Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The E-infinitive, or the grammatical structure formerly known as a second infinitive, exists in two different cases: instructive and inessive. If you like infinitives, you could also check out my posts about the MA-infinitive and the A-infinitive.

The instructive:

This one is used when expressing a manner or a style. Take the basic for of the verb and switch the a or ä into e, and add the instructive n.

  • nauraa > nauraen: "Joo!", hän sanoi nauraen. - "Yes!", he said laughing. 
  • syödä > syöden: Vietin koko illan suklaata syöden. - I spent the whole evening eating chocolate. 
  • kävellä > kävellen: Menittekö te sinne kävellen? - Did you go there by foot?
  • siivota > siivoten:  Katsoin uutisia keittiötä siivoten. - I was watching the news while tidying up the kitchen. 

If there is an e before the infinitive a or ä, the E-infinitive has ie.

  • itkeä > itkien: Tyttö juoksi itkien kotiin. - The girl ran home crying. 
  • lähteä > lähtien: Mistä lähtien? - Since when?

The inessive:

This one is used when emphasizing that two things happen at the same time. Remember the possessive suffix, if it is a same person who performs both activities.

nauraessani = kun minä nauran
nauraessasi = kun sinä naurat
nauraessaan = kun hän nauraa
nauraessamme = kun me nauramme
nauraessanne = kun te nauratte
nauraessaan = kun he nauravat

  • lähettää > lähettäessä: Mikko kaatui lähettäessään tekstiviestiä. - Mikko fell down as he was writing a text message. 
  • nousta > noustessa: Noustessaan ylös hän huomasi, että kaikki nauroivat. - As he was getting up he noticed that everyone was laughing. 

If there are two different subjects, put the other person in genitive and forget the possessive suffix. You can also switch the word order.

  • Säikähdin Mikon kaatuessa. - I was startled when Mikko fell down.
  • Nauroin Mikon noustessa ylös. - I laughed as Mikko got up.
  • Mikon noustessa ylös minä nauroin. - As Mikko was getting up, I laughed.

You are more likely to see these E-infinitives in texts than hear people using them in a spontaneous speech. Instead, we'd use a subclause starting with kun:

  • Mä säikähdin, kun Mikko kaatui.  - I was startled when Mikko fell down.
  • Mä nauroin, kun Mikko nousi ylös. - I  laughed when Mikko got up.

Finally, this is kind of hardcore, but the inessive structure also exist in passive voice:

  • Naurettaessa keho ja mieli rentoutuvat. = When people laugh, the body and mind relax.
  • Autoa ostettaessa on oltava kärsivällinen. = One must  be patient when buying a car. 
  • Tarvittaessa voin työskennellä myös öisin. - When / if needed, I can also work at night. 

The E-infinitives are confusingly close to some of the MA-infinitive forms. Here are sentences that show the difference between keskustellen, keskustellessa, keskustelemalla and keskustelemassa. Keskustella is to have a conversation or to talk, but usually the tone is rather serious or formal.

  • Vietimme koko junamatkan keskustellen kokouksesta. - We spent the whole train ride talking about the meeting. 
  • Ratkaisimme ongelman keskustelemalla. - We solved the problem by talking.
  • Olin neuvotteluhuoneessa keskustelemassa esimieheni kanssa. - I was in a conference room having a conversation with my boss. 
  • Meidän keskustellessamme muut olivat pitsalla. - While we were having a conversation, the others were having a pizza.

Aren't the Finnish verbs amazing? The website Ymmärrä suomea has a nice list of most common verbs conjugated in all kinds of crazy forms.
Have fun! Pitäkää hauskaa!


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, July 12, 2014


The official name of what I normally just call the basic form of a verb is the basic form of the A-infinitive. After reading this post you'll know that there is also a translative form of the A-infinitive. I also have a post about the MA-infinitive and the E-infinitive.

In these examples, the first verb is conjugated according to the person, and the second one is in A-infinitive:

  • osata: Osaatko uida? - Can you swim? Do you know how to swim? 
  • saada: En saa uida, koska olen sairas. - I'm not allowed to swim, because I'm sick.
  • voida: En voi uida, koska minulla ei ole uimapukua. - I can't swim, because I don't have a swimming suit.
  • jaksaa: Jaksatko uida tuohon saareen? - Do you have the energy to swim to that island?
  • tarjeta: Kuinka sinä tarkenet uida noin kylmässä vedessä? - How can you stand the cold when swimming in such a cold water?
  • haluta: Haluan uida! - I want to swim! 
  • tykätä: Tykkäätkö uida yksin vai muiden kanssa? - Do you like to swim alone or with the others?

The translative form of the A-infinitive is used to replace a subclause that starts with the conjunction jotta, which means so that or in order to. Normally the translative ending is ksi, but with this particular verb construction it is kse.

  • Tulin kurssille oppiakseni suomea. = Tulin kurssille, jotta oppisin suomea. - I came to the course in order to / so that I would learn Finnish.
  • Hän lähti jo kotiin mennäkseen aikaisin nukkumaan. = Hän lähti jo kotiin, jotta hän voisi mennä aikaisin nukkumaan. - He left for home already in order to / so that he would go to sleep early.

Remember the correct possessive suffix:

  • oppiakseni
  • oppiaksesi
  • oppiakseen or oppiaksensa
  • oppiaksemme
  • oppiaksenne
  • oppiakseen or oppiaksensa

Actually, this form isn't very common in spoken language. Normally, I'd just use the jotta sentence. However, there are a couple of expressions with the translative structure that are very common in spoken language. Notice how the meaning is a bit different:

  • Mun muistaakseni juna lähtee neljältä. - As far as I remember, the train leaves at four o'clock.
  • Mun tietääkseni se on naimisissa. - As far as I know, she's married.
  • Mun ymmärtääkseni kokous on peruttu. - If I understand correctly, they've cancelled the meeting.


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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

kansa - kanssa

First of all, kansa means people or nation. Kanssa is with or as well.

  • Tulitko sä Matin kanssa? - Did you come with Matti? (Matin kaa in spoken language.)
  • Kenen kanssa sä asut? - Who do you live with?
  • Mulla menee hermot tämän esseen kanssa! - I'm losing my mind (nerves) with this essay!
  • Onko teillä kakkua? Mulle kanssa! - Do you have cake? Some for me, too! (Mulle kans in spoken language.)

Kanssa is sometimes used too much. Usually the adessive ending lla or llä works better, and you might even need a totally different structure in Finnish:

  • Syö haarukalla ja veitsellä! - Eat with a fork and knife!
  • Kaivoitko tuon kuopan lapiolla vai paljain käsin? - Did you dig that hole with a spade or with your bare hands?
  • Ei saa juosta sakset kädessä! - No running with scissors!