Finnish numerals

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Numbers in Finnish are highly systematic, but can be irregular.

Cardinal numbers[edit]

The ordinary counting numbers (cardinals) from 0 through 10 are given in the table below. Cardinal numbers may be inflected and some of the inflected forms are irregular in form.

Cardinal numbers and key inflected forms
Digit Nominative Genitive Partitive Illative
0 nolla nollan nollaa nollaan
1 yksi yhden yhtä yhteen
2 kaksi kahden kahta kahteen
3 kolme kolmen kolmea kolmeen
4 neljä neljän neljää neljään
5 viisi viiden viittä viiteen
6 kuusi kuuden kuutta kuuteen
7 seitsemän seitsemän seitsemää* seitsemään
8 kahdeksan** kahdeksan kahdeksaa kahdeksaan
9 yhdeksän*** yhdeksän yhdeksää yhdeksään
10 kymmenen kymmenen kymmentä kymmeneen
'* sometimes seitsentä (alternative form)
'** sometimes abbreviated as kasi (in the spoken language only)
'*** sometimes abbreviated as ysi (in the spoken language only)

To get the teens, 'toista' is added to the base number: yksitoista, kaksitoista ... yhdeksäntoista. ('Toista' is the partitive form of 'toinen', meaning 'other' or 'second' (decade).[1] Historically all numbers were constructed like this, e.g. kaksiviidettä "42", today only the teens remain.

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).

Occasionally the old method of expressing years by counting centuries can be encountered; it gives an old-fashioned impression. For instance, yhdeksäntoistasataa kaksikymmentäkaksi "1922", instead of the modern tuhatyhdeksänsataa kaksikymmentäkaksi.

Long numbers (like 32534756) are separated in three-digit sections with space beginning from the end of the number (for example 32 534 756). Writing it with letters follow the spacing, in the example (in numbers over one million, 'miljoona' ('million') is written separately) 'kolme-kymmentä-kaksi miljoonaa viisi-sataa-kolme-kymmentä-neljä-tuhatta seitsemän-sataa-viisi-kymmentä-kuusi'. (No dashes, they are only to make the number look clear.)

Numbers can be inflected by case; all parts of the number except 'toista' are inflected.

Nouns following a number in the nominative singular are usually in the singular partitive case, IF the noun does not need to be in any other case and if the number is any number other than yksi (one).

If the number is yksi (one) and it is in the nominative singular then the noun and any adjectives following it will also be in the singular nominative.

But if the sentence structure demands that the noun is in some case other than the nominative, the number as well as the noun and any adjectives following it will take that other case. For example:

Finnish English
yksi päivä one day
kaksi päivää two days
kahtena päivänä on/during two days
kahdessatoista maassa in twelve countries
kolmellekymmenelleviidelle hengelle for thirty-five persons

Numerals also have plural forms, which usually refer to things naturally occurring in pairs or other similarly well-defined sets, such as body parts and clothing items. Also names of celebrations are usually in the plural. The plural forms are inflected in cases in the same way as the corresponding nouns. For instance:

Finnish English
kahdet saappaat two pairs of boots
kolmissa jalanjäljissä in three sets of footprints
Neljät häät ja yhdet hautajaiset Four Weddings and a (One) Funeral

Numbers from one to seven are apparently original in etymology. The words kahdeksan "eight" and yhdeksän "nine" have no confirmed etymology. The old theory is that they are compounds: *kaks-teksa "10–2", or "eight" and *yks-teksa "10–1", or "nine", where the reconstructed word *teksa is similar to the Indo-European words for "ten" (*dek´m), but this is phonologically not plausible. Alternatively, they could be *kakt-e-ksä and ykt-e-ksä "itself, without two" and "without one", where -eksa is a form of ei "no" inflected with the Karelian reflexive conjugation ("itself, without two").

Ordinal numbers[edit]

These are the 'ordering' form of the numbers – first, second, third and so on. Ordinal numbers are generally formed by adding an '-s' ending, but 'first' and 'second' are completely different, and for the others the stems are not straightforward:

Ordinal numbers 1–10
Finnish English
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':

Ordinal numbers 11–19
Finnish English
yhdestoista eleventh
kahdestoista twelfth
kolmastoista thirteenth
neljästoista fourteenth
viidestoista fifteenth
kuudestoista sixteenth
seitsemästoista seventeenth
kahdeksastoista eighteenth
yhdeksästoista nineteenth

For twenty through ninety-nine, all parts of the number get the '-s' ending. 'First' and 'second' take the irregular form only at the end of a word. The regular forms are possible for them but they are less common.

