Talk:Finnish grammar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

On the passive forms[edit]

"the house is being painted by Jim" can be translated as "taloa maalataan Jimin toimesta" which is literally: "by the action taken by Jim"

This does sound somewhat constructed, but people use it in more formal texts. So I think something can be said about the person doing the painting.. although I think the impersonal form is how the passive is normally viewed in Finland.

"Somewhat constructed" is almost an understatement, isn't it? I've never even heard a sentence such as "taloa maalataan Jimim toimesta" - and I've lived all my life in Finland. Of course it can be said, grammatically there is nothing wrong with it. Still, it sounds as natural as - precisely - "the house is being painted by the action taken by Jim" instead of "the house is being painted by Jim
It is certainly an understatement. In Finland, no one ever uses the "toimesta" construct. School teachers especially warn students against using it. It is an example of kapulakieli, i.e. obscure legalese. 08:26, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)
School teachers only warn but do not teach the usage of Finnish infinitives properly. It seems that much Finnish grammar related to verbs has been abandoned, because the Finnish grammar has been created based on western Indo-European languages having trivial verbs. That's why people use these 'toimesta' constructs more and more. Actually, the construct is more Finnish than teachers admit. 'Poliisin toimesta' is annoyingly similar to 'poliisin puolesta' construct. Finnish language teaching in the Finnish universities needs a reform.
With a quick search, I found a typical example of this at [[1]]. "Poliisin toimesta hoidettuna toiminta kasvattaisi valtion budjettia ...", better Finnish would be "Poliisin hoitamana toiminta kasvattaisi valtion budjettia...", or something completely different. Difficult to translate to english, though. It might be something like "If this task would be conducted by the police, it would increase governmental budget ..." -- TN 17 Aug 2005
This discussion misses the main point: The Finnish passive does not have a by-phrase of the English type In the English example, it is Jim who does the painting, but in the finnish somewhat construed "toimesta" the painting is taken place because of Jim's actions, but jim does not need to be the actual painter. Trondtr 18:03, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
It is correct that "toimesta" is never used in actual speech, however in taking classes on syntax, I hear it a lot to disambiguate things that are being discussed. It sounds a bit funny of course. On the other hand the trick with the Finnish "passive" is that it is not exactly passive in the indo-european sense of the term. The passive in Finnish has animate person marking, on the other hand several "active" constructions may be used in a passive way. I found a lovely "minimal pair" in a sense showing off the difference between animacy in What is a passive? The case of Finnish by Satu Manninen and Diane Nelson: Laboratoriossa räjähti usein 'Things exploded often in the laboratory', vs. Laboratoriossa räjähdettiin usein 'People often exploded in the laboratory'. The English translation of the "passive" is a bit ambiguous, and otherwise you'd have to resort to a '*There is often exploded in the laboratory', but the interpretation to Finnish ears is that something animate (most likely people) are exploding in the laboratory. Either way, it would be impossible to add some sort of "subject" or "by-phrase" to these passives. --Ryan 11:40, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm apparently coming to this discussion rather late, but in the old Finnish Bible (of 1776) I have frequently come across a peculiar construct where the agent of a verb in the passive voice is denoted by the "-lta/-ltä" case. For example,

  • "Sillä jokainen huone on joltakin rakennettu; mutta joka kaikki rakensi, se on Jumala." (Heb. 3:4)
  • "For every house is builded by some man, but he that built all things is God." (KJV)
  • "Ja vaimo pakeni korpeen, kussa hänelle oli sia Jumalalta valmistettu ..." (Ilm. 12:6)
  • "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God ..." (KJV)

Nobody has mentioned this here yet. I don't know whether this was ever proper Finnish, or if it is just a peculiarity of that particular translation of the Bible. Deepmath (talk) 01:19, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

This was quite common in what has been called "old book Finnish". The ablative case (-lta) is used as a direct equivalent of the Swedish av, or German von in this context (or as in your other example, English of). It has not been considered proper Finnish since modern, should I say "scientific", grammars have been made, especially in that it is an artifact of translation.--Rallette (talk) 10:51, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

The page is getting rather large and the edit area even shows a warning. Maybe it should be split. Verbs/nouns?

The construct "taloa maalataan Jimin toimesta" is generally considered to be a swetisism (an undesirable loan from Swedish), a translation of the Swedish "hus målades av Jim". It exists in bureaucratese and ill-written stuff (such as ill-conceived attempts at formal writing), but is not used in proper speech or writing. AJK 15:21 4 Jul 2003 (UTC)

That construct is literally "The/a house is painted by Jim's action", so yes, it does sound artificial. It's easier and more natural to convey this as an action already completed; "Jimin maalaama talo" = "The house painted by Jim".--[[User:HamYoyo|HamYoyo (Talk)]] 12:30, Jun 24, 2004 (UTC)

The section on -nen nouns is a little more complex. The phrase 'muovisessa pussissa' is more a description of the kind of bag rather than the alternative 'muovi pussissa' = 'in the plastic bag'. This could be contrasted in English with 'in the bag (made of) of plastic' Pekka Pihlajasaari

I'd say that "muovisessa pussissa" = "in the plastic bag" and "muovipussissa" = "in the plastic-bag". Subtle difference. "Muovipussi" is a compound of two nouns "muovi" and "pussi", in contrast to "muovinen pussi" which is an adjective qualifying a noun. The ambiguity arrises from the fact that in English, "plastic" can be either noun or adjective.--[[User:HamYoyo|HamYoyo (Talk)]] 12:30, Jun 24, 2004 (UTC)

