emperor: (Phoenix)
emperor ([personal profile] emperor) wrote2016-10-02 08:54 pm
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Finnish grammar notes

I'm (slowly, ineptly) trying to learn Finnish. My book is quite good at introducing grammar gradually, but this has left me wanting to have a single point of reference. Hence this post; which is probably both partial and full of mistakes. But it's a start!


  • Interrogative: append -ko e.g. Puhutko suomea? [do you speak Finnish?]
  • Conditional: insert -isi- between stem and ending e.g. Voisitko? [could you?]
  • Imperative: append -kaa/kää e.g. Kävelkää... [Walk...]

There are four groups of verbs for the present tense:

  • Group one - infinitive ending -a/-ä
    • lähteä to leave
    • lähden I leave
    • lähdet you (s.) leave
    • lähtee he/she/it leaves
    • lähdemme we leave
    • lähdette you (pl.) leave
    • lähtevät they leave

  • Group two - infinitive ending -da/-dä. No lengthening of vowel in 3p singular (stem already long); no consonant changes (stem ends in long vowel)
    • voida to be able to/can
    • voin
    • voit
    • voi
    • voimme
    • voitte
    • voivat

  • Group three - infinitive ending in consonant and -a/-ä; link vowel e is added before personal endings
    • olla to be
    • olen
    • olet
    • on [irregular, ending is usually -e e.g. mennä -> menee]
    • olemme
    • olette
    • ovat [irregular]

  • Group four - infinitive ending in -ta/-tä preceeded by any vowel other than i. link vowel a/ä added before personal forms; some verbs have consonant change before personal forms
    • tavata to meet
    • tapaan
    • tapaat
    • tapaa
    • tapaamme
    • tapaatte
    • tapaavat

There is no future tense - instead use present tense and an expression of time e.g. Menen Suomeen ensi kesänä [I am going to Finland next summer]


There are many cases:

  • inessive (in, at) -ssa/-ssä e.g. toimistossa [in an office]
  • adessive (on, in a place; by a means of transport) -lla/-llä e.g. Olin Kauppatorilla [I was in Market Square], polkupyörällä [by bicycle]
  • elative (from, out of) -sta/-stä e.g. yliopistosta [from a university]
  • allative (to a place) -lle e.g. Aleksanterinkadulle
  • illative (to or into a place)
    • lengthen final vowel and add n for words ending in a vowel e.g. Oulu -> Ouluun; vowel changes occur e.g. Suomi -> Suomeen ; consonant changes do not
    • add h[final vowel]n for short words ending in 2 vowels e.g. työ -> työhön [towards work] Joensuu -> JoenSuuhun
    • -seen for longer words ending in 2 vowels or -e e.g. lentokone -> lentokoneeseen

  • essive (on a day of the week) -na/-nä e.g.
  • plural -t e.g. numerot [the numbers]
  • genitive (as English; also with many postpositions; sometimes as the accusative) -n e.g. hotellin takana [behind the hotel], Otan taksin [I'll take a taxi]
  • partitive (many uses, e.g. counts/quantities, along or opposite a place, languages, durations). Formed in 3 ways:
    • -a/-ä for words ending in a single vowel e.g. yksi kilometri -> puoli kilometriä [1km ; 1/2 km]
    • -ta/-tä for words ending in two vowels or a consonent tie -> tietä
    • -tta/-ttä for words ending -e e.g. lentokone -> lentokonetta

    consonent changes don't occur, but vowel changes do with the partitive

"in..." places is usually the inessive (e.g. Joensuussa, New Yorkissa), but some towns take the adessive (e.g. Tampereella, Vantaalla, Imatralla, Rovaniemellä)

Those places also typically take the allative rather than the illative to express "to..." that place (e.g. Tampereelle, Vantaalle, Rovaniemelle).

Consonant changes often occur (usually when a consonant is added to the end of a word:

t -> d katu -> kadulla (street, on the street)
k -> [] Turku -> Turussa (in Turku)
p -> v kylpy -> kylvyssä (bath, in a bath)
tt -> t konsertti -> konsertissa (concert, in a concert)
kk -> k pankki -> pankissa (bank, in a bank)
pp -> p kauppa -> kaupassa (shop, in a shop)
nk -> ng kaupunki -> kaupungissa (town, in a town)
nt -> nn Skotlanti -> Skotlannissa (in Scotland)
ext_30543: (default)

[identity profile] bluesbell.livejournal.com 2016-10-02 09:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Vau! Oletpa ahkera :)
ext_8103: (penguin)

[identity profile] ewx.livejournal.com 2016-10-02 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
What book are you using, and would you recommend it?

[identity profile] crazyscot.livejournal.com 2016-10-03 12:11 am (UTC)(link)
I was in tampere.fi for a few days the other year. What really surprised me was the way the language sounds - not even sure I can describe it well. Very low tones, like Russian. So I am relieved to hear you have listening material!