Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to write politely in Finnish (and get what you want)

Here's a real-life email that some of you might find useful. It's written by me, and it has already served its purpose as my son was able to change his hobby group to a more suitable one. I've changed some details so that you won't know whom the email was for. 

These are the verbs of the text:

  • ilmoittaa - to sign up
  • tiedustella - to inquire
  • vaihtaa - to change
  • seurata - to follow, to observe
  • huomata - to notice
  • ottaa huomioon - to take into account


Olen epähuomiossa ilmoittanut poikani 6-9-vuotiaiden lasten ryhmään ja tiedustelisinkin nyt, onko mahdollista vaihtaa nuorempien (4-7-vuotiaat) ryhmään.

Olin tänään seuraamassa harjoituksia ja huomasin, että ryhmän muut lapset ovat paljon edistyneempiä kuin poikani. Ohjaajat ottivat hänet hienosti huomioon, mutta mietin, että olisi varmasti kaikille osapuolille mukavampaa, jos poikani olisi samantasoisten ryhmässä. 

Jos kaikki ryhmät ovat jo täynnä, olisiko jossain 4-6-vuotiaiden ryhmässä muita edistyneempi lapsi, joka voisi vaihtaa paikkaa poikani kanssa?

Ystävällisin terveisin


There's a lot of conditional forms and written language forms of the verbs. I'm not using the pronoun minä at all, and instead of the genitive forms of the pronouns, I'm using possessive suffixes. I'm blaming myself, praising the group leaders, referring to the whole group's well-being, and suggesting a solution. :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

My first Memrise course

So I decided to give Memrise a try, too. Here's a course about adjectives that I started. I will keep adding to it once I learn more about the website. I still like Quizlet better because of the Scatter game.:)

Hauskaa viikonloppua!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

voida - saada - osata

Do you know the difference between voida, saada and osata?

  • Mä voin auttaa sua. - I can help you. 
  • Mä saan auttaa sua. - I can help you.
  • Mä osaan auttaa sua.  - I can help you. 

voida (voin, voin, voinut) is to be able to, to can. (Also to feel.)

  • Mä voin auttaa sua. - I can help you. I have the skill and the time, and there's nothing stopping me from helping you. 
  • Voinko mä tuoda jotain? - Can I bring something?
  • Voitko odottaa vähän aikaa? - Can you wait for a while?
  • Voisitko sä avata oven? - Could you open the door?

Notice that we usually use pystyä in the past tense, because voida is the same in present and past.

  • Minä pystyin kävelemään. - I was able to walk.

saada (saan, sain, saanut) is many things, for example to get, to receive, and to have a permission.

  • Keneltä sä sait tämän? - From whom did you get this?
  • Mä en saanut sitä sähköpostia. - I didn't receive that email. 
  • Saanko mä sanoa jotain? - May I say something?
  • Saatko sä jo uida? - Are you allowed to swim already?
  • Te ette saa tulla tänne! - You are not allowed to come here.
  • Miksi mä en saa koskaan tehdä mitään kivaa?! - Why can't I ever do anything fun?!

osata (osaan, osasin, osannut) is to know how to do something.

  • Mä osaan auttaa sua. - I can help you. I know what to do. 
  • Miksi mä en osaa tehdä tätä? - Why can't I do this?
  • Osaatteko te tulla meille? - Do you know how to get to my place?
  • Osaatko sä ranskaa? - Do you know French?


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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Kutsua is one of those verbs with several meanings. The four important forms are kutsua, kutsun, kutsuin and kutsunut. 

to invite

  • Mä en tiedä, kenetkutsuisin ensi-iltaan. - I don't know whom I'd invite to the premiere.
  • Kuinka monta vierasta te aiotte kutsua? - How many guests are you going to invite?
  • Kutsuitko sä Jaakon? - Did you invite Jaakko?
  • Miksi sä jätit mut kutsumatta? - Why didn't you invite me?

to call someone something

  • Te voitte kutsua minua Hannaksi. - You can call me Hanna.
  • Millä nimellä sä kutsut sun isoäitiä? - What do you call your grandma?

You might also seen this verb in media a lot lately, as #kutsumua is a campaign against bullying in school.

In spoken language, I'd also use sanoa, to say. The four important forms are sanoa, sanon, sanoin, sanonut.

  • Te voitte  sanoa mua Hannaksi. - You can call me Hanna. 
  • Ei saa sanoa ketään tyhmäksi! - Your not allowed so call anyone stupid!

Monday, September 15, 2014

kiire - kiireinen - kiireellinen

Notice the difference in use between these three words that all mean busy, hurry, or some sort of rush.

kiire - hurry (a noun)

  • Minulla on kiire. - I'm busy.
  • Onko sulla kiire? - Are you busy?
  • Miksi sulla on aina kiire? - Why are you always in a hurry?

kiireinen - busy (an adjective)

  • Hän on todella kiireinen. - He is really busy.
  • Ensi viikko on todella kiireinen, mutta sitten helpottaa. - Next week will be really hectic, but then it will be easier.

kiireellinen - urgent (an adjective, not used with people.)

