Friday, November 30, 2012


Here's a post about kestää, a topic that was requested a couple of days ago. I actually had to make a phone call to figure out the history behind Eipä kestä. Kotimaisten kielten keskus is all about Finnish, and you can easily spend hours on their site. However, if you're in a hurry, you can just call Kielitoimiston neuvontapuhelin and ask anything. Save that number on your phone. Now.

Here are some examples of the most common use of kestää: (kestän, kestin, kestänyt)

to last

  • Kuinka kauan tämä kestää? - How long will this last?
  • Kylläpä se kesti! - Man, that took a long time!
  • Mikä sulla kestää? - What's taking you so long?

to stand, to tolerate, to cope, to hold up

  • Kuinka te kestätte toisianne? - How can you stand each other?
  • Mä en kestä tätä enää! - I cannot take this anymore.
  • Kestä vielä vähän aikaa. - Hold up for a while.

to be strong enough

  • Kestääkö tämä tuoli minua? - Can I sit on this chair or will it break?

These words are derived from kestää:

Finally, here's the explanation for Eipä kestä:

Back in the old days, one of the meanings of kestää was to deserve. Maybe it's still like that in some dialects, but I cannot think of an example. When we answer Ei kestä or Eipä kestä to Kiitos, we actually mean Ei kestä kiittää. = Whatever I said or did wasn't so special that it would deserve a thank you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Terveisiä Suomesta!

In the honour of reaching over 10 000 views since I started this blog in August, I decided to learn how to add pictures. I just adore bad characteristic postcards from Finland, and these two are my gems. What kind of people design postcards like this?! And who wants to pose in them? This one I bought in Saariselkä:

Obviously, these hot hunks have probably never been to Finland, let alone posed in a yellow speedo (or nude!) by a Finnish lake. Where do you think they're from? Young and desperate for money, did they know that their pictures would end up in a postcard with a Finnish sunset? Anyway, this postcard totally says Tervetuloa Suomeen. - Welcome to Finland.

The other card portraits three naked ladies enjoying the kesämökki life. (Or is there a woman hidden somewhere in the upper right corner?) The upper left picture looks like it was taken by a stalker neighbour. The lady throwing löyly seems quite happy with the situation, even though the sauna is probably cold and the photographer didn't bother giving her a pefletti. However, my favourite is the lady hiding her face in her perm while trying to avoid sliding into a May-cold lake. Is this good PR for Finland or what?

Here are some typical post card phrases:

  • Terveisiä Suomesta! - Greetings from Finland!
  • Täällä on ihanaa. - It's lovely in here. 
  • Olisitpa sinäkin täällä. - I wish you were here, too.
  • Terveisiä Pirkolle! - Say hi to Pirkko!
  • Terveisiä Markulta! - Greetings form Markku!
  • Terveisin - With greetings
  • Rakkaudella - With love

Update in June 2013: I just made a short trip to Helsinki and found a perfect place for buying inspiring sauna post cards!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Käyttää - Käydä

Every now and then I hear people mixing these two verbs. Käyttää is to use. Käydä has many meanings, but in everyday speech it's usually to visit.

Käyttää, käytän, käytin, käyttänyt

  • Kuka on käyttänyt mun hammasharjaa? - Who's been using my toothbrush?
  • Minä käytin sitä eilen. - I used it yesterday.
  • Käytätkö maitoa tai sokeria? - Do you use milk or sugar?

Käydä, käyn, kävin, käynyt

  • En ole koskaan käynyt täällä aikaisemmin. - I've never been here before. 
  • Voisitko käydä kaupassa töiden jälkeen? - Could you go to the grocery store after work?
  • Kävitkö aamulla suihkussa? - Did you take a shower in the morning? 
  • Mun täytyy käydä vessassa. - I have to use the bathroom.
  • Se käy mulle hyvin. - That's ok with me.
  • Miten sun työhaastattelussa kävi? - How did your job interview go?
  • Käykö pankkikortti? - Can I pay with my bank card?

Visiting a friend in Finnish:

  • Tulkaa käymään meillä joku päivä! - Come and visit us some day! (Just a quick visit.)
  • Tulkaa mun luokse kylään. - Come to my place for a visit. (A nice, long visit.) 
  • Tervetuloa meille! - Welcome to our place!
  • Kävin niillä eilen. - I was at their place yesterday.
  • Mä olin koko päivän Elinalla. - I spent the whole day at Elina's.
  • Mennään Heidin luokse! - Let's go to Heidi's place!
  • Oletko sä käynyt Mikon luona? - Have you been to Mikko's place?


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.

