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Finnish language grammar

This article details the grammar of the Finnish language. There are separate articles covering the sound patterns of Finnish, and the ways in which spoken Finnish differs from the formal grammar of the written language. It is probably best to read the introduction to Finnish and Finnish language phonetics articles to make best use of this article.

Table of contents
5.1 Tenses[?]
5.2 Voices
5.3 Moods
5.4 Infinitives
5.5 Verb Conjugation
5.6 Participle[?]
5.7 Negation
5.8 Interrogatives (questions)
5.9 Imperatives

Personal pronouns The personal pronouns in Finnish are:

minä = I
sinä = you (singular)
hän = she or he
se = it
me = we
te = you (plural/formal)
he = they (of people)
ne = they (of non-people)

Since Finnish verbs are inflected for person, personal pronouns are not required for sense and are usually omitted in written Finnish except where used for emphasis. In spoken Finnish, however, the pronouns are generally used.

In common with some other languages, the second person plural can be used as a polite form when addressing one person. This usage is diminishing in Finnish society.

Noun forms The Finnish language does not distinguish gender in nouns or even in personal pronouns: 'hän' = 'he' or 'she' depending on the referent. This causes some unaccustomed Finnish speakers to muddle "he" and "she" when speaking languages such as English or Swedish, which can be a source of confusion.


Finnish has fourteen (arguably fifteen or even sixteen) noun cases.
The basic form of the noun
Characteristic ending: none
Example 'talo' = 'a/the house', 'kirja' = 'book', 'mäki' = 'hill'

characteristic ending: -a or -ta
The basic meaning of this case is "partialness". It's used in the following circumstances:
  • After numbers: 'kolme taloa' = 'three houses'
  • For incomplete actions and ongoing processes: "luen kirjaa" = "I'm reading a book"
  • After certain verbs, particularly those indicating emotions: "rakastan tätä taloa" = "I love this house"
  • For tentative enquiries: "saanko lainata kirjaa?" = "can I borrow the book?"
  • In places where English would use "some" or "any": "onko teillä kirjoja?" = "do you have any books ?"
  • For negative statements: "talossa ei ole kirjaa" = "there not a book in the house"

The formation of the partitive plural is rather variable, but the basic principle is to add '-i-' to the inflecting stem, followed by the '-(t)a' partitive ending. However, in a similar way to verb imperfects, the '-i-' can cause changes to the final vowel of the stem, leading to an apparent diversity of forms. ! MORE HERE.

Characteristic ending: -n added to stem possibly modified by consonant gradation: mäki -> mäen, talo -> talon
Basically indicating possession, but also the case of the direct object of a completed action. It is used preceding postpositions.
"kirjan kuvat" = "the pictures of(/in) the book"
"talon edessä" = "in front of the house"

Characteristic ending -ssa added to genitive stem
The first of the six so-called "local" cases which as their basic meaning correspond to locational prepositions in English. The inessive carries the basic meaning "in"
"talossa" = "in the house"

Characteristic ending -sta added to genitive stem
The second of the local cases with the basic meaning "out of"
"tuli talosta" = "(he) came out of the house"

The third of the local cases with the basic meaning "into"
"meni taloon" = "(he) went into the house"

Characteristic ending -lla added to genitive stem
The fourth of the local cases with the basic meaning "on": Example "mäellä" = "on the hill"
Adessive also commonly indicates possession: "minulla on kirja" = "I have a book" (literally "there is a book on me")

Characteristic ending -lta added to genitive stem
The sixth of the local cases with the basic meaning "from off of" - a poor English equivalent, but necessary to distinguish it from "from out of" which would be elative.
Example: "mäeltä" = "from (off) the hill"
Also: "Liisa sai kirjan minulta" = "Liisa got the book from me"

Characteristic ending -lle added to genitive stem
The fifth of the local cases with the basic meaning "onto". Example: "mäelle" = "onto the hill"
Another meaning is "to someone": "minä annan kirjan Liisalle" = "I give the book to Liisa"

Characteristic ending -na added to genitive stem but with strong consonant gradation
This case carries the meaning of a temporary state of being, often equivalent to the English "as a ..."
Example: 'lapsi' = 'child', 'lapsena' = 'as a child', "when (I) was a child"
The essive is also used for specifying days and dates when something happens.
Example: 'maanantaina' = 'on monday', 'kuudentena joulukuuta' = 'on the 6th of December' (Finnish independence day).
In ancient Finnish, essive had a meaning similar to the local cases, which can still be seen in some words: "kotona" = "at home", "ulkona" = "outside".