Älä kiirehdi. - Don't rush.


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. Click here to see all my courses.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Working in Finland

Here's a new website about working in Finland. The information is in 13 languages, which is pretty cool. To work in Finnish is not työdä, although many students wish it was so. Actually, it's not a word at all, at least not yet. Here's a post about olla töissä. 

Hauskaa työpäivää! - Have a nice day at work!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

pa - pä

I just found this post in my draft folder. Olipa kiva yllätys! - What a nice surprise!

Translating pa oris kind of tricky. I hope that these examples help you to understand how it's used and what it expresses. Just like kin, you can use this enclitic participle only once in a sentence. Pa or is usually added to the first word of the sentence.

A surprise or an emphasis

  • Onpa komeat viikset! - Such a handsome mustache!
  • Lauloitpa sinä hyvin! - Oh how well you sung!
  • Onpa teillä kiva koti. - Such a nice home you have.
  • Olipa kiva päivä! - What a nice day it was!
  • Tulipa siitä hieno kakku! - Wow, that cake turned out fancy!
  • Minäpä soitan nyt isoäidille. - Well, I'm going to call grandma now. 
  • Mepä syötiin jo! - We ate already!
  • Mikkopa lähtee vaihto-oppilaaksi. - Well, Mikko is going to be an exchange student.

A mild command (Notice how the pronunciation of p doubles in the singular imperative forms.)

  • Syöpä nyt reippaasti! - Why don't you eat cheerily now! [syöppä]
  • Puepa sukat jalkaan! - Why don't you get the socks on! [pueppa]
  • Istupa tähän joulupukin syliin. - Why don't you sit here on the Santa Claus' lap. [istuppa]
  • Tulkaapa pojat tänne! - Why don't you boys come here! 
  • Kertokaapa, mistä se saitte nuo. - Why don't you tell where you got those.

Disagreeing, child-like arguing

  • (Minä istun tässä.) Minäpä! - (I'll sit here.) No, I will!
  • (Tämä oli minulla ensin.) Eipä ollut! - (I had this first.) No you didn't!
  • (Miksi sinä et siivonnut?)  Siivosinpa!! - (Why didn't you clean up?) Yes I did!

A wish

  • Olisipa jo huominen! - I wish it was tomorrow already!
  • Sataisipa jo lunta! - I wish it would snow already!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My first Quizlet flash cards

I created a set of flash cards in Quizlet for my beginner's students, and I thought I might share them here, too. I am not the person reading the cards aloud, in case you wonder. :)

Update: Here's a link to all the Quizlet sets that I've created. I've also tried Memrise, but I like Quizlet better because of the games.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mikä or mitä?

These two question words are often mixed. They both mean whatMikä is the basic form, mitä is is the partitive form.

Mikä is used when you assume that the answer is something countable.

  • Mikä tämä on? Lautanen. - What is this? A plate. 
  • Mikä sun puhelinnumero on? - What's your phone number?
  • Mikä sun osoite on? - What's your address?
  • Mikä sun kysymys oli? - What was your question?

Use mitä when you are asking about an uncountable food item, liquid, weird sticky goo in the floor etc.

  • Mitä tämä on? - What is this?
  • Mehua. - Juice. 

Out of these two forms, mitä is usually always used with other verbs than olla.

  • Mitä sä syöt? - What are you eating?
  • Mitä sä opiskelet? - What do you study?
  • Mitä kieliä sä puhut? - Which languages do you speak? (Yay! The plural partitive is the same as the singular partitive.)

Oh, and this is kind of strange:

  • Mitä sulla on? - What do you have?
  • Mikä sulla on? - What do you have? as in What's wrong with you?

 Mitä? Siinä kaikki? - What? That's all? Now you can review the other common question words.:)

Friday, September 5, 2014

kin - kaan - kään

The enclitic particle kin means too, also. You can add it to almost any word, but notice how the meaning  of the sentence changes:

  • Minä juon kahvia. - I'll drink some coffee.
  • Minäkin juon kahvia. - Me too, I'll also drink some coffee.
  • Minä juon kahviakin. - I will drink also coffee. (In addition to something else.)

When added to a verb, the meaning is not also, but more like a small surprise:

  • Minä juon teetä. Ei, minä juonkin kahvia. - I'll drink some tea. No, I'll drink some coffee instead. 

In negative sentences, use kaan or kään according to the rules of vowel harmony.

  • Minä en juo teetä. - I don't drink tea.  
  • Minäkään en juo teetä. - Me neither, I don't drink tea. 
  • Minä en juo kahvia enkä juo teetäkään. - I don't coffee and I don't drink tea either.
  • Minä juon teetä. Tai ei, minä en juokaan teetä. - I'll drink some tea. Or no, I won't drink any tea after all. 

In case you wonder about the future and present tenses:

  • Minä juon nyt teetä. - I'm drinking tea now. 
  • Minä juon teetä. - I drink tea. (In general)
  • Minä juon teetä. - I'll drink tea. 

Notice that you can also express frustration with kin:

  • Oli tämäkin päivä! - What a (horrible) day this was!