Very long words[edit]

I was once told by a young Finnish lady (who might well have been tweaking my nose) that it is possible to construct a single word in Finnish meaning "notwithstanding his total inability to make toast without burning it to a crisp". Is this true, and if so what is this word? --Phil | Talk 09:52, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)

Actually there are probably several more or less equivalent ways to construct that word, depending on where you start from. One candidate might be: paahtoleivänpolttovälttökyvyttömyidessänsäkäänkään. May not be precisely to the point, but it is close. If I thought a bit longer, I might be able to polish it a bit more -- Cimon avaro 10:53, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
That sounds wrong. As a native finn, I'd say paahtoleivänporoksipaistamattomuustaidottomuudellansakaan is the word you are looking for. -- nysv
I just have to tell my favourite example... :-) The Finnish sentence "Heittäytyisinköhän seikkailuun?" translates as "What if I should throw myself into an adventure?". And this is something you can use in an everyday conversation. The longest grammatically correct Finnish non-compound word I have seen is "epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellensäkäänkö", but that word doesn't have any practical useses and is almost impossible to translate. --Chino 06:53, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well I'm going to try to translate it: "not even of his/her lack of making things into anti-systems, you say?". It's extremely constructed and artificial. And I think there's a typo in there somewhere. By the way, by using compound words you can make words arbitrarily long. My favourite example is "jättiläislohikäärmeyhteiskunnanterveydenhuoltohenkilökunnanjohtajanviransijaisuus", meaning position of acting chairman in the health care staff of a giant dragon commune. 08:26, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)
That contains several genitive compounds, which are very difficult to get right. Whereas the above toast example is correct, I might correct that to "jättiläislohikäärmeyhteiskunnan terveydenhuoltohenkilökunnanjohtajan viransijaisuus" or even "jättiläislohikäärmeyhteiskunnan terveydenhuoltohenkilökunnan johtajan viransijaisuus". You can't just stick the words together.
The freak epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkään is hard if not impossible to translate. It incorporates a structure that's pretty unique järjestelmällistää = systemize but järjestelmällistyttää = to make someone systemize for you. Even worse, it's a negative: järjestelmällistyttämätön = something that has not been made to systemize. Ok, still with me? Let's add epä: something that has not been made to dissystemize and the rest: epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkään = Even without one's incapability of not making something dissystemize. And now, let's leave it at that, m'kay? Unless someone cares to translate that back into Finnish ;)
Even without one's incapability of not making something dissystemize? Nope. More like Even without one's incapability of not making someone make something disorganise
As for compound words...they can indeed go on till forever in Finnish: Like isoisänisänisänisänisänisänisänisänisänisä - Let's just say that isoisä is grand-father and isoisänisä is his father...
I think the longest word used as a real job description (that I know of) should be mentioned here. It is lentokoneapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas, literally an assistant aeroplane mechanic non-commissioned officer trainee . One of my frieds was one...
The last two examples both contain genitive compounds. The great x N grandfather example can also be written as separate words, which is closer to the pronounciation and does not even change the meaning very much. The aeroplane mechanic NCO is an example of clumsy official military jargon and is particularly strained at the middle where the lentokoneapumekaanikko, assistant aeroplane mechanic, is tacked on to aliupseerioppilas, NCO student


The article is missing information in numerals - it is not everylanguage which has plural and singular of numbers. I also think that pronouns should come after nouns, and say that they, too, inflect like nouns.

"Finnish language grammar" is redundant. Moving to "Finnish grammar".

Nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numbers are inflected similarly and have a group name. Pronouns have frequent exceptions though.
Yes, the article is very basic and messy at the moment. Nouns etc. have 86 regular inflexion classes and verbs have 45 classes. I'm wondering where I pour this information. Inflection part in the article looks now a little bit ... innocent.

There has been a Finnish numerals article for some time but it has not been linked in to this article. Please take a look at it and please note that the article has been nominated for deletion. If you have any views on the value of keeping this article or whether it should be deleted, please follow the AfD link and leave your comments. Please also add to or correct the article as you see fit. I am a bit puzzled by the demands of the suggestor of the AfD that a grammar article needs a reference. The Finnish Grammar article is pretty excellent (though it lacks some essential elements still) but nobody seems at all bothered that it has no references.--Hauskalainen (talk) 03:19, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

I am a native English speaker and learning the Finnish language in Finland. This article in Wikipedia is the best overall description of the language I have ever seen (and I have seen many of them). Pronouns are correctly placed before nouns because the number of pronouns are finite, whereas the number of nouns approaches infinity (particularly in Finnish where you can compound them). In every language course I have studied at the university level (German, Japanese, and good ol' English), discussion of personal pronouns precedes that of nouns.

Truly, I hope Wikipedia does not remove this article. It has been a HUGE help in understanding the Finnish language and the examples given are excellent. If more information is to be added to this article, I think it might be to classify the verbs into six types, instead of five. Also, the level of detail is good. Adding a lot more detail would make it difficult to read and digest. Therefore, may I suggest including links to separate articles or sub-articles if a topic is presented in greater detail. In other words, leave the main article alone and include a link to a sub-article where the topic in the main article is explained in more detail.