Vain elämää

Vain elämää is absolutely the best thing on Finnish television for a long time. It's entertaining, touching and full of great Finnish music. Seven Finnish singers spending a week together and performing their own versions of each other's hit songs. The show ended last Friday, but you can watch the episodes online, buy the album and became a huge fan of all the artists.  This performance was voted the best by the viewers. Nothing like a depressive song on a rainy and grey November evening, that's what we Finns like. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Verb type 2

This is probably the easiest of the verb types: no consonant change, just dropping the da or before the personal endings.

  • Minä syön. - I eat.
  • Sinä syöt. - You eat. 
  • Hän syö. - S/he eats. (Notice how you don't add anything to the stem.)
  • Me syömme. - We eat. 
  • Te syötte. - You eat. 
  • He syövät. - They eat.

to drink: juoda, juon, join, juonut
  • Oletko juonut tarpeeksi? - Have you drunk enough?

to eat: syödä, syön, söin, syönyt
  • Miksi sinä et syönyt aamulla? - Why didn't you eat in the morning?

to get, to receive, to have permission to do something: saada, saan, sain, saanut

to vacuum: imuroida, imuroin, imuroin, imuroinut
  • Imuroitko jo keittiön? - Did you already vacuum the kitchen?

to wrap up : paketoida, paketoin, paketoin, paketoinut
  • Minä haluan paketoida sen! - I want to wrap it up!

The past tense is kind of fun to make: Notice how the first vowel is dropped when the past tense i is added in between the verb stem and the personal ending:

  • Juon kahvia ja syön pullaa. - I'm drinking coffee and eating pulla.
  • Join kahvia ja söin pullaa. - I drank coffee and ate pulla. 

If there is an i before the infinite ending da or , the present and past tenses are the same, but only in a positive sentence.

to slice:  viipaloida, viipaloin, viipaloin, viipaloinut
  • Kalle viipaloi kurkun. - Kalle slices the cucumber. / Kalle sliced the cucumber. 
  • Kalle ei viipaloi kurkkua. - Kalle doesn't slice the cucumber. 
  • Kalle ei viipaloinut kurkkua.  - Kalle didn't slice the cucumber.

Tehdä and nähdä have an exceptional conjugation and features from both verb type 1 (consonant gradation) and verb type 3 (adding the e).

to do, to make: tehdä, teen, tein, tehnyt

minä teen         me teemme (me tehdään)
sinä teet           te teette
hän tekee         he tekevät (ne tekee)

  • Mitä te teitte eilen? -What did you do yesterday?
  • Voitko tehdä minulle palveluksen? - Can you do me a favour?

to see: nähdä, näen, näin, nähnyt

minä näen         me näemme (me nähdään)
sinä näet           te näette
hän näkee         he näkevät (ne näkee)

  • Oletko nähnyt tätä elokuvaa? - Have you seen this movie?
  • Minä en näe mitään! - I cannot see anything!

Related posts:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Urbaani sanakirja

If you feel like the traditional dictionary isn't enough, try Urbaani sanakirja. You can also subscribe to the word of the day!

kuinka - miten

I was asked to explain the difference between kuinka and miten. They both mean how, and they are used the same way.

  • Kuinka se tapahtui? - How did it happen?
  • Miten tälle kurssille ilmoittaudutaan? - How do you sign up for this course?
  • Kuinka paljon tuo maksoi? - How much did that cost?
  • Miten kauan tämä kestää? - How long does this last?
  • Kuinka painava sun matkalaukku on? - How heavy is your suitcase?
  • Miten vanha sä oot? - How old are you?

In spoken language, kuinka is often shortened to kui or kuin.

  • Kui vanha se on? - How old is s/he?
  • Kuin kauan se kestää? - How long does it last? (Actually the n isn't pronounced, but instead, there's äng.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Minulla on

Having something in Finnish requires using a special possessive structure. The verb is always on (or oli in the past tense), but you have to remember to have the personal pronoun or the proper name in the adessive form, the one with the lla or llä ending.

  • Minulla on -  I have
  • Sinulla on - You have
  • Hänellä on - He or she has
  • Meillä on - We have
  • Teillä on - You have
  • Heillä on - They have

Here's what happens if you forget the adessive ending:

  • Jussilla on koira. - Jussi has a dog.
  • Jussi on koira. - Jussi is a dog. 

Here are some everyday sentences with the possessive structure. The first one is in written language, the other one in spoken language.

  • Minulla on nälkä. Mulla on nälkä. - I'm hungry.
  • Kenellä on jano? - Who's thirsty?
  • Mitä sinulla on tänään? Mitä sulla on tänään? - What do you have today?
  • Mitä asiaa hänellä oli? Mitä asiaa sillä oli? - What did s/he have to say?
  • Meillä on tänään kaalilaatikkoa. - We're having cabbage casserole today. (The word is in partitive, because it is an uncountable food word.)
  • Onko teillä ensi viikonloppuna jotain? - Do you have something going on next weekend? 
  • Heillä on tosi hieno asunto. Niillä on tosi hieno kämppä. - They have a really nice apartment.

