Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to say 'for' in Finnish

The preposition from is always either sta or stä (elative) or lta or ltä (ablative), right?

  • Tulin eilen New Yorkista. - I came from New York yesterday.
  • Sain Richardilta timantteja.  - I got diamonds from Richard. 

However, the preposition for has more options, at least six different endings:

1. Partitive:
  • Minä odotan sinua. - I'll wait for you.

2. Genitive:
  • Aion olla Pekingissä viikon. - I plan to stay in Beijing for a week. 
  • Se kesti tunnin.  - It lasted for an hour.

3. Elative:
  • Kiitos kyydistä. - Thank you for the ride.

4. Allative:
  • Tämä on sinulle. - This is for you. 
  • Mennään lounaalle. - Let's go for a lunch.

5. Translative:
  • Menen kolmeksi päiväksi Helsinkiin. - I'm going to Helsinki for three days.
  • Hän tulee tänne kahdeksi viikoksi. - She will come here for two weeks. 

6. Essive:
  • Älä pidä sitä itsestäänselvyytenä! - Don't take it for granted!

Related posts:


  1. It'sonly fair considering the wide range of meanings for "for" in English.

  2. Awesome....Helps make a lot more sense!! Thanks a lot....keep em coming....I may get it right one day :)

  3. Kiitos blogista, Hanna!

    Maybe you could explain something I've been wondering about recently: what's the difference between using the allative and using varten?

    So for your example:

    Tämä on sinulle

    would you also be able to say

    Tämä on sinua varten

    and if so would it have a different shade of meaning?

  4. Kiitos ideasta! Kirjoitan siitä pian jotain, mutta tässä on mielenkiintonen linkki aiheesta:

  5. Niin, se on mielenkiintoista! Mutta vähän vaikeaa suomeksi...


  6. Thanks for this great blog! I just discovered it.

    How do you know whether to use the genitive or the translative in time expressions? Or are they interchangeable?

    For instance, what is the difference between "Aion olla Pekingissä viikon" and "Hän tulee tänne kahdeksi viikoksi"? Does it have to do with the number of weeks (one vs many)? Could you say "Aion olla Pekingissä viikoksi" or "Hän tulee tänne kahden viikon"?

    1. I think it has to do with the verb that you are using. And no, they are not interchangeable.

      Aion olla Pekingissä viikon. - I plan to stay in Beijing for a week.
      If you are staying there for two weeks, that would be "kaksi viikkoa."
      Hän tulee tänne viikoksi. - He is coming here for a week, his plan is to be here for a week.
      The translative is used at least with mennä - to go, tulla - to come, matkustaa - to travel, jäädä - to stay. Genitive is used with more static verbs: Hän on siellä viikon. - He will be there for a week. Hän asui siellä vuoden. - He lived there for a year.

    2. I forgot this one: No, you cannot say "Aion olla Pekingissä viikoksi" or "Hän tulee tänne kahden viikon". Certain verbs can only take certain endings.

    3. That explains it! Thanks very much for the (fast!) reply.

      If I can bother you more, is there a good way to understand the case difference between "viikon" and "kaksi" in the examples "aion olla Pekingissä viikon" and "aion olla Pekingissä kaksi viikkoa" ? How come "kaksi" wouldn't be in the genitive here like "viikon"?

    4. Yes, the phenomenon is called (my translation) an adverbial of quantity that takes the object case.

      You treat "viikko" like you'd treat "omena".

      Aion syödä omenan. Aion olla siellä viikon.

      Aion syödä kaksi omenaa. Aion olla siellä kaksi viikkoa.

      Remember, if there is any reason to use partitive (here the number 2), use it. Partitive wins all the battles of the cases! :)

      Here's an informative Slideshare document about the time expressions:

    5. Thanks again! I didn't know about that. And the slides are great.