Finally, I agree that to footnote a language overview such as this one would be somewhat awkward - or perhaps not necessary in the usual sense - because the structure of the Finnish language is pretty much agreed upon by language experts. There could probably be a footnote to indicate the source of the exampes - if they are the author's invention or in more standard Finnish language books. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Montreux (talkcontribs) 17:52, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Passive voice[edit]

More precisely the example: talo maalataan "the house will be/is being painted".

While this is technically correct no Finn would think that the house is currently being painted unless the context would define it as a possibility. The condition of something being currently made would normally be indicated by partitiivi form of the subject ie. in this case taloa maalataan "the house is being painted" - Respectively using the nominative case in the subject usually refers to something happening in (near) future talo maalataan "the house will be painted".

Agent Participle translation issue[edit]

It seems like the agent participle is mistranslated into english. At least, it should be stated that there is nothing to do with the past tense. Examples are given, such as 'tytön lukema kirja', which isn't "the book that the girl read" so much as a book that is for the girl's reading. The english translations provided seem to imply past tense. It's possible that this is just ambiguous in the way that the sentence is translated, but I thought it's necessary to point out. Perhaps it might be better in that case to use something that isn't ambiguous in english, to convey the idea, such as "tytön juoma maito", since 'drink' doesnt have ambiguities in what tense it's in. --Alcarilinque 13:35, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Word Order[edit]

The section on word order states "Besides the word-order implications of turning a sentence into a question....." but nowhere is the concept of word order and questions explained. Does anyonw know what this is alluding to?

It is said in section "Interrogatives (questions)": A question word is placed first in the sentence, and a word with the interrogative suffix is also moved to this position. I started to doubt this myself, however. Often one can hear question like "Tuo kirjako?", which has the same meaning as "Tuoko kirja?". I'm not sure if this is correct Finnish or not. Does anybody know better?
Both are correct Finnish, but I've got a more illustrative example:
Hän ajaa autolla. (S/he drives the car.)
Hänkö ajaa autolla? (Is it s/he who drives the car?)
Ajaako hän autolla? (Is s/he driving the car?)
Autollako hän ajaa? (Is it a car s/he is driving?)
Parkkipaikallako hän ajaa autolla? (Is it the parking lot where s/he is driving the car?)
Hope this helps.--Jyril 17:06, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
Those examples are basicly the same as there are in the article, and they don't give any clarification about the word order: the question word (one with -ko/-kö) is still the first word in sentence. What I think the user who started this discussion wanted to know is that would it be correct to say for example "Hän autollako ajaa", which of course sounds strange, but I'm not sure if that is incorrect. What I wanted to point out in my first reply was that should "Tuo kirjako" be more correctly "Kirjako tuo" (regardless of the latter form sounding peculiar) which is what the article now says. I expressed this a bit unclearly, since those two have slight meaning difference, just like in your examples: "Tuo kirjako?" meaning "That book?" and "Tuoko kirja" meaning "That book?". SGJ 20:17, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
Sorry my misunderstanding. The more I ponder that, the less sure I am. "Kirjako tuo?" sounds less correct because 'tuo' is usually located before the word it refers to.--Jyril 22:45, 7 November 2005 (UTC)

Noun cases table conflict[edit]

Hi, I just wanted to point out that this page and the page Finnish language noun cases don't match in their case tables. This page has the dialectal excessive case, whereas the more specific page does not.

I'm not a grammarian, but I'd've thought that a dialectal case would go as a foot/sidenote or something... anyway, your call, just wanted to point that out. Neonumbers 11:08, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

preterite versus imperfect[edit]

An anonymous person has changed "imperfect" to "preterite". This is contrary to every grammar book I have ever seen in Finnish or English on the subject of Finnish grammar. Whether the writer is right or wrong about latin languages I am not sure that qualifies him or her to make this change and it is certainly most likely to add confusion. I am inclined to change it back.. Your views please!Tom 22:06, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

OK I have now re-instated reference to the Imperfect Tense and removed reference to preterite. If the previous editor wishes to include reference to terms in other grammars that is OK but please do not rename the tense to something that is not commonly recognised.

Rename to Finnish morphology[edit]

I suggest this article is renamed to Finnish morphology, with a separate article on syntax. Trondtr 18:03, 17 April 2006 (UTC)


Someone apparently added the prolative to the list of cases, so I'm curious. Since the prolative is not a full-fledged case in Finnish, rather an adverbial case, it should perhaps not be grouped with all the rest of the cases. It is not a case as a result of the fact that it does not show adjective agreement like the rest of the full-fledged cases do (i.e. vanhoissa taloissa 'in old houses'. If we want to list various old and mostly unused cases, there are better candidates which do show adjectival agreement. --Ryan 05:07, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

You're right, I removed it. Looks like the adverbial cases are missing from this article. They should be added in the adverbs section.--Jyril 06:11, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

-e nouns[edit]

Just a note to future edits, the illative -seen that is affixed to this class of nouns is actually a somewhat analogical form, meaning that is the suffix and that it is not a result of some sort of assimilation that occurs within the root/inflectional stems of -e nouns. One way that you know this is that it is applied in the same way as other case endings which have no assimilation; laittee- + n/t/ssa/sta/seen/ksi/etc. If it were assimilation, something else would happen so that extra -e- wouldn't be there, e.g., *laitteseen. --Ryan 16:57, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Existential sentences[edit]

It was formerly a bad example, because numbers of things never take a plural verb anyway. So I changed "kaksi sänkyä" to "sänkyjä" to drive home the point in a valid fashion.