Characteristic ending -ksi added to genitive stem
This is the counterpart of the essive, with the basic meaning of a change of state. Examples: "maalaa se punaiseksi" = "paint it red"; "tunnen itseni väsyneeksi" = "I feel tired". It is also used for expressing "in (a language)". For example "mäki englanniksi on 'hill'". Also has a meaning similar to English "for a ...", for example "perjantaiksi" = "for Friday", "mitä sinä teet työksesi?" = "what do you do for a living?"

Characteristic ending -n
This has the basic meaning of "by means of". It is a comparatively rarely used case, though it is found in some commonly used expressions.
For example "omin silmin" = "with my own eyes", "käsin" = "by hand".
It is also used with verbal second infinitives to mean "by ...ing", for example "lentäen" = "by flying", "by air"

Characteristic ending -tta
This has the basic meaning of "without". This case is a rarely used by itself, especially in the spoken language, but is found in some expressions and proverbs ("joka kuritta kasvaa, se kunniatta kuolee" = "who grows up without discipline, dies without honor").
However, abessive is quite common in combination with the third infinitive (-ma-, -mä-). For example "syömättä" = "without eating", "tekemättä" = "without doing", "... lukuun ottamatta" = "without taking into account..."

Characteristic ending -ne (plus a possessive suffix for the noun but not any adjectives). This ending is added to the plural stem, even if the noun is singular.
This is a rarely used case, especially in the spoken language. The meaning is "in company with" or "together with"
Example: "talo kirjoineen" = "the house with its books", "hän saapui vaimoineen" = "he arrived together with his wife"

This is the case of the direct object and is sometimes used as a label when the genitive form is used in this role. The accusative role only has a separate form for personal pronouns[?]
minä -> minut
sinä -> sinut
hän -> hänet
me -> meidät
te -> teidät
he -> heidät
With nouns, accusative is morphologically similar to the genitive in singular forms ("ostin kirjan" = "I bought a book") and nominative in plural forms ("ostin kirjat" = "I bought the books").

This is only found in a few "fosilised" forms in modern Finnish (though it is alive and well in Estonian). Its meaning is "by way of" and the most used examples are 'postitse' = 'by post', 'puhelimitse' = 'by phone', and 'meritse' = 'by sea'.
Prolative is not considered to be a case in the official grammar.


There are three different 'plurals' in Finnish:
Nominative plural
This is the 'general' form of the plural
Following numbers
After numbers greater than one, the noun is put in the partitive singular. For example 'koira' = 'dog', 'kaksi koiraa' = 'two dogs'; 'huone' = 'room', 'kolme huonetta' = 'three rooms'
Inflected plural
this uses the stem of the partitive plural inflected with the same set of endings as for singular nouns. For example, 'huone' -> 'huoneita' = 'rooms' -> 'huoneissa' = 'in (some) rooms'

As a combined example of plurals 'lintu on puussa' = 'the bird is in the tree' -> 'linnut ovat puissa' = 'the birds are in the trees'

Inflection of pronouns

The personal pronouns are inflected in the same way as nouns, and can be found in most of the same cases as nouns (but see the 'accusative' above). For example:
'minä' (nominative) = 'I'
'minua' (partitive) - 'hän rakastaa minua' = 'she loves me'
'minun' (genitive) = 'my, mine' - 'tämä talo on minun' = 'this house is mine'
'minussa' (inessive) - 'minussa on nuhaa' = 'I've got a cold' (lit. 'in me is a cold') [This is incorrect - should be 'minulla on nuha'. Another example needed]
'minussa' (inessive) - 'tämä herättää minussa vihaa' = 'this provokes (lit. awakens) anger in me' [Suggestion for a correct example requested above]
'minulla' (adessive) - 'minulla on rahaa' = 'I've got some money' (lit. 'on me is some money')
'minulle' (allative) - 'anna minulle rahaa' = 'give me some money'
'minusta' (elative) - 'hän puhui minusta' = 'he was talking about me'. Also used idiomatically to mean 'in my opinion'.
'minulta' (ablative) - 'hän otti minulta rahaa' = 'he took some money off me'.
'sinuna' (essive) = 'If I were you' (lit. 'as you')

Noun/adjective stem types

Vowel stems


Consonant stems


-nen nouns

This is a very large class of words which includes common nouns (for example 'nainen' = 'woman'), many names, and many common adjectives. Adding -nen to a noun is a very productive mechanism for making adjectives ('muovi' = 'plastic' -> 'muovinen' = 'made of plastic'). It can also function as a diminutive ending.

