (towards) there (the place being pointed at) tuolle onto that
se it/that sinne (towards) there (the place just mentioned) sille onto that
muu other muualle (towards) elsewhere muulle onto other
kaikki everything kaikkialle (towards) everywhere kaikille onto everything/everyone
toinen another toisaalle (towards) another place toiselle onto another

Examples:

  • Tule tänne = Come here
  • Mene muualle = Go elsewhere
  • En ylety kaikkialle = I can’t reach everywhere

Lative (towards a direction)

The lative indicates small movement towards the general direction of some place, and only exists for some select words.

Word Translation Example Translation
ala- bottom- alas down
ylä- top- ylös up
etu- front- edes (or edespäin, archaic; usually eteenpäin) forwards
alempi one that is more at the bottom alemmas more towards the bottom
ylempi one that is more at the top ylemmäs more towards the top
rannempi one that is more at the coast rannemmas more towards the coast

The translative form is also often used for this purpose, with the exact same meaning. Examples: alemmaksi, ylemmäksi, rannemmaksi

Temporal (at a time)

The temporal indicates a time of occurrence, and only exists for some select words. It is indicated by the -lloin/-llöin suffix.

Word Translation Example Translation
mikä what/that milloin when (interrogative)
joka which/that jolloin when (conjunctive)
tämä this tällöin this is when
se it/that silloin that is when
muu other muulloin at other times
ilta evening illoin at evenings

Examples:

  • Milloin aiot lähteä? = When do you plan to leave?
  • Hän juo aamuin illoin = He/she drinks all day long (lit. on mornings and on evenings)

Causative (in manner of)

The causative describes the manner of something happening, and only exists for some select words.

Word Translation Example Translation
mikä what/that miten how
joka which/that joten therefore
joku something jotenkuten somehow
kuka who/which kuten as/like
vähin littlemost (amount) vähiten by the most little amount
kauan for a long time kauiten by the longest time
vanhin oldest vanhimmiten by the time of the old age
paras best parhaiten in the best manner
usea many useiten usually (lit. in most occurrences)

Multiplicative (by the manner/number of)

The multiplicative is used with numerals to indicate the number of occurrences, and only exists for some select words, and with adjectives to manner behavior, and with expletives to emphasize them.

Word Translation Example Translation
viisi five viidesti five times
moni many monesti often
kaunis beautiful kauniisti beautifully
äänekäs loud äänekkäästi loudly
pakko mandatory pakosti mandatorily
vittu a cunt vitusti like a fucking lot

Examples:

  • Hän lauloi kauniisti = He/she sang beautifully
  • Siellä oli ihan vitusti katsojia = There were fucktons of people watching it

† Vulgar. You would only use this word in aggressive uncivilized language.

Prolative (through)

The prolative indicates a route or a path through which something happens, and is indicated by the -tse suffix in both singular and plural forms.

Word Translation Example Translation
maa land maitse through lands
meri sea meritse through seas
vesi water vesitse through water(ways)
sähköposti e-mail sähköpostitse through e-mail
ohitse past (bypass)
ylä- top- ylitse over (bypass)
ala- bottom- alitse under (bypass)
läpi a hole lävitse through

In modern Finnish, läpi has changed to mean “through”, and another word, “reikä”, is used for a hole. The nominal word “läpi” still exists in some compound words like “leipäläpi”, which is an dysphemism for “mouth” (lit. the hole through which bread is shoved).

Example:

  • Lähetätkö sen postitse? = Could you please mail it? (Lit. Will you send it via mail?)

Distributive (in units/terms of)

Word Translation Example Translation
paikka a place paikoittain in some places
suomalainen Finnish (adj.) suomalaisittain in Finnish terms
yksi one yksittäin one by one / in single occurrences
ryhmä group ryhmittäin group by group / in groups

Examples:

  • Sadekuuroja saattaa esiintyä paikoittain = There is possibility of localized showers (lit. showers may occur in some places)
  • Lapset käyvät uimahallissa ryhmittäin = The children will go to the swimming hall in groups (lit. the children will visit in the swimming hall in groups)
  • Toimituskulut on listattu maittain = Delivery costs are listed by countries
  • Myynti vaihtelee kausittain = Sales varies by seasons

Temporal distributive (occurring every)

The temporal distribute indicates origin or a recurring time of occurrence, only exists for some select words, and is indicated by the -isin suffix in plural form.