First Infinitive[edit]

The article currently says the infinitve marker is -ta. However I am inclined to think that it is actually -a or -ä, which is added to the basic present/future tense stem. The application of normal consonant gradation can modify the oucome. And a t (which is sometimes in the weak form d) is sometimes added to avoid 3 vowels becoming adjacent. Some stem consonants can also be elided.

The article currently says that a in sanoa the t elides. If so, why? Why does it elide with Sanoa but not with Haluta?. What is the rule here? The alternative explanation is a little more convoluted, but actually explains more phenomena seen in verb forms.

This is an interesting question, and although the proposal here is 5 years old, from a now-blocked user, and obviously falls under original research, I think it may be useful for other readers to go over why this is not a good analysis.

first infinitive marker is better thought of as -a or -ä[edit]

It seems to me more logical to say that the start point is the stem sano- to which is added -a to make sanoa. With tiedä- the addition of the infinitive -ä causes consonant in the stem to strengthen according to normal gradation rules, hence tietää.

Correct thus far. Sano-, tietä- are definitely the stems of these verbs, and the allomorph of the infinitive is equally clearly -a, .

verb stems ending in 2 vowels[edit]

Where the stem already has 2 vowels at the end the rule is modified. Short, one syllable verb stems ending in 2 vowels or longer stems ending -oi or -öi add a weak plosive d before the basic infinitive -a or -ä.This plosive avoids the creating of verb forms with 3 adjacent vowels. Hence saa- becomes saada and ikävöi- ikävöidä.

These verb stems are correctly identified as well. At this point the question however arises, what leads you to analyze the -d- as phonotactically inserted rather than a part of the infinitive suffix? Finnish allows sequences of three or more vowels quite readily, eg. tiainen "tit", auer "dawn", hauis "bicep", raaoin "most cruel". Your rule could be amended to apply only to sequences where the 2nd member is i. However, we find similar clusters arising in nominal inflection, eg. talo "house" + i (plural) + a (partitiv); what happens here is that the i desyllabifies, yielding taloja (not ˣtaloida). The 'intrusive' d is thus a phenomenon specific to the infinitive, and it would be a good idea to keep around the option of -A/-dA allomorphy.

Other stems ending in a double vowel drop the last vowel and add a slight stronger plosive -t before the infinitive -a or -ä marker. Dropping the last vowel of the stem also avoids creating an infinitive with 3 adjacent vowels Hence verb stems such as siivoa- become siivota.

While this correctly derives the surface forms, this is needlessly much work to avoid three vowels, and these rules find no motivation elsewhere in the language. Why do we need both a stronger plosive, and a dropped vowel? Why would not a form such as ˣsiivoada, ˣsiivoda, ˣsiivoa suffice? There also is evidence that a stem form of these verbs in fact does contain a dental stop. Consider 3rd person imperativ forms such as sanokoon, tietäköön, saakoon, ikävöiköön. What occurs in these forms? Siivotkoon, with a seemingly unpredicted intrusive t. If there is actually an alternate stem siivot- (and it is already necessary to suppose two stem allomorphs here, either this or your siivo- + t + -a), then it should be easy to see how addition of -(d)a to this one (and not the normal stem siivoa-) will produce the infinitive siivota.

The fact the this last t does not strengthen according to normal consonant gradation rules is indicative that the t is a stem phenomena. Contrast for example with tietää (tiedä-) or päättää (päätä-).

I have no idea of your understanding of "normal gradation rules", but the actual gradation rules clearly don't predict any extra "strengthening" in a form such as siivota. I think we agree that normal gradation rules don't predict the wholesale loss of this -t- in weak grade, and that siivot-/siivoa- are best treated as independant stem allomorphs.
(Historically this finds its explanation in a sound change deleting all instances of d in unstressed syllables, and an earlier change deleting a in forms such as the infinitiv and the 3PS imperativ; though of course this does not require the synchronic analysis to be identical.)

verb stems ending in a consonant[edit]

Verbs with stems ending -l -n -r or -s like mennä, tulla and purra are really verbs that have consonant stems men- tul- and pur- which when the infinitive ending is added the final consonant of the stem strengthened, just as the final consonant of tietää (tiedä-) or päättää (päätä-). These stems acquire a link vowel of e in the present tense and i in the imperfect, i.e. dependent on the tense and not intrinsic to the verb stem.

Except there is no gradation of /l n r/ otherwise anywhere in the language. As before, the infinitive of sano- is sanoa, not ˣsannoa; or in 3rd person forms which otherwise require strong grades (tietää, päättää), we still have single consonants: menee, tulee, puree.
We do know however the existence of the gradation patterns t > d, nt > *nd > nn, lt > *ld > ll, rt > *rd > rr; thus, the addition of the weak *d you postulated before, will here too explain the appearence of geminated sonorants. Except it is clearly added in the context of the infinitive, not in the context of vowel cluster avoidance. Clear points in favor of -A/-dA allomorphy.
(The issue of how to analyse the stem vowel is an unrelated question; suffice to say that your stance here is rather more defendable.)