The stem for these words removes the '-nen' and adds '-s(e)' after which the inflectional ending is added:

'muovisessa pussissa' = 'in the plastic bag'
'kaksi muovista lelua' = 'two plastic toys'
'muoviseen laatikkoon' = 'into the plastic box'

Here are a few of the rare diminutive forms that are still in use:

'kätönen' (from käsi) = 'a small hand' (affectionate)
'lintunen' (from lintu) = 'birdie', 'a small bird'
'veikkonen' (from veikka) = 'my friend' (used in some sayings, like the english form)

The diminutive form mostly lives in surnames which are usually very old words to which most finns have forgotten the meaning. Some of the most common:

'Rautiainen' (from rautio) = 'something of a blacksmith' (of a blacksmith's family)
'Korhonen' (from korho) = 'slightly deaf' (of a slightly deaf man's family)
'Leinonen' = [Does anyone know?]
'Virtanen', 'Jokinen', 'Järvinen', 'Nieminen'... = 'the family from by the stream (virta), river (joki), lake (järvi), peninsula (niemi)'
'Mikkonen' = [Is there a special meaning to Mikko apart from the first name?]
'Karppinen' = [Karppi is a type of fish. Again, why?]
'Martikainen' = [What is a martikka?]

At least in one place the name has also been left into a place. There is a peninsula called "Neuvosenniemi" in one lake. "Neuvonen" means "a bit of advice/direction" and the peninsula was where people rowing tar barrels across the lae would stop and ask if wheather etc should make it safe to continue across the other side.

-e nouns

These nouns look as though they should behave like vowel stem nouns, but in fact behave like consonant stem nouns due to the historical loss of a final consonant. There are some common nouns in this class, for example 'huone' = 'room', 'kirje' = 'letter'

The result is that the partitive singular adds a 't' followed by the partitive ending appropriate to a consonant stem 'ta'. Other case forms add an 'e' followed by the case ending:

'kaksi huonetta' = 'two rooms'
'huoneessa' = 'in the room'
'huoneeseen' = 'into the room'

Adjectives ! MORE HERE

Comparative formation


Superlative formation


Irregular forms


Postpositions and prepositions ! MORE HERE

Verb forms Finnish verbs are usually divided into six groups depending on the stem type. All six types have the same set of endings, but the stems undergo (slightly) different changes when inflected.

There are very few irregular verbs in Finnish. In fact, only 'olla' = 'to be' has irregular endings (and then only in the present tense for the 3rd-person forms). A handful of verbs, including 'nähdä' = 'to see', 'tehdä' = 'to do/make', and 'juosta' = 'to run' have mildly irregular stems.

As a final oddity, Finnish does not have a verb corresponding to 'to have' - possession is indicated in other ways. For animate possessors, the adessive case is used with 'olla', for example 'koiralla on häntä' = 'the dog has a tail' - literally 'on the dog is a tail'.


Finnish verbs have present, imperfect, perfect and pluperfect tenses.

Present: corresponds to English present and future tenses. For the latter, a time qualifier may need to be used to avoid ambiguity.

Imperfect: corresponds to English past continuous and past simple, indicating a past action which is complete but might have been a point event, a temporally extended event, or a repeated event.
Perfect: corresponds to the English present perfect ("I have eaten") in most of its usages, but can carry more sense than in English of a past action with present effects.
Pluperfect: corresponds to the English past perfect ("I had visited") in its usage.


Finnish has two possible verb voices: active and passive. The active voice corresponds with that of English, but the passive voice has some important differences.

Passive voice

In fact, the Finnish passive would be better described as an "impersonal" form since there is no way of connecting the action performed with a particular agent and hence there is only one form of the passive. This should become clear through an example:

"talo maalataan" = "the house is being painted"

The time when the house is being painted could be added: "talo maalataan marraskuussa" = "the house will be painted in November"

The colour and method could be added: "talo maalataan punaiseksi harjalla" = the house is being painted red with a brush"

But, nothing more can be said about the person doing the painting ! There is no mechanism for saying "the house is being painted by Jim"

Hence the form "maalataan" is the only one which is needed. Notice also that the subject of the verb (i.e. the object of the action) is in the nominative case. Verbs which govern the partitive case continue to do so in the passive, and where the subject is a personal pronoun, that goes into its special accusative form: "minut unohdettiin" = "I was forgotten"

Because of its vagueness about who is performing the action, the passive can also translate the English "one does {something}", "{something} is generally done": "sanotaan että..." = "they say that..."

