Friday, September 28, 2012

tai - vai

Two little words, and they both mean or. What is the difference?

Vai is used when you have a certain amount of choices and you have to pick one. Vai is only used in questions. (Usually foreigners tend to overuse this one. Soon you'll know better!)

Another common use of vai is vai mitä at the end of the sentence.

  • Tavataan keskustassa, vai mitä? - Let's meet in downtown, right? (or what?)

Tai is used in commands and in affirmative sentences, but also in questions. In question, tai is used when there is a hidden idea of for example or or something else. 

  • Haluatko omenan tai appelsiinin? - Do you want an apple or an orange? (For example. Or something else to eat? You don't have to take anything.) Compare: Haluatko omenan vai appelsiinin? = I assume that you want either an apple or an orange, so now tell me which one.
  • Osta maitoa tai piimää. - Buy milk or sourmilk/buttermilk.
  • Soitan sinulle huomenna tai ylihuomenna. - I'll call you tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

If you want to be really annoying in Finnish, end all your sentences with either vai mitä or tai jotain, which means or something. 


About the author of this blog:  

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti, and I am a native Finn who gives private lessons via Skype and simplifies books into easy Finnish. Please leave a comment, if you have something to ask about Finnish. Here you can take a look at my available group courses and all my simple Finnish novels. You can also order my posts to your email. (There's a link on the right hand banner.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fluent in 3 Months

Some of you must know this one already, but I just found this blog about language learning. So inspiring!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Here's another post inspired by the traffic sources: someone had found this blog by searching lesson of clock in Finnish. I hope this will answer your questions and even more.

Different ways of asking the time:

  • Mitä kello on? - What time is it?
  • (Kuinka) paljon kello on? Paljonko kello on? - How much is the clock? 
  • Onko sulla kelloa? - Do you have a watch/clock? 

If you already know the numbers from 1 to 12, all you have to learn is these words:

  • yli - past, over
  • vaille / vailla - to (Either one is fine.)
  • puoli - half (Notice that we say half something instead of half past.)

We also use the numbers 13-24 in association with the clock, but you won't hear them in colloquial speech unless somebody wants to be very specific. On tv, you could hear something like Uutiset alkavat tänään  kello kaksikymmentäkaksi neljäkymmentä. (Today, the news will start at twenty two forty 22.40).

Some basic time expressions:

  • Kello on viisi yli seitsemän - The clock is five past seven.
  • Onko se jo puoli yhdeksän? - Is it half past eight already? ("Half nine") 
  • Bussi lähtee kaksikymmentä vaille kahdeksan - The bus leaves at twenty to eight.
  • Elokuva alkaa vartin yli kymmenen. - The movie starts at a quarter past ten.

You can also use the partitive form of the numbers in some of the expressions, but if you want to keep it simple, just stick to the basic form.

More questions:

  • Milloin / Koska  te tulette? - When will you come?
  • Mihin aikaan se loppuu? - At what time will it end?  (Often monelta in spoken language)

Notice that when something happens at an even hour or half past, you need the ablative ending lta/ltä.

  • Tulen kuudelta. - I'll come at six.
  • Tavataan puoli kymmeneltä. - Let's meet a half past nine.

  Mitä kello on? What time it is? Milloin? When?                 
 1  Yksi Yhdeltä
 2  Kaksi Kahdelta
 3  Kolme Kolmelta
 4  Neljä Neljältä
 5  Viisi Viideltä
 6  Kuusi Kuudelta
 7  Seitsemän Seitsemältä
 8  Kahdeksan Kahdeksalta
 9  Yhdeksän Yhdeksältä
 10  Kymmenen Kymmeneltä
 11  Yksitoista Yhdeltätoista
12  Kaksitoista Kahdeltatoista

Notice that the d isn't really pronounced in spoken language. Instead, people say kaheksan, yheksän, yheltä, kahelta etc.