If you don't have something, the verb is ei ole and whatever you don't have is in partitive.

  • Minulla on avain. - I have a key.
  • Minulla ei ole avainta. - I don't have a key. 
  • Meillä on auto.  - We have a car. 
  • Meillä ei ole autoa. - We don't have a car.

(... except for things like nälkä, jano, kuuma and kylmä; hunger, thirst, hot and cold.)

The past tense form is oli: 
  • Minulla oli eilen tosi kivaa! - I had a great time yesterday!

If the name of a person ends with a consonant, add an i before the ending.
  • Haraldilla on liput ensi-iltaan. - Harald has the tickets to the premiere. 

When the name ends with as or us, the s becomes kse before the ending.
  • Matiaksella on kiire. - Matias is busy.

Notice the consonant change:

  • Martilla on upea kesämökki. - Martti has a fabulous summer cottage.

If you are talking about many things, you might need a partitive, t-plural or plural partitive:

  • Minulla on viisi avainta. - I have five keys.
  • Minulla on avaimet. - I have the keys.
  • Minulla on avaimia. - I have a random amount of keys. 
  • Minulla ei ole avaimia. - I don't have (the) keys.

Here are two questions that look almost the same, but the meaning is very different. Mikä is the basic form of what, and mitä is the partitive form.

  • Mitä sinulla on? - What do you have?
  • Mikä sinulla on? - What's wrong with you?

Another way of asking is with the ko/kö question:

  • Onko sinulla aikaa? - Do you have time?
  • Oliko sulla kivaa? - Did you have fun?

p.s. Check out this post about the adessive ending LLA. It's one of my favourite endings.:)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

auttaa - apu

To help in Finnish is auttaa. The noun help is apu.

auttaa, autan, autoin, auttanut

  • Minä autan sinua. - I'll help you.
  • Miksi sinä et auttanut omaa veljeäsi? - Why didn't you help your own brother?
  • Anteeksi, mutta voisitko auttaa vähän? - Excuse me, but could you help a little?
  • Kiitos kun autoit meitä. - Thanks for helping us.
  • Auttakaa! - Hey people, help!


  • Apua!! - (Give me some) help!!
  • Tarvitsetko apua? - Do you need help?
  • Kiitos avusta tosi paljon. - Thanks a lot for the help.
  • Tästä oli todella paljon apua. - This was really helpful.
  • Toivottavasti tästä oli apua. - I hope this was helpful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


It's never too early to think about Christmas cards! Just make sure that you write them correctly, and unlike so many Finns and card companies, do NOT capitalize every single word in your greeting, like this: Hyvää Joulua Ja Onnellista Uutta Vuotta. It's just wrong no matter how pretty and artistic it might look like.

Are you familiar with this old poem about the Finnish minuscules?

Viikonpäivät, kaikki kuut, 
joulu ynnä juhlat muut
pienellä ne kirjoitamme
virkkeen keskellä jos on ne.

= The days of the week, all the months / Christmas and other festivities / we spell them with a small letter / if they are in the middle of a sentence. (Same goes for nationalities and languages.)  If you want to know more about this topic, check out the Institute for the Languages of Finland and Kielitohtori.

Here are the most typical Christmas greeting phrases and their literal translations:

  • Hauskaa joulua - Merry Christmas
  • Iloista joulua - Joyous Christmas
  • Hyvää joulua - Good Christmas
  • Rauhallista joulua - Peaceful Christmas
  • ja onnellista uutta vuotta - and a Happy New Year

Feel free to mix and be creative! You can leave your greeting to the comment box and I'll add it to the list.

P.S. Here are some interesting sites for alternative Christmas presents:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

YKI test

Many foreigners end up taking the YKI test at some point of their lives. Most often the test level is intermediate, because that is one of the ways to prove your language skills when applying for the Finnish citizenship.

There are a couple of websites and books that you can use when practicing for the test:

Here's a blog post about taking the YKI test. The grammar isn't part of the exam anymore, but otherwise your YKI experience will be pretty much like described. Here's another blog by a student who prepared for the YKI test in the spring 2015. (Yes, she passed the exam!)

This is my rough translation of the instructions for the test participants, with some additions of my own. 

Before the exam:

  • Listen and speak Finnish as much as you can. Practice and review the basics.
  • Be aware that the instructions of the exam are in Finnish.
  • Choose the date of the test, where you want to take it and sign up. Fill in the application and send it to the test organizer. 
  • Pay the exam fee. (I couldn't find instructions for this, but I'm sure you'll find it out later.)
  • Make sure you'll have a pencil, eraser and an official ID document with you in the test. No dictionaries.
  • Rest and eat well before the exam. It will be a long day, though you will be able to eat and use the bathroom between the parts of the exam.
  • You might want to take a wrist watch with you to the exam, if it makes you comfortable to know exactly how many minutes or seconds you have left to speak or prepare for the task. 