In modern spoken Finnish, the passive form of the verb is used after "me" to mean "we do {something}" ("me tullaan" = "we are coming") and on its own at the beginning of a sentence to mean "let's ..." ("mennään!" = "let's go!"). In the first of these cases, the "me" cannot be omitted without risk to comprehension, unlike with the 'standard' form "tulemme".

Formation of the passive will be dealt with under the verb types below.



The indicative is the form of the verb used for making statements or asking simple questions. In the verb morphology sections, the mood referred to will be the indicative unless otherwise stated.


The conditional mood expresses the idea that the action or state expressed by the verb may or may not actually happen. As in English, the Finnish conditional is used in conditional sentences (e.g. "I would tell you if I knew") and in polite requests (e.g. "I would like some coffee").

In the former case, and unlike in English, the conditional must be used in both halves of the Finnish sentence:

"ymmärtäisin jos puhuisit hitaammin" = *"I would understand if you would speak more slowly"

The characteristic morphology of the Finnish conditional is 'isi' inserted between the verb stem and the personal ending. This can result in a 'closed' syllable becoming 'open' and so trigger consonant gradation:

'tiedän' = 'I know', 'tietäisin' = 'I would know'

cf. 'haluan' = 'I want', 'haluaisin' = 'I would like'

Conditional forms exists for both active and passive voices, and for present, perfect and pluperfect tenses.


The imperative mood is used to express commands.


The potential mood is used to express that the action or state expressed by the verb is likely but not certain, and is rare in modern Finnish, especially in speech. The potential has no counterpart in English.

The characteristic morphology of the Finnish conditional is 'ne' inserted between the verb stem and the personal ending.

Potential forms exists for both active and passive voices, and for present, perfect and pluperfect tenses.


Finnish verbs are described as having four, sometimes five infinitives:

First infinitive

This corresponds to the English 'to' form, for example:
'sanoa' = 'to say'
'tietää' = 'to know'

All first infinitives end in 'a'/'ä'.

Second infinitive

This corresponds to the English verbal noun (-ing form), and behaves as a noun in Finnish in that it can be inflected, but only in a limited number of cases. It is quite rare, especially in the spoken language, except in certain set phrases (for example 'toisin sanoen' = 'in other words').

The second infinitive is formed by replacing the final 'a'/'ä' of the first infinitive with 'e' then adding the appropriate inflectional ending. If the vowel before the 'a'/'ä' is already an 'e', this becomes 'i' (see example from 'lukea' = 'to read').

The cases in which the second infinitive can appear are:

'lukiessa' = 'while reading'
'lentäen' = 'by flying'

Third infinitive

This corresponds to the English verbal noun (-ing form), and behaves as a noun in Finnish in that it can be inflected, but only in a limited number of cases. It is used to refer to a particular act or occasion of the verb's action.

The third infinitive is formed by taking the verb stem with its consonant in the strong form, then adding 'ma' followed by the case inflection.

The cases in which the third infinitive can appear are:

'lukemassa' = '(in the act of) reading'
'hän on lukemassa kirjastossa' = 's/he's reading in the library'
'lukemasta' = '(from just having been) reading'
'lukemaan' = '(about to be / with the intention of) reading'
'lukemalla' = '(by) reading'
'lukematta' = '(without) reading'

Note that the '-ma' form without a case ending is called the 'agent participle' (see 'participles' below). The agent participle can also be inflected in all cases, producing forms which look similar to the third infinitive.

Fourth infinitive

This corresponds to the English verbal noun (-ing form), and behaves as a noun in Finnish in that it can be inflected. It is used to refer to the action of the verb in general.

The third infinitive is formed by taking the verb stem with its consonant in the strong form, then adding 'minen'. It then inflects like all other nouns ending with '-nen'.

'lukeminen on hauskaa' = 'reading is pleasant'
'vihaan lukemista' = 'I hate reading'
'nautin lukemisesta' = 'I enjoy reading'

Fifth infinitive

This is a fairly rare form which has the meaning 'on the point of ...ing / just about to ...'

'olin lukemaisillani' = 'I was just about to read'

Verb Conjugation

Type I verbs

These are verbs whose infinitive forms end in vowel + 'a' (or 'ä' for front-vowel containing stems) , for example 'puhua' = 'to speak', 'tietää' = 'to know'. This group contains a very large number of verbs. Here is how 'tietää' conjugates in the present indicative:

minä tiedän = I know
sinä tiedät = you (singular) know
hän/se tietää = (s)he/it knows
me tiedämme = we know
te tiedätte = you (plural/formal) know
he tietävät = they know
The personal endings are thus -n, -t, -(doubled vowel), -mme, -tte, -vat. The inflecting stem is formed by dropping the final '-a', and has a strong consonant in the third-person forms and weak otherwise. Note that for third person plural, this is an exception to the general rule for strong consonants.