Word Translation Example Translation
arki ordinary day/time, or working day arkisin on ordinary days (i.e. on other than weekends / holidays)
pyhä holy (day) (Sundays etc.) pyhisin on holidays
maanantai Monday maanantaisin on Mondays
kesä summer kesäisin on summertimes
synty(mä) birth syntyisin born at (from)
jalka foot jalkaisin by foot
perä the rearside peräisin originating from
aika time aikaisin early

Examples:

  • Hän on syntyisin Kaustisilta = His roots are in Kaustinen (He was born in Kaustinen)
  • Sanonta on peräisin ruotsista = The phrase originates from Swedish language
  • Kauppa on auki maanantaisin kahdeksasta neljään = The store is open from 8 to 4 on Mondays

Situative (promixal by)

The situative indicates the promiximity of two objects, and is indicated by the -kkain/-kkäin suffixes in singular forms only.

Word Translation Example Translation
selkä back (anatomy) seläkkäin back to back
lähi- closeby lähekkäin close to each others
vieri- neighboring vierekkäin right next to each others
sisä- inner sisäkkäin nested
vasta- opposing vastakkain opposite to each others

Examples:

  • Istuimme vierekkäin = We sat side by side

Oppositive (opposite by)

Like the situative, the oppositive indicates the promiximity of two objects, opposite to each others. It is indicated by the -tusten/-tysten suffixes in singular forms only.

Word Translation Example Translation
kasvo face / countenance kasvotusten face to face
selkä back (anatomy) selätysten back to back
vasta- opposing vastatusten opposite to each others

Comparison forms

Adjectives can be conjugated in two additional forms not available for other nouns: Comparative and superlative.

Comparative (more)

The comparative is equivalent to the English prefix “more”. It is indicated by the -mpi suffix.

Word Translation Example Translation
vihreä green vihreämpi more green / greener
savuinen smoky savuisempi more smoky / smokier
vaikea difficult vaikeampi more difficult

Examples:

  • Halusin talosta vihreämmän = I wanted to house to become more green (lit. I wanted more green from the house)
  • Japani ei ole vaikeampi kieli kuin suomi = Japanese is not more difficult a language than Finnish is

Superlative (most)

The superlative is equivalent to the English prefix “most”. It is indicated by the -in suffix.

Word Translation Example Translation
vihreä green vihrein most green / greenest
savuinen smoky savuisin most smoky / smokiest
vaikea difficult vaikein most difficult

Examples:

  • Ehkä baski on vaikein kieli = Maybe Basque is the most difficult language

Noun suffixes

In additional to the grammatical case, there may be a number of different suffixes to the word. The suffix is added to the conjugated word.

Possessive suffixes

Finnish personal pronouns and possessive suffixes are gender-neutral.

Singular first person: -ni

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house taloni my house taloni my houses
katto a roof katollani on my roof katoillani on my roofs

Singular second person: -si

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talosi your house talosi your houses
katto a roof katollasi on your roof katoillasi on your roofs

Singular third person: -nsa

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talonsa their house talonsa their houses
katto a roof katollaan on their roof katoillansa on their roofs

Plural first person: -mme

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talomme our house talomme our houses
katto a roof katollamme on our roof katoillamme on our roofs

In modern informal speech, the plural first person suffix is often dropped.

Plural second person: -nne

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talonne your house talonne your houses
katto a roof katollanne on your roof katoillanne on your roofs

Plural third person: -nsa

Word Translation Example (singular) Translation Example (plural) Translation
talo a house talonsa their house talonsa their houses
katto a roof katollaan on their roof katoillansa on their roofs

Verb conjugation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_verb_conjugation#Tables_of_conjugation

General use suffixes

These suffixes can be attached to most words, except particles. Many of these can be combined.

Emphasizive suffixes

Additionality/exclusivity: -kin/-kaan/-kään

The -kin suffix emphasizes that the concept is additional to the topic. In negative contexts, the suffix becomes -kaan or -kään.