Do you want to know more about the numbers? Here's a post about the numbers in partitive and in genitive cases  and here's another one about the ordinal numbers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fighting in Finnish

Fighting is Finnish is almost as risky as having sex in Finnish, but you have to start from somewhere! Here are couple of fun structures with which you can surprise your friend who has chosen to nag about something pointless in Finnish.

Housuissas on literally translates to In your pants there is/are and it is most commonly used to refer to the noun(s) mentioned in the comment, accusation or a complaint. There is no way to beat a good Housuissas on, or to carry the conversation in any civilized direction, so if you manage to say these magic words at the right time, you're the winner!

  • Se oli huono idea. (It was a bad idea.)
  • Housuissas on!

Another one is Isäs oli, which translates to Your father was and is a short version of a quite vulgar Isäs oli kun sua teki = That's what your father was (like) when he made you. Like Housuissas on, it is not very constructive at all. Other versions are Äitis/Mutsis oli, and I've even heard Mummos oli. 

  • Miten sä olet aina myöhässä? (How come you're always late?)
  • Isäs oli!

  • Sä olet nyt tosi sekava. (You're very confusing now.)
  • Isäs oli!

Notice the interesting use of the remains of the possessive suffix si that is normally not used so much in the spoken language. For some reason, it is often used with close family members like Onko äitis jo eläkkeellä? - Is your mother already retired and Mitäs se sun veljes tekikään? - Tell me again, what did you brother do? 

Having sex in Finnish

I'm so glad that this vocabulary list exists, so I don't have to write one. If you want to read what regular Finns, whatever that is, write about sex, take a look at the sex forum on Vauva means baby, but not in the Hey baby way.

If you want to spice up your life with Skype or phone sex in Finnish, Seksipuhelin Marjatta shows you how the magic is done. (And now have a nice day watching all the Kummeli videos on Youtube.)

Related posts:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

tavata - tavata - tappaa

One of the classic mistakes in Finnish is to mix up tavata, to meet, and tappaa, to kill. A typical sentence of this case would be

  • Tapan mun tyttöystävän vanhemmat ensi viikonloppuna. - I'll kill my girlfriend's parents next weekend. (Yes, it should be tapaan, I'll meet.)

There's also another similar verb to tavata, and confusingly, its basic form is also tavata. The meaning of this word is to spell, and the verb conjugation differs only in consonant gradation.

  • Missä te tapaatte? - Where will you meet?
  • Missä te tavaatte? - Where will you spell?

If you mix up these verbs,  Finns will still understand what you mean. However,  if you want to reach for the perfection, be aware of the difference between the three following verbs and their four important forms.

to meet: tavata, tapaan, tapasin, tavannut

  • Kuinka te tapasitte? - How did you meet?
  • Mihin aikaan tavataan? - At what time shall we meet? (Or spell, but meeting makes more sense.)

to spell, or to read (Finnish) syllables: tavata, tavaan, tavasin, tavannut

  • Vieläkö koulussa tavataan, kun opetellaan lukemaan? - Do they still spell the words in syllables when learning to read at school? 

(Notice that tavaaminen in Finnish means reading the words in syllables when learning how to read. It's not just listing the letters like in spelling bees. The question How do you spell your name? is  Kuinka sun nimi kirjoitetaan?, which literally means How your name is written?)

to kill: tappaa, tapan, tapoin, tappanut

  • Tappakaa ne hämähäkit! - Kill those spiders!
  • Mikä ei tapa, se vahvistaa. - What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

This post was inspired by my friend Emili, who told me about the interesting people she had spelled during the summer. She was pretty upset that nobody had corrected her during the last SEVEN years, but now she knows the difference! Talking about Emili, if you live in Helsinki area and are looking for a singing teacher or classical music entertainment, do contact her. 

Friday, September 14, 2012


So many things to be grateful of! Here's a list of different thank yous.
In spoken language, kiitos is often kiitti.