Imperfect indicative
In the simple case (which applies to most type I verbs), the imperfect indicative is formed by inserting the charateristic 'i' between the stem and the personal endings, which are the same as in the present tense except that the vowel does not double in the 3rd person singular:
'puhun' = 'I speak', 'puhuin' = 'I spoke'
'puhut' = 'you speak', 'puhuit' = 'you spoke'
'puhuu' = '(he) speaks', 'puhui' = '(he) spoke'
'puhumme' = 'we speak', 'puhuimme' = 'we spoke' and so on.

However, the insertion of the 'i' often has an effect on the stem. Of type I verbs, one notable exception is 'tietää':

'tiedän' = 'I know', 'tiesin' = 'I knew'

'ymmärtää' = 'to understand' also follows this pattern. Changes of stem for other verb types will be discussed in the relevant sections below.

Present passive
The present passive is formed by adding '-taan' to the inflecting stem of the verb with the consonant in its weak form:
puhua -> puhu- -> puhutaan
If the vowel at the end of the stem is 'a' or 'ä' it is changed to 'e' before the '-taan' ending:
tietää -> tiedä- -> tiede -> tiedetään

Imperfect passive
This is formed in the same way as the present passive, except that the ending is '-ttiin', hence 'puhuttiin' = 'it was spoken', 'tiedettiin' = 'it was known'.
Note the presence of the same 'i' marker in the imperfect passive as in the imperfect indicative. Note also the presence of the extra 't'.

Conditional passive
This is formed in the same way as the present passive, except that the ending is '-ttaisiin', hence 'puhuttaisiin' = 'it would be spoken', 'tiedettaisiin' = 'it would be known'.
Note the presence of the 'isi' conditional marker.

Potential passive
This is formed in the same way as the present passive, except that the ending is '-ttaneen', hence 'puhuttaneen' = 'it may be spoken', 'tiedettaneen' = 'it may be known'.
Note the presence of the 'ne' potential marker.

Type II verbs

These are verbs whose infinitive forms end in two consonants + 'a', for example 'mennä' = 'to go'. This is another large group of verbs.

Present indicative
The stem is formed by removing the 'a' and its preceding consonant. Then add 'e' followed by the personal endings: menen, menet, menee, menemme, menette, menevät.

Imperfect indicative
The 'i' of the imperfect is added directly to the stem formed as for the present tense, then the personal endings are added: 'pestä' = 'to clean', 'pesen' = 'I clean', 'pesin' = 'I cleaned' etc.

Present passive
In this group, the passive has the same '-aan' ending as for group I verbs, but no 't'; the easiest way to form the passive is to extend the vowel on the end of the first infinitive and then add 'n':

mennä -> mennään

All other forms of the passive are related to the present passive in the same way as for type I verbs, including the 'extra t', except that since there was no 't' to start with, the passive forms only have one ! Also the double consonant before the ending becomes single.

mennä -> mennään -> mentiin, mentäisiin
olla -> ollaan -> oltiin (see below), oltaisiin

'Olla' = 'to be'
Strictly, 'olla' belongs to this group. 'To be' is irregular in most languages, and Finnish is no exception, but the irregularities are confined to the 3rd-person forms of the present tense - everything else is regular:
'olen' = 'I am'
'olet' = 'you are'
'on' = 'he/she/it is' (irregular)
'olemme' = 'we are'
'olette' = 'you are'
'ovat' = 'they are' (irregular)

Type III verbs

Verbs whose infinitives end in vowel + 'da', for example 'juoda' = 'to drink', 'syödä' = 'to eat'. This is a fairly large group of verbs, partly because one way in which foreign borrowings are incorporated into the Finnish verb paradigms is to add 'oida', for example, 'organisoida' = 'to organise'.

Another important verb of this type is 'voida' = 'to be able/allowed to'.

The stem is formed by removing 'da' with no vowel doubling in the third person singular: juon, juot, juo, juomme, juotte, juovat.

Imperfect indicative
For these verbs whose stems end in two vowels, the first of the vowels is lost when the 'i' is added in the imperfect: 'juon = 'I drink', 'join' = 'I drank' etc.

There is an exception to this rule if the stem already ends in an 'i' - for example 'voida' or the '-oida' verbs mentioned earlier. In this case the stem does not change between present and imperfect indicative, so the imperfect forms are the same as the present forms, and the distinction between them must be made from context.