When attached to verbs, it may indicate that both exposition, and that the subject is contrary to the expectations of the speaker.

Word Translation Example (positive) Translation Example (negative) Translation
talo a house talokin the house, too talokaan the house, either
selkä a back (anatomy) selkäkin the back, too selkäkään the back, either
ihminen a human ihminenkin the human, too ihminenkään the human, either

Examples:

  • Selkänikin (selkä+ni+kin) prakaa = Even my back is causing problems
  • Ei sitä siedä ihminenkään = Not even a man can tolerate that
  • Hän osti talonkin = He/she bought a house, too
  • Hän onkin kotona = Surprisingly/indeed, he/she is at home
  • Hän ei olekaan kotona = Surprisingly/indeed, he/she is not at home

Sometimes the -kin suffix is replaced with the “jopa” preposition (which itself is the “jo” adverb + “-pa” suffix).

  • Hän osti jopa talon = He bought even a house

Similarly, the -kaan/-kään suffix may be replaced with the “edes” preposition.

  • Ei sitä siedä edes ihminen = Not even a man can tolerate that

Suspicion: -ko/-kö

Attaching the -ko/-kö suffix into a verb is the standard way to create a question, but it may also be attached into a noun, pronoun or adjective. The -ko/-kö suffix emphasizes the word as the subject of a question. The -ko/-kö suffix is attached to only one word in the sentence, and its presence makes any interrogative word redundant.

Word Translation Example Translation
talo a house taloko the house?
minä I (pronoun) minäkö me?
on is (indicative) onko is? (interrogative)

Examples:

  • Onko talo myynnissä? = Is the house for sale?
  • Taloko on myynnissä? = Is the house for sale? (i.e. Is the house the thing that is for sale?)
  • Tarkoitatko taloa? = Do you mean the house?
  • Taloako tarkoitat? = Do you mean the house?
  • Eikö taloa saa myydä? = Is selling the house prohibited? (lit. Is it not allowed to sell the house?)
  • Taloako ei saa myydä? = Is selling the house prohibited? (lit. Is it not allowed to sell the house?)
  • Vedelläkö aiot pestä auton? = Are you going to use water to wash the car?
  • Talonkinko aiot myydä? = Are you going to sell even the house? (Note the -kin suffix)
  • Aiotko myydä talonkin? = Are you going to sell even the house?
  • Minäkö muka olen varas? = Are you seriously claiming I am a thief? (lit. Am I fucking allegedly a thief?, but non-vulgar)

Exposition: -han/-hän

The -han/-hän suffix is used to indicate that something is expected. It is used for exposition. The English expression “you know” approximates this suffix quite well. It can also be used in questions.

Word Translation Example Translation
talo a house talohan the house, you see
on is onhan is ..., you know

Examples:

  • Talossa on juokseva vesi = There is running water in the house
  • Talossahan on juokseva vesi = There is running water in the house, you know
  • Vesihän on kylmää = The water is cold you know

In informal speech, a -han/-hän suffix can sometimes elide a -ko/-kö suffix in questions.

  • Onhan maito mukana? = Do we have the milk? (i.e. I believe it is, but is the milk with us? Just making sure.)

Both may also occur in the same word.

  • Onkohan koira syötetty jo? = I wonder, has the dog been fed already?
  • Vedelläköhän aiot pestä auton? = I wonder if you are going to use water to wash the car.

Affirmation: -pa/-pä

The -pa/-pä suffix is used to indicate that something is against expectations of someone.

Examples:

  • Vesipä on kylmää = The water is surprisingly cold
  • Onpa vesi kylmää = The water is surprisingly cold
  • Hänpä voitti kilpailun = He/she went and won the competition!

Even though it may sound contradictory, -pa and -han may occur in the same word. In such case, they emphasize each others. It indicates some sense of satisfaction over the events.

  • Onpahan tehty = (It) is done (after considerable effort)
  • Eipähän enää kiusaa = (‥) won’t be bothering (‥) anymore

Last edited at: 2016-08-24T23:39:38+03:00