Ordinal numbers 20–
Finnish English
kahdeskymmenes twentieth
kahdeskymmenesensimmäinen twenty-first (also 'kahdeskymmenesyhdes')
kahdeskymmenestoinen twenty-second (also 'kahdeskymmeneskahdes')
kahdeskymmeneskolmas twenty-third

100th is 'sadas', 1000th is 'tuhannes', 3721st 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:

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

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'.)

Long ordinal numbers in Finnish are typed in almost the same way as the long cardinal numbers. 32534756 would be (in numbers over one million, 'miljoona' ('million') is written separately) 'kolmas-kymmenes-kahdes miljoonas viides-sadas-kolmas-kymmenes-neljäs-tuhannes seitsemäs-sadas-viides-kymmenes-kuudes'. (Still, no dashes.)

Names of numbers[edit]

This is a feature of Finnish which doesn't have an exact counterpart in English (but in colloquial German it does, for example: 7er, 190er, 205er). These forms are used to refer to the actual number itself, rather than the quantity or order which the number represents. This should be clearer from the examples below, but first here is the list:

Names of numbers
Finnish English
nolla nil, number zero
ykkönen[1] the number one
the figure "1"
kakkonen[1] 2
kolmonen[1] 3
nelonen[1] 4
viitonen[1] 5
kuutonen[1] 6
seitsemän[1]
seitsemäinen
seitsikko
seiska (colloquial)[1]
7
kahdeksan[1]
kahdeksikko
kasi (colloquial)[1]
8
yhdeksän[1]
yhdeksikkö
ysi (colloquial)[1]
9
kymmenen[1]
kymppi (colloquial)[1]
number ten

Also, 'kahdeksikko' refers to the shape of the number. Some examples of how these are used:

The 'number three tram' is the 'kolmonen' — when you are riding it, you are 'kolmosella'
A magazine has the title '7' and is called 'Seiska'
My car, a '93 model, is an 'ysikolmonen' when buying spare parts
If the car is a 190E Mercedes, it would be a 'sataysikymppi'.
If a car has tyres in size of 205, they would be called 'kaks(i)sataaviitoset' resp. kaks(i)sataaviitosia' (often 'kaks(i)nollaviitoset' resp. kaks(i)nollaviitosia').
The '106' bus is the 'sata kuutonen'
A €5 bill may be called "vitonen", a €10 bill "kymppi" (in plural: "kympit"/"kymppejä"), a €20 "kaksikymppinen", a €100 bill "satanen", etc.

Numbers in the spoken language[edit]

In spoken Finnish the final "i" in yksi, kaksi, viisi, kuusi, as well as the final "a" in the numbers 11-19, is frequently dropped. Other short forms can be heard for the tens, where the element kymmentä can be heard as "kyt": shortened words like kolkyt (30), nelkyt (40), viiskyt (50), kuuskyt (60), seiskyt (70) are not uncommon. When counting a list of items a kind of spoken shorthand can be heard. Thus, yksi kaksi kolme neljä viisi... may become yks kaks kol nel viis... or even yy kaa koo nee vii..., but the forms can vary from person to person.

Notes[edit]

  • ^ In older Finnish, it is also possible to use suffixes 'kolmatta', 'neljättä'... (meaning 'third', 'fourth'...) to denote numbers beyond twenty, for example 'kaksikolmatta' ("two from the third") means 'twenty-two' and 'yksineljättä' ("one from the fourth") means 'thirty-one'. This usage is now considered archaic and the suffix 'toista' is treated as a particle instead of meaning "from the second".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Luvut ja numerot. Kielikello 2/2006, page 49. Institute for the Languages of Finland (Finnish)
  • Fred Karlsson (2008), "Finnish: An Essential Grammar", Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-43914-5. Chapter 12, "Numerals".
  • Clemens Niemi (1945), "Finnish Grammar", third edition, Työmies Society, Superior, Wisconsin. Lessons XXVI "Cardinal Numbers" and XXVII "Ordinal Numbers". Reprinted with author given as "Niemla. M. Clemenns" [sic], The Stewart Press, London (2008), ISBN 978-1-4437-2143-1.