Passives in this group are formed in the same way as for group II verbs:
syödä -> syödään, syötiin, syötaisiin
juoda -> juodaan, juotiin, juotaisiin

Type IV verbs

This, and the following two groups, have infinitives ending in vowel + 'ta'. Most commonly, type IV verbs end with 'ata', 'ota', 'uta', but the other two vowels are possible. Examples are 'tavata' = 'to meet', 'haluta' = 'to want', 'tarjota' = 'to offer'.

The inflecting stem is formed by dropping the 'a' changing the final consonant into its strong form:

haluta -> halut-
tavata -> tapat-
tarjota -> tarjot-

In the present indicative, the final 't' mutates into an 'a' ! After this, the personal ending is added (or the vowel doubled in the 3rd person singular) as usual:

haluan, haluat, haluaa, haluamme, haluatte, haluavat
tapaan, tapaat, tapaa etc.
tarjoan, tarjoat, tarjoaa etc.

Imperfect indicative
The same stem is used as for the present except that the final 't' becomes 's' rather than 'a'. This is followed by the imperfect 'i' marker and the personal endings: 'halusin' = 'I wanted', 'tapasimme' = 'we met' etc.

Passives in this group are formed in the same way as for type II verbs, except that since the present passives will all have a 't' (from the first infinitive) the 'extra t' appears in the other forms as for type I verbs:
haluta -> halutaan, haluttiin, haluttaisiin
tavata -> tavataan, tavattiin, tavattaisiin

Type V verbs

All the verbs in this groups have infinitives ending in 'ita'. There are not that many of them, the most 'important' being 'tarvita' = 'to need'

The stem is formed by dropping the final 'a' and adding 'se': tarvitsen, tarvitset, tarvitsee, tarvitsemme, tarvitsette, tarvitsevat.

Imperfect indicative

Passives of this type are formed in the same way as for type IV verbs.

Type VI verbs

Almost all the verbs of this type have infinitives ending in 'eta'. There are not many verbs which fall into this category of their 'own right', and these don't tend to be be commonly used. However, it is a reasonably common route for turning adjectives into verbs (for example 'kylmä' = 'cold', 'kylmetä' = 'to get cold')

The stem for this type is formed by removing the 'ta' then adding 'ne' with the additional change that the final consonant of the stem is in its strong form:

'rohjeta' = 'to dare'
'rohkenen' = 'I dare'
'rohkenet' = 'you dare'
'rohkenee' = 'he/she/it dares' etc.
'paeta' = 'to escape', 'pakenen' = 'I escape'
'kylmetä' = 'to get cold', 'kylmenen' = 'I get cold'

Imperfect indicative

Passives of this type are formed in the same way as for type IV verbs.

Irregular stems

Finnish has mercifully few irregular verbs, and apart from 'olla' discussed above, the personal endings are always regular. The three common verbs with irregular stems are 'tehdä' = 'to do, make', 'nähdä' = 'to see', and 'jousta' = 'to run'. Their present indicatives go as follows:
teen, teet, tekee, teemme, teette, tekevät
näen, näet, näkee, näemme, näette, näkevät
juoksen, juokset, juoksee, juoksemme, juoksette, juoksevat


Finnish verbs have present and past participles, both with active and passive forms, and an 'agent' participle.

Present participle, active


Present participle, passive


Past participle, active

Basically this is formed by removing the infinitive ending and adding '-nut/nyt' (depending on vowel harmony). For example 'puhua' -> 'puhunut', 'syödä' -> 'syönyt'

However, depending on the verb's stem type, assimilation can occur with the 'n' of the ending.

In type II verbs, the 'n' is assimilated to the consonant at the end of the stem:

'mennä' -> ('men-') -> 'mennyt'
'harjoitella' -> ('harjoitel-') -> 'harjoitellut'

In verbs of types IV-VI, the 't' at the end of the stem is assimilated to the 'n':

'haluta' -> ('halut-') -> 'halunnut'
'tarvita' -> ('tarvit-') -> 'tarvinnut'
'rohjeta' -> ('rohjet-') -> 'rohjennut'

Past particple, passive


Agent participle

The agent participle is formed in a similar way as the third infinitive (see above), adding -ma or -mä to the verb stem. It indicates something done by someone and can be inflected in all cases. The party performing the action is indicated by the use of genitive. For example:
'tytön lukema kirja' = the book read by the girl
'tytön lukemaa kirjaa' = (partitive) the book read by the girl
'tytön lukemassa kirjassa' = in the book read by the girl