Consonant gradation effects in verbs such as menetellä are entirely due to a general rule in verb formation that no two strong form consonants can be separated by a single vowel, and in such cases, the rule is that the final consonant is always strong and this weakens the preceding consonant, so that the verb form menettel- forces the t to weaken when the infinitive is formed as menetellä.

This is loosely correct, though of course regular gradation, not anything specific to verb formation. ˣmenettellä, regardless of where the ll came from, would leave the underlying -tt- followed by a closed syllable, which is precisely the basic condition requiring the weak grade -t-.

Verbs with stems ending in -s, which are of of two forms, -its (häirits-) and -s (pääs), are very similar to the consonant group above when forming the tenses but slightly different when forming the infinitve. The infinitve marker is again -a or -ä but exceptional, the s in the stem -its is elided to form for example the infinitive häritä is elided

We do need an exception here, but a new morphophonological process is much too heavy an assumption; the explanation I have seen is a simple case of suppletion, whereby these verbs model their infinitive (and the 3PS imp.: häiritköön) after the siivota type. There is a further class of verbs doing the same as well: eg. valkene- "to become white" has the infinitiv valjeta (and 3PS imp. valjetkoon), not ˣvaljenna.

and in plain -s stem endings, t is added after the s to form infinitives like päästä. Why does this happen? I think this happens as a tidying up exercise to make all verbs end in either -t(t)a(a) or -da (or the front vowel equivalents), and thus avoiding hypothetical verb infinitives such päässä or häiritsä .... but who really knows for sure?!

This quite does not work when we regardless consider the infinitives mennä, tulla, purra, in which the 2nd n, l, r must be analyzed as particular to the infinitive. The addition of *d again works, however. As we know that d normally results from gradation of t, and that Finnish does not allow gradation of st, therefore we can correctly predict that s+d will yield st.

Incidentally, the consonant gradation effects due to potential adjacent strong or doubled consonants precisely explains the gradation effects in participles such as menetellyt menettelevä menetelty etc..

See previous gradation note. This is regularly predicted already.

why this explanation is superior[edit]

1. This explanation for infinitve formation explains precisely the difference in verbs such as TAVATA that have two possible stems, TAPAA- and TAVAA-. I do not see the alternative -ta infintive marker argument could this phenomenon.

I assume you're referring to the difference between verbs such as "to meet" (tapaa-) and "to spell" (tavaa-)? This is a simple gradation effect that has nothing to do with verb formation, resulting from the fact that v is both a consonant of its own, and the weak grade of p. Thus, any weak grade form with v (and I believe we agree that tavata is a weak grade) can reflect either underlying v, or underlying p; other forms must be consulted to determine which.
You may be confused on how exactly is tavata a a weak grade, if the infinitive is -da. The key is that t may be not only the strong grade of d, but also the weak grade of tt. Since we have previously been operating with an inherently weak grade infinitive suffix -dA, and a stem allomorph tavat-, these two fit nicely together: tavat- + -dA will combine to form underlying //tavatta//, which has a geminate capable of causing the gradation that the v may (or may not) be a result of. For whatever reason it is that causes a weak grade in infinitives (historically, it is a former final consonant: *-dAk) this geminate then ends up in the weak grade, bedoming a simple t.

2. It better explains consonant gradation phenomena in so called verb types 1, 3 and 4.

I am not the first to have concluded that a or ä is the infinitive marker. The argument is given also in the Abondola book and I think that Karlsson takes a similar view in his book too.

In closing, I will say I agree that it is not useful to say that the infinitive is typically -tA; this is only its underlying representation, which ultimately leads to the more typical realizations such as -dA, -lA/-nA/-rA, -A.
Aaaand now to set to clearing up some of the confusion you've managed to insert to this article… --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 03:40, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

proposed edit[edit]

If nobody strong disagrees or can find fault with the argument, I propose changing the article accordingly. The whole article is quite long so I may put the explanations in a separate article. But it may be a while before I get the time, so there's no rush to reply!

Tom 23:40, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Diminutive "-kka"[edit]

"-kka" is another very common diminutive ending: kännykkä (mobile phone, känny<käsi "hand"), vasikka (calf, vasa), Sinikka (female name, sini=blue), names of small berries: mustikka, puolukka etc.

Double diminutive: lapsukainen (little child) --Muhaha 19:46, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Negative participle[edit]

The kieltopartisiippi, or negative participle or whatever isn't mentioned anywhere. It is basically the negation of the agent particle: tekemä > tekemätön. — JyriL talk 21:08, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Noun cases - questions[edit]

Could someone add the questions (in Finnish and English) for noun cases in the table under subheading Noun cases/Cases? That would be useful! See for example. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:50, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

enclictic particles[edit]

The article seems to be lacking information about particles. I am thinking especially right now of -kaan and -kään which seems to be able to attach to nouns as well as verbs and has a variety of meanings, not all which I can remember. It also features on many other word types though I am not sure if it is then called a particle. Is anyone here brave enough to add something to the article about particles? --Tom 19:18, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Irregular verbs[edit]

It is true olla (to be) is the only irregular verb in Finnish, but it is because of the potential mood, lienen etc., not because of "on" according to my old teacher. Should this be fixed? (talk) 17:18, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