In the exam:

  • Be on time. If you arrive late, you cannot attend the exam. Show your ID to the supervisor. The basic and intermediate level exams take 3,5 - 4 hours and the advanced level test will be about 5-6 hours.
  • The exam takes place in two parts: Reading comprehension and writing in a classroom, and speaking and listening comprehension in a language studio.
  • Don't be shy in the language studio. Speak clearly and loudly. Avoid short yes/no answers, though it is important to always say something. An actual human being will listen and evaluate your performance a couple of weeks later, so it's important that s/he can hear your voice instead of the person sitting next to you.
  • Listen and read the instructions carefully and do what you are asked to do. Use your time wisely so that you'll have time to do all the tasks.
  • Do the easy tasks first so you'll have time for the difficult ones.  Don't leave any blanks.

After the exam:

  • You'll get the certificate approximately in two months. There's important information on both sides of the certificate, so if you're taking copies, make sure to copy both sides. 

Good luck with the exam! Onnea kokeeseen! 


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. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finnish tv shows on the internet

Here's a list of websites that you can use for watching Finnish tv channels online. If you don't know what to watch, this list of the most watched tv programmes might inspire you. Check out these links, find your favourite show, and have a great weekend. Unfortunately, some of the shows are only available in Finland, but I hope you'll find something entertaning and educating to watch. Don't forget to follow the Finnish subtitles!

  • Yle Areena - Yle, Finland's national public service broadcasting company's channels (These shows are available abroad.)
  • Ruutu - Nelonen, Jim and Liv
  • Katsomo - MTV 3, Ava, Sub, Canal+, MTV 3 MAX and MTV3 Junior (You can follow these shows abroad.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Material for teaching yourself Finnish

What are your favourite self-study books or websites? Which books have you used and what made them so useful and worth the money? Did they have the correct answers? Was the audio material good? I'm updating this post as I'm getting new comments and ideas from the readers. Thanks for your help already! Kiitos avusta jo etukäteen!

Books in English:

Books in Finnish:

Websites in English:

Studying vocabulary:

Practicing listening:

Verb conjugation tables:

Instagram accounts with Finnish:

You might also like these posts:


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.

"Read a novel in easy Finnish. It might be surprisingly fun and easy!"

Verb type 3

Let's continue with the verb types. These ones are also called the e-verbs, because there's always an e in the present tense, even if you don't see it in the basic form.

to walk: kävellä, kävelen, kävelin, kävellyt
  • Kävele minun kanssani. - Walk with me.
to go: mennä, menen, menin, mennyt
  • Joko se meni? - Did he/she/it go already?
to put: panna, panen, panin, pannut 
  • Mihin sinä panit sen? - Where did you put it?
to wash: pestä, pesen, pesin, pessyt 
  • Ethän sä pessyt mun uutta villapaitaa? - You didn't wash my new sweater, did you? (Please, never ever say pestän again! :))

The rule? To make the present tense, drop the last two letters of the basic form and add an e before the personal ending, like this: tulla > tul + e + n = tulen, I come. Forming the past tense is just changing the e into i: tulen > tulin. As you can see, the verb type 3 verbs can have a couple of different endings in  the basic form. However, there's always two consonants and an a or an ä in the end.

To run has as exceptional conjugation: juosta, juoksen, juoksin, juossut
  • Juoksitko sinä koko matkan? - Did you run the whole way?

Verb types 3, 4 and 6 have a consonant change, but that is different from the one with the type 1 verbs. The basic form has a weak grade, but all the persons have a strong grade. Here's the conjugation of ajatella, to think:

minä ajattelen                me ajattelemme (me ajatellaan)
sinä ajattelet                   te ajattelette
hän ajattelee (se)            he ajattelevat (ne ajattelee)

to listen: kuunnella, kuuntelen, kuuntelin, kuunnellut
  • Kuinka te voitte kuunnella tätä p*skaa? - How can you listen to this crap?
to think: ajatella, ajattelen, ajattelin, ajatellut
  • Olin ajatellut hakea poliisikouluun. - I was thinking about applying to the Police Academy. 
to talk, to chat: jutella, juttelen, juttelin, jutellut
  • Jutellaanko tästä myöhemmin? - Shall we talk about this later?
to rinse: huuhdella, huuhtelen, huuhtelin, huuhdellut
  • Huuhtelenko nämä astiat ennen kuin ne laitetaan koneeseen? - Shall I rinse these dishes before putting them into the dishwasher?