Present indicative

Verbs are negated by using a 'negative verb' in front of the stem from the present tense (in its 'weak' consonant form):
'tiedän' = 'I know' -> 'en tiedä' = 'I don't know'
'tiedät' = 'you know' -> 'et tiedä' = 'you don't know'
'hän tietää' = '(s)he knows' -> 'hän ei tiedä' = '(s)he doesn't know'
'tiedämme' = 'we know' -> 'emme tiedä' = 'we don't know'
'tiedätte' = 'you know' -> 'ette tiedä' = 'you don't know'
'tietävät' = 'they know' -> 'eivät tiedä' = 'they don't know'
Note that the inflection is on the negative verb, not on the main verb, and that the endings are regular apart from the 3rd person forms

Present passive

The negative is formed from the third-person singular "negative verb" - 'ei' - and the present passive with the final '-an' removed:
'ei puhuta' = 'it is not spoken'
'ei tiedetä' = 'it is not known'

Imperfect indicative

The negative is formed from the appropriate part of the negative verb followed by the nominative form (either singular or plural depending on the number of the verb's subject) of the active past participle. So for 'puhua' the pattern is:

'en puhunut' = 'I did not speak'
'et puhunut' = 'you (s) did not speak'
'(hän) ei puhunut' = '(s/he) did not speak'
'emme puhuneet' = 'we did not speak'
'ette puhuneet' = 'you (pl) did not speak'
'(he) eivat puhuneet' = 'they did not speak'

Note one exception: when the 'te' 2nd person plural form is used in an honorific way to address one person, the singular form of the participle is used: 'te ette puhunut' = 'you (s, polite) did not speak'

Imperfect passive

The negative is formed from the third-person singular negative verb - 'ei' - and the nominative singular form of the passive present participle (compare this with the negative of the imperfect indicative):
'ei puhuttu' = 'it was not spoken'
'ei tiedetty' = 'it was not known'

Note that in the spoken language, this form is used for the first person plural. In this case, the personal pronoun is obligatory: 'me ei menty' = 'we did not go'

Interrogatives (questions)

There are two main ways of forming a question - either using a specific question word, or by adding a '-ko/kö' suffix to one of the words in a sentence. A question word is placed first in the sentence, and a word with the interrogative suffix is also moved to this position:

'mikä tämä on?' = 'what is this?'

'tämä on kirja' = 'this is a book'

'onko tämä kirja?' = '_is_ this a book?'

'tämäkö on kirja?' = 'is _this_ a book?'

'kirjako tämä on?' = 'is this _a book_?'

'eikö tämä ole kirja?' = 'isn this _not_ a book?' (note the '-kö' goes on the negative verb)


Imperatives are the forms of the verb used for giving commands. In Finnish, there is only one tense form (the present-future). The possible variants of Finnish imperatives are:
  • 1st, 2nd or 3rd person
  • singular or plural (only plural for 1st person)
  • active or passive
  • positive or negative

Active, 2nd person imperatives

These are the most common forms of the imperative: "Do this", "Don't do that".

The singular imperative is simply the verb's present tense without any personal ending (that is, chop the '-n' off the first person singular form):

  • 'tule!' = 'come!'
  • 'syö!' = 'eat!'
  • 'huomaa!' = 'note!'

To make this negative, the word 'älä' is placed before the positive form:

  • 'älä sano!' = 'don't say!'
  • 'älä mene!' = 'don't go!'
  • 'älä valehtele!' = 'don't lie!' (from 'valehtella' = 'to lie', type II)

To form the plural, add '-kaa' or '-kää' to the verb's stem:

  • 'tulkaa!' = 'come!'
  • 'juokaa!' = 'drink!'
  • 'mitatkaa!' = 'measure!' (from 'mitata' = 'to measure', type IV)

To make this negative, the word 'älkää' is placed before the positive form and the suffix '-ko' or '-kö' is added to the verb stem:

  • 'älkää sanoko!' = 'don't say!'
  • 'älkää menkö!' = 'don't go!'
  • 'älkää tarjotko!' = 'don't offer!'

Note that plural imperatives can also be used as polite imperatives when referring to one person.

The Finnish language has no simple equivalent to the English "please". The Finnish equivalent is to use either 'ole hyvä' or 'olkaa hyvä' = 'be good', but it is generally omitted. Politeness is normally conveyed by tone of voice, facial expression, and use of conditional verbs and partitive nouns.

Passive, 2nd person imperatives

3rd person imperatives

  • 'olkoon' = 'let it (him, her) be'
  • 'älköön unohtako' = 'let him not forget', 'he better not forget'

1st person plural imperatives

  • 'menkäämme' = 'let us go'
  • 'älkäämme tehkö' = 'let us not do', 'we better not do'
The 1st person imperative sounds archaic, and present passive is often used instead: 'mennään!' = 'let's go!'