The liene form is just another aspect. One can suppose theoretically that the stem of this verb is ol- which becomes on in preference to plain ol in the 3rd person singular and liene instead of the theoretical olene which would probably have to be pronounced as ollenne. Its not a huge leap from there to think that this came to be pronounced as liene (dropping the o and the second l becoming i and the nn becoming shortened. You kind of have to have a feel for phonetic effects in Finnish to understand how these transformations can happen). There are some other verbs that have irregular forms. Kaydä in the simple past tense is kävi- . I don't know any other verb like that. Tehdä is somewhat irregular also. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:57, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
The suppositions above are totally incorrect I'm afraid. The stem of the verb 'olla' is either 'ole–' or 'ol–', and on this stem are based the regular forms like 'ole|n', 'ole|t', 'ol|koon'. There are two irregular forms in the 3rd person: singular on, and plural ovat, which are not based on the 'ole–/ol–' stem at all but rather on a separate historical form *oma, and the ancient forms of the 3rd person were *om (sing.) and *omat (plural). The present 3rd person forms have developed from these old forms: *om > on, and *omat > ovat. So 'olla' is truly an irregular verb because it contains two different verb stems fused in one.

The potential form on the other hand is based on an old verb of its own that survives only in its stem 'lie–'. On this stem are based some of the potential forms of 'olla', like 'lie|ne|n' where '-ne-' is the potential sign. (The stem 'lie-' in itself is actually indicative, if it were still alive as a verb so to say.) The 3rd pers. sing. 'lienee' (lie|ne|e) can be contracted to 'lie', however, with the same meaning. Outside the active present indicative, the potential forms of 'olla' are regular, as in 'oltaneen', which is the passive present.
I'm no linguist, but the theoretical constructions that have been developed above ("plain ol", **olene, **ollenne etc.) are plain wrong and I have to say that the writer's "feel for phonetic effects" has misled them drastically. --Pxos (talk) 06:08, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

Non-existant future . .[edit]

I am confused by the adage that Finnish has no future tense. On there is something called the "Potential" tense, and there is also a "Potential Perfect". Now I have no idea of what the difference is between tenses and moods. I'm not sure that I really want to try and find out as the whole linguistic grammatical edifice seems to be biased upon one language: Latin, or maybe two at a push if you include Greek. "Modern" Finnish, as created by Agricola (yleiskieli), is a fabrication created to mimic the grammatical structure of the Latin, as used in the Bible at that time, and to promote literacy through evangelism. It seems to me that the "Potential" and the "Potential Perfect" are dead ringers for the English "Future" and "Future Perfect" tenses. Arguments that they are distinct seem to revolve around an attempt to universalise Romance language based linguistic concepts. In this article a distinction is attempted between the Potential and the Future tenses by introducing the idea of conditionality. However the Conditional already exists in Finnish, and the Future, by definition is inherently conditional! It seems to me that the Emperor is starkers! Where is the figleaf I've missed?

LookingGlass (talk) 18:34, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I think you are barking up the wrong tree. I have not heard the argument that yleiskieli was created by Agricola and I don't think it is latinic in any way. Finnish does not need a future tense because there are several ways around the issue. The case of the object associated with noun often gives a clue as to present or future. Luen kirjaa. I am reading a book. Luen kirjan I will read the book. The partitive case of kirja, kirjaa indicates incomplete action so the book must be in the process of being read. The direct object form, in this case kirjan normally indicates completed action with past tense verbs, but when used with the present tense it can indicate a to-be-completed future action. The book will be read. And of course, one can always add another word to indicate a timeframe such as myöhemmin (later) or huomenna (tomorrow) and so forth. The potential case, as I understand it is more associated with probablity rather than conditionality and often is more probable than improbable. Conditionality is always dependent on something so although it is often of the future it can also be used to reflect dependent actions in the past. So neither of these are stricly speaking future tenses.

To be frank, the simple present tense is actually quite rare even in English as most of the time we are speaking about either past actions or future actions (though maybe the telephone has changed that somewhat), and when it is used it is not really being used to express the present but to say what things are generally true. Mary goes to church. He is a nice man. She sells flowers in the market. The ongoing "-ing" forms of the verb (I am sure it has a name but I am no grammatician) is the way the present is expressed. Mary is going to church. He just being nice. She is selling flowers in the market. And so on. Finnish may have fewer verb forms than English but it is no less rich a language because of that. It just has different ways of conveying extra temporal information.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 26 March 2008
Various participles in various connections are also used instead of the future tense. F.e. "tuleva puhuja" is normally translated "the upcoming speaker" but could also be translated "The speaker (who will come to (tuleva)) ((speak (not necessary to repeat the word "puhua" in finnish as the action is indicated in the subject, "puhumaan tuleva puhuja", is a bit redundant, i guess)))", on the other hand, "tulee puhumaan" is "shall speak" (will come to speak?), someone fluent in both grammars could elaborate... The english future was the last tense teached to us, on contrast. (talk) 10:57, 24 December 2008 (UTC)
Should there be a whole paragraph of the workarounds for foreigners? Should we start to begin to become active tomorrow on this subject, or maybe sooner? Next, I read some of the grammar of finnish, and can't find these questions explained. (talk) 10:16, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Place names derived from words ending -nen[edit]