  • Kiitos ruuasta. (You may also see the spelling ruoasta) - Thanks for the food. 
  • Kiitos avusta. - Thanks for the help. 
  • Kiitos mielenkiintoisesta esitelmästä. - Thank you for the interesting presentation.
  • Kiitos viimeisestä. - Thank you (for whatever happened last time we saw each other).
  • Kiitos, että annoit minun nukkua kolmen tunnin päiväunet. - Thank you for letting me nap for three hours.
  • Kiitos nopeasta vastauksesta. - Thank you for the quick answer.
  • Kiitos seurasta. - Thanks for the company. 
  • Kiitos itsellesi! - Thanks to you!
  • Kiitos tosi kivasta päivästä. - Thank you for the very nice day.
  • Kiitos, kun olet olemassa. - Thank you for being in this world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shopping in a grocery store

Here's something for the beginners and for anyone who is bored with Angry Birds and wants to get addicted to a new game. Papumarket is a grocery store game on a website called Papunet. What a great way to practice the supermarket items in Finnish!

The game is all in Finnish, but here are the main  instructions and headings translated. I'm sure you'll figure out the rest. Have fun playing!

  • Harjoittele kaupassakäyntiä / maksamista. - Practice shopping / paying. 
  • Valitse vaikeustaso. - Choose the level of difficulty.

  • Ostoslista - Shopping list
  • Edellinen / Seuraava osasto - Previous / Next department
  • Valitse osasto - Choose the department
  • Kassalle - To the checkout

  • Hedelmät - Fruits
  • Juurekset ja vihannekset - Root vegetables and vegetables
  • Leipomotuotteet - Bakery products
  • Einekset ja säilykkeet - Prepared and canned foods
  • Mausteet, öljyt ja kastikkeet - Spices, oils and sauces
  • Jauhot, murot ja makaronit - Flours, cereals and macaronis
  • Liha, kala, kana - Meat, fish, chicken
  • Maitotuotteet - Dairy products
  • Virvoitusjuomat, kahvit ja teet - Soft drinks, coffees and teas
  • Pakasteet - Frozen foods
  • Makeiset ja naposteltavat - Candies and snacks
  • Koti ja hygienia - Home and hygiene

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Olla töissä

I noticed that somebody had found this blog by searching the keywords as verb, en töissä. Thank you for the post idea!

If you look up to work in a dictionary, the first suggestion is probably TYÖSKENNELLÄ. However, this verb is often used in kind of official situations and in job applications. I don't think I've ever used it in spontaneous speech.

  • Haluaisin työskennellä iltaisin ja viikonloppuisin. - I'd like to work evenings and weekends.
  • Työskentelin opiskeluaikoinani Hesburgerissa. - I used to work at Hesburger when I was a student.

OLLA TÖISSÄ = to be at work  

TEHDÄ TÖITÄ = to do work

  • Mä tykkään tehdä töitä kotona. - I like to work at home.
  • Tehdään vielä vartti töitä ja mennään sitten tupakalle. - Let's work for fifteen more minutes and then go for a cigarette.

You've probably noticed by now that the noun työ is often used in the plural form. Here are the three internal cases:

TÖISSÄ = at work
  • Olen töissä, mutta soitan sinulle iltapäivällä. - I'm at work, but I'll call you in the afternoon. 

TÖISTÄ = from work
  • Yritän lähteä töistä ennen neljää. - I'll try to leave from work before four o'clock.

TÖIHIN = to work
  • Mihin aikaan sinä menet töihin? - At what time do you go to work?

Notice that there is no such verb as työdä. :)

"Reading is fun when it's easy!


About the author of this blog:  

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti, and I am a native Finn who gives private lessons via Skype and simplifies books into easy Finnish. Please leave a comment, if you have something to ask about Finnish.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


If you don't remember some word in Finnish you can always try juttu. Here are some examples that show you how to use juttu in a sentence:


About the author of this blog:  

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti, and I am a native Finn who gives private lessons via Skype and simplifies books into easy Finnish. Please leave a comment, if you have something to ask about Finnish or novels in easy Finnish.