Adverbs ! MORE HERE

Comparative formation


Superlative formation


Irregular forms



Cardinal numbers

Numbers in Finnish are highly systematic. Here are 1 to 10:
'yksi' = 'one'
'kaksi' = 'two'
'kolme' = 'three'
'neljä' = 'four'
'viisi' = 'five'
'kuusi' = 'six'
'seitsemän' = 'seven'
'kahdeksan' = 'eight'
'yhdeksän' = 'nine'
'kymmenen' = 'ten'
To get 'teen's, 'toista' is added to the base number: yksitoista, kaksitoista ... yhdeksäntoista

Twenty is simply 'kaksikymmentä' = 'two tens' (with kymmenen appearing in the partitive after a number as is normal for nouns). Then the decades are kolmekymmentä, neljäkymmentä ... yhdeksänkymmentä.

100 is 'sata', 200 is 'kaksisataa' and so on.

1000 is 'tuhat', 2000 is 'kaksituhatta' and so on.

So, 3721 = 'kolme-tuhatta-seitsemän-sataa-kaksi-kymmentä-yksi' (actually written as one long word with no dashes in between).

Numbers can be inflected in cases; all parts of the number except 'toista' are inflected. For example:

'kahtena päivänä' = 'on/during two days'
'kahdessatoista maassa' = 'in twelve countries'
'kolmellekymmenelleviidelle hengelle' = 'for thirty-five persons'

Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers are formed by adding an '-s' ending (with some irregularities):
'ensimmäinen' = first
'toinen' = second
'kolmas' = third
'neljäs' = fourth
'viides' = fifth
'kuudes' = sixth
'seitsemäs' = seventh
'kahdeksas' = eighth
'yhdeksäs' = ninth
'kymmenes' = tenth

For teens, you change the first part of the word; however note how 'first' and 'second' lose their irregularity in 'eleven' and 'twelve':

'yhdestoista' = eleventh
'kahdestoista' = twelfth
'kolmastoista' = thirteenth

For twenty through ninety-nine, all parts of the number get the '-s' ending. Note that 'first' and 'second' take the irregular form only at the end of a word. (For 'second', the regular form is also possible.)

'kahdeskymmenes' = twentieth
'kahdeskymmenesensimmäinen' = twenty-first
'kahdeskymmenestoinen' = twenty-second (also 'kahdeskymmeneskahdes')
'kahdeskymmeneskolmas' = twenty-third

100th is 'sadas', 1000th is 'tuhannes', 3721th is 'kolmas-tuhannes-seitsemäs-sadas-kahdes-kymmenes-ensimmäinen'. (Again, dashes only included here for clarity; the word is properly spelled without them.)

Like cardinals, ordinal numbers can also be inflected:

'kolmatta viikkoa' = 'for (already) the third week'
'viidennessätoista kerroksessa' = 'in the fifteenth floor'
'tuhannennelle asiakkaalle' = 'to the thousandth customer'

Also note that the 'toista' in the 'teens' is actually the partitive of 'toinen', which is why 'toista' gets no further inflection endings. (Literally 'yksitoista' = 'one-of-the-second'.)

Names of numbers


Sentence structure Since Finnish is an inflected language, word order within sentences can be comparatively free - the function of a word being indicated by its ending.

The most usual neutral order, however, is is subject-verb-object:

'koira puri miestä' = 'the dog bit the man'

but this can be varied for emphasis:

'miestä puri koira' = 'the man was bitten by a dog'


'miestä koira puri' = 'it was _the man_ that the dog bit' (and not, say, his wife)
'koira miestä puri' = 'it was _a dog_ that bit the man' (and not, say, a wolf)
'puri koira miestä' = 'the dog _did bite_ the man' (if there was doubt whether any biting happened)

The last three are not quite as natural, and would normally be expressed using a longer sentence (or several sentences). 'Puri miestä koira' is also possible but sounds rather poetical.

Besides the word-order implications of turning a sentence into a question, there are some other circumstances where word-order is important:

Existential sentences

These are sentences which introduce a new subject - they often begin 'there is' or 'there are' in English.

'huoneessa on sänky' = 'there is a bed in the room'

The location of the thing whose existence is being stated comes first, followed by its stative verb, followed by the thing itself. Note how this is unlike the normal English equivalent, though English can also use the same order:

'siellä seisoi mies' = '(in/out) there stood a man'

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