Maybe this is not a grammar feature . . . I am not sure.... but I have noticed that many place names are based on words ending in -nen but then the -nen word is put into the plural gentive form ending -sten. Thus Aninkaistenkatu, The Street of the Aninkainens and Littoistenjärvi, the lake of the Littoinens. Is there a reason why these place names take a gentive plural form, and is the generally the case with derived place names ending in -nen? Is it because areas became associated with several members of the same family that lived in an area? I can understand a road belonging to to a family, but an entire lake? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:12, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

This is something I've been wondering about myself, too. A native Finn, I'd say the plural rule applies to not only genitive but all declined cases. Illative for instance, Sörnäinen, Sörnäisiin (to Sörnäinen(s)), instead of Sörnäiseen, which is the illative singular form. I can think of no logical reason for it but the rule seems to apply to all place names ending -nen, without an exception. --Vohveli (talk) 18:58, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I couldn't find any definite answer as to why place names with "-nen" take plural in conjugated form. However, I found an opinion by fi:Kustaa Vilkuna who associates such names with the names of house and a family. Hence, when you go to the house of Aninkainen (which we know that has existed), you go the house owned by the members of the family Aninkainen. This may have served as the model for other names with -nen suffix.
There is actually at least one exception, Kaustinen. Samulili (talk) 07:59, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

OK Thanks for these answers to all concerned--Hauskalainen (talk) 13:03, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Possible Tatar Relation[edit]

It seems to me, there may be a minor connection between Crimean Tatar Language and Finnish language. In eg. Men aşıyman (yörim) > I eat, men sani anlamıyram > I don't understand you. But it is also possible that these two languages are ural-altaic so it may resemble a bit. (cantikadam (talk) 15:10, 25 July 2008 (UTC))

Finnish is not an altaic language. It is its own root. However, it is similar in a very vague way to altaic languages, the most famous comparison made to Japanese. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Montreux (talkcontribs) 17:57, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

The Finnish grammar article is missing the object rules for case governance[edit]

One of the complex aspects of Finnish for the English speaker are the collection of rules and exceptions governing the case of an object in the sentence. These are quite complex and probably deserving an article of its own right. I am not aware that this is summarised anywhere else in WP. Is there anyone out there willing to help in the task of getting this documented?

I am prepared to do some but not all of it. If we can find 3 or 4 people to discuss the requirement and divi up the work I'd be willing to help out. I am not a native speaker but some mix of native and English speakers with knowöedge of the problems would be a good mix of editors to take on the task. --Hauskalainen (talk) 17:03, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

My memory may fail me, but I think that the detailed rules are available at Wikibooks/Wikiversity. Samulili (talk) 07:36, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

18:04, 21 April 2010 (UTC)Montreux (talk)

Passive is the current term, not indefinite[edit]

The article as it is goes against published Finnish grammars in speaking of an "indefinite voice". In all Finnish grammars that I recall reading, and particularly in the recent, authoritative Iso suomen kielioppi, the traditional term "passive voice" is used. There are more or less good arguments that this particular voice in the Finnish language could more fittingly be called something else, but Wikipedia should in my view give primacy to the traditional, established, current term while duly noting that other terms have been suggested ("impersonal" and "indefinite" are mentioned by the authors of Iso suomen kielioppi in their discussion of just this question). Using a term not found as a heading in Finnish grammars and unfamiliar even to Finnish speakers who know their formal grammar, is likely to cause confusion and unlikely to enlighten.

On these grounds, I will undo the changes made by an anonymous user in January 2006 and replace "indefinite voice" with "passive voice".--Rallette (talk) 10:59, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

And obviously, I'm also changing "definite voice" back to "active voice".--Rallette (talk) 11:13, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, "passive voice" and "active voice" are much easier to understand for a native English speaker than "indefinite" and "definite. If you look at the class text "Finnish for Foreigners", the authors uses "indefinite" and "definite". That book, while useful, is very academic and considered "old-fashioned" by modern schooling methods in Finland.

Also, there should be some word to replace "weak" and "strong" for describing verbs. One example of a strong English verb described in a Finnish language textbook is "to write" because it has 5 forms: write, writes, wrote, written, writing. That made no sense to me as a native English speaker because the terms "strong" and "weak" are not generally used to describe modern English. In Old English and Friesian, there may exist "strong" and "weak" verbs, but in all my years studying languages, I have rarely come across those terms when describing the English language. The point of avoiding unusual terminology is to avoid confusing the native English speaker. Therefore, I agree with the above post that using unfamiliar terms is like to confuse and unlikely to enlighten.

Proposed deletion of "Finnish numerals"[edit]

Deletion of the article titled Finnish numerals has been proposed at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Finnish numerals. If you opine there, don't just say Keep or Delete, but also give your arguments, including comments on the arguments that already appear there. Michael Hardy (talk) 20:10, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Polite form[edit]

Why is the polite form Te capitalized? AFAIK that is not right WRT the grammar. I do recognize that many advertisers and marketers use that as a form of flattery. The capitalization is often used for the word sinä too. I personally find the custom insulting, regardless of the word used. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:12, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

There are two beds in the room[edit]

"Note that the verb remains singular in Finnish existential statements when declaring more than one item. The English construction moves the verb to a plural form because English follows the beds as subject whereas the Finnish construction treats the beds as objects (it is essentially ADVERB-STATIVE VERB-OBJECT)"

I am pretty sure this is false, the grammatical subject of the sentence is 'kaksi', literally it says 'in the room is a twosome of bed'. There is no plural noun in the entire sentence sänkyä is the partitive singular case. Also, it would be: 'Huonessa ovat sängyt' to say 'in the room are the beds' however I guess the partitive plural would work best in most contexts.

A Google search seems to confirm my claim. However note that in most dialects of Finnish the form 'ovat' is completely nonexistent and 'on' is used for both singular and plural. (c.f. for instance the album title 'Tanssit on loppu nyt' (The dances are over now) by Finnish artist Karjalan Sissit) Rajakhr (talk) 00:31, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

Kaksi sänkyä is the grammatical subject, at least if I follow the terminology in Iso suomen kielioppi. The numeral kaksi only obscures the analysis. Huoneessa on sänkyjä (There are beds in the room) would be a clearer example, with a definitely plural subject (sänkyjä, partitive plural). – "Huoneessa ovat sängyt" is almost ungrammatical, it's hard to say what kind of context would make it plausible. Word order is quite free, of course, so you could see it as a variant of Sängyt ovat huoneessa (The beds are in the room) where the topic comes first as usual. --Surfo (talk) 08:35, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
Well, Kaksi sänkyä is indeed the full subject noun phrase, but the head of the phrase is kaksi, which is often called a 'numeral', but this analysis is incomplete, strictly Finnish lacks numerals like in English, where numerals are determiners, in Finnish they are nouns. More literally, it would mean 'twosome', which is why one uses the partitive singular case with them, (literally 'a twosome of bed'). I'm just pointing out that this argument does not suffice to explain the singular 'on' here. Kaksi or Kaksi sänkyä' is most certainly not the object, but a subject in the singular grammatically. If the subject would become plural, as in huonessa ovat sänkyä, the verb—at least in literary finnish where the destinction between plural and singular still exists for third person—conjugates for plural accordingly. Rajakhr (talk) 20:20, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
It certainly is not that simple ("Finnish lacks numerals"), or you are just playing with words. You can possibly explain something by saying that kaksi sänkyä is "twosome of beds", but how about kahdessa sängyssä ("in twosome in beds"??). – About the verb in singular: The Finnish verb is always in singular (i.e. does not agree in number with the subject), when the subject's case is partitive: Lintuja lentää etelään, "(some) birds + fly + southwards". Existential statements mostly have a partitive subject, so that's that. Even when the existential subject is nominative (Pöydällä on sakset "There is a pair of scissors on the table", Täällä on parhaat pitsat, "Here are (= at this place you can find) the best pizzas"), the verb is singular with very few exceptions. --Surfo (talk) 08:58, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Possessive Suffixes?[edit]

While this article refers to them marginally, it never actually treats them. There is a basic overview over them in a general article about Possessive Affixes in languages over the world, but it isn't very detailed (only example is with "talo", house), and doesn't give any information whatsoever about what happens to a word if you attach a possessive suffix on it. What, for example, happens if you attach -ni to a word ending with an S, like, say, "aatos" or "avaus", or words ending in T, like "aivot"? If the result isn't just "aatosni", "avausni" and "aivotni", what processes are involved? Besides, even if just copied from that Possessive Affixes, there needs to be a chapter in this article about them. (talk) 23:14, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Most nouns ending with S are either verb-based forms such as avaus, opening, or a type of diminutive form aatos, thought ← aate, idea, ideologism; in either case the declined stem replaces S with -kse-, so "avau|s" becomes "avau|kse|n" and in translative case "avau|kse|kse|ni" (into/as my opening, e.g. avauksekseni pöytään pataässän, "I table the ace of spades as my opening". These S forms exist only in nominative singular. The only exception that comes to mind is ruis, rye, where the declined stem is rukii.
"aivot" is the plural of "aivo", and declination goes through the plural stem aivoi and becomes aivojeni. aivot is definite plural "the brains" and modern plural aivoja is "(some) brains". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:13, 21 April 2012 (UTC)


The examples given throughout this article, particularly in the tables (e.g., in Finnish grammar#Word order) would be easier to follow if there were at least word-by-word glosses (or, better yet, morpheme-by-morpheme glosses where appropriate). Thanks, rʨanaɢ (talk) 00:24, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Finnish declension[edit]

If nobody minds, I would like to create this article, to explain the morphological aspects of the inflection of Finnish nouns, adjectives and pronouns. There is still more to be said about it than is currently present in this article, and I think it would be beneficial to have a single article that focuses only on morphology, and not on usage. This article already long enough so it's better to split it off. We already have Finnish verb conjugation for verbs, too. CodeCat (talk) 17:37, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Possessive suffixes[edit]

They don't seem to be listed anywhere on this page, where one would expect to find them. They are found in the general article possessive suffixes, though. -- (talk) 19:18, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Finnish verb conjugation[edit]

The page Finnish grammar, on section 5 Verb forms, says "Finnish verbs are usually divided into seven groups depending on the stem type." but the page Finnish verb conjugation says there are six main groups. This is a bit contradictory to me. As I just started learning Finnish, this is confusing. There are 7 or 6 main groups? The 7th verb type is the irregular ones? Heitorpb (talk) 18:17, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

According to the division of Institute for the Languages of Finland, Finnish has 27 basic verb conjugation classes. These can be subgrouped further, but this is to some degree open to interpretation.
It does appear to be the case though that this page and Finnish verb conjugation have some major overlap. Cleanup would be valuable. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 16:32, 12 October 2